Natural Resources Canada launches net zero energy pilot project

Soon to be riding along with the Natural Resources Canada R-2000 program will be a new pilot project that will recognize builders who achieve net zero energy performance in homes

net zero energy home
net zero energy home © Effect Home Builders

From the Natural Resources Canada website:


The R-2000 Net Zero Energy pilot aims to recognize the builders and homes reaching net zero energy performance in Canada, and to pilot the next generation of NRCan’s R-2000 Standard and EnerGuide Rating System in net zero energy applications. 

Drawing on NRCan’s national systems and infrastructure - including its certified energy advisors, certification process and quality assurance protocols - will provide recognized metrics, objectivity, standardization and credibility to this emerging space. 

By focusing on off-the-shelf technology, the pilot is also aimed at advancing the commoditization of net zero energy homes in Canada. With the draft 2014 R-2000 Standard and the next generation EnerGuide Rating System (ERS) as the basis, NRCan will examine the best means for seamlessly incorporating the net zero energy offering into its suite of standards on a permanent basis moving forward. NRCan will also use this opportunity to explore possibilities surrounding net zero energy ready homes.


1. Build on national programs

The R-2000 Standard will form the basis for the pilot. R-2000 is an established national standard with the training, certification, house-testing, inspections and overall quality assurance that are an essential part to ensuring the integrity of net zero energy housing.

The minimum envelope requirements of the 2014 R-2000 Standard will be applied in order to ensure the envelope and other long-term elements are well addressed before renewable energy technologies are used to reduce conventional energy use. Non-R-2000 builders can enter the pilot by using this process and this house to become R-2000 builders.

The R-2000 builder community has long been the group of experts advancing energy innovation in home building, and this pilot along with the next generation standards will help to reinvigorate and bring together this community of leaders coalescing the R-2000 and Net Zero communities.   

The pilot will label houses with a next generation ERS rating (0 GJ). This offers an ideal opportunity for participants to use and feed into the next generation ERS process to ensure it addresses any outstanding issues that relate to net zero energy homes. The next generation ERS also includes an add-on service called the Efficient Living Assessment, which is a post-occupancy assessment that can be used to confirm as-operated performance.

Thanks to R-2000 certification, quality assurance will be provided for builders and homes that are attaining net zero energy home levels of performance. Each participating house must meet the established R-2000 and ERS criteria for the pilot and be certified and labelled accordingly. Using R-2000 and ERS avoids marketplace confusion in green labelling and provides continuity with the over one million Canadian homes that have been labelled using ERS to date.

2. Focus on energy performance and commoditization of net zero energy homes

The pilot will focus on energy performance, though it will also make use of the 2014 R-2000 Standard’s five pick list categories: Indoor Air Quality, Energy Efficiency, Resource Management, Environmental Stewardship and Water Conservation.

Since the pilot is looking to advance the commoditization of net zero energy homes, the approach will focus on homes that can be built today using technologies already available on the market that meet industry standards and regulations. Technologies will be limited to pre-engineered products and systems (e.g. versus custom mechanical systems). This will help ensure that the technologies can be modeled and provides some assurance with regard to their long-term performance.

While NRCan encourages the use of emerging technologies, it is committed to ensuring the ERS remains a reliable and trusted tool for measuring home energy consumption. Many emerging technologies are not available as standard commercial products, and often there are no testing procedures to ensure they live up to suppliers claims. Furthermore, experience from previous demonstration programs has shown that one-off systems do not meet design performance expectations, resulting in houses that don’t meet their operational targets.

Proposed Plan:

NRCan’s Office of Energy Efficiency will lead the pilot with substantial technical support from CanmetENERGY, NRCan’s research arm. It is anticipated that other key stakeholders, such as the Canadian Home Builders Association and the Net Zero Energy Home Coalition, will also participate.

Builders will have a first-to-market claim on this new Government of Canada certified level of recognition from NRCan. They will also play a key role in setting the requirements for labelling Net Zero Energy homes in Canada. NRCan will offer technical support and promotion as an in-kind contribution to each participant.

Pilot participants will also benefit from collaborating with leading experts to gain insight into design of homes using available, high performance building envelope products, technologies, and techniques that can be used to achieve net zero energy performance. Participants who are successful through the request for proposals process will also have access to modeling support from NRCan simulation experts for technologies that cannot be modelled using HOT2000.

This pilot will give participants an opportunity to demonstrate industry leadership with first-to-market, NRCan-recognized net zero energy homes built and certified under the quality assurance of R-2000. NRCan will also work with the pilot proponents to raise awareness about the pilot and its participants.


May 2013: NRCan presented research that demonstrates that an R-2000 home can achieve net zero energy home performance using commodity technologies and methods. The net zero energy cost optimization webinar also provided a cost ball-park, guidelines and starting point for pilot participants.

Fall 2013: Through a request for proposals process,  the following 12 builders were invited to participate in the Pilot:

Avalon Master Builder Calgary, AB
Cornelis Grey Construction Inc. Ottawa, ON
Global Sustainable Solutions Tay Township, ON
Habitat for Humanity Manitoba Winnipeg, MB
Habitat Studio & Workshop Ltd. Edmonton, AB
Insightful Healthy Homes Inc. Vancouver, BC
K&P Contracting St Johns, NL
Slingshot Residential Incorporated Regina, SK
Sloot Construction Ltd Arkell, ON
Sonbuilt Custom Homes Ltd. Vancouver, BC
Sustainable TO Toronto, ON
Wrighthaven Homes Limited Elora, ON


Spring 2014 to Spring 2015: Houses will be constructed and then go through the R-2000 verification and labelling protocol.

Summer 2015 to Fall 2015: Post-program analysis will be undertaken to allow NRCan to assess the feasibility of recognizing R-2000 net zero energy performance within its suite of standards as well as provide valuable lessons learned to interested builders for the future.


If you are interested in participating in or in receiving updates on the R-2000 Net Zero Energy pilot, please send an e-mail to