Canada's New Government Congratulates Winners of EQuilibrium Competition to Develop Energy-Efficient Homes

    OTTAWA, Feb. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Twelve Canadian homebuilder teams have
been selected as winners of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC)
EQuilibrium sustainable housing competition.
    The Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social
Development, and Minister responsible for CMHC, and Jacques Gourde,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural
Resources, made the announcement today at CMHC's National Office.
    "Canada's New Government congratulates the 12 winners of this national
competition, who have designed eco-friendly and energy-efficient housing
models," said Minister Solberg. "These houses are designed to produce as much
energy as they consume on an annual basis. They will be a blueprint for the
next generation of housing in Canada."
    "EQuilibrium housing is a perfect complement to our ecoENERGY
initiative," said Mr. Gourde. "The ecoENERGY Efficiency Initiative recognizes
that the biggest source of untapped energy is the energy we waste. Under the
ecoEnergy Retrofit Houses initiative, more than 90 cents of every dollar will
go directly to Canadians who retrofit their homes and buildings to make them
more energy efficient."
    The goal of CMHC's EQuilibrium initiative is to demonstrate a new
approach to housing in Canada. It will support the building of sustainable,
healthy houses that are also affordable and energy- and resource-efficient.
EQuilibrium housing is designed to lower homeowners' energy bills by reducing
energy consumption and delivering electricity back to the grid. The homes will
also promote water conservation, healthy indoor environments, durability, and
reduced pollutant emissions.
    Each winning team will receive $50,000 from CMHC to offset eligible
costs, including those relating to documenting the projects, performance
testing, and demonstrating the homes publicly. In addition, CMHC will work
with the winning teams to provide technical and promotional support, and will
monitor and report on the performance of the houses.
    The winning projects were chosen by independent housing experts from a
total of 72 homebuilder teams that submitted applications in July 2006 through
a two-stage competitive process.
    The demonstration homes will be open to Canadians to view by 2008, after
which CMHC will explore opportunities to advance EQuilibrium housing
principles more broadly across the housing industry.
    As architect of the EQuilibrium initiative, CMHC worked in close
consultation with federal, provincial and municipal levels of government,
industry stakeholders, as well as utilities. EQuilibrium brings together the
principles of occupant health and comfort, energy efficiency, renewable energy
production, resource and water conservation, and reduced environmental impact.
    CMHC's new EQuilibrium brand replaces the previous working name for this
initiative, Net Zero Energy Healthy Housing. The name EQuilibrium was chosen
to reflect the goal of balancing our housing needs with those of the
    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada's national
housing agency for more than 60 years. CMHC is committed to helping Canadians
access a wide choice of quality, affordable homes, while making vibrant,
healthy communities and cities a reality across the country.


    Human Resources and Social Development Minister Monte Solberg has
    announced the winners of a national sustainable housing competition known
    as EQuilibrium.

    The 12 winning teams were awarded $50,000 each from Canada Mortgage and
    Housing Corporation. The money will help them build energy-efficient
    healthy demonstration homes across the country.

    Mr. Solberg said that EQuilibrium homes are designed to produce as much
    energy as they use on an annual basis.

    He said EQuilibrium will reduce the environmental impact of homes and set
    the stage for the next generation of housing in Canada.

    The demonstration homes will be open to Canadians to view by next year.

