Saturday, May 29, 2010

One Prereq Can Ruin Your Whole Day

Well that didn't take long.....

Every reno project has its stumbling blocks and surprises. We should have expected that trying to do one that meets rigorous international standards might introduce a few more obstacles. Well we hit our first one and it literally weighs a ton and a half.

LEED has 19 prerequisites that you have to meet. You can pick and choose on the points side where you want to focus but the prerequisites are all mandatory. And they cover a wide range of topics: invasive plants, air filtration, heated garage, etc. So far we have met one of the requirements which was to have a a preliminary meeting. Essentially sit down with the LEED rep and discuss our project.

Where we have run into trouble is the one reno specific criteria. In order for a renovation to be considered for LEED you have to open the entire building envelope. Essentially all the insulation and vapour/air barrier needs to be inspected or upgraded. Makes sense because when it really comes down to energy efficiency the insulation is where it is at.

So I understand the requirement but when you have a 4' by 6' fireplace on the inside of a wall and a brick exterior it makes seeing that stretch of wall a pain in the @$$. And its non-negotiable....

So where does that leave us?

Option 1: take down the brick exterior wall... seems like a lot of work or cost

Option 2: take out the fireplace... ditto, although this option would also fix a another headache as a traditional wood fireplace is also a prereq no no. If we keep it we would need a new wood or gas insert. But then how would Santa get in?

Option 3: Expanding foam insulation. Not sure if this would satisfy the kind folks at LEED but as we are only talking about 41", we might be able to drill into the exposed wall studs on both sides and inject a closed cell insulation. This would upgrade the insulation and provide an air/vapour barrier.. but will it fulfill the requirement to "expose" the building envelope? We'll see what LEED says.

Only two weeks in and already stumbling.... this might make for an interesting couple of years.


  1. Challenges usually bring out opportunites. Get rid of the fireplace and put in some spectacular fire piece that is LEEDS compliant and will be the centre piece of your house and is the talk of the neighbourhood and the blogging world!!!

  2. I agree, end of the day I think it is going to be gone. Not only is it a LEED headache but Montreal is trying to crack down on wood fireplaces. They represent half the winter air pollution for the city so they have actually banned the purchase of new wood burning fireplacews (even EPA approved). We aren't in Montreal proper but looking at everything together it starting to look like the fireplace should go.