Community-Scale Retrofit Projects

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Since we started the Now House Project in 2007, we had a vision illustrated by the chart above. We would start by retrofitting one house to zero energy, then a community of houses and eventually inspire the retrofit of a million houses across Canada.

The first Now House, a proof-of-concept house, was completed in 2008. You’ll find a lot of information about that house on this website. Our next few projects repeated parts of the first house and experimented with other approaches to reducing energy consumption through retrofits to older homes.

From emails and phone calls, we discovered there were a number of issues holding people back from trying this on their own homes. The barriers included: cost, lack of information and lack of skilled contractors and trades.

In the meantime, The Now House Windsor 5 project, completed in 2011, tested five different approaches to energy retrofit on five homes, situated side-by-side, on the same street in the city of Windsor, Ontario.

The Now House Windsor 5 project was done in collaboration with Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation who is the largest housing provider in Windsor and Essex county. Following a year of post-retrofit performance monitoring, one house proved to be the most cost effective of the five. The community housing agency decided to apply a version of that model, without solar, to an additional 95 similar homes in its portfolio.

The Windsor 95 was completed in 2011 and demonstrated the dramatic economies of scale achievable when retrofitting multiple homes at the same time. It is this project that inspires us to talk to communities about a community-scale retrofit project. The biggest challenge is not technical but social. How will communities of 100 homeowners work together to benefit from optimized design, purchasing and installation for zero energy retrofitted homes? In 2013 we hope to find the answer to that question and share it with you. Stay tuned.