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These new homes make the energy they use

These new homes make the energy they use

June 2, 2018

The spacious home in Guelph’s toney Heritage Lake Estates has all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a $6.5-million, luxury residence: seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, 16-foot ceilings, high-end appliances, a wine room, home gym, theatre room and games room.

Outdoors, there are covered and open patios, an al fresco kitchen, limestone facade and walkways, feature walls and a concrete pool.

Built by Claxton + Marsh and completed in 2017, the total 9,200-sq.-ft. house has it all — except for costly energy bills.

As Canada’s first luxury certified Net-Zero home, it produces at least as much energy as it consumes, thanks in part to the expansive array of rooftop solar panels. To qualify as Net Zero, it also includes enhanced insulation and air tightness, triple-glazed windows, superior indoor air quality, water-saving features and energy-efficient lighting.

This is the future of home building. It’s a timely look ahead —Tuesday, June 5 is World Environment Day. As well, the provincial government requires that,by 2030, all new houses be constructed as Net Zero. A year ago, the Canadian Homebuilders Association launched a labelling program to provide a system to recognize Net Zero and Net-Zero Ready homes. (Net-Zero Ready homes lack only the solar panels).

Fully Net-Zero homes are still rare in Canada and most are modest in size. They have their challenges, such the high cost of some components, and insufficient hydro infrastructure that limits how many homes can be hooked up to the grid.

With his Heritage Lake Estates house, Shawn Marsh, president of Claxton + Marsh, wanted to prove that someone could have a large, luxury home yet still be a good eco-citizen. And he wanted to build a house that didn’t sacrifice curb appeal or features, such as 19-foot glass curtain walls.

“Initially, my designers said it couldn’t be done, but after a lot of ‘Why nots?’, they engineered a design that met all the Net-Zero criteria,” says Marsh. “We didn’t want to build a one-off glass castle. We wanted to be able to integrate the technology and offer it to our clientele.”

He and wife Eve Claxton, who had a major hand in designing the house, moved into it last summer to gain first-hand insights and work out any issues since Marsh plans to build two Net-Zero estate subdivisions. He is installing a comprehensive monitoring system on every circuit in the home to show clients where the hydro goes and what the consumption is.

“My wife made it clear she did not want to see any solar panels,” says Marsh, who plans to sell the house later this year. “So we designed a commercial-style flat roof, complete with parapet walls to hide the panels. This had the added advantage of allowing us to disregard home orientation. The home faces north and all our panels face south.”

Read more at The Star.