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Green Building News

Canada Keeps Rolling Out Green Demo Homes

North of the border. The Minto Ecohome, in Manotick, Ontario, is one of six homes now completed and open for public viewing as part of the EQuilibrium Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative, a program launched in 2006 by Canada’s national housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This example, designed by The Minto Group, features rainwater harvesting for irrigation and toilets; low-flow faucets and fixtures; dual-flush toilets; solar thermal air collectors; solar hot water collectors; PV power panels on the roof; an extended roof line; passive solar design with slate floors to retain solar heat; double-insulated walls; triple-pane windows; bamboo flooring and stairs; low-VOC paints and finishes; and CF lighting throughout.
Image Credit: The Minto Group

A national program launched three years ago invites homebuilders and developers to show off their greenest designs

In May 2006, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation – the country’s national housing agency – announced an initiative designed to generate interest in eco-friendly housing among builders, developers, and the public.

The CMHC, which calls the program the EQuilibrium Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative, solicited proposals for demonstration homes that, once built, would serve as models and inspiration for comparable home construction on a larger scale. Completed homes are open to the public for a minimum six-month demonstration period and are then monitored for performance for at least a year thereafter.

The CMHC says 72 builder- and developer-led teams submitted proposals, and an independent committee of housing experts selected 12 teams to build demo homes. Six homes have been completed and winning project proposals for three more were announced in February.

The completed homes include the Avalon Discovery House and the Laebon CHESS Project, both in Red Deer, Alberta; the Riverdale NetZero Project in Edmonton; the EcoTerra house in Eastman, Quebec; the Now House project, in Toronto; and the Minto Ecohome in Manotick, Ontario.


  1. AndrewInChelseaQC | | #1

    Net Zero: Working hard to make it complicated
    The Healthy House, built in ~1995, which came out of a CMHC design competition was pretty cool. Totally off grid in downtown Toronto. Incredibly forward thinking. Thirteen years later and the results from this recent CMHC design competition haven't raised the bar? Arguably the bar has been lowered, which is pretty much a disappointment.

    We had a, now retired, CMHC guy come and give a presentation to a local community group about the CMHC's net zero competition (EQuilibrium) a couple of years ago. I should have asked him to talk about what he thought was really progressive and interesting out there in terms of building sustainable residential housing/communities.

    Because it kind of became apparent that he really wasn't that impressed with the entries submitted to the competition, mostly because they had high energy demands that were made up with expensive renewable energy generation. And anyone who is, as he was, aware of Passive House would recognize that this was a pretty daft way of going about things. He also obliquely indicated something about the solar industry lobbying for the creation of the design competition.

    Shouldn't we deal with the heat loss first! And only then consider putting solar on the roof.

    By the way, it's remarkable how the commodity price of copper has held up during this rather ugly global recession.

    It's looking like copper will be the new oil.

    Wouldn't it make more sense, and be cheaper in the long run, to use lots of cellulose, and *PS or PU than to use complicated copper based renewable energy systems to make up for not using enough insulation in the first place?

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Update on the Riverdale project
    For those who have been following the Riverdale project in Edmonton, Alberta, here's a January 21, 2011 update received in an e-mail from Peter Amerongen:

    "Our Riverdale project seems to be using more heating energy than predicted. Early measurements from both Mill Creek and Belgravia seem to be showing higher than H2K predicted heating energy. I don't know where the short fall is. It could be lower passive solar gains is certainly using more heating energy than predicted. It could be lower internal gains than predicted, lower HRV efficiency or just higher heat transmission losses. We need to find out what we can do better. It may be that HOT2000 is over predicting passive solar gains or under predicting heating energy in super insulated houses. It is also possible that we aren't rigorous enough with our inputs."

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