Net-Zero SIPs Laneway House with Solar

When I first mentioned the Mendoza Laneway House, it was one of the first laneway homes in Vancouver under the city’s EcoDensity program.  The company behind that efficient SIPs home, Lanefab, and its partners, designer Bryn Davidson and builder Mat Turner, have been busy and recently completed the first Net-Zero Solar Laneway House on a corner lot at 57th and Vivian.  It’s beautiful inside and out.

The home features a warm exterior palette of black rock stucco and cedar and was built with triple-glazed Cascadia windows, 1′ thick SIPs, and 18′ multi-fold doors that create a nice connection between the great room and the outdoor patio.

Other green features include LED lighting (95% of all lighting), a 500-gallon rainwater collection tank, WaterCycles drain water heat recovery, a Venmar high-efficiency HRV, an air-source heat pump for space heating and water, and a Cent-a-Meter whole house energy monitor.

In addition, the home is net-zero energy with the help of a solar photovoltaic array of 12 panels.  The system generates extra power in the summer, which is sold to the grid, and draws on the surplus during cold winter months.

The home has one bedroom, two bathrooms, and 1,020 square feet.  The total construction cost was about $320,000, which Davidson assures me is affordable for the likes of Vancouver.

As with other Lanefab projects, this home was documented with tons of construction and other product photos in a Facebook album.

[+] More about this Net Zero Solar Laneway House in Vancouver.

Credits: Dylan Doubt Photograph; Lanefab (floor plans).


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  • MrSteve007

    Affordable (for the location)? – check
    Correctly sized? – check
    Uses the right technology for the site? – check
    Good looking inside and out? – check

    Overall this is a very impressive project. The one criticism I could make is that they should lower the angle of the rooftop PV panels. It makes zero sense to attempt to optimize PV output for any season but summer in the Pacific NW.

    • Jim Cocke

      It would surprise me if the PV panels aren’t adjustable for quarterly reset to solar angle. Mine are and makes a huge difference. Takes less than five minutes per panel to change tilt angle.

  • amoyer147

    A roof full of PV panels to make this a net-zero house for 2 people max is beyound inpractical.  Sized correctly for whom is the question.  If for retired adults with no childern then, yes.  If for any other demographic I would say not even close.  Anybody who likes to have people over or has childern or childern and grand childern, this house is missing atleast 1 bedroom or 2.

    Style wise the house is nice.  Use of SIP panels is great.  Wow is that a tiny sink in the lower bathroom.  Poor design that you need to leave your house on the lower level to use a bathroom.  I’d prefer a half bath and an exterior shower or a rework of the bathroom.  Would of been just as easy to leave the shower where it is and have it open to the garage, move the sink to back on the shower have a standard door from the garage and a pocket or sliding door on the inside of the house.  Solves the biggest problem of the house.

    I still contend that houses this small are more expensive then building this with 200 extra S.F.

  • Larry

    I get the impression that these laneway houses are intended to be an accessory dwelling for perhaps an inlaw or as a rental to a student or something along those lines.  So, for that purpose it seems more than adequate for size.  The garage entry to the lower level bathroom is a bit funky.  I agree that the large number of solar panels for a single or couple implies there is something inherently wrong with the energy efficiency of the design to begin with.  Of course, the main house could be also borrowing some of that energy.  

    • amoyer147

      If your insight is correct then yes it would make sense.  I took my opinions the opposite way with my comments only because from the images above it looks to be the sole structure on the site.  Maybe the pictures are not taken to show the other house but the article also fails to say if this is a primary or sub-dwelling unit.  If for the purpose of a non-primary housing function I would say the size is a bit to large.  If an in-law suite why not convert the garage space to a bedroom and make it cheaper to build and cheaper to heat/cool.

      Went on the laneway website even their blurb about the house mentions nothing of the intent of the house.  In the floor plan of the first floor on their site it shows the existing house.  So it is a secondary house on the site.  So then yes Larry you are correct it is a secondary house.  I am also surprised that the this can be as tall as it is, I know where I live a secondary residence/structure on your property can not be as tall as the current house it is limited to 18′ or 20′ (can’t remember right now.)

      • Bryn

        The house is a “laneway house” so it is a seondary dwelling limited by city bylaws to 18′ tall (for a flat roof) and to a max of ~800sf for a residence + 220sf for a garage. We don’t believe in making “car only” space – so the garage is finished and insulated to the same level as the rest of the house giving the owners flexibility in terms of how they use it.

        The building is all-electric (vs some other solar projects which use gas or biomass for space heating and domestic hot water) The envelope doesn’t quite achieve passiv-haus but it is close.

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