The Push for Net Zero

Homes that generate as much energy as they consume have a bright future.

When the calendar flipped over to 2020, there were the usual celebrations. Amid the noise makers and popping champagne corks Canada’s homebuilders remain focused on coming changes. We are now 10 years away from having a net zero ready building code. That would be one that encourages net zero construction and renovation projects.

The 2030 deadline is a federal government initiative that addresses environmental concerns. A net zero structure generates as much energy as it consumes, so they have big potential. Currently, buildings account for about 12% of Canada’s emissions. These are mostly related to heating—both space and water.

The push for net zero has already sparked a lot of discussion and research. Homebuilders are behind Built Green, a program that champions sustainable constructions practices. The program evaluates new homes, renovation projects and residential buildings in 7 areas. These include water conservation, building materials and energy consumption. A point system is used to certify projects as Built Green.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association is the driving force behind the Net Zero Energy Housing Council. The organization is working towards a labelling program and creating a market advantage for builders and renovators who create net zero homes.

NGOs like Sustainable Buildings Canada are also on the job. The SBC conducts research and education. It is also working to bring the Dutch concept of Energiesprong to Canada. It’s a program that brings individual retrofits into large groups to create economies of scale.

All this is taking place alongside a growing movement that sees cities working toward carbon neutrality. The City of Guelph has pledged to hit that goal by 2050 and is contemplating several initiatives to get there. A handful of British cities have set 2030 as their deadline.

Net Zero homes are part of the answer. They are being built in urban areas across the country, including Calgary. But these tend to be isolated projects. If Net Zero construction catches on in a big way it could well boost the economy and provide a greener future.

February 6th, 2020

Net Zero buildings generate as much energy as they consume. That makes them a key way cities are preparing for the future.