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The Road to Net-Zero Energy Buildings

The Road to Net-Zero Energy Buildings

Net-zero energy buildings are becoming increasingly popular in Canada as the government and private sector strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. A net-zero building can be defined as one that is constructed to be highly energy-efficient, where the amount of energy used on an annual basis is equal to the renewal energy that is created on site. 

The Canadian Green Building Council has set a goal for all new buildings to be net-zero energy ready by 2030, while the federal government of Canada has established a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Canadians are expected to save as much as $3-$5 for every dollar the government spends on energy efficiency programs. 

To meet these targets, building codes and standards are being updated to require higher levels of energy efficiency. The Government of Canada will be providing the tools for new buildings to implement these technologies when built, and assist older buildings in developing a retrofit plan to get up to standard. There are also various incentives and financing options available to encourage construction of net-zero buildings including a $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund that the government has introduced to support the efforts of developers and homeowners

Some of the benefits of net-zero buildings include:

  1. Reduced energy costs – Reducing reliance on the grid, resulting in lower energy bills and operating costs.

  2. Reduced carbon emissions – Generating their own clean energy and reducing the amount of carbon emissions produced.

  3. Improved indoor air quality – Maximizing natural ventilation and improving indoor air quality, which reduces the need for mechanical ventilation systems.

  4. Enhanced resilience – Highly resilient and able to operate during power outages or other disruptions to the grid.  

  5. Increased property value – Net-zero buildings are highly desirable to tenants and buyers, which can increase their property value and make them more attractive to investors. 

Here are some ways to make your building net zero:

  1. Renewable Energy – Install renewable energy systems like solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal heat pumps to generate the energy needed to power the building.  

  2. Energy Monitoring – Have energy monitoring systems to track energy use in real-time.  

  3. Energy-Efficient Lighting – Install LED lighting systems, which use significantly less energy than traditional lighting solutions.  

  4. Energy-Efficient HVAC – Install energy-efficient HVAC systems that use less energy to heat and cool the building. This can include high-efficiency boilers, chillers, and air-handling units.  

  5. Energy-Efficient Appliances – Install ENERGY STAR certified appliances that minimize the use of natural resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, and water.  

  6. Green Roofing: Install a green roof which can help regulate the temperature of the building and absorb rainwater runoff.  

  7. Sealing and Insulation: Ensure that the building envelope is airtight and insulation is adequate against air and moisture intrusion. 


How do building codes affect appraised values?

As building codes are updated to adopt more energy efficient technologies, construction costs will also fluctuate according to the new standards. For example, it is expected by 2032 that the standard window will be triple glazed with a high-performance frame. Building code and by-law review is a key factor when determining the cost to rebuild a property, and thus an insurance appraisal done on an annual basis is critical to ensure your limits are adequate.  


Normac’s team of expert insurance appraisers are trained in local construction costs, taking into account the nuances and changes in building codes. We provide three-year programs with annual updates, ensuring you assets are adequately protected in the event to a total loss. Contact us today to inquire about an insurance appraisal for your property. 

Normac provides three-year appraisal programs with complimentary updates. 
Our industry-leading reports are prepared by replacement cost experts.

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