Viscount Villa: Leading Energy Efficiency with Acres in FortisBC's Deep Energy Retrofit Program

Posted On Apr 18, 2024

As part of Kelson Group’s commitment to helping residents live better, Viscount Villa, a low-rise rental apartment in Kamloops, has been chosen to participate in FortisBC’s Deep Energy Retrofit Pilot Program. The project, which commenced on March 15, 2024, is anticipated to be completed by Fall 2024, aiming to reduce the building’s environmental footprint while also elevating the living standards of its residents.

This project aims to improve a building’s envelope - all components that separate the indoors from the outdoors - and energy systems to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent.

“Kelson Group’s Viscount Villa building in Kamloops is one of four apartment buildings undergoing a comprehensive upgrade aimed at uncovering the most affordable and effective ways to drive down energy use in older buildings by more than half,” explained Jim Kobialko, manager, of Technology & Market Development, FortisBC. “To our knowledge, this is the largest targeted, real-world study of deep energy-efficiency upgrades in B.C. homes, and the information will be invaluable to us and others looking to transform energy use in the province.”

The project is a result of collaborative efforts between FortisBC, the general contractor Acres Enterprises (Acres), and a consulting team comprising RDH Building Science, SES Consulting, AES Engineering, and FRESCo Building Efficiency. Together, these companies bring extensive knowledge and experience to ensure the project’s success.

“Acres is committed to being at the forefront of innovation and technology, and playing a role in this pilot project that so happens to be the first of its kind in our region, is one way that we can do that,” said Alec Chaplin, project manager at Acres. “This project will allow Acres and its trade partners to showcase our various skills and adaptable project teams, to successfully complete this important and industry leading project for the future of what these programs may support.”

From upgrading the existing wall insulation, roof, windows and doors, to improving high efficiency mechanical system supplemented with solar arrays, and improving the efficiency of in-suite cooling, Viscount Villa will undergo significant transformations to enhance energy efficiency and decrease carbon emissions.

“Viscount Villa is representative of a lot of the many older buildings across B.C. that provide essential housing and will continue to do so for decades. Though upgrading these structures presents a complex challenge, significantly reducing their energy consumption is essential to meeting climate action goals,” added Kobialko.

Beyond energy and emissions savings, residents will also enjoy numerous advantages, including heightened comfort, improved air quality, reduced noise levels, lower energy costs, and an enhanced aesthetic appeal of the building. In addition, the retrofit is designed to fortify Viscount Villa against extreme weather events, ensuring resilience and protection for years to come.

“Construction will progress while residents remain in place, with our team striving to minimize disruptions during the retrofit, which will impact interior exits, basement areas, balconies, patios, and grass areas,” said Shawn Curtis, building manager of Kelson Group’s Viscount Villa.

To guarantee everyone’s safety, scaffold access points will be secured with padlocks, all construction site entrances will be covered, and residents will be advised to secure windows and doors. Additionally, balconies will be dismantled, and restrictors will be put in place, allowing doors to open four inches, as per the Building Code.

“Our safety record is something we take immense pride in at Acres. To be trusted to carry out a project of this scope, where residents are continuing to live in their units, is a testament to our strong safety culture, constructive engagement with project stakeholders, and effective project delivery to our clients,” shared Chaplin.

Ensuring as little disruption as possible is key for residents.

“It is important to acknowledge that work will generate noise, and workers may be present outside windows or doors. We’ve notified residents and maintained communication to help them prepare for the project,” Curtis noted.

Without a doubt, the participation of Viscount Villa in FortisBC’s Deep Energy Retrofit Program marks a significant step toward sustainable living and energy efficiency in Kamloops and in the Interior of the province. As the retrofit progresses in the coming months, it serves as a testament to the commitment all stakeholders involved in shaping the future of energy use in British Columbia.

“We greatly appreciate the tremendous commitment Kelson Group has shown throughout this pilot project. They’re leading the way in testing new and innovative ways to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kobialko. “The information will be invaluable to others working in this field and form the foundation of future energy savings programs. Through their participation, they are truly influencing the future of energy use in B.C.”

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