Net Zero Renovations: Improving the Energy Efficiency of Canada’s Existing Homes

Canada has committed to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. But the country won’t be able to get there without significant energy efficiency improvements to Canada’s existing homes. 

Although new construction homes are often built to much higher energy performance standards than the homes of the past, even if all new homes built from now until 2050 are built with zero emissions, Canada would still not hit our target. To reach our country’s ambitious goals, we must renovate existing housing stock for improved energy efficiency. 

Energy retrofitting Canada’s existing housing stock is an extremely complex process – and for those working in high-performance housing, especially Net Zero Homes, the challenges can be formidable. 

CHBA’s Towards Net Zero Renovations five-year initiative is working to tackle roadblocks for home renovations. In this blog post, we break down how this initiative is bringing key players in the residential construction industry together to educate, collaborate, and build Canada’s capacity to achieve its emissions targets. 

Why Net Zero Renovations 

There are over 15 million existing homes in Canada, almost all of which can improve their energy performance. Many are ready for both functional and aesthetic renovations, which is often the best time to also renovate for energy efficiency. This is especially true if the exterior of a home is being renovated, since improvements to the building envelope are usually the most impactful to increase energy efficiency. 

The Net Zero Home Labelling Program provides the industry with clearly defined and rigorous two-tiered technical requirements that recognize Net Zero and Net Zero Ready Homes (for new and existing homes), as well as the builders and renovators who provide them. A national network of CHBA Net Zero Qualified Service OrganizationsEnergy Advisors, and Trainers work directly with renovators to design, model, test and inspect each renovation. A key aspect of following CHBA’s Net Zero Home Labelling process is that there is a foundational house-as-a-system approach, which includes looking at an extensive list of factors other than just energy when developing solution options. 

In early 2022, CHBA, with support from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), officially announced this new initiative towards cost-effective Net Zero Ready residential renovations. In collaboration with participating Canadian municipalities, local home builders’ associations, renovators, and industry partners, the initiative’s objective is to target barriers to achieving Net Zero Ready performance in existing homes, and to determine the most cost-effective solutions to renovating for higher levels of energy efficiency, including to Net Zero and Net Zero Ready. 

What this means for renovators and homeowners

The goal for this initiative is to have 100-150 Net Zero renovations complete by the end of 2024 or latest mid-2025, which Strickland says is going to be a challenging to achieve. Ideally, 10-15 renovations will be completed in each municipality for a healthy geographic variety. 

CHBA is currently looking for renovators and energy advisors with clients, within a participating municipality, who are undertaking major home renovations and interested in looking at optimizing for not only energy but for better indoor comfort and environmental quality.  

If you’re a renovator or EA who wants to take part in this initiative, find out how to enroll here. 

If you’re a homeowner who’s thinking about a home renovation, and you’d like to also boost your home’s energy efficiency during that process, you might want to consider a Net Zero renovation. Encourage your renovator or energy advisor to partake in the Towards Net Zero Renovations initiative, which will provide you with some great incentives, including funding towards and energy audit on your home. 

For more information on Net Zero Homes, visit CHBA’s website.