Eco Solar Tower inspires with building energy-efficient, net-zero homes

Take a tour of 16 sites in the Edmonton area to see many ways to live with a reduced carbon footprint.

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Net zero homes are making their mark in Edmonton.

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That’s a big difference from 2008, when Edmonton saw its first net-zero home — a home that generates as much energy as it consumes in a year.

“Since then, from that inspiration (house in Riverdale), we’ve seen many net-zero energy homes built,” said Andrew Mills, president of the nonprofit Eco Solar Home Tour Society of Alberta. . “We are very happy to say that many of them participated in our Eco Solar Tour.”

The company, which is hosting the 2022 edition of the Eco Solar Tour this weekend, knows there are at least 50 net-zero energy homes here and said the number could be much higher, perhaps. be close to 100.

“It’s grown rapidly and we think the Eco Solar Home Tour has been part of that by showing that it’s not rocket science,” Mills said. “It is something that is possible.”

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In the beginning, Mills said, there were custom builders like Effect Homes, Rosecrest Homes and Habitat Studio. “But now, yeah, we’ve started to see major homebuilders get on it,” Mills added. “The first one there was Landmark Homes…and now, recently, it’s Jayman Built.”

There are 16 homes on this year’s tour, with eight viewable on Saturday June 4 and eight more on Sunday June 5, with homes open for in-person viewing between noon and 5 p.m. each day, excluding Site 1 , a Drayton Valley offering on June 4 that opens at 10 a.m.

The Drayton Valley home is a 1963 renovation. The home has been wrapped in straw bales and is now net zero.

Overall, 10 of Edmonton’s 16 sites are net zero.

This year, the tour also returns to Calgary on June 11-12 and Lethbridge on June 18, while adding a new destination, Canmore, on June 25.

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The banks

Peter Neufeld grew up learning that nature will provide more than we need if we take care of the environment. And the idea of ​​using “free” natural resources was a definite draw.

Looking for a builder to build a custom home, designed as a retirement home to allow all family members to age in place, Neufeld selected Rosecrest Homes.

Whilst the initial focus was on maximizing the views – the banks of Keswick offer sweeping views across the river valley – once Rosecrest came on the scene the decision was made to build this house, Site 2, as close to net zero as possible.

“This was achieved through an abundance of insulation, air heating and hot water,” said Heiko Lotzgeselle, owner of Rosecrest Homes, pointing to a built-in wood stove as the main fireplace, where people see the burn with much of the heat emitted into the house, further enhanced by additional hot air ducts (assisted by a fan) to two other rooms in the house. Home cooling, Lotzgeselle added, is assisted by channeling air from the home through underground pipes, which are cooled by the clay surrounding the pipes, and then returned to the air distribution system.

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The home, Mills said, has what is likely the largest solar panel the tour has seen on a single-family home; it is capable of generating 30 kilowatts.

“Having a home with an independent power source (solar) and supplemental heat sources (wood-burning fireplace) provides ‘security’ and a good sense of having done enough/everything is possible,” said Neufeld.

Idylwyde

Also designed as an age-in-place space, Site 6 saw the construction of a new home on an old site.

The previous house was in poor condition and the owners wanted to live in an established neighborhood, liking the idea of ​​a canopy of mature trees.

Although the house was designed to take into account potential mobility issues in the years to come, including installing wide entrances into and into the house and limiting the number of steps as far as the possible, eco-efficiency was also important.
Optimizing solar power was a priority for homeowners who chose Effect Home Builders, known for building net-zero homes.

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“To save energy, the house was built with a well-insulated, airtight building envelope,” said Les Wold, Marketing Director of Effect. “It uses free passive solar energy from the sun, which enters through south-facing windows to heat the copper-brown acid-stained concrete floors. This thermal energy is absorbed by the concrete and slowly released to meet the heating needs of the house. »

The result was an award-winning house, disconnected from natural gas, with 52 photovoltaic solar modules that generate all the electricity needed to heat and run their home and two electric vehicles.

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To participate in the 2022 Edmonton Eco Solar Tour, visit ecosolar.ca to view the homes and choose which ones to visit. The tour, Saturday June 4 and Sunday June 5, includes 16 sites. It’s a free event.

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