Imagine living in a house that produces as much energy as it consumes; a house unaffected by power failures or ice storms?
That house is now a reality. The Alstonvale Net Zero Energy House, under construction in Hudson, Que., will demonstrate the attainability of a net-zero energy lifestyle without the use of fossil fuels or production of greenhouse gases.
The ANZEH was one of 12 winners chosen in 2007 by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s nationwide EQuilibrium initiative, a sustainable housing program launched in 2006 and geared to net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide.
The merits of the proposals were measured on the basis of how well they achieve: net-zero energy consumption, a healthy indoor environment, a reduction in resource consumption, a low impact on the environment, affordability and the potential to build a similar house elsewhere in Canada.
Six of the houses have already been built and the rest are under construction.
When completed in June, the ANZEH house, about 60 kilometres west of Montreal, will be the “poster boy” of environmentally sustainable housing.
“The ANZEH kills two birds with one stone. It converts sunlight to electricity, and usable thermal heat,” architect Sevag Pogharian, the head of the ANZEH project, said.
“A net-zero energy house is tied to the utility’s electric grid and draws electricity from it. However, the key component is that it also generates electricity on site, through renewable means, and returns at least as much energy to the grid as it draws from it. This insures a zero-energy consumption balance with the grid over any 12-month period,” Pogharian said.
It does this by relying on an innovative solar technology known as a building-integrated photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T), the latest development available in solar panel or module technology.
The Canadian-made panels will be placed on the building’s south-facing facade, harvesting the sun’s power and converting it to the electricity that runs the heat pumps, lights and appliances.
The thermal energy drawn from the modules is diverted to heating the water in a 4,500-litre water reservoir in the basement. The heat from the reservoir is used to produce hot water.
“We send all the electricity we make directly to the grid, and pull everything we need from the grid in order to run the electrical systems,” Pogharian said. “This is the most direct, constructive method of utilizing the energy the house produces.
“The idea is to generate all the energy needed for domestic and general requirements, including electricity to power an electric car, and integrated home-scale agriculture, which includes a small greenhouse.”