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Published on June 10th, 2015 | by Sponsored Content


Louie Santaguida and his goal of creating zero energy condominiums

Reducing the environmental impact of the buildings we inhabit will be a major step toward reducing our CO2 emissions and bringing us in line with a more sustainable future. A few statistics to consider: traditional buildings using mainstream technology and design consume 40 per cent of the total fossil fuel in the United States and Europe. Moreover, according to Canada Green Building Council, office buildings create 30 to 35 per cent of an urban area’s carbon emissions; in cities where mass transit is more widely-used, office buildings can be responsible for as much as 70 per cent of the city’s carbon emissions.

To say that nothing has been done to curb greenhouse emissions in the area of commercial and residential construction would be a lie. A lot has been done, thanks in part to new construction technology and environmental initiatives like LEED. By the same token, a lot still needs to be done.

Net Zero

Since around 2008, a term has caught increasing attention in the real estate development industry and in the area of new construction. The fairly interchangeable terms, zero net energy (ZNE) or net zero building, describe buildings that have zero net energy consumption, or, in other words, consume just as much energy as they create on an annual basis.

Sustainable building practices aim to reduce the amount of energy consumed by buildings, which is undoubtedly a very important part of the green movement. However, zero net energy construction aims to take the next step forward in reducing the amount of energy consumed by a building to effectively zero.

Net zero design and technology will undoubtedly inform developer’s design decisions in the future, and the thing is, much of the technology surrounding net zero constructions is already here, available in the consumer marketplace.

If you do a quick Google search, you will surely hit upon examples of developers who are already being significantly informed by the zero net energy concept and, similarly, by zero net energy design decisions. Many of these developers work in the commercial side of real estate development, a side that, based on statistics, certainly needs improvement as far as energy conservation and reduction in CO2 emissions.

Last month, a Canadian developer in Edmonton, Ontario, Dennis Cuku, earned positive press in The Globe and Mail after recently completing his net zero energy-consuming office building in Edmonton, a construction that not only offers net zero energy, but actually generates excess energy (which is then given to the surrounding community).

In order to achieve net zero consumption, a building needs to employ a number of green technologies, everything from solar technology to super insulation. Cuku’s Edmonton office building uses solar panels, large insulating windows and heat-recovery ventilators to achieve its zero energy capability.

It’s interesting to note that in the same Globe and Mail article, Thomas Mueller, president and chief executive of the Canada Green Building Council, had this to say about the technology and the level of acceptance of zero net energy design in the current commercial real estate market: “Net-zero buildings are still unusual. It’s because of the cost to get to a net-zero performance, whereas you can go for a LEED Gold performance, where the business case for those buildings is proven.”

Net zero constructions may still be unusual, but they are gaining traction in the commercial space – so too in the area of new residential constructions.

In the United States’ capital, late last year, the National Geographic wrote an interesting piece on a homeowner’s process of turning their normal home into a net zero home through the installation of solar and geothermal heating and cooling technology, among other improvements. And this month, Aquatera, a San Diego apartment community, became one of the first apartment complexes in the country to offer net zero living to its tenants through primarily solar technology.

Louie Santaguida

And to return once more to Canada, the movement toward net zero residential constructions have gained momentum recently through the ambitions of developers likes Toronto-based Louie Santaguida and Mike Holmes.

First working in the area of environmental remediation, Louie Santaguida has been working in residential real estate development for several decades. He is now President of Stanton Renaissance, a condominium development company that focuses on revitalizing dysfunctional areas in Toronto, the GTA and Ontario. Louie Santaguida and his company also have a committed goal of bringing green technology to condominium living, and they are particularly passionate about introducing geothermal heating and cooling technology to condo living.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems uses the stable temperatures found in the Earth to heat and cool commercial and residential buildings; it’s a green technology that will certainly play a larger role in developments in the coming years.

Louie Santaguida comments, “Over the past several years, green initiatives like geothermal heating and cooling technology have gained support and an increasing presence in development projects. But, it’s not where it should be yet, especially when you look at condo living.” Louie Santaguida adds, “We have geothermal technology included in nearly all of our ongoing projects and it’s a technology that I would like to continue to steward.”

More and more developers are taking advantage of green construction and realizing that their tenants and buyers want green technology in their homes and offices. We’re on the right track. That’s the good news. With that said, there’s still a long way to go.

This post was generously supported by Reputation.Ca

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