Lafarge has made homeownership possible for two hard-working Edmonton families through Habitat for Humanity. Partnering with Stantec to design the first NetZero energy precast concrete homes in North America, the team has targeted LEED Platinum certification. Representatives from Lafarge and Stantec had the honor today of presenting keys to the recipient Habitat families.

Building with precast concrete allows the homes to benefit from significant thermal mass. For the next two years the homes' energy performance will be monