The development, which released its first phase in June, offers three levels of optional comfort and energy efficiency packages, including net-zero, on its single family homes.
“When we say net-zero we mean a home that is designed to generate as much energy as it consumes over the course of the year,” said Roya Khaleeli, director of sustainability and innovation for Minto Communities.
Minto offered similar options this spring on its Union Village community in the nearby community of Markham. Phase 2 of that project saw purchasers of 35 per cent of eligible homes upgrade to a net-zero-associated package.
Heights of Harmony Phase One is mostly sold out, but some additional homes may be added later this year or in early 2022, says Khaleeli. Phase Two will be opened for sale in late 2022.
The community will be ready for occupancy in 2023.
Heights of Harmony Phase One includes 114 homes ranging from 1,992-3,049 square feet. The final development will stretch over 96 acres and will include about 716 homes. Phase One uptake on net-zero upgrade packages was close to 15 per cent, according to figures provided by Minto.
Three available levels of energy-efficiency
Khaleeli says the lowest level of package involves improving the overall performance and comfort of the home, with zoned HVAC (allowing different levels of heating and cooling in different areas of the home), improved insulation, air tightness and triple-pane windows.
The second level has higher-efficiency mechanical systems including heating and cooling and more efficient drain water heat recovery.
Higher load-bearing trusses and an electrical conduit from attic to electrical panel will allow for solar panel installation if the home owner decides to do that in the future. That level will have Net-Zero Ready certification from the Canadian Home Builders Association.
The third package includes the solar panels and qualifies for the full net-zero label, says Khaleeli.
Whether the home achieves net-zero will depend on the energy consumption of individual families, she says.
“Even if you don’t achieve net-zero, utility bills will be significantly reduced and it’s the most comfortable home you’re going to have.”
The optional packages add between $38,000 and $60,000 to the house price, depending on the size of home and level of package. Heights of Harmony Phase One single-family residences range from $890,000 to $1,150,000 without premium packages. The development also offers townhomes priced between $780,000 and $880,000 – net-zero packages are not available for the towns.
Heights of Harmony is located in north Oshawa in the Kendron neighbourhood.
Minto aims for net-zero standard
Khaleeli says the savings on utilities afforded by net-zero pays back in 15 to 20 years.
“It’s not a quick payback, which is part of the reason we’re not just focusing on the cost savings that come with a net-zero energy home. We’re also focusing on communicating the comfort benefits to a home designed with that higher level of performance,” she says.
Khaleeli says ultimately the company would like to offer net-zero as its standard home, but when that will happen depends on market acceptance, public policy and trades partners who help achieve the goal.
“We’re going slowly. We want to see what it’s like for us as a production builder, to start building homes at the net-zero energy level.”
A spokesperson for the Canadian Home Builders Association says it has labelled 404 detached homes, 210 attached homes, 34 units in four multi-unit residential buildings and six renovations under the net-zero Home Labelling program.
Of the 70 qualified builders who have achieved the label, about half are custom builders and half production builders, the spokesperson says.
Minto also builds multi-family residences.
Khaleeli says the company has been focused on sustainability for many years. Minto condos are designed for both aesthetics and performance, she says, with energy recovery ventilation, green roofs and EV chargers in some buildings.
The company sub-meters water in its multi-res buildings because that is shown to reduce water consumption, and is starting to include waste sorting under sinks, she says.
The next step is to reduce embodied carbon, says Khaleeli. That’s the carbon produced in the extraction, processing, transporting, demolition and recycling of building materials