Net Zero MURBS
CHBA members are leading the way and voluntarily building Net Zero homes. The CHBA Net Zero Home Labelling program has labelled over 600 homes since the program began in 2016. And now, CHBA is proud to announce a new Net Zero initiative: advancing solutions, technologies, and approaches to building Net Zero Energy Ready and Net Zero Energy multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs), with the goal of producing homes that are affordable, replicable, and appealing to Canadians. The project is in partnership with Natural Resources Canada. You can read CHBA's press release here and NRCan's here.
Video: The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources in Canada, delivers a message to Canadians regarding Big Block Construction's craning ceremony for one of the projects that are part of CHBA's Net Zero Ready MURBs initiatives.
About the Initiative
The objective of this project is to validate the use of pre-fabrication (panelization and modular construction) and integrated mechanical system technologies, design and practices on Net Zero Energy Ready and Net Zero Energy MURBs to optimize energy efficient performance, increase construction productivity, shorten construction schedules, and reduce costs.
Six builders from British Columbia, Alberta,
Saskatchewan, and Ontario will each build a low-rise MURB for purely
residential occupancy. The building will consist of a
set of separate, stacked units, with each unit having a private entrance
either outside the building or from a common hall, lobby, vestibule or
stairway inside the building. They will incorporate a minimum of two
vertically stacked units and be a minimum of two storeys above finished
The panelized/modular (factory built) construction will be optimized for advanced, high-performance envelopes designed to address high RSI values, thermal bridging, and airtightness, and will include advanced windows. The integrated mechanicals will be optimized and right-sized and will include technologies such as heat pumps and ventilation (HRVs/ERVs). A holistic house-as-a-system design approach will be utilized while optimizing for performance and costs. This will include a focus on increasing construction productivity and reducing construction schedules, thereby further reducing costs.
The project will be led by CHBA who will work with the participating building teams. It includes four stages:
1. Planning: Building teams comprised of the builders, manufacturers, and experts in building science, panelized modular construction, insulation, and windows and mechanicals meet to share information and optimize their designs.
2. Building: Panelized/modular components for each MURB will be constructed and assembled.
3. Analyzing: An analysis of the actual overall cost savings and productivity gains (compared to the code and current practice in each region) for each build will be done to determine the average savings and assess what level of savings are achievable on a mass scale.
Example of recent analysis: Through the Net Zero MURB project participants, an analysis was performed and detailed on how to reduce costs (both construction and operation) on solar array configurations when looking at multiple units in a single building. The study compared two solar array configurations for a MURB located in Ontario. The first configuration consisted of 12 PV arrays and 12 utility connects to the grid with each net-metered. The second configuration consisted of a single PV array with 12 units sub-metered from a bulk electrical account. Analysis of the two configurations concluded that there is over 11% savings in the second scenario (a single point of connection with submetering), which amounts to over $35,000 in savings for a 12 unit Net Zero MURB. This Point of Connection analysis can be found here.
More cost savings analysis on pre-fabrication construction costs and operation costs are in the works, as are further summaries of net-metering and sub-metering opportunities and limitations which vary across Canada.
4. Sharing: Cross-country knowledge dissemination and capacity building education program to bring the learnings to the mass market industry.