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VIDEO: This is what a net zero house looks like

It sits on a corner in Kelowna's Wilden neighbourhood looking much like the homes around it, but this one is different.

The home, located at 215 Echo Ridge Dr., is designed to function at net zero and it's part of a research project called the Wilden Living Lab.

The project involves FortisBC, Okanagan College, UBCO and several other participants.

The goal at this home was to get to zero.

"Number one, by properly sealing the envelope," said Dr. Shahria Alam, from UBCO's School of Engineering.

It starts with walls that are close to a half metre thick and the windows are comprised of three panes.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who>

"You use proper insulation," said Dr. Alam, "you use high-efficiency appliances and you also use various kinds of heat recovery systems."

When hot water goes down the drain, a heat-recovery system in the basement captures that heat and puts it to use.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who>

"You can retain that heat and use it for heating the house, for example during winter," explains Dr. Alam.

The ventilation system also has an energy recovery system.

And of course, there is a network of solar panels on the roof which during the summer time are expected to gather more power than the house can use.

"In the summertime, for sure it will generate more," he said. "In winter time you know that its efficiency will go down, but overall net, in this house, you will not use more energy than it requires,"

The designers of the home stress that what makes it possible isn't that the solar panels generate a huge amount of energy, but that the house can operate so little.

"Because it requires less energy to heat up and cool down," said Dr. Alam.

Of course, it comes with a cost.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who>

"Compared to conventional construction it will be expensive, for sure," admits Dr. Alam.

But every element of the build will be analyzed so we can learn which are the most cost-effective.

"It's a research process," he said.

FortisBC has said the goal is to see all new homes built to net zero standards within a decade.

The house will be available to visit, Monday-Thursday afternoons from 1 to 5 pm for the next six months.

After that, the house will be occupied by a family to find out if the net zero goal is met.

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