Net-Zero Homes: Your Questions Answered
Net Zero homes, while not a new concept, are slowly making their way into New Brunswick neighborhoods, and builders and homeowners have questions. Here we’ll tackle some common questions (and misperceptions) to get everyone up to speed on the future of housing in our province.
Q: What is a Net Zero home?
A: A Net Zero home (sometimes referred to as a “Zero Energy” home) is one that generates the power it needs to operate. Because it relies on renewable energy sources (versus the alternative provided by the local power company) and doesn’t emit greenhouse gases, it’s considered environmentally friendly and 100% energy efficient.
Net Zero is the highest rating of energy efficiency a home can achieve.
Image source: saveonenergy.ca
Using a combination of advanced building techniques, technologies, and products, a Net Zero home delivers 80% more energy efficiency than a standard new home built to code.
Misconception: Net Zero homes are not the same as being ‘off the grid.’ Net Zero homes connect to the grid but do to store excess energy than to draw from it.
Notable features in a Net Zero home:
Orientation – A Net Zero home utilizes solar panels to generate power, so it will be strategically placed on the lot to maximize sun exposure.
Airtight & highly insulated – Controlled airflow means eliminating leaks, preventing moisture damage, improving air quality, and reducing noise.
High-efficiency HVAC, appliances, and other electrical systems – Everything within a Net Zero home is designed to minimize energy requirements and maximize efficiency.
Q: Why the sudden push on building / buying Net Zero homes?
A: Leaders around the world are committing to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
A net zero emissions goal means we would no longer be putting heat-trapping greenhouse gases out into the atmosphere (or that any gases that are emitted would be cancelled out.)
Given that residential housing is a contributor to our country’s greenhouse gas emissions (approx. 17%) Canada has indicated that all new home constructions by 2050 must be Net Zero certified. But reaching those future goals means acting now, because if we continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, temperatures will continue to rise, and counteracting those effects may no longer be possible.
Q: Are the benefits of a Net Zero home worth the investment?
A: Absolutely! With a Net Zero home, your return-on-investment kicks in immediately. Why? Because your home delivers results instantly.
You’ll notice the exceptional difference in comfort, from air quality to outside noise reduction, from the moment you move in.
Your environmental impact is reduced from Day 1, because your home is no longer consuming excessive amounts of energy and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
And while the cost your pay upfront for a Net Zero home may be more than a standard home, the benefits you reap long-term substantially outweigh the difference. Not only will your future resale value be higher than standard homes and your overall maintenance costs be less, but you can also say ‘bye bye’ to those unpredictable energy bills.
To give you an idea of the amount (as a minimum) you stand to save on your energy costs, just imaging if the home you were in right now were Net Zero. Calculate those monthly energy costs over the life of the home and there’s your answer. Gone. Poof. No more.
With a Net Zero home, the overall return far exceeds the initial cost.
Q: Is Net Zero status only achievable in new builds?
A: In short, no. However, depending on the house, a deep retrofit could be required to achieve a Net Zero rating. Then it becomes a question of “Is it worth it for me to renovate over buying new?”
Start by speaking with an energy advisor and a Registered Energy Efficient Builder to see what your options are when it comes to renovating your current home. Then weigh the pros and cons of renovating versus building a new home that meets your energy efficiency wish list from the get-go.
Keep in mind that even if Net Zero isn’t completely achievable in your current home, significant reductions in energy consumption are still possible, and every bit helps towards reducing our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Are you a renovator interested in getting the training you need to renovate Canada’s older homes and make them more energy efficient? Check out the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s Net Zero Renovators Program.
Q: How can I tell if a builder is qualified to deliver a Net Zero home?
A: In New Brunswick, a builder or renovator should have specific training if they want to deliver a true Net Zero home to their clients. In addition to their training, they are also required to build a Net Zero home, and have it certified to the standards of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s Net Zero Home Labelling Program before they can achieve Net Zero builder status.
One way to find out if a builder is qualified is to check our Registered Energy Efficiency Builder Program directory.
Q: I’m a builder/renovator. When should I get Net Zero training and how can I start?
A: When it comes to training, the sooner the better. Not only will training now help set you apart from the builders who don’t have energy efficiency credentials, it’ll mean you’re first in line when consumer demand picks up.
It also means you won’t be scrambling to meet future regulations once they come into effect.
Another reason to start training now? It’s FREE! By joining the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick and becoming a part of our Registered Energy Efficient Builder Program, you can take advantage of FREE training that will get you ready for the future.
If you have questions about Net Zero homes, we’re here to help. Reach out any time and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.