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Student-designed small home has big sustainability features

Good things come in small packages — made even better when powered by passive energy.

Winemaker Dylan Roche and his family are excited to move into their newly built home, designed by Okanagan College students as they completed their sustainable construction management diploma.

The Roche family home on Penticton’s Upper Bench might look typical from the outside, but its design is the result of applied learning at its best?—?students incorporating international best practices in sustainable construction to save energy in the scaled-down house.

“When we were looking around in the Okanagan, a lot of vineyards seemed to have small amount of land for the vineyard, but large houses. We were looking for the opposite.

“It can take a lot of energy to maintain consistent temperatures in a winery,” he says, adding one facility he worked at in Oliver had utility bills of $3,000 a month. “We got a primer with the winery so when we started working on the house, we wanted to integrate a lot of those ideas.”

The home is approximately 800 sq. feet, with living and kitchen space in the middle that takes advantage of natural light from south-facing windows. Built with a passive house design, the home uses existing sun, internal heat sources and heat recovery ventilation. Future addition of solar panels is planned, which would make the building reach net-zero energy.