Apr 3, 2023

Foxridge Homes BC Continues Work on Its First Net-Zero Home Project

Surrey, BC – Foxridge Homes BC is busy building the first net-zero home in the brand’s history, as well as the first of this type of home in the Township of Langley. Located in the Westbrooke community, the home will be built to meet Step Code 5 of the BC Energy Step Code, as well as comply with the technical requirements of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) Net Zero Home Labelling Program.

From an energy performance standpoint, Foxridge Homes BC’s typical homes meet Step 3 or 4 of the BC Energy Step Code, which means the new net-zero home will incorporate features that bring it above the already high standards Foxridge Homes BC has set for its products.

The 3,235-sq.-ft., five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom home is currently at the mid-construction stage, meaning the IDP (integrated design process), pre-project planning and design, framing and mechanical stages of the build have been completed, and drywall installation is scheduled to start within the next week. The anticipated completion date for the entire home is this June.

Nicholas Bell, Director of Operations, Foxridge Homes BC, shared that the net-zero home is significant for the homebuilder for a number of reasons.

“This is our first attempt at building to the highest tier of the BC Energy Step Code and it’s been an excellent opportunity to help us train our staff and subtrades on building to achieve these standards,” he said. “The home also reiterates Foxridge Homes BC’s commitment to building high-quality, energy-efficient homes by showcasing that we can build to the highest levels of the BC Energy Step Code.”

Nicholas also pointed out that the home showcases the potential feasibility and limitations of trying to produce such high-performance homes in a production build environment while maintaining the architectural styling of the neighborhoods in which the company builds.

The team decided to voluntarily take on the net-zero home build project to ensure Foxridge Homes BC is staying ahead of the curve and to prepare for the industry's upcoming shift to high-performance building.

By 2032, the Province of BC has targeted that all Part 9 homes (simple buildings) constructed will need to meet Step 5, which is considered equivalent to the CHBA Net Zero Ready Labelling Program. At its implementation, this was intended to be a gradual shift over approximately 15 years of code adjustments. However, when the BC Energy Step Code was implemented, each municipality was able to opt in at any tier they wanted, and many municipalities jumped to the mid or high tiers of the Step Code.

“Even though we have until 2032, the actual timeline for needing to build these types of homes in BC is potentially much sooner,” said Nicholas. “So, we wanted to make sure that we were on the right track with our current construction program to achieve these high-performance standards. We’ve been gradually improving the energy efficiency and quality control standards of our homes for many years now, and this house has been the ultimate case study to confirm that what we’ve been doing is working as expected.”

Some of the key net-zero features included in Foxridge Homes BC’s first net-zero home project are:

  • 3-in. underslab insulation
  • Frost wall assembly upgraded from the standard 2x4 R14 batt to 2-in. XPS+2x6 R24 batt
  • Upgraded window package (1.0USI or better, SHGC range from 0.19-0.24)
  • 2x6 exterior wall, 24-in. O/C studs with R24 batt insulation
  • R60 attic insulation
  • Fully dedicated HRV system
  • Cold climate 19 SEER heat pump for space heating and cooling
  • Mid-velocity ducting system for space heating and cooling distribution throughout the principal residence
  • Auxiliary space heating provided by the natural gas tankless water heating unit and hydronic air handler
  • 1.50-m long drain water heat recovery (DWHR) unit installed
  • 14.1-Kw solar array installed on the roof

Nicholas explained that all of the concrete used to construct the home (footings, foundations, basement slab, garage slab, and exterior flatwork) uses a low-embodied-carbon, high-strength concrete mix, which effectively reduced the embodied carbon of the home by up to 30%.

In addition, the roof’s solar array design means that a homeowner – should they choose – could add to the solar panel system installed on the house to accommodate additional electrical usage, such as electric cars or other lifestyle items. The inclusion of solar panels as a renewable energy system will help the home to achieve net-zero status.

Foxridge Homes BC has been sharing its experience with the net-zero home build project with others in a number of ways since the project began. In October last year, Nicholas was a speaker/presenter at a Township of Langley Builder Forum, where he discussed how the business unit builds to the BC Step Code in a production environment and the integrated design process used for the net-zero home.

The team has also been working with the Homebuilders Association of Vancouver (HAVAN), and in February, completed the first day of filming the net-zero home for an educational video the Association will put up on its education portal/website. A second day of filming will take place once the house is complete (around June), and the video will likely be released later in the year.

“This has provided added visibility of this home build in the BC marketplace and can potentially be an educational resource for anyone interested in some of the lessons learned or the approach we took on this net-zero home build,” said Nicholas. “As well, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been touring various interested groups from the Qualico Surrey Regional Office, our consultants and trades, and municipal officials around the home, explaining some of its key features, why it’s special, and how it works.”

At this stage, Nicholas said the team’s primary goal is to finish the home and continue to promote the build as much as possible to see what sort of market demand there may be when Foxridge Homes BC is ready to release the home for sale.

While there are no current set plans to build more net-zero homes in the near future, Nicholas said going through the process to build this first net-zero home has been an important learning experience that can be applied once the builder does look at building more later on.

“This experience will prove invaluable as we prepare for the upcoming building code changes, and as we continue to look for progressive ways to incorporate green building practices into our homes,” he said. “After meticulous planning and design considerations, we’ve learned a lot in the process, which will help us build better quality and energy-efficient homes for our customers in the years to come.”

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