A home’s energy efficiency and performance level is measured using the EnerGuide rating system, which rates a home’s energy performance by comparing it to a code built “reference home” and is expressed in GJ/yr (gigajoules per year). The lower the number, the more efficient the home. The EnerGuide rating system is used by all the national energy-efficiency programs and some regional programs, too.
Here’s a look at some of the most common home building standards you’ll see in BC that use EnerGuide, and what you can expect from each of them.
Net Zero Energy homes
A Net Zero Energy home produces as much energy (from renewable energy sources) as it consumes on an annual basis. A home that receives a ‘net zero’ label is considered up to 80 per cent more efficient than a home built to code.
To achieve this, an energy strategy that combines efficiency, conservation and production is used to balance upfront costs against on-going operating costs. A Net Zero Ready home is effectively the same as a Net Zero Energy home.
While the home has been designed with a renewable energy system in mind, it isn’t included with the new home but is intended to be installed in the future.
R-2000 homes are about 50 per cent more efficient than a code built home while offering increased comfort, health and environmental advantages. It requires that only licensed R-2000 builders do the work.
R-2000 initially focused almost entirely on energy efficiency, but the rating has since upped its sustainability credentials by incorporating water use, indoor air quality and sustainable material sourcing. Typical features of an R-2000 home include:
- High insulation levels in walls, ceilings and basements
- High-efficiency windows and doors
- High-efficiency heating
- Whole-house mechanical ventilation
- Testing to ensure minimal air leakage
- Water-conserving fixtures
ENERGY STAR for New Homes
Homes with the ENERGY STAR for New Homes rating are about 20 per cent more energy efficient than the BC building code. Features you’ll find in homes that get the ENERGY STAR stamp of approval include:
- Efficient heating and cooling systems that use less energy, reduce indoor humidity and improve the comfort of your home
- High-performance ENERGY STAR windows, patio doors, and skylights
- Walls and ceilings insulated beyond what is required by the building code
- A variety of ENERGY STAR products
- A heat or energy recovery ventilation system (HRV or ERV) that ensures your home has continuous fresh air while exhausting moist or stale air
In addition to recognizing new homes that achieve high performance using the EnerGuide rating system, these organizations operate in certain areas within Canada with their own programs and labels:
- Built Green Canada: The private not-for-profit association Built Green Canada operates this standard, which is available in Alberta, BC, and Ontario, and covers energy use, water conservation, indoor air quality and sustainable materials.
- Passive House Canada: Passive House Canada is an affiliate of the International Passive House Association and a member of the North American Passive House Network. The rigorous, voluntary international standard focuses on energy efficiency in a building and reducing its ecological footprint. It results in low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.
If you’re looking to purchase or build a new home, even one built at least 20 per cent more efficient than the typical new home can offer great benefits to you and your family. A better built home minimizes heat loss and provides a balanced fresh air supply so that you’ll be comfortable and get peace and quiet while using less energy.