Net zero is a net positive

Living in a net zero home lets homeowners save money on bills. And that means we can all breathe easier.

The appeal of a house that generates as much energy as it consumes is obvious. It has immediate appeal for home owners who can save on heating and electrical bills. It also makes sense on a larger scale. Cities like Calgary are concerned with resilience and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

These concerns are shared by nations, too. But when a country commits to going net zero it means carbon emissions will be balanced by removing the same amount from the atmosphere. Naturally, achieving this balance is made easier by first reducing emissions.

In the case of a net zero house, the balance is achieved between energy generated and energy consumed. Again, the first step is to create maximum energy efficiency within the home. Once waste is eliminated, the home needs to generate less power.

In Canada, 6% of greenhouse gases are generated by households burning fuel for heating and electricity. That might sound like a small number but across all sectors in Canada, including public buildings, manufacturing and agriculture, 45% of greenhouse gases are created by heating and electricity needs.

Public buildings (11.6%) would naturally benefit from going net zero. It all means that real savings, both financial and in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, can be achieved. 

That explains why Canada is at work creating a building code that will support net zero construction. But the technologies behind net zero can have other benefits as well. For one, it could improve urban air quality. This has become an issue in cities around the world. London has moved to restrict burning wood and coal. Krakow has banned both practices outright. 

Air pollution is a big issue internationally. Calgary is nowhere near as smoggy as places like Beijing, but home fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can have localized impacts. As well, researchers at the University of Calgary have found seasonal variations in the city’s air quality. (Even fireworks can affect measurements.)

These added benefits of working toward net zero explain government programs that look to make buildings more efficient. They are also at the heart of the changes to the building code. And they explain why you’re going to be hearing a lot more about net zero in the future.

December 18th, 2019

Living in a net zero home lets homeowners save money on bills. And that means we can all breathe easier,