The Brew Creek Centre

Sustainability at The Brew Creek Centre.

The food cycle at The Brew Creek Centre tells the story of how we tread lightly on the planet, conserve energy and maximize resources. It all starts with growing highly nutritional produce in an organic, energy-conserving, earth-friendly way. Because it’s all about the details.

What else we're doing to model green living...

Energy Efficiency+

Heat recovery is key

We use 30% of typical electricity consumption in our newer buildings, or half of the property. The key is two pieces of equipment: our heat recovery and ventilation systems, or HRV, and air source heat pumps. The HRV addresses heat preservation by exchanging fresh air while preserving the heat from the stale air. This enables full fresh air exchange in a building without the loss of heat associated with open windows.

In parallel, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air. Current state-of-the-art heat pumps can extract heat from air down to -20 degrees C. At a temperature of 10 degrees C, for instance, you get three times as much heat per unit of electricity compared to conventional radiant baseboard heating.

Bomber windows

In the olden days, single pane windows would actually freeze on the inside in winter. And still today, heat loss is huge if you have low-quality windows. Nowadays, the gold standard is triple-glazed windows with fiberglass frames, and that’s what we have: state-of-the-art thermally efficient windows. These massively reduce heat loss, keeping the energy needed to heat a building low.

Better insulation

Our newer buildings are insulated with soy-based spray foam insulation, which is far better than fiberglass batt insulation. (With fiberglass batt insulation, as the building ages, the batts slide down.) Sprayed in between the joists and ceiling rafters, this modern type is sealed and stays in place.

Long-life lighting

The contrast between incandescent and LED light bulb lifetimes is massive. That’s why we’ve used almost exclusively long-life LED lighting here (98%) since they first came on the market. LEDs use 20% of the electricity that an incandescent bulb needs, and last 20 years for normal usage. And unlike CFLs, they don’t have mercury in them. It’s disconcerting to realize your light bulbs might be around longer than you will!

Heating water from the sun

In the quest to cut down our energy footprint, we put in a German solar domestic hot water system in the kitchen. The result is that 60% of hot water used in any given year is heated by sun. We have an electric backup that kicks in if it’s not sunny.

Well-sealed building envelope

The thermal envelope of our newer buildings exceeds current B.C building code standards. The windows, insulation and HRV units are all intended to improve the thermal envelope so the building can retain its heat, and then in addition, heating with a highly efficient air source heat pump.

Health+

Wherever possible, we use only eco-friendly products, such as wood varnish, paints and cleaners. We don’t use pesticides or industrial fertilizers in our food production.

Water+

We use creek-fed irrigation for our flower gardens outside of wintertime. Our plan is to ultimately provide irrigation for our vegetable garden, which sits on an elevated plateau. We are currently working on a joint project with the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC to create a prototype hydraulic ram pump that uses no electricity to replace our electric pumps. It works with kinetic energy (in other words, the force of the creek) to pump water 30 feet up and has the capacity to store 12,000 litres a day.

Waste+

Smart wastewater management

BC is a premier North American fishing destination and it’s important to protect our pristine rivers and lakes, and the creatures that depend on them for life. We use the Ecoflow Septic System to treat and manage our wastewater. It’s the only Fisheries and Oceans Canada-approved technology, and it’s a stable, consistent, permanent and passive solution that uses no energy and is designed to safeguard aquatic ecosystems.

Recycling, reducing

We recycle, yes, but what we really do is try to use as little packaging and container waste as we can in first place. This is especially important with our food production and services, and it’s a top priority.

Using Resources Wisely+

We love EVs

We have three 4WD ATV vehicles we use to service the property and these are all electric vehicles (EVs), made by an American company called Polaris. There’s no noise, no gas fumes, no oil changes and no spark plugs. They do cost 20% more than the gas version, but over the useful life of the EVs there is more than full pay back of the initial extra costs through operating expense reductions compared to gas-powered units.

Getting creative with recycled lumber

We’re always experimenting. For The Halcyon, for example, we milled trees cut down to make way for the building as wood to make furniture.

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