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What Are Net-Zero Houses and Why Should You Consider Building One?

Is a net-zero home build right for you? (The answer is yes!)

Net-zero inspired houses, also known as zero-energy homes, are gaining popularity in the construction industry. If you're a fellow builder, an architect, or a property owner interested in a sustainable, custom home, you’re likely familiar with this term.

Net-zero certified, and net-zero inspired homes are more than a market trend–they’re helping pave the way for the future of homes and communities through future-forward, sustainable building.

The rate of climate change demands that businesses be thoughtful about their environmental impact. As builders, we want to do what we do (build custom homes that last) in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. 

Are you sitting at your desk thinking, “Sure, that sounds great but what exactly is a net-zero home?”

Or maybe you’ve heard that net-zero houses cost more than a conventional home, aren’t as efficient, or don’t hold up in Canada’s snowy winters and coastal rains. 

It’s time to set the record straight on exactly what a net-zero house is and why you should consider building one. 

Net-Zero Homes: The Real Deal

Net-zero homes produce as much energy as they use. Savvy architectural design works with nature and uses innovative construction methods and advanced technology to create a more sustainable, energy-efficient home.

Before diving into the features and requirements of net-zero houses, let's take a look at what isn’t a net-zero house. 

Net-zero houses aren’t:

  • Tiny homes or off-grid houses 

While tiny homes and off-grid houses are often built with energy efficiency in mind, not every tiny home you see is net zero.

Tiny homes are just that–tiny. They need innovative design and emit up to 70% fewer carbon emissions than conventional homes. But tiny homes aren’t net-zero homes unless they are built with net-zero requirements in mind.

Off-grid houses are homes that are not connected to local energy, water, or sewage systems. These homes rely on features like rainwater catchment systems, composting, wood stoves, and solar energy. 

In contrast to off-grid houses, net-zero houses still provide easy access to electricity and other utilities.

  • Eco-friendly homes

Eco-friendly homes are houses built using sustainable or natural materials. They do not need to meet net-zero requirements, reduce their energy use, be energy-efficient, or produce renewable energy. 

  • Adding a garden wall, low-flush toilets, or automatic lights

We love a plant wall as much as the next person but a net-zero home is more than just a collection of sustainable features. Building a net-zero house means considering the location and direction of the lot, the natural land, the architectural design, and all the home components. 

So what is a net-zero house?

Net-zero and net-zero-inspired homes generate the same amount of energy they consume. They’re still connected to electrical grids so you can heat or cool your house, refrigerate your leftovers, and binge Netflix all weekend. But, net-zero houses use renewable energy systems like solar panels to produce electricity and give back to local electrical grids. 

Net-zero houses are designed with nature in mind. Architectural design in many net-zero and net-zero-inspired houses takes advantage of the landscape, sunshine, wind patterns, and rainfall for effective solar panel usage, home temperature control, and rainwater harvesting. 

Net-zero houses are durable and efficient. A net-zero house built with effective insulation, energy recovery systems, and high-quality, local materials not only consumes less energy but also lasts for decades with little maintenance needed.

What does all this mean for you, a property owner hoping to build a net-zero certified or inspired custom home?

Net-Zero Houses: The Perks and Rewards

Let’s break down how net-zero houses benefit you as a homeowner.  

A net-zero home increases your long-term financial savings.

We won’t lie to you, there are a few additional costs associated with building a net-zero home compared to a traditional custom home. 

A net-zero house depends on a variety of high-quality, durable, and high-performance materials and systems. These features usually come at a price that exceeds the minimum requirement for buildings (also known as “code-built”). But the upfront cost difference between a custom net-zero house and a conventional house is decreasing as technology and materials become more mainstream and readily available, and sustainable building expertise improves.

Your initial investment in a net-zero house is quickly offset by the long-term savings your home generates. With an energy-efficient home, lower maintenance costs, and renewable energy systems, your net-zero home dramatically reduces your annual utilities and upkeep fees. 

A net-zero house has a high overall value.

With the use of high-quality materials and innovative building techniques, net-zero and net-zero-inspired houses deliver a far greater value than traditional custom homes.

These materials and building methods create a more resilient home designed to last for countless family reunions to come. Instead of building a home that requires updating or retrofitting in a few years, a custom net-zero home will keep its value well into the future. 

A net-zero house features leading-edge design and construction.

Since a net-zero house is designed and built with innovation in mind, you’ll enjoy an architecturally stunning home with unparalleled levels of comfort. 

With increased insulation to maintain the ideal room temperature, efficient and thoughtfully designed custom features, and that sweet, sweet filtered air to protect you from smoke, allergens, or other pollutants, your net-zero home keeps elevated comfort in mind. 

A net-zero home reduces your carbon footprint

In a nutshell, by building a net-zero home you are making a choice to create a healthier planet

When you install renewable energy systems and use environmentally-friendly building materials and processes, you reduce your carbon footprint during and after the building process. In addition, net-zero homes also have smaller mechanical systems that don't have to work as hard, meaning they last longer than traditional code-built houses and you won’t need to replace systems as often. 

A net-zero home is one way to provide communities and future generations with a more positive, sustainable future. 

Net-Zero Houses: The Future of Homebuilding

After years of doing costly renovations on rotten code-built homes, our team at NZ Builders knew we wanted more for ourselves and our clients. We believe everyone deserves a healthy home, one that’s well-ventilated, easily maintained, and long-lasting. 

Custom net-zero and net-zero-inspired homes are an opportunity for us to build a positive, sustainable and healthy future for communities. They are one way to change our baseline expectations of what a home needs to be. 

They also make joggers stop in awe and say ‘Woah, I want to live there!’ 

NZ Builders is experienced in building to net-zero standards, net-zero-inspired homes, and other sustainable certifications. We’d love to work with you to choose an approach for your home building and budget goals. 

So, if you’re ready to build a home for your future, and future generations, contact us now for your free consultation call. We’re ready to help you build a healthier home for your family, the community, and our planet.