May 27, 2019

Navigating to Net-Zero Energy Homes

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Last month, we provided you with an introduction about the BC Energy Step Code and where the future of home building is going.


You’re probably wondering… well where is all of this going exactly? What’s the end goal?


Well you’re in luck because today we’re going to talk about the final destination: Net-Zero Energy homes.

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What is Net-Zero Energy?

Net-Zero Energy construction is centered around building homes with zero net energy consumption. In other words, the total amount of energy used by the home on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the same site. This means, these homes contribute less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than other homes. This doesn’t mean that these homes don’t consume non-renewable energy or produce greenhouse gases at all, but rather, at other times, will be able to significantly reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas production elsewhere by roughly the exact same amount.

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Where do they get their energy?

The majority of Net-Zero Energy homes obtain at least half of their energy from the grid, in other words, electrical power. Energy is also harvested on-site through options like solar or wind power. Maintaining that energy and efficiency is made more possible with the increased use of spray-foam insulation, high-efficiency solar panels, high-efficiency heat pumps and low-emissions triple-glazed windows.


What are the advantages?

There are numerous advantages about building and living in a Net-Zero Energy home, which include:

-      Increased comfort in the home as a result of more consistent temperatures throughout;

-      Reductions in the overall cost of ownership;

-      Reduced costs of living;

-      Improved reliability as a result of a more durable home;

-      Higher resale value for future selling;

-      Benefit of a contributing to greater good for the environment.


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And what are some of the disadvantages?

The advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages in this case. Nonetheless, there are still a few worth mentioning that include:

-      Initial costs of construction tend to be higher;

-      There are only a few designers or builders with the skills to create a Net-Zero Energy home;

-      Without the use of an optimized thermal envelope, the heating/cooling energy and resource usage is typically higher than it needs to be.

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How is Net-Zero Energy different from “Green Building”?

Green Building” differs in the sense that the goal of “Green Building” is to be able to use resources more efficiently while also reducing the home’s negative impact it poses on the environment. Net-Zero Energy homes only achieve one key “green-building” goal, which is to significantly reduce their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for the entire life of the structure. Net-Zero Energy homes may not be considered “green” in all areas of the home but they do generate a smaller ecological impact, in comparison to other “green” buildings.


We hope you enjoyed learning more about the Net-Zero Energy home. This is definitely going to change the way we live and enjoy our homes!


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