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Green Building News

Canada’s NZEH Now House Project

A WWII heritage This home, built during World War II, became the inaugural demo project for Now House Project Inc., which has developed a process for retrofitting older houses into net zero dwellings. The project launched last September.
Image Credit: Now House Project Inc.

A project to bring net zero energy strategies to Canada’s stock of wartime houses advances with retrofits of five homes in Windsor, Ontario

There are a lot of World War II-era houses in Canada, and most have similar footprints and layouts. That was one of the reasons Now House Project Inc., which specializes in retrofitting older houses into net zero energy homes, has focused its design and renovation expertise on wartime-era homes.

Now House has completed one such retrofit, in Toronto, of a 60-year-old two-story that currently serves as its demonstration home. The project was among 12 winning designs in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s EQuilibrium Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative, which is designed to generate interest in eco-friendly design among builders, developers, and the public.

Now House says it is currently working on 16 more houses, including five in Windsor, Ontario, that are expected to be ready for occupancy in the fall.

The five homes are owned by the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation, a public housing provider in Ontario. WECHC told the Windsor Star that it expects to spend about $40,000 ($35,000 U.S.) on each of the five retrofits, which should result in an almost 60% drop in energy use.

WECHC Chief Executive Jim Steele told the paper that each of the retrofitted homes, whose rental rates are pegged to tenants’ incomes, should be able to save as much as $3,500 a year in energy expenses, which will help the housing agency cover the improvement costs in a little more than seven years.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Steele said at an event presented to tout the retrofits. “We can save, on each of these homes, eight tons of greenhouse gases per year. Try to get that out of a Prius.”

The WECHC owns more than 750 buildings that house 10,000 to 12,000 tenants, all of whom pay income-based rental rates. Steele said 125 older homes in the WECHC inventory could benefit from Now House retrofits if all goes well with the initial five.


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