PEI

New award for net-zero home designed to inspire P.E.I. builders

An energy-efficient home in New Glasgow was the big winner at the first-ever awards for excellence in residential construction, handed out by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of P.E.I.

'We hope to take the lead from New Brunswick and have dozens of efficient builders'

Tim McHatten, owner of T&J Construction, says with energy-efficient homes, it's important to try to build as square as possible because corners add to heat loss. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

An energy-efficient home in New Glasgow, P.E.I., was the big winner at the first-ever awards for excellence in residential construction, handed out by the Canadian Home Builders' Association of P.E.I.

There were six categories—including best net-zero ready home, and that award went to T&J Construction.

"I've always been passionate about energy efficiency ever since I started in new construction. Started in R-2000, and net-zero just become the next new thing," said owner and builder Tim McHatten.

"The efficiency level of them, the architecture you can do with them, it was definitely a passionate thing for us."

R-2000 is a voluntary standard developed by Natural Resources Canada in collaboration with Canada's residential construction industry to promote the use of affordable, energy-efficient building practices and techniques, clean air features and other measures to help protect the environment.

The home features a wall of triple pane windows at the front that don't open, helping with the home's energy efficiency. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

McHatten said a net-zero home is basically the home producing as much energy as it is using, either off the grid, or still connected.  

"If you're living off the grid completely, and not relying on power, you have to have a home that meets the efficiency levels and can generate its own power," McHatten said. 

"You can build a net-zero ready home and be hooked up to the grid, and you can still produce power, but you still have that backup security just in case." 

Key features

McHatten said the winning home includes many of the key features of net-zero construction.

"Insulation's a big part of it. Ventilation is a very big part of net-zero homes, triple pane windows," McHatten said.

"The ICF foundations are very important. Under the slabs, insulation is very important, attic insulation. Getting your sunlight from the windows is a huge step too."

McHatten said the insulation under the slabs is important to the home's energy efficiency. (Submitted by Tim McHatten)

McHatten said the house has heat pumps, and a hybrid hot water heater with a heat pump built on top of it, which he said costs about a tenth of what an electric hot water heater would. 

McHatten said the home design is also very square, for a reason. 

"When you get into doing energy-efficient homes, it's important to try and build as square as possible," McHatten said. "The corners really add up to heat loss because there's less insulation."

McHatten is pictured standing in front of the award-winning energy-efficient home in New Glasgow, P.E.I. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

McHatten's company also took the top prize in two other categories, and is already planning his entry for next year.

"I think it's something to hopefully inspire more people to enter, to give you that little drive, because a lot of people are building very efficient homes," McHatten said. 

Build on success

The Home Builders' Association of P.E.I. hopes to build on the interest generated by the net-zero award.

"We really wanted to recognize builders on the Island who are taking that step in certifying themselves and building these great efficient homes," said association executive officer Alicia Packwood.

Alicia Packwood says she hopes more P.E.I. homeowners start to look for energy-efficient builds, which would encourage more builders to take the training. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"The winning home was amazing. It not only had great efficiency, but it's also a beautiful, really modern home. 

"I think that sometimes people think that the energy-efficiency piece may take away from the esthetic of the home, but this home really had it all." 

T&J Construction also won awards for best new home under 2,500 square feet and best new home over 2,500 square feet. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Packwood said she hopes more P.E.I. homeowners start to look for energy-efficient builds, which would encourage more builders to become certified. 

In January, the association is partnering with Efficiency P.E.I. to offer training for R-2000 and net-zero building, through Natural Resources Canada. 

"We know that the industry is so busy right now, so it's really difficult for builders to set aside a week to do this training, and then mentorship after the training," Packwood said.  

"But once they get certified, it becomes just the way they build."

McHatten says the house has heat pumps, and a hybrid hot water heater with a heat pump built on top of it, which he said costs about a tenth of what an electric hot water heater would. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Packwood said she hopes P.E.I. will eventually have the same kind of success as in New Brunswick, which has hundreds of builders when they offer the training.

"We hope to kind of take the lead from New Brunswick and be able to have dozens of efficient builders that are certified on P.E.I.,"  Packwood said.

"Right now we have less than five. But we're hoping that, over the next five years, we can have upwards of 30 efficient builders on P.E.I." 

McHatten says the winning home includes many of the key features of net-zero construction, including insulation, ventilation and triple pane windows. (Submitted by Tim McHatten)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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