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Seminar explores building residential homes to radically low-energy standards

On January 18, 2024 the Green Construction Research and Training Center (GCRTC – UBC and Okanagan College) was proud to host Net Zero Now in Kelowna, along with the Wilden Living Lab partners, AuthenTech Homes, FortisBC, and the Wilden Group; our sponsors, Genesis Building Controls and Total Home Solutions, and in collaboration with Canadian Home Builders Association Central Okanagan (CHBACO).

Net Zero Now was a cross-discipline seminar that provided many different angles on the topic – from the scientific aspect, that of the energy supplier, the experience and implementation of the builders and subcontractors, to the homeowner and general public.

We are thrilled by the event’s success and wish to also express a special thank you to our Net Zero Now event sponsors – Canadian Home Builders Association Central Okanagan, FortisBC and Quality Air Care.

In case you missed it, here’s a summary of what turned out to be an educational, informative and insightful day for all our attendees.

Key takeaways included:

Future of the Energy System:

Jason Wolfe, Director of Energy Solutions with FortisBC, spoke at length of the importance of a diversified approach to energy. He described how both electricity and renewable natural gas are playing a role in decarbonizing buildings.

Bryce Millman and Max Mathies, also with FortisBC, presented how residential battery storage systems could potentially be used to provide grid relief during peak periods, with EV charging as another option for consideration.

Green Construction Training and Research Centre:

The Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC) was developed as a strategic partnership between UBC & Okanagan College: UBC graduate students facilitate the research data collection and  the faculty of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College focus on Work Integrated Learning opportunities for Okanagan College students.

We were privileged to have both Dr. Shahria Alam of UBC and Stephen Speers of Okanagan College at this event to further highlight the value of this partnership.

Energy Efficiency Strategies:

Trent Novakowski with Genesis Buildings Controls, Dr. Piyaruwan Kaluthantirige with SAIT and S. Rubaiya Sultana of the UBC Research Team spent the later portion of the morning speaking on energy upgrade technologies and data evaluation of the technologies used in the Wilden Living Lab homes. They also addressed Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) and embodied carbon.

Gilles Lesage, Energy Advisor from Total Homes Solutions guided the design of all three Wilden Living Lab homes. Gilles talked about the essential role of early energy modeling in building better homes.

Building our Future:

Before lunch, Scott Tyerman and Dominique Caron of AuthenTech Homes led an engaging dialogue on the integrated design process (IDP), wall design and the steps it takes to get an envelope airtight, with the Next Generation Home as a key example.

Greening our Neighbourhoods:

Before ending the day with a panel discussion Karin Eger-Blenk, CEO of the Wilden Group, shared her vision on how we can develop a low-emission community. By taking lessons learned over the past twenty years, she showed how we can create a movement towards a greener, better future for our neighbourhoods.

The responses received from attendees of Net Zero Now were so positive that we are already excited to be making plans for next year’s event, tentatively scheduled for January 2025. One owner of a construction company who attended mentioned that he had never learned so much about building a net-zero home in any other seminar they’ve previously attended.

Other attendees shared similar sentiments:

“I was pleased to attend the Net Zero Now seminar which was well presented and an extremely informative event that emphasized the importance of industry and community working together, to develop and implement solutions in building more energy efficient and sustainable homes that are imperative to our Okanagan region and beyond.” 

– Dick Fletcher, Co-Chair Innovation Okanagan Network (ION)

If you’re interested in learning more about net zero homes, sign up for our Wilden Living Lab Newsletter for information on the Wilden Living Lab Project, the latest news stories, as well as updates on the upcoming Net Zero Now in 2025 – you won’t want to miss out on this opportunity again next year.