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CABN to showcase net-zero, prefab homes in Canada, the U.S.

Homes cut energy use 63% compared to average Passive House standard

CABN's SON.DER, a 750-square-foot, two-bedroom unit designed to be energy efficient, affordable and viable for even remote areas. (Courtesy CABN)

CABN, a Toronto-based prefabricated home builder, is spreading the word about its mission to develop sustainable, net-zero and rapidly-built affordable houses with a prototype that will be unveiled in Ontario in May, and later in four U.S. states.

The company was founded in 2021 by CEO Jackson Wyatt, who also co-founded and sold Greenlid, a private label supplier of compostable tableware, cups and trays to Loblaws and CVS.

Wyatt, who spoke to SustainableBiz, said his move to the housing industry was based on a “selfish” desire to build the most "efficiently-cost house" that could be shipped and easily assembled in a remote area and would not be reliant on traditional electrical grids.

CABN, he said, was founded to “recognize that through advanced technology and manufacturing we can provide universally, attainable, affordable and sustainable housing across Canada and North America.”

How CABN builds its homes

CABN manufactures the homes in a controlled environment facility located in Brockville, Ont. There, they are assembled and packaged into a home kit.

The kits are transported in a 40-foot shipping container or on a flat-bed truck, where they are moved to the site - a building envelope can be erected in three to five days. After the envelope is set, interior finishing can be complete. CABN says the homes can be ready for move-in within three to five weeks.

The homes are built out of cross-laminated timber, a wood panel produced by gluing together layers of lumber that results in a lightweight and robust building material that is air-tight and insulating.

The cross-laminated timber is sourced from manufacturers in Southwestern Ontario and is Forest Stewardship Council-certified.

Wyatt, drawing upon his experience with Greenlid, also emphasized how the cross-laminated timber is compostable or recyclable.

The foundations for CABN’s homes use helical piles - metal screws that are an alternative to concrete foundations. Wyatt pointed out how using helical piles reduces the need for concrete (a heavy greenhouse gas polluter) while also being quickly installable or removable, and have a longer lifespan than concrete.

Wyatt said CABN is taking a biomimicry approach to its homes - imitating nature for their design. Biomimicry helps manage the land, minimizes cutting down trees and preserves biodiversity, he said.

Its energy efficiency features

CABN emphasizes the energy efficiency of its net-zero homes. The company says they are designed to consume 63 per cent less energy on average than a baseline home built around Passive House standards. This saves around 6,485 kilowatt-hours per year - a figure which was verified by Kingston, Ont.-based QSBR Innovations Inc, according to Wyatt.

They include features such as electric systems with heat exchange ventilation, smart home systems, the potential for renewable energy generation, energy-efficient appliances and a floor made from sustainable materials like cork.

The savings are partly attributed to CABN's ‘Energy Informed Design,’ which uses Passive House as a standard and optimizes energy efficiency per home by adjusting for factors like the building’s angle to the south, the climate, the windows, heat recovery and insulation.

CABN homes can also reduce heating consumption by 89 per cent, according to a press release, compared to a baseline home that uses 125 kilowatt-hours per square metre per year for heating.

Affordable homes for remote areas

An important consideration for CABN is the affordability and viability of their homes for remote areas.

“It may be cost-effective in Toronto for people to have access to equitable and sustainable housing, but what’s that leave someone in Northern Ontario or in the Northwest Territories?” Wyatt said.

The prefabricated home kits can be shipped to remote areas across Canada. They are intended to be separated from traditional electrical grids while being low maintenance and self-reliant.

Rather than affix an “obscene” number of solar panels and batteries, CABN opted for energy-efficient systems and technologies for its homes. By reducing costs for home-building, Wyatt said CABN can invest more into high-quality mechanical systems, solar energy systems, and energy management systems and design to reduce energy poverty.

The costs will differ based on the finish, standard and the location, as well as support from CABN's affordable housing non-profit organization.

The MOR.II, a 540-square-foot, one-bedroom unit that is CABN’s smallest unit, starts from $219,000. The SON.DER, 750-square-foot, two-bedroom unit, starts from $299,000. CABN's largest unit, the 1,850-square-foot, four-bedroom GES.TALT starts from $549,000.

CABN’s showcase homes

In May, CABN is publicly unveiling one show home in Mallorytown, Ont.. Others show homes will be finished later in the year in U.S. states Colorado, Connecticut, Maine and New York.

The goal with the Mallorytown show home is to showcase the individual unit featuring its own decentralized microgrid, demonstrate the technology and how it meshes with its plan for a multi-unit development.

Wyatt said CABN wants to work with governments and access subsidies to help with affordability, which is why Ontario and the four U.S. states were chosen.

He is hoping to hear ideas for improvement and suggestions for technologies they have not considered yet from the public.

There are plans to pursue a pre-seed fundraise related to strategic relationships and a larger strategic raise coordinated with its show home launch to “build out insight into the product and the team to see what we can achieve.”

CABN’s aspiration, according to Wyatt, is to showcase a cluster of housing units to display how the units work in concert and demonstrate how they function as a community for the elderly, the disabled, people who are downsizing and people buying their first home.

Editor's note: The show home will be showcased in May, not April as previously reported. We regret the error.

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