4. ZERO-ENERGY HOMES
A rendering of a Fab-homes Passive House, which are designed to consume up to 90% less energy. www.fab-homes.com
Cutting-edge designers and builders will continue to push net-zero projects closer to the mainstream in 2010 as a way to set themselves apart from competitors, Koerner says. These types of homes, which produce as much energy as they consume, go above and beyond typical third-party green-certified dwellings.
Wilson agrees that it’s not too soon to be talking about the acceptance of zero-energy houses, citing the success of the Germany-based Passivhaus movement in Europe.
“There’s finally a lot of excitement about the Passive House movement, so I expect to see much great interest in that throughout the country,” he says. “It’s brand new here but if you look at where it’s been active in Europe for the last 10 years, one-quarter of new homes in Austria is being built to Passivhaus standards.”
The rigorous, ultra-efficient building technique will take a while to fully catch on, Wilson says, but he believes smart builders will start educating themselves this year. (Learn more at Passive House Institute.)
“When we hit our next price hike in energy, which is likely to happen when the economy recovers, everywhere you turn there are going to be articles about people in different communities building Passive houses,” he says. “At that point people are going to take notice and then we’ll see more widespread acceptance of the technology.”
One of the companies making this trend available to average homeowners, Vancouver-based Fab-homes recently introduced a collection of pre-designed houses inspired by Passive House principles for the North American market. The homes are designed to consume up to 90% less energy for heating, cooling, and building operation than a standard house and up to 50% less that a LEED-Platinum home.
“The idea is to make Passive House design more accessible and affordable and present a selection of different shapes offering flexible, ready-to-go design solutions,” says Alexander Maurer, director of Fab-homes.