Nestled amidst breathtaking mountains, pristine forests, and the shimmering waters of Howe Sound and Cheakamus River, the Sea to Sky communities of Whistler and Squamish offer an unparalleled natural playground combined with vibrant cultural scenes and a strong sense of community.
Whistler is renowned as a world-class skiing and snowboarding destination, host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Residents can enjoy endless days of adventure on the slopes during winter, while in the summer, the region transforms into a haven for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and water sports. Mountain biking enthusiasts enjoy exhilarating rides in a vast trail network, including the famous Whistler Bike Park with its thrilling downhill runs.
Hiking enthusiasts in Whistler can embark on picturesque trails that wind through ancient forests, alpine meadows, and spectacular glacial valleys. For those looking for an adrenaline rush, there’s zip-lining, bungee jumping, and white-water rafting. Whistler’s lakes and rivers provide opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and paddleboarding.
Squamish has been dubbed the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.” The Stawamus Chief, a towering granite monolith, attracts climbers from around the world, offering challenging routes and stunning views of Howe Sound and the surrounding Coast Mountains. Squamish is a mecca for mountain biking, boasting an extensive network of trails with much to offer for all skill levels. From thrilling downhill descents to scenic cross-country rides, bikers can immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes of coastal rainforests and majestic peaks.
Squamish also is known for hiking trails, offering treks like the iconic Stawamus Chief Trail, the serene Four Lakes Trail at Alice Lake Provincial Park, or the expansive Garibaldi Provincial Park with its glacier-capped mountains and turquoise lakes. Water enthusiasts relish the Squamish River and Howe Sound opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, or sailing and kiteboarding, taking advantage of the area’s strong winds.
If you’re planning to build a custom home or retrofit an existing one in BC’s Sea to Sky Corridor, a Net Zero home offers numerous advantages to Squamish and Whistler homeowners. It significantly reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions by generating as much renewable energy as it consumes, resulting in a minimal carbon footprint. This not only helps combat climate change but also reduces your reliance on fossil fuels.
Your net zero home will provide substantial long-term cost savings by minimizing BC Hydro energy bills through energy-efficient design and renewable energy generation. A well-designed net zero home will prioritize superior indoor air quality, comfort, and durability, creating a healthier and more comfortable living environment for your family. Net zero homes exemplify sustainable living and contribute to a greener and more sustainable future for everyone.
The goal of a net zero home is to achieve a neutral or zero carbon footprint by minimizing energy consumption and offsetting it with renewable energy generation.
A net zero home:
Net Zero isn’t a clearly defined universal standard in Canada the way Passive House is. According to the Government of Canada, they will provide tools to make new buildings more energy efficient. “Working with the provinces and territories, the federal government will develop a building code that, when adopted by provinces and territories and used by builders, could enable all new buildings to be built net-zero energy ready by 2030.”
Tools designers can incorporate to achieve their targets are:
Net-zero homes exemplify the possibilities of sustainable living and are playing a crucial role in mitigating climate change and creating a greener future for Canadians.
The BC Energy Step Code is a provincial initiative that sets progressive performance targets for new construction. Local governments in British Columbia can choose to require or incentivize a particular step of the BC Energy Step Code for new construction, or at their option, across all of their projects.
To comply with the BC Energy Step Code designers and builders are required to use energy modelling software and on-site testing, to demonstrate that both the submitted design and constructed building meet the standard’s requirements.
The Step Code sets forth performance targets for new construction, grouping them into steps. The diagram above outlines five steps from the current BC Building Code requirements to “net zero energy ready” requirements for Part 9 residential buildings. The target for achieving Step 5 across all new construction is the year 2032, with all new homes qualifying as net zero ready.
One of the key benefits of owning a net zero home is its exceptional energy efficiency. Superior insulation, high-performance windows and doors, and an airtight building envelope prevent heat loss or gain; and energy-efficient appliances, lighting fixtures, and HVAC systems are commonly installed to further reduce energy consumption. The energy efficiency of net zero homes translates directly into substantial cost savings.
Solar panels, which are commonly installed on the rooftops of net zero homes, harness the power of the sun to generate electricity, allowing you to become a self-sufficient energy producer. Any excess energy produced can be fed back into the grid, earning credits or monetary compensation through net metering.
Solar panels are the key component for most net zero renewable energy systems, harnessing the power of the sun and converting it into usable energy for powering your home.
The cells in your solar panels are composed of semiconductor materials, such as silicon, which convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity through the photovoltaic effect. Most household appliances and electrical systems in our homes run on alternating current (AC), so an inverter is used to convert the DC electricity generated by the solar panels into usable AC electricity.
The AC electricity produced by the solar panels is sent to the electrical panel, also known as the breaker box or distribution panel. The electrical panel then distributes the electricity to various circuits throughout your home, providing power to lights, appliances, HVAC systems and other electrical devices. Any excess electricity that is not immediately used by your home can be fed back into the electrical grid through a process called net metering.
BC Hydro’s net metering program was designed for homeowners who generate electricity for their own use. The program was designed to allow you to generate your own power and become self-sufficient while having the flexibility of relying on the power grid during periods when the solar (or wind) system does not provide enough energy to fully meet your home’s needs.
When more energy is generated than you need, it’s fed back to the grid, and you receive generation credits that can be applied toward future electricity use. During periods when your system doesn’t generate enough to cover your needs, you buy power from BC Hydro, applying any accumulated credit.
As a net zero homeowner, you’ll enjoy outstanding comfort, free of drafts and cold spots, with fresh, filtered air in every room. A sealed building envelope, super-insulation, high-efficiency windows and doors, and an advanced HVAC system deliver stable indoor temperatures.
Thermal bridging refers to areas within your building’s structure where heat can easily transfer through materials with high thermal conductivity, such as studs, beams, metal components or poorly insulated sections. Addressing and eliminating thermal bridging can minimize heat loss or gain.
Creating a sealed building envelope involves meticulous insulation and air sealing, ensuring that there are no unintended gaps or leaks where the conditioned air can escape or outside air can infiltrate. Advanced HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems with zoning capabilities allow you to customize the temperature in different areas of the house, ensuring personalized comfort.
One of the key features of net zero homes is the air ventilation system, also known as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV). The mechanical ventilation system introduces fresh, filtered air from the outside and exhausts stale air from the inside.
Controlled ventilation helps remove indoor pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), allergens, and airborne contaminants, creating a healthier living environment. By expelling stale air and introducing only filtered air from the outdoors, the system helps remove allergens, odours, and potentially harmful contaminants from the incoming air stream, promoting better respiratory health and reducing the risk of pollutant-related health problems.
One of the primary contributors to carbon emissions is energy consumption from residential buildings, including heating, cooling, and electricity usage. According to the BBC, “Residential properties are responsible for between 17-21% of energy-related carbon emissions globally.” Net zero homes address this pressing climate issue by implementing energy-efficient design strategies and incorporating renewable energy systems.
Net zero homes focus on minimizing energy waste and optimizing energy use. By reducing the energy demand, your Squamish or Whistler net zero home lessens the strain on the power grid and decreases your need for energy generation from traditional, hydro and carbon-intensive sources. Renewable energy systems such as solar panels generate clean, renewable electricity, reducing your reliance on fossil fuel-based power generation.
This decentralized approach to energy production not only minimizes carbon emissions but also increases energy resilience and reduces transmission losses associated with long-distance energy distribution. In addition to their direct impact on reducing carbon emissions, net zero homes serve as role models and catalysts for broader environmental change. They showcase the potential of sustainable, low-carbon living and inspire businesses and industries to adopt energy-efficient practices and renewable energy systems.
The goal of a net zero home project is to minimize your home’s carbon footprint by generating as much energy as it consumes, resulting in a net zero energy balance. Here are a few key net zero principles to consider when planning your custom home:
Planning your net zero home construction project will involve thoughtful consideration of design, energy generation and efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable materials. When you have a good idea of what your new net zero home looks like, it’s time for drawings and estimates.
Hiring an architect and contractor separately typically requires you to manage and coordinate between these two entities. The architect or contractor may handle project management and the hiring of trades, or that task may fall on you. A design-build contractor instead offers a comprehensive approach by combining the roles of the architect and general contractor into a single entity, streamlining the entire project from conception to completion.
Design-build contractors provide seamless coordination between the design and construction phases. Having a single point of contact avoids the potential pitfalls of miscommunication and delays that often occur when working with separate architects, contractors and trades. Close in-house collaboration between design and execution ensures seamless communication, efficient decision-making, and effective problem-solving throughout the entire process. It allows for real-time adjustments, quicker problem-solving, and a faster construction process.
Experience matters. Net zero home construction requires specialized knowledge and meticulous attention to detail. You’re looking for a Squamish builder with a proven track record of successfully completing high-performance custom home and retrofit projects. Please familiarize yourself with our portfolio.
Based out of the North Shore and Squamish, Coast Essential Construction has over 25 years of building experience. From the age of ten Coast Essential Construction owner, Reid Madiuk, worked alongside his father building some of Whistler’s first condominium complexes and townhouse developments and he has continued building ever since.
Coast Essential Construction is a registered BuiltGreen builder, has been a PassiveHouse Canada member since 2019, and is a NetZero Home builder with the Canadian Home Builder’s Association. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
If you have a net zero home idea you need brought to life, we provide in-house drafting and design services which can streamline the transition from design into construction, to get your project underway quickly.