Design: Kawartha-Highlands Net Zero Home’s Floor Plan

  • A 3D rendering of the roof's solar panels, garage and breezeway

  • A 3D rendering of home from the east, looking onto the east-facing bedrooms

  • An aerial view of the southern facing panels, Great Room, and detached bunky

    An aerial view of the southern facing panels, Great Room, and detached bunky

Net Zero, Net Zero, and Net Zero: these are Kawartha-Highlands’ three main priorities.

If you need to be reminded, our Kawartha-Highlands Net Zero House is located near Peterborough and west of the Kawartha-Highlands Conservation area. This lovey project sits on a small lot lined with cedar trees and coveted lakefront access. Plus, this project is designed to be – you guessed it — completely Net Zero.

A Net Zero house produces as much, if not more, energy than it uses annually. Net Zero Houses are hard to come by. And Net Zero Houses are hard to build.

Building a house that uses absolutely no energy is unfeasible, uncomfortable, and essentially un-survivable in Ontario’s climate. A Net Zero house uses electricity to maintain comfort, but aims to break even by collecting energy to make up for the energy it uses. And unless one has the physical and financial freedom for hundreds of windmills or thousands of PV panels, using as little energy as possible makes this ambitious goal more attainable. That said, it becomes clear why every aspect of the Kawartha-Highlands house has to be designed to both save and collect energy.

Passive solar is one of the best strategies for minimal energy use and maximum energy collection.

An ideal passive solar home has long south-facing exposures and pitched roofs for three main reasons: 1) large southern windows allow the interior of the house to collect the sun’s heat and light for most of the day, 2) the roof’s overhang keeps the house from overheating in the summer by shading the highest and hottest rays of the year, and 3) a roof’s long south-facing slope is prime real estate for PV Solar Panels.

Using these principles, the perfect passive solar house would be designed with every room facing south, all with huge southern windows and a long pitched roof installed with solar panels. However, real life is not that easy – a lot’s landscape, size, and client’s aesthetic preferences can drastically alter a passive house’s blueprint.

Take this project — with an eastern lakefront, it seems a waste to design a totally southern-oriented home and no windows overlooking the lake.

But we weren’t discouraged! With careful thought and consideration, we managed to include everything we wanted in this design: eastern lake views, southern passive solar exposure, and a southern roof for solar panel installation.

The house’s overall look is reminiscent of a modern Ontario agricultural building. The low-slung structure is topped with two intersecting steep pitched roofs. The first pitched roof runs along the east-axis with full due-south exposure — perfect for mounting 40 PV solar panels. This roof covers the Great Room and the garage which sits to the west, slightly apart from the home. A breezeway paved by flagstone makes up the covered space between the garage and home, with an entrance to the home’s foyer. This foyer runs the length of the home, dividing the Great Room from the rest of the house. Opposite the entrance to the breezeway is an exterior door leading to the eastern lakefront, so our clients can walk straight from the house to the lake for a quick dip. Just off the foyer, the large Great Room stands in the south-eastern corner of the home, with tall southern windows. One huge eastern picture window gives a full view of the lake.

The second roof runs along the north-south axis, covering the bedrooms and secondary spaces. Three east-facing bedrooms run the length of the house, each with their own views of the lake. The master bedroom, farthest from the Great Room, has its own personal exterior door. This door gives our clients the freedom to head down to the lake first thing in the morning or late at night, without disturbing any guests who may be staying in their additional bedrooms. Plus, the master bedroom has the best view of the “Whale” — the large rock outcropping that looks just like a breaching whale.

Finally, the west side of the bedroom wing houses all the services spaces:  master bathroom, guest bathroom, laundry and mechanical room.


The floor plan of the single storey home

This home was both a challenge and a treat to design, and the building process will be even more so! We’re looking forward to tackling the heavy lifting of this Net Zero build.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *