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One needs only to rip open this month’s energy bill to realize how attractive owning a net zero home could be.
A net zero home generates as much energy as it uses over the course of a year and looks just like any other home on the street, save the solar panels on the roof.
Cedarglen Homes recently completed its first net zero home and is now a qualified net zero builder as recognized by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. Cedarglen is the latest Calgary builder to jump on the carbon reduction bandwagon with the successful net zero prototype — a 959-square-foot home in Livingston. It was accomplished with modifications to its Star SSY 30, a floor plan in Cedarglen’s existing M-Series of bungalows.
The home is located in Livingston and was purchased soon after it was built by Denver Harvie of Calgary. As a part-time student and Cedarglen sales associate in another area of the city, the 20-something Harvie had been looking to move up from a townhouse to a single-family home while interest rates were still low.
He was drawn to the compact size of the Star and its correspondingly affordable price. He initially thought it was a regular spec home, not immediately realizing the incredible energy saving opportunity that lay within.
“I learned that this home offered more than just any new home on the market. The net zero component was very appealing to me. As a Gen Z, my focus is on conserving the environment, lessening the impact and hopefully reducing the overall costs associated with home ownership,” he says. “I knew the basic idea of net zero but didn’t understand the systems involved. I’ve participated in many orientations to do with solar panels and overall electric use. I have this cool app on my phone that tells me how much energy I am using and how much energy is being produced on a daily basis.”
Very soon, homes built to net zero specifications will be the norm. The home building industry has committed to adopting net zero ready building codes by 2030, a benchmark on the path to total carbon neutral compliance by all Canadians by 2050.
“We believe that innovation starts today,” says Howard Tse, Cedarglen president. “For our first home, we took an existing model and made adjustments to make it net zero certified. We are able to do the same on any of our current home models and our next net zero home is already in construction.”
The Star bungalow has a main floor master with an additional flex room, half bathroom, a spacious kitchen and a great room. The 707-square-foot basement is large enough for two additional bedrooms, a full bathroom and a large rec room. The smaller footprint of the M Series bungalows, which Cedarglen builds in the Brookfield Residential communities of Seton in the southeast and Livingston in the northeast, keep operating costs to a minimum even before net zero upgrades.
The home is completely electric, from the heat pump and hot water tank to the appliances. The production of energy is achieved through the solar panels on the roof and energy consumption can be monitored with the Solar Edge app.
The net zero modifications are most evident in the home’s mechanical room where the solar inverter, hybrid hot water heater and Mitsubishi heat pump are located. The heat pump eliminates the cycling of a traditional furnace, so the heat is distributed evenly throughout the house. It works in reverse for air conditioning. Pretum Marang, Cedarglen purchasing and estimating manager, says they chose that particular brand of pump because it works well with Calgary’s climate.
“It goes down to -25 Celsius and after that point, the backup auxiliary heat kicks in,” he says.
The hybrid hot water heater takes ambient air from in the room to heat the water, using very little electricity.
The home has additional insulation above and below grade and underneath the basement slab. Triple-pane windows and an HRV system are other essential elements of the net zero home and are standard features in all Cedarglen homes.
The standard models in Cedarglen’s M-Series, without net zero technology, are priced from the mid-$500,000s in Livingston. Tse says Cedarglen doesn’t have a set net zero “package” or specific pricing as yet.
“Seeing this was our first venture into net zero, we are continuing to optimize our building practices to find the most affordable options. We encourage anyone who is interested to reach out. We are ready to dialogue with homeowners to model and cost the best solution for their budget,” he says.
DEVELOPER: Brookfield Residential.
BUILDER: Cedarglen Homes.
MODEL: The Star SSY 30 Bungalow with double garage.
SIZE: 959-square-foot, one-bedroom main floor, 707-square-foot developable basement.
PRICE: From the mid $500,000s with net zero technology on demand.
INFORMATION: Star SSY 30 show home is located in Seton. See more at cedarglenhomes.com.