Greener, net-zero home

Chelsea Powrie

An increasingly popular housing trend aimed at cutting down carbon footprints — and energy bills — has made its way to Penticton. 

They are called "passive houses," and they comply to rigorous standards and marking systems measuring energy efficiency. A home on Heales Street has become the first private residence to attempt that standard in town. 

"We are actually going net-zero, so we refine it that right level and then by adding just the right amount of solar panels, this house will actually require zero energy from the grid, it will actually produce more energy than it consumes," said Brett Sichello, whose Kelowna company Nido Design Inc. designed the house. 

"It's super insulated," he explained. "So our walls, when they're done, they're almost 18 inches thick, versus a normal house which is six."

They worked in concert with Passive House Canada to hold an open social Friday afternoon, inviting neighbours and media to learn more about the home. Many were curious, especially since the home went from a concrete slab to a full frame in just five days, thanks to the use of prefabricated materials. 

"Wrapped with a weather-resistance barrier, so it's just massively faster and the level of quality in the construction is that much higher in our experience," Sichello said, adding that an on-site construction job for the same home might take two to three months. 

Passive House Canada sent a representative to help facilitate the open house, sharing his experience with pre-fab, net-zero homes all around. 

"These builds are 90 per cent more energy efficient than the standard homes you see around us," said Shaun St-Amour, socials coordinator. 

Net-zero homes and pre-fab materials are increasingly popular, and while creating a structure at passive home or near standards is more pricy than a regular build, St-Amour says it's worth it. 

"The extra construction costs, on a monthly scale — yeah, there might be a higher construction cost, but the low energy offsets it. So at the end of the day, per month, they're saving money," he said. "From the get-go. Not just in five or ten years, but as soon as they move in."

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