Rising energy costs and the increasing impact of global climate change have led many Canadians to re-think the choices we make in our daily lives — from the types of cars we drive to the places we call home. To help create a new vision for Canadian housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) EQuilibrium Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative is spearheading the creation of 15 energy-efficient and low environmental impact demonstration homes across the country.
Launched by CMHC in May 2006, the EQuilibrium Housing initiative balances housing needs with those of the natural environment by bringing together, under one roof, the principles of occupant health and comfort, energy efficiency, renewable energy production, resource conservation, reduced environmental impact and affordability. The objectives of the initiative include the demonstration of homes designed to offer:
- Lower monthly utility bills;
- A clean supply of renewable energy in every season;
- Healthier, more comfortable living environments for occupants;
- Reduced waste, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption; and
- A resource-efficient alternative that protects and preserves the environment for future generations.
Six of these homes have already opened their doors to the public. Now, four new demonstration homes have officially broken ground, and are getting ready to turn their builders’ visions into reality:
- The Green Dream Home (Kamloops, B.C.) – a solar-powered two- storey home designed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Central Interior (CHBA CI) and students from Thompson Rivers University to conserve resources, and take advantage of one of Canada’s sunniest cities;
- The Moncton VISION Home (Moncton, N.B.) –a highly efficient and functional home designed by AlternaHome Solutions Inc. and VISION Land Developments Ltd. as the centrepiece of the new “VISION Lands” community in the heart of downtown Moncton, featuring best practices for sustainable development; and
- Harmony House (Burnaby, B.C.) – a single-family home plus in- law suite designed by Habitat Design + Consulting Ltd. and built by Insightful Healthy Homes Inc. to conserve energy and resources, while minimizing emissions of pollutants. The design of Harmony House is also tailored to the unique climate of B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
- Urban Ecology (Winnipeg, Manitoba) – a new, two-storey duplex located on an infill site in an established downtown area, this home, will be built by Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (WHRC), a non-profit developer and manager of affordable housing in Winnipeg. This home will provide an example of affordable housing that also consumes near net zero energy annually.