Stimulating growth for green-living
Given the opportunity, most homeowners would gladly ditch their electricity bills by living in a net-zero abode - a home that produces as much or more energy than it consumes annually.
Unfortunately, the high cost of custom building eco-friendly homes has historically kept them out of reach for the average homebuyer. The Government of Canada is now working to change that - and SAIT's Green Building Technologies (GBT) researchers are playing a part.
The ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative (ecoEII) will nearly double the number of Net-Zero Energy Homes (NZEH) in Canada and is encouraging companies like Mattamy Homes to find ways to make green living a viable option for the average Canadian.
Having worked with SAIT's GBT team on green building projects in the past, Mattamy Homes, once again began consulting with SAIT researchers for their expertise in affordable green building technologies.
"SAIT has been a great partner," says Warren Saunders, Mattamy's Vice President of Sales and Marketing and a graduate of SAIT's Architectural Technologies program.
"We have a number of SAIT grads in our company and there's a lot of trust and pride in working with them."
SAIT helps big builder go greener
David Silburn, GBT Research Associate, says for net-zero homes to reach a widespread market, home builders need to adapt their processes to meet new demands in eco-friendly housing.
"The tools are there, the technology is there - education needs to come next, and education is SAIT's core business," says Silburn. "We're proud to share expertise that will help bring green building into a bigger production context."
Silburn and his team consulted with Mattamy primarily on the building envelope - the elements making up the outer shell of a home. This includes framing, building materials, insulation, and the process to put it all together - all of which impact the indoor temperature and the cost required to maintain it.
SAIT offered troubleshooting, a construction sequence, and a step-by-step guide for Mattamy framers. SAIT also worked with site supervisors and framers to ensure the envelope quality met the requirements for a NZEH recognized home.
"Our consulting work on this project was less about the technology, and more about refining the production process to be more affordable," says Silburn.
The first of five
Mattamy's first net-zero home is already complete. The 1,658-square-foot house is the first of five that will be constructed in the northeast community of Cityscape by spring 2016.
The initiative will bring at least 25 homes to neighbourhoods across Canada in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
"This flagship project will help pave the way for Mattamy, as well as other production homebuilders, to make net-zero homes available in more communities," said Brad Carr, president, Mattamy Homes Canada.
While entire net-zero neighbourhoods won't happen overnight, Silburn says the ecoEII project will get more builders on board with processes to make them a very real possibility.