Energy efficiency ratings are going down

As printed in The Marketplace - May/June 2018

Not that long ago, a home’s energy efficiency was rated on an ascending scale — the higher the number, the better. Those days are done, and the goal now is to see how low you can go.

Energy usage measured in gigajoules is now the measuring stick, with Net Zero being the ultimate achievement. A net zero home is one designed, modelled and built to produce as much energy as it uses annually. That future is closer than you think, energy efficiency specialist Mehmet Ferdiner told a Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy seminar recently.

Japan had 20,000 net zero homes as of 2014. California is requiring that all new homes be net zero ready by 2020. Canada proposes that by 2030, all new buildings should be net zero ready. (A net zero ready home is airtight enough that with the addition of solar panels to generate power, it will be net zero).

Europe is requiring that all new buildings be net  zero by 2021.

A few net zero home pilot projects have been done in Canada. One builder has reduced the incremental cost down to about $15,000 extra, with an eight-to 10-year payback, Ferdiner said.

A home energy rating disclosure act is coming soon in Canada, requiring all homes to be labelled, “basically like calories on a box.” ◆