The First Now House

Design & Technology


Six Criteria for CMHC Competition

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation required that all home designs entered in the competition must meet these six challenging criteria. The house had to be:

  • healthy to live in
  • highly energy efficient
  • able to produce as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis
  • the best use of natural resources
  • affordable
  • repeatable.

How Now House Met the Criteria

Improved Indoor Health

  • constant filtered fresh air (HRV)
  • mold-resistant warm basement (in-floor radiant heat)
  • improved daylighting
  • low-VOC finishes.

Improved Energy Efficiency

  • major envelope upgrades
  • plug-load reduction
  • new CFL lighting
  • grey water heat recovery
  • kill switches
  • low-e windows.

Produce Energy

  • on site solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal systems.

Reduced Resource Consumption

  • re-use the existing structure: minimal use of new resources
  • reduce water use: Installed low-flow faucets, ENERGY STAR appliances
  • new resources were locally sourced.

Minimal Waste Production

  • minimal demolition
  • re-purposing appliances and materials
  • waste materials were recycled.

The Retrofit Process

To achieve our goal of a near zero energy retrofit we made the following changes to this home. As all existing houses have a unique set of conditions and characteristics, the application of the Now House process to another house would produce different design specifications. What follows is not a prescription for the near zero retrofit of all homes.