As we move forward with the assessment of the church, this week we look at the results of the EnerGuide audit done by Marty Verk. As expected, it was a sobering document. We realize that we have a major project ahead of us, but the potential benefits to, not only our new/old home, but the environment, more than justify this project.  Marty estimates that we can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from this home by a staggering 26.4 tonnes per year. As well, using the baseline audit checklist, we should be able to increase the EnerGuide scale to a rating of 69. Just think of the benefits to our environment if every older home was upgraded…a nice dream!

       In fact, we intend to surpass this 69 rating and bring this lovely old church well into the energy levels of a new home, that being a rating of 80. We shall see in the months ahead.

       It took us most of a cold Saturday morning - unfortunately there was no oil in the tank to operate the furnace - to complete the energy audit and inspection.  As an aside, this disappointed our professional TSSA licensed heating tech, Brad Skaug, from Dr. Comfort. Stay tuned next week, as we delve into the heating conditions and Brad’s recommendations.

    We began our inspection and audit underneath the church, inspecting the wood assembly for decay and age related deterioration and were very pleasantly surprised to find this 1894 church in excellent condition. The main building which is 30 feet wide and 40 feet long has an 18-24 inch thick stone outer foundation and a similar stone wall running down the centre of the sturcture. Rough sawn 1.5” timbers span the distance between the stone walls, giving them a span of 15 feet. with equal spacing between the joists, the floor is very solid. Built up on a hill with excellent drainage, there is no dampness in the crawl space; often a major issue with older buildings.

    One of my crew, Spartan Rubacha went along the outer edge of the foundation with an ice pick, probing where the floor joists are open tenoned fitted into the sill beam. While this is a time consuming, dirty job, it is critical in establishing the wood structural integrity of an older home. Marty came along and reviewed the overall assembly, which he uses this to establish the base for his evaluation.

    Once we had the main portion of the church done, we nearly gave up trying to find a floor hatch for the crawl space under the addition. Donna, on a hunch, opened the lower doors of a kitchen cupboard and, behold, a tiny hatch, which Spartan was able to squeeze through, so in he went. This assembly was much newer, built in 1974. The structure modelling for this portion of the energy audit was much easier for Marty to establish. Spartan was able to do his structural review and found no issues.

   Until some local research into the history of the church showed a short list of changes and additions over the years, we fully expected to find absolutely no insulation in the walls or attic area. One of the list of changes mentioned that insulation was added to the ceiling and sloped portion of the walls in 1972, at the same time that the original oil furnace was installed. 

    Fortunately, there were a couple of wall switches. The covers were removed. We pulled out the box and behold….a wall full of wood shavings. This really caused some discussion and into the attic area we went, only to find that the sloped ceiling and attic areas were also filled level with more wood shavings. Marty commented this was only the 2nd or 3rd audit he has ever done with the entire building insulated with wood shavings and he has thousands of audits under his belt.  This was a bonus, as wood shavings have nearly double the “R” value of wood chips and it took Marty’s estimate up to an R12 wall.  The depth of the wall, the rough sawn horizontal dimensioned lumber covering both the inside and outside of the framework, the tongue and groove siding and the lath and plaster were considered in his calculation.  We agreed that it is a solid old structure.

    We continued on with the actual inspection while Marty set up his blower door to do the air test. We found some “volunteer” wiring and some other minor issues, but, for the most part, little had changed for 119 years in the main building. As well, the addition was considered to be in respectable condition.  We closed everything up and Marty began his test. Both of us suspected that given the age of the structure he might not get a result, but, surprisingly, he was able to get an air leakage rating. Leakage is being polite; breeze would be a better word! Once done and calculated, this heavenly old lady has an ACH (air changes per hour) rating of 9.65. A new home comes in around 4 and a modern R2000 home has a minimum of 1.5….We have a long way to go.

    A big “Thank You” to Marty Verk for an excellent audit, his patience explaining the process and benefits of an EnerGuide Energy Audit. A few days later Marty called and we entered into some extensive discussions as to the type of improvements, cost considerations and benefits worth considering. His ten page audit is packed with suggestions and information, clearly showing how we might arrive at the renovated final rating of 69. As expected, upgraded heating and improved insulation gave the most “bang for the buck.” His report supplied information on different heating options and their operating costs and the potential savings. He compared different forced air systems; oil, propane, propane with an air source heat pump and even some basic idea of the benefits of wood heat. He broke down the different levels for insulation values and I was surprised how well the report described the value of insulating the crawl space. Combined, new heating system and crawl space insulation for this home added a 39.6 rating improvement and when you look at the investment, these upgrades would easily be paid for in less than 10 years.  

Marty can be reached at Verk Consulting (613-484-4080).


    We intend to build a “building within a building,” upgrading the crawl space to aR value of R20, the walls and sloped portion of the ceiling to R 34, and the attic to R60. Over the next couple of weeks, I will detail how this is to be done. Next week, however, Brad brings his years of HVAC experience to this column. 

    Due to the heightened interest in this project, we have decided to create a custom website with every article in the series posted. Once our “web mistress” has finished building this site, we will make the internet connection known so that everyone can refresh their memory or if you miss a week or two you will be able to catch up.


    Once we are into the project we hope to have a couple of Saturdays where you can come and see the actual renovation process, talk with the “pros” working on this project, discuss any  plans you may have and see for yourself that bringing a heritage building into the 21st century for energy efficiency is not only possible, but that it can be done at reasonable cost.