About Zero Energy Project

The Story

August 24, 2015

The idea of a Net Zero Energy (NZE) home is that it employs enhanced energy efficiency design strategies to cost effectively reduce energy needs, while meeting those needs with renewable energy technologies, with the result that the building consumes equal to or less energy than it produces on an annual basis.

This project is aligned with ecoEII’s goals of searching for long-term solutions to help eliminate air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from energy production. This project builds on the NRCan funded LEEP/TAP (Local Energy Efficiency Partnerships/ Technology Adoption Pilot) project to demonstrate the next housing platform in communities across the country.

NZE homes continue to be stuck in a research and development phase and pilot demonstrations, with little focus on the unique challenges that the housing platform presents for the production builder. To achieve wide acceptance and industry adoption, a community-sized demonstration by production builders is critically important.

This project is the largest NZE Community demonstration in Canada to date. Owens Corning Canada is the Lead Proponent of this project and is working with 5 homebuilders across the country. The five builders are: Construction Voyer (Laval, Quebec); Mattamy Homes Limited (Calgary, Alberta); Minto Communities (Ottawa, Ontario); Provident Development Inc. (Halifax, Nova Scotia); and Reid’s Heritage Homes (Guelph, Ontario).

buildABILITY Corporation is the Lead Consultant managing the project alongside five building science and technical consultant companies: Ameresco Inc., Building Knowledge Canada Inc., Enermodal Engineering Ltd., HAWK-EYE Technical Services, and SAIC Canada.

Technical design, planning and training processes for the project are already in progress. A National Design Charrette was held in March 2013, which had Canada’s leading housing and net zero experts meeting for two days to discuss the path to net zero housing and net zero communities, and the barriers that exist. The charrette was focused on two strategies: conservation and advanced renewable technologies. The first and primary strategy focussed on energy conservation by maximizing the envelope and air tightness levels, and exploring complementary high performance mechanical systems. The second strategy focussed on exploring market-ready renewables technologies, including photovoltaic panels, solar thermal, ground source heat pumps, and air source heat pumps.

The NZE homes to be built in the five communities will use the new EnerGuide Rating System for New Homes to measure energy use and in many cases the new R-2000 requirements as the jumping off point to achieve net zero. 2014 R-2000 builder training and CodeBord® Air Barrier System training was provided to all five builder alliances to prepare them for the design phase.

Construction of the homes is expected to be completed by 2016.

Funding for the project is being provided by the federal government’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative (ecoEII) program, Owens Corning Canada, and in-kind contributions from the building industry.

For more information on the project, please email Candice Luck, candice@buildABILITY.ca.