You may wonder if sustainable houses designed, built, inhabited and then monitored step-by-step by professionals actually exist. The answer is yes. The EQuilibrium Housing Initiative is just that.
If you wish to learn and understand more about the sustainable housing industry – which is about to become fundamental in the fight against climate change – the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) initiative is for you.
The CMHC seeks to expand the construction of EQuilibrium houses across the country. Even if you’re planning to buy an existing home, exploring an EQuilibrium house will give you the required knowledge to properly evaluate another home that some owners might try to sell you as sustainable.
The initiative exists since 2006. The EQuilibrium house is meant to serve as a model for sustainable living: safe and environmentally friendly materials, lower utility bills, renewable energies, conservation of our planet’s limited resources, reduced environmental impact, greater comfort and cost-effective construction. And, believe it or not, as an added value, sustainable houses are a better investment than traditional homes.
Once the EQuilibrium house is built, it is open to the public for six months before it is sold. For a twelve-month period after the sale, experts commissioned by the CMHC will measure the performance of the house. Among other things, they will measure the indoor air quality, the energy inputs from the photovoltaic and solar water heating systems, the consumption of any combustible fuel used for heating or electricity and the efficiency of the geothermal heat pumps, which absorb the heat from the ground and carry it into the home.
According to the CMHC, homeowners adopting a sustainable lifestyle in an EQuilibrium home benefit from lower monthly utility bills thanks to yearly savings in energy costs, which serve as a protection against sharp increases in energy prices.
In Québec, you can find EQuilibrium houses in Eastman and in Hudson.
As cited on the CMHC website, the EQuilibrium home features:
- A climate-specific solar design tailored to take advantage of the local climate and natural environment.
- Natural daylighting to provide more pleasing illumination at a fraction of the cost of electric lights.
- Energy- and resource-efficient construction methods, materials, appliances and lighting.
- Integrated renewable energy systems, such as solar electricity and thermal heat, ground-source heating and passive solar heating and cooling.
- Grid interconnection to allow the home to deliver excess electricity back to the grid and to draw energy from the grid, as needed.