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Healthier and more comfortable home = Net Zero homes

jerrimae gutierrez

    Oct 30, 2021

    9 mins

    Industry-trends

“The holistic approach to healthy and comfortable living has a new equation.”

Healthy and comfortable homes have good IAQ

Nowadays, most people stay at home even if they got vaccinated against the covid virus. For sure, all of us know the reason why. Not until everyone’s body copes with the virus easily, most of us will definitely choose our homes for work, study, and celebrating occasions. Thus, it is only essential to make our home a healthy and comfortable place to live in. We all have our definition of comfortable homes, but the way we define healthy homes should be the same--they must have good indoor air quality (IAQ). The air we breathe indoors must have fewer airborne chemicals because they are commonly the number one source of indoor air pollution. As much as possible, our homes should be free from the smell of gas, kerosene, paints, pesticides, non-smelly gasses, and other air contaminants

If our home is a healthy place to live in, it would definitely be a more comfortable place! There are many ways to improve the IAQ, but in this blog, we will primarily discuss a type of house meant to provide a good IAQ -- the Net Zero Home.

Net Zero homes provide good IAQ

The importance of having a good IAQ and environmentally efficient home is recognized by the government. That is why the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation developed a program that focuses on producing environmentally-friendly homes in 2004. It led to building one of the first net-zero homes in Edmonton, the Riverdale net-zero project. 

Net-zero homes are energy-efficient homes that only use as much energy as they can produce from on-site renewable energy (NRCAN). These homes have efficiently insulated ceilings, foundation, and exterior walls, which are essential in providing good air quality. See our blog [insert link] on the ten must-avoid mistakes during home construction to know how wrong insulation impacts indoor air, leading to serious health problems. 

Net-zero homes also feature superior and right-sized HVAC equipment, which helps balance the house temperature, control humidity, and remove stale air—improving indoor air quality. 

Insulation, ventilation, and filtration are all necessary to produce good air quality indoors. Since the insulation, ventilation, and filtration required to build Net-Zero homes are one step higher than ordinary homes, we can conclude that Net Zero homes provide good IAQ.

Two methods used by Net Zero homes builders to ensure good IAQ

To create Net Zero homes, builders must employ advanced methods to produce good IAQ. Those methods include:

Performing an Airtightness Test

To eliminate air contaminants, outdoor pollutants and allergens must be stopped. To achieve this, CHBA's Net Zero Home Labelling Program requires builders through a third-party Energy Adviser to perform a blower door test to measure the home's airtightness. The home must achieve an airtightness of 1.5 air changes per hour (ACH) or lower to pass this assessment. A typical home normally has 3 ACH, 50% higher than what is required for Net Zero Homes. With such a requirement, outdoor pollutants are easier to control, which lowers the risk of developing indoor air pollution. 

Installing ERVs and HRVs

Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) and Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) function as lungs of the home since they circulate and filter air. Based on a study, the installation of HRVs significantly reduced the pollen levels indoors during spring when its levels were exceptionally high. It also lowered the level of formaldehyde, VOCs, acetic acid, and toluene. These advanced mechanical ventilation systems help eliminate allergens, and outdoor pollutants that produce better IAQ, and No wonder, installing these systems in Net Zero homes is required.  

Conclusion

Based on a study, Canadians spend approximately 90% of their time at home. Considering this, government programs that improve indoor air quality like Net Zero Homes projects should be emphasized more. Net Zero homes are definitely a great addition to our equation of living a healthier and more comfortable life.

This article was last updated on Dec 8, 2022

    Industry-trends

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