Lytton residents are looking to Langley as they prepare to rebuild their town after a wildfire destroyed much of the southern British Columbia village a month ago.
The Lytton Creek wildfire ripped through the village on June 30 destroying 90 per cent of the town, including a majority of homes. An evacuation order was put in place, displacing roughly 1,000 residents in the area.
More than a week after the devastation, residents returned temporarily for the first time to digest the aftermath of what was once their home.
Now, the community is preparing to rebuild and one Lytton city councillor is doing his research right here in Langley.
Robert Leitch visited with Princess and the Pea bed and breakfast owner Wally Martin to take a tour of his net-zero energy home, the Langley entrepreneur shared in a social media post on Tuesday.
“The town of Lytton is gathering information about how to best rebuild the town,” Martin said. “The town is very interested in building resilient homes going forward.”
Martin is currently constructing a net-zero energy-efficient home adjacent to his bed and breakfast.
“It’s 99 per cent complete. We have our final inspection already done,” he told the Langley Advance Times.
After news of the Lytton fire broke, Martin said he saw on the municipal webpage Lytton’s intent to rebuild so he called Coun. Leitch and invited him to tour his net-zero home.
“He jumped in his car and here he was,” Martin recalled.
A net-zero home is a building that consumes no more energy than it produces, in Martin’s case his home produces energy using solar panels.
Martin argued that contrary to popular opinion, it is actually cheaper to build a net-zero energy house than the conventional houses that are commonplace today. The reason being an energy-efficient home eliminates the need for a furnace and air conditioning unit.
“It is gradually taking off across the country,” Martin said about the design concept.
In addition to the elimination of heating and cool equipment, Martin said his home has triple the insulation used in a traditional home.
“You have to design the buildings in a good way,” he said, noting the type of windows used are significant as well.
Some aspects, like insulation, can cost more during construction, but Martin argues long term it is cheaper.
“Last year, we produced 100 per cent of our energy, including charging the car,… and we still get a cheque from BC Hydro for 500 bucks,” he said, noting their solar panels produced more energy than they needed putting that power back into the hydro grid.
Martin estimated he and Coun. Leitch spent an hour touring the under-construction home and left with some good notes. Martin is looking forward to the methods and material the community of Lytton uses to rebuild and said it can be a model for the Langleys.
“I am not impressed with the construction that’s going on in Langley right now,” Martin said. “I think it’s in the Dark Ages.”
The Township of Langley has set a number of targets in its Climate Action Strategy.
By 2030 the plan directs that all new and existing buildings in the community will produce zero emissions.
Similarly, City of Langley aims to achieve net-zero carbon emission before 2050.
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