Construction on the most energy-efficient homes in North America is near completion – and they’re right here in Fredericton.A six-unit townhouse development at the corner of Irvine Street and HIllcrest Drive in The Meadows at Neill Farm features houses with near-perfect energy efficiency ratings, with the capability of using solar, photovoltaic and geothermal power-generating technology to greatly reduce the need for external electricity.“
The houses are equipped with solar thermal panels that heat domestic hot water, photovoltaic cells that generate electricity from sunlight, and a geothermal unit that helps keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer,” said project coordinator Jim Martin of Martin Davis Eco Housing Ltd., the Fredericton company spearheading the development.“And that ability for the houses to generate their own power isn’t just great for the environment, it can save the homeowner thousands of dollars a year in energy costs,” Martin said.
Using national average statistics for a family of four over a ten year period, the company undertook a statistical analysis comparing the energy consumption and cost in a home simply built to code, which has an energy efficiency rating of 65-72 , with the company’s EcoPlusHome, which has a minimum energy efficiency rating of 93.
A house built to code would consume an average of 32,765 kilowatt hours at a cost of $41,865 over a ten year period. Over the same period, an EcoPlusHome would consume 7,956 kilowatt hours of electricity at a cost of $10,050 – a savings of more than 75 per cent, or over $3,000 per year.
With significantly less energy consumption, an EcoPlusHome provides an 80.1 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to houses built to code. A single EcoPlusHome can prevent emissions of 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Martin’s business partner Jim Davis said that while the company proudly describes EcoPlusHomes as houses that save the planet, the numbers clearly show they also save the homeowner money, and the benefits start with the construction itself.
“A family that decides to build an EcoPlusHome can likely offset some of their construction costs by claiming the largest rebates available under the provincial government’s energy efficiency incentive program,” Davis said. “We anticipate our homes will qualify for a $7,500 rebate after purchase.”
Homeowners who then apply that $7,500 to their mortgage will also save the interest that would have accumulated on the amount they’ve paid down, resulting in significant savings.
“That alone would more than pay for the energy package over the course of the mortgage,” Davis said.
Martin and Davis bring a wealth of real estate development knowledge and experience to the project. Martin has been a municipal engineer with the City of Fredericton for over 25 years, and Davis has been practicing law in Fredericton for over 25 years with an extensive background in real estate, corporate and commercial law.
The first EcoPlusHome was built in Bathurst, N.B. in 2009. In a successful experiment, a family of six lived comfortably in the home for one year with net zero energy consumption. The experiment attracted international media attention and showed that homes with perfect energy efficiency could be produced at a cost comparable to regular homes in the market.
“We want to build something that is affordable, that takes your reliability on fossil fuels offline and that is why we are utilizing the EcoPlusHome technology in the development,” Martin said.
The company is looking forward to showing the new homes and says the public will be invited to an open house planned for later in the fall. For more information, visit www.martindavisecohousing.com, or call Jim Davis at (506) 260-1980 or Jim Martin at (506) 260-7459.