A number of studies have been done in Canada favourably comparing the health of occupants of houses
using Super E® construction techniques to those living in conventional housing. In one study (Health Canada),
13 different symptoms were compared. In every category of physical symptom, occupants of Super E® Houses
reported a significant improvement in indoor air quality over their previous residence.

A word from those who live in Super E® homes

Six-year-old Ella Stanley…was so ill with asthma that she could barely break into a run without needing treatment
from a nebuliser. Her severe attacks used to terrify her mother. Then three years ago Ella moved with her mother… from an old house to a new one, built with Super E® insulation and ventilation.

“We have only had to use her nebuliser once in the three years since we moved into this house…What’s more, I’ve only had to put the heating on a couple of times since we moved in — my heating bills are practically zero.”

   
 

The house that saved children's lives

Find the full story on page 16 of the Action Against Allergy (AAA) Allergy Newsletter Number 93
— Summer of 2008.

Virginia Salares’ daughters were described by their doctor as the most allergic and hypersensitive kids she had ever seen in all her years of practice. They were atopic – overly sensitive to allergens in their environment. In the early 80s Virginia embarked on a journey that would lead to a radical re-think of way houses were built and maintained around the world.

She met up with world-renowned housing expert Oliver Drerup, who was in the process of building the first house for an individual with special needs. It had, not only the energy-efficient features and ample ventilation, but was also built with materials that caused no adverse reactions to the owner and were known to have no poisonous components or harmful emissions.

Their new home was completed in November 1984. It featured a heat recovery ventilator that ensured a continuous supply of healthy, fresh air to every room in the house and helped maintain optimum humidity levels. Virginia and family moved into the house the next month. The positive effects on the children were remarkable. A year after they had been living in their new home, tests showed the children’s antibody levels were dramatically reduced.

Beginning in 1991 she began work on a five-year research program commissioned by the Government of Canada. As a result of her work and other international research, the Super E® house was developed. “Like the house that we built for our daughters, Super E® technology focuses on the quality of indoor air ensuring the property is highly energy efficient.”

Virginia’s daughters have grown up to enjoy full and productive lives while she and her husband Rafael still live in the original healthy home. Her research into healthy housing has also led to a revolution in the way homes are constructed across the world with the number of healthy Super E® homes growing globally.

   
 
 

“My House Saved My Children’s Lives” in Allergy Newsletter (pg. 16, Issue 98, Summer 2008) published by Action Against Allergy.

Click to view PDF

   
 
   
 

Super E - How to Build A Healthy House

You are exposed to thousands more chemical compounds than your grandparents were. Many of these compounds are potentially harmful – triggering allergic and asthma-like reactions in people. They are everywhere, in cleaning products, paints and finishes, furniture and wall coverings, in personal hygiene products, even in air fresheners.

VOCs, volatile organic compounds, such as benzene, xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde, are present in almost every indoor environment. In addition, biological compounds can trigger allergic reactions. Animal dander, dust mites and hundreds of different kinds of mould can also be found in carpeting, on indoor surfaces, and hidden inside your walls.

No wonder asthma rates in western countries are increasing. The UK has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world (Asthma Insights and Realities in Europe) – the inside of your house is a potential breeding ground for many organic and non-organic compounds that can trigger respiratory irritation, allergic reactions and asthma attacks. What can you do?

Providing you with a healthier indoor environment is one of the goals of the Super E® House Programme. This list describes how living in a Super E® home reduces the impact of these potentially harmful conditions:

   
 
 

1Healthy Material Choices

Super E® homebuilders choose construction and finish materials carefully to minimize the release of harmful emissions in the home. Super E® homes feature factory-finished wood flooring, solid wood kitchen cabinets, low emission paints and other healthier building products. These building material choices are verified by a third party, with Super E® builders required to take proactive measures to encourage healthy indoor air.

   
 
 

2 Reduced Air Leakage

Conventional housing has uncontrolled leakage at least five times higher than Super E® houses. This leakage contributes to poor indoor air in three ways:

  1. An increase of draughtiness. Control reduces cold spots and unhealthy draughts.

  2. More outdoor pollutants. In a Super E® home, most of the incoming air is brought in through a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), which means only filtered air is circulated through the house.

