There is no longer any doubt that energy efficient buildings are making an impact on the construction industry, now that the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) have the Net Zero Energy Housing Council, whose spring meeting in Ottawa was densely populated by industry stakeholders.  I have not attended many professional events in our industry without mention of net zero or passive housing, and the Canadian Manufactured Housing Institute (CMHI) Design and Technology Forum was not the exception.  The morning was filled with three speakers who are leading the way in energy efficient building design: Richard Briginshaw, Professor and Coordinator of the Architecture Graduate Program at Algonquin College, spoke of his students’ projects (one of which is highlighted below); Hunter Zhaoyu Chen, an architect at Y.C. Lee Architecture Ltd. Co. and former student of Briginshaw’s, presented the design of a highly efficient seniors’ home; and Milfred Hammerbacher, CEO of s2e Technologies Inc., talked about the development of London’s Smart Community, an entire net zero energy community.

In his lectures, Briginshaw encourages students to consider passive methods first to achieve net zero in their building designs.  As part of the Race to Zero competition, his students designed the NoMAD (Northern Moveable Adaptable Design) House, a prefabricated construction that achieves at least an R35 wall, an R55 roof, and an R40 floor (all values are in R effective).  They were asked to consider achieving net zero, and to decide on materials, such as superinsulation, early on. They scored highly in all categories: energy efficiency, healthy indoor environment, affordability, environmental responsibility, and resource efficiency.  The House was so efficient, that the pilot light was enough to heat up the whole interior space!