EWEB builds airtight apartments that 'require very little energy to heat'

EWEB builds airtight apartments that 'require very little energy to heat'

EUGENE, Ore. -- The next generation of super-energy efficient apartments is happening in Lane County.   

The Eugene Water and Electric Board is working with St. Vincent de Paul’s on developing new technology that is getting its first Oregon and nationwide test in Eugene.

In a complex of 54 low-income apartments that St. Vinnie's is building, a team is working to build six units that will be over 10 times more air tight than the highest industry standards of heat retention.

The insulation technology would allow residents to keep their apartment warm in the winter with just heat generated from light bulbs, the body and electronics like a computer.

EWEB energy techs like Eli Volem hooked up their fans, gauges and plastic sheeting on Friday for a big test of the passive house technology.

“The goal is to build a super insulated nearly air-tight structure, that's going to require very little energy to heat it,” said Volem.

The project is breaking new ground on using passive house technology, or homes that require little energy use.

Heavy taping of windows, appliance connections and outdoor taping of beams are the key to the higher standards in heat insulation. 

Sara Bergsund of Bergsund-Delaney architecture is working on the floor plan for the apartments.

“The ambient temperature of bodies, people and living, and lights on and computers and televisions should create the necessary heat,” said Bergsund.

For future low-income clients using the apartments, monthly energy bills won't break the bank. 

EWEB techs don't know how much average power bills will drop but they say the apartments will be 90 percent more efficient than those built to Eugene code standards. 

The $10,000,000 project is expected to be completed by Fall of 2013.