  3. The promotion of mould growth. In Super E® homes, air leakage is reduced and the warm air stays inside. This means no moisture accumulation inside walls and the discouragement of mould growth.
   
 
 

3 Ventilation

In conventional houses, uncontrolled air leakage provides the house with fresh air.
Super E® homes plug the holes and reduce the amount of air entering the house through leaks. In a Super E® home, an HRV is attached to the whole-house ducting system. A fan distributes air to every room. Stale air is exhausted outside. In the winter, the heat from the stale air warms fresh air entering the house, making the ventilation system energy efficient. In a Super E® home all combustion appliances must have a dedicated sealed source of combustion air to prevent spillage of potentially dangerous combustion gases.

Super E® strives to maintain the healthiest indoor air by:

  • Reducing air leakage while guaranteeing continuous whole-house ventilation.

  • Reducing indoor moisture and having effective moisture control strategy.

  • Reducing the potential for off-gassing from items inside the house.
     
    How an HRV works
    All Super E® houses are equipped with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
   
   
 

Improve Your Quality of Life

You spend most of your life indoors. What is in the air you breathe? Indoor Air quality is related to what is in the air: dust
and other particulates, mould spores, animal dander and chemicals all can prompt physical reactions and long- term health concerns.

The quality of the air is a significant factor in how healthy our houses are. Super E® strives to maintain the healthiest indoor air through a number of measures:

• Reduce air leakage but guarantee continuous, whole-house ventilation

• Reduce indoor moisture and have an effective moisture control strategy

• Reduce the potential for off-gassing from items inside your house

   
 
 
 
 

Activity levels of harmful air pollutants
varies with relative humidity.

Changing ventilation rates can control
Relative Humidity levels in the house.

   
 

Building houses in Canada's high arctic makes life better for people in the UK

Canada's building research community has learned how to construct houses in the high arctic and applies those lessons to Super E® houses constructed in the UK. Although the problems associated with arctic housing continue to challenge Canadian builders, the real breakthrough was made over thirty years ago, much farther south.

In the late 1970s, the Saskatchewan Conservation House was built in Regina, in the western prairie province of Saskatchewan. It's not the arctic, but it can feel like the arctic in the winter. The Conservation House was the beginning of the development of a systematic approach known as house-as-a-system. The uniquely Canadian idea that if you change something in a house, it has an impact on the rest of the house.

For example, to conserve energy, houses need to stop leaking warm air. If you make a house more airtight, you create two problems: the people inside the house get sick; and, the buildings deteriorate because there's no way to shed moisture originating from inside the house. Both problems are solved by whole-house mechanical ventilation.

Keeping houses warm is certainly a high priority in the arctic. But it's not the only housing issue:

Most of the arctic is muskeg: Somewhat akin to frozen bog, when permanently frozen muskeg starts to melt from heat generated by the house, the foundation sinks. The problem is, it doesn't sink evenly.

There are no power services: Who would build a generating station to serve the 73,000 people who live in 3.1 million square kilometres of arctic? If you turn on a light in Resolute Bay, the electricity is coming from a diesel generator. The diesel fuel has to be flown in.

There are no people: Getting stuff to the arctic is expensive, and there's no possible economies of scale. The arctic is the size of Europe with a population smaller than Chester.

There are no roads: That means no way to truck building materials to the job site. If you need steel, timber, windows, plumbing fixtures, in fact anything, you have to fly it in, because you can't use ships either.

Most planes are small: The courage and tenacity of Canada's legendary "bush pilots" is world-famous. The thing about bush pilots is they fly small airplanes. So small, many do not have pressurized cargo compartments. This is very unhealthy for high performance windows which relay on a sealed spaced between glazings. Glazings crack at high altitudes.

Water and sewage: When it's minus 55 all week, it's pretty obvious there's not going to be a whole lot of water flowing through pipes. What's less obvious is how you're going to get rid of waste water generated in the house. By the way, forget about septic tanks in the arctic.

Given all these factors, it's no wonder Canadians are at the leading edge of off-grid housing design, where houses
are built to be self-sufficent — in energy and water. It's the first step in building zero carbon homes, now a priority
for the UK.