Why have we not achieved large energy or GHG emission reductions?

We have the technology today to build high performance buildings or retrofit existing buildings.  The Saskatchewan Conservation House built in 1977 was a near net zero house.

Energy Efficient House – Regina Saskatchewan

Where it started in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s First Certified Passive House

Saskatchewan’s Conservation House

This is from the 1970’s, what about today.  The Passive House Institute of Germany took the Saskatchewan model and created a standard for homes and buildings that are near net zero or use less than 120 kWh/m2/year of energy.  There are many examples of passive houses all over the world in all climate zones.

Examples of passive houses around the world

These are houses, but what about commercial buildings, can they be low energy?  Yes, there are many examples, the Manitoba Hydro Building, Winnipeg, MB Canada.

Manitoba Hydro Commercial Passive Building

Why do we not build these high performance homes and buildings?

Have you heard these lines?

“It is too expensive.”

“They cost too much, and the bank would not lend me the money.”

“You will never recover your money from a deep retrofit or high performance building.”

“You have exceeded the economic thickness of insulation.”

“What is the return on investment?”

“What are some of the biggest challenges when trying to build net-zero energy or carbon neutral buildings?

The largest challenge is always going to be economics. Finding ways to design and build Net-Zero or Carbon Neutral buildings that meet the client’s budget is difficult. Long term benefits though are very attractive for clients and they are often willing to invest in the capital cost of the building.”

First and Second Generation Green Buildings

So we have the technology, but the major barriers to constructing high performance buildings appear to be financial.  This barrier stems from not understanding the Total Cost of Building Ownership (TCBO).  The capital cost of a new building is typically only 10% of the TCBO, but when we are building a new building we forget about the ongoing costs.  Most of the cost of owning a building occurs over it life for things like, operating (utilities) and maintenance cost, property taxes, mortgage, mortgage interest, insurance, etc.  But, these costs are not part of most evaluations.  Our SEEFAR© model accounts for these costs and presents a very different picture of the economics of high performance buildings.