    Download an audio clip of Minister Solberg at

    A backgrounder describing the winning teams and their projects is

    Backgrounder - EQuilibrium Healthy Housing Initiative

    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is leading the EQuilibrium
(EQ) housing initiative. Key stakeholders include other federal departments,
members of Canada's housing and renewable energy industry, homebuilders and
developers, utilities, manufacturers, architects, and other housing experts.
Through the EQuilibrium initiative, CMHC's goal is to mobilize partners to
advance new sustainable-housing solutions for healthy communities and a
clean-energy future.
    EQuilibrium housing combines energy-efficient design with renewable
energy systems to minimize energy consumption and reduce environmental impact.
Although EQuilibrium housing is a recent initiative, the foundations for it
were originally laid more than 60 years ago when CMHC was created. CMHC's
record of innovative housing initiatives started in the post-war period, and
includes housing design, urban renewal and neighbourhood improvement, housing
rehabilitation and renovation, and sewage treatment assistance.
    More recently, in the early 1990s, CMHC organized the national Healthy
Housing(TM) design competition, which led to demonstration homes being built
in Vancouver and Toronto. The cornerstone design principles of Healthy        
Housing(TM) are occupant comfort, energy efficiency, resource conservation,
environmental impact, and affordability. Features of the Healthy House(TM)
include passive solar design, solar panels that capture solar energy to power
the home, and cisterns to collect rainwater for non-potable uses such as
flushing toilets and gardening.
    Building on the legacy of CMHC's Healthy Housing(TM) initiative,
EQuilibrium will integrate many innovative "green" residential building
technologies and, eventually, community development principles in a unique,
comprehensive way to significantly improve the performance of housing.

    EcoCité-Sodero -- Verdun, Québec

    The "Abondance Montréal" will be built in Verdun, QC. The project is a
triplex using a design that, among other things, will draw energy from several
sources including a GeoExchange heat pump system, photovoltaic panels, and
solar thermal vacuum tubes. It features toilets that run on captured
rainwater. The triplex will boast a total of 84 solar panels. The suites have
been designed in great detail to maximize solar penetration - for example, the
refrigerator is located in a spot where it does not cast a shadow on the
kitchen counter.

    Cheryl Gladu, 514-514-0191,

    Alouette Homes  -- Eastman, Québec

    The Alouette Homes EQuilibrium Initiative home will be built in Eastman,
QC. Its design couples readily-available renewable energy technologies with
energy-efficient construction techniques. The design focuses on using factory
pre-engineered modular sections to reduce environmental impact at a rural
building site. The home will be connected to the electrical grid using a
net-metering system, allowing the eventual owner to "sell" excess electricity
generated by the home's photovoltaic system to the grid. Space heating will
provided by a combination of innovative strategies. The rural setting means
all the home's water systems are completely self-contained.

    Bradley Berneche, President, Les Maisons Alouette, 450-539-3100,

    Team Montréal Zero -- Hudson, Québec

    "EQuilibrium #1" is a single-family, detached house to be located in
Hudson, QC. The proposed house will have a very air-tight and well-insulated
building envelope. It will rely heavily on passive heating and cooling
techniques to achieve its EQuilibrium target. In order to ensure air quality,
careful consideration will be given to design and construction techniques that
protect and enhance the indoor environment. A large portion of the site will
remain undisturbed and act as a natural wildlife habitat.

    Sevag Pogharian, 514-935-5210,

    Ampas Architect -- Toronto, Ontario

    Ampas' "Sustainable Urbanism Initiative" proposal is comprised of three
townhouses located in Toronto's downtown Annex area. The townhouses will
incorporate energy-efficient features such as spectrally selective window
glazing. They will also showcase ground source heat pumps powered by
electricity generated through photovoltaic cells covering the roof of each
unit. The fact that the townhouses will be located in a part of town
well-served by transit highlights two sustainable urban design imperatives -
reducing dependence on the automobile, and efficient use of existing

    Lou Ampas, 416-504-0026,

    Minto -- Ottawa, Ontario

    The "Minto Manotick House" will be located in the south-end of Ottawa.
One of the most important features of the house is the high level of
insulation in the building envelope including double-wall construction with
strategically located triple-pane windows. The design incorporates several
innovations, one of which is an "all-off" switch - it not only turns off all
lights, but all computers, cable boxes, amplifiers, etc. When the homeowners
leave their home, they can be confident that a minimal amount of energy is
being used.

    Andrew Pride, Vice President, 416-596-3445,
    William Ritcey, Director, Architecture and Design, 613-782-2489,

    Now House(TM) -- Toronto, Ontario

    Now House(TM) will take an existing post-World War II house in Toronto
and retrofit it to meet EQuilibrium's goals. Insulation upgrades, new windows,
Energy Star appliances, wastewater heat recovery, and solar panels are some of
the ways the house's energy usage footprint and greenhouse gas emissions will
be reduced. The larger goal of this plan is to demonstrate how homeowners and
their local contractors can improve energy efficiency of older housing with a
few simple but innovative modifications.

    Lorraine Gauthier, 416-534-6609,

    Avalon Master Builder -- Red Deer, Alberta

    "Discovery III" is the name of Avalon Master Builder's EQuilibrium
submission. This grid-tied solar home, to be built in Red Deer, AB, will
produce as much energy as it uses annually. It will also feature a grey-water
recycling system to reduce the home's reliance on the municipal water system.
To boost the home's overall resource efficiency, its innovative wall and
window systems will reduce space-heating requirements. The home will also use
solar systems to preheat air and water. The design builds on Avalon's ongoing
work to deliver resource-efficient homes to customers.

    Ryan Scott, CEO, 403-809-1495,

    Canadian Housing Energy Sustainable Solutions (CHESS) -- Red Deer,

    CHESS' "EQuilibrium Concept Home" is customized for Central Alberta's
climate - specifically, that of Red Deer, AB. It pays close attention to the
issue of resource efficiency. Not only will 65 per cent of the construction
waste generated by the home be recycled, but many of the materials used to
build it can be re-used when the home is eventually demolished. The home is
also intended to evolve with the owner's needs. For example, an optional
second floor can be developed to accommodate a growing family. Later in life,
the main floor can easily be adapted to be barrier-free.

    Gayle Wood, Design Manager, Laebon Homes, 403-314-6683,

    Echo-Logic Land Corporation -- Calgary, Alberta

    Echo-Logic describes its "Echo Haven" project as "the next step" in the
demonstration of energy-efficient, healthy, low-impact housing on a community
scale. The project covers the construction of 25 community homes in Calgary
with other features such as a greenhouse and a community building with guest
accommodation and work-at-home office. The design of the homes will
demonstrate healthy and durable materials, rain water harvesting, composting
or low-flush toilets and site-sensitive orientation to maximize both solar
exposure and integration with surrounding nature.

    David Spencer, Development Manager, 403-716-8206,

    Habitat Studio & Workshop Ltd. -- Edmonton, Alberta

    The goal of Habitat's "Riverdale" project is to prove that it is possible
to build houses that foster a high quality of life while also reducing
greenhouse gas production and environmental impact. "Riverdale" involves the
construction of an EQuilibrium-compliant energy duplex, which will produce as
much energy as it consumes through a combination of use of rigorous energy
conservation, energy efficiency measures and the use of renewable energy
sources. The materials used to build the home will include regionally-produced
lumber and recycled newspaper. "Riverdale" will be located in downtown

    Gordon Howell, 780-484-0476,

    Nexus Solar Corporation -- North Battleford, Saskatchewan

    The Nexus Solar and Battlefords Tribal Council project "YIPI!" will be
located in North Battleford, SK. (YIPI! stands for Yellowhead Innovation Park
Inc.) The project will take advantage of Saskatchewan's sunny climate for
solar power. Its healthy features include the use of low-toxicity construction
materials. Nexus has also incorporated innovative refrigeration and clothes
drying technologies into the YIPI! Project, as well as factory-built
construction that will ensure consistently high quality, affordability, and
easy on-line ordering. To help increase consumer awareness of EQuilibrium
design objectives, Nexus will locate the project next to a major highway.

    Teresa Jeannine Paul, President, 306-373-5960,

    Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation -- Winnipeg, Manitoba

    The Corporation's "Urban Ecology" design will build a semi-detached,
environmentally-friendly development in an inner-city Winnipeg neighbourhood.
The two units in the development will be fully adapted to Winnipeg's climate.
This will require, for example, the units to have a combination of flat and
pitched roofs so the photovoltaic system powering them can be snow-free in
winter. The team is confident that high-efficiency appliances, low-flow
fixtures and sustainable building materials present in the design make "Urban
Ecology" an attractive and successful EQuilibrium demonstration project.

    Stephanie Noga, 204-949-2892,

For further information:

For further information: Lesley Harmer, Director of Communications,
Office of the Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social
Development, (819) 994-2482; Kristen Scheel, CMHC Media Relations Office,
(613) 748-4632, Cell.: (613) 513-6546; About CMHC's EQuilibrium housing
initiative, visit

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