First net-zero housing units, able to create as much energy as they use, coming to Saskatoon

An example of what the units will look like. Big Block Construction / Supplied

Saskatoon is getting its first net-zero housing units — which create as much energy as they use.

The 72 units in Willowview Heights are environmentally friendly. They’re one of only seven projects across Canada being used to help influence the 2030 national building code.

“What we’re going to do is be able to offset the energy being used; that’s where solar panels will come into play,” explained Alex Miller, CEO of Big Block Construction.

“That will kind of help balance everything out so that, in theory, it is a net-zero project — it produces as much as it consumes.”

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There will be six buildings on the property with two and three-bedroom units, Miller said.

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But not everyone is pleased about the new units.

Neighbours say they’ve been fighting against them for two years, claiming the building would allow those residents to stare into their homes.

“We paid a premium price for our lots, all of us on this crescent,” said Roberta Hilkewich, whose house is across from the construction site.

“Our property is now worth basically nothing,” she claimed.

Miller says he’s aware of the neighbour’s concerns and claimed they were addressed two years ago. He said the project’s design means construction will take about half as long as a typical build. It’s expected to be finished by December.

The company has used a process called modular construction, meaning big parts of the project are built elsewhere and transported to the construction site.

Not all of the project’s construction can take place off-site; however, Miller said there should be 70 per cent less disruption to the neighbourhood thanks to this method compared to typical builds.

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