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David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca
Solar thermal advocates are fond of reminding us that homes, especially those in Canada use about 70 per cent of their energy for heating. As solar photovoltaic prices continue to plummet, some net-zero home builders have started pairing solar PV with air-source heat pumps for space heating and electric resistance water heaters to produce hot water.
The era of net-zero homes is upon us. These super-efficient homes use rooftop solar energy production and smaller, electric powered heating systems such as air source heat pumps to produce as much energy as they consume. That's some sexy technology, but it only gets us halfway to net-zero. The real secret is insulation.
It's a beautiful, livable, functional net-zero experiment -- welcome to the home of architect Shafraaz Kaba. Sitting on a corner lot, at the top of the bank of the North Saskatchewan River, the home is a tall and narrow three-story home with solar modules and a flat roof.
Building a net-zero home is an intricate dance between design, technology and location. But if you build a net-zero home in the wilds, far from your work, school and entertainment, with no infrastructure and an hour-long commute how sustainable is it?
For Canada to become an active participant in the global low carbon economy there are several key things Canada needs to do. With ideas like these Canada can access the budding clean energy economy and not get left sucking on a tailpipe.