Building for the Future: Net-Zero Living

Research Area: Energy Efficiency  | Status:  Ongoing | Led By: Student-led

The Challenge

Our climate is changing, giving rise to concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and non-renewable energy sources. Natural Resources Canada has noted that housing accounts for 11% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Fighting climate change requires a strategy that relies heavily on creating energy efficient buildings and finding ways to reduce our collective carbon footprint.

The Solution

NBCC is working with Saint John Energy and Habitat for Humanity to build a Net-Zero-Ready small home. The home is part of a campaign to raise awareness among the public and homebuilding professionals around features and equipment that are both sustainable and attainable. It is also an opportunity to engage students across several programs into the design and build of the home. Once it has been finished and showcased, the house will become a permanent family home for clients of Habitat for Humanity, continuing a longstanding partnership between the non-profit and NBCC.

This collaboration demonstrates ways that homeowners can reduce energy costs while at the same time minimizing their home’s carbon footprint. A Net-Zero-Ready home is capable of producing as much energy as it consumes, by using renewable resources such as solar while reducing overall energy consumption. The house will be outfitted with cutting-edge smart energy devices sourced with generous support from Saint John Energy to help the homeowner take control of their energy efficiency. This will award homeowners with significantly reduced operating costs, a quiet and more comfortable living atmosphere, health benefits of high indoor air quality, and the satisfaction of helping reduce regional carbon emissions.

About the Collaboration

More than 30 students, eight faculty, and six programs (Energy Systems Technology, Building Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Plumbing, Carpentry, and Marketing) have thus far been involved in this project, covering three NBCC campuses. This cross-disciplinary initiative has created opportunities for students to hone their skills by tackling a range of challenges from concept to finished product. It has also given them an invaluable learning experience, giving them an edge in job markets that increasingly emphasize energy efficiency. 

NBCC students are bringing ideas to life that make our community a better place. Not only is this collaboration a great real-world work experience for students, but they will also be making a big impact on a family in need. We’re delighted to work with NBCC on this project and look forward to more opportunities to collaborate in the future.

Ryan Mitchell, Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Saint John Energy

Project Partners/Funders


Habitat for Humanity Saint John Region


Government of New Brunswick

About Applied Research and Innovation
NBCC’s Applied Research and Innovation office helps businesses and communities find solutions to their challenges. Through its expertise, equipment, and facilities, NBCC helps its partners to solve problems, take advantage of market opportunities, and develop new, innovative processes that will enhance how New Brunswickers live, work and do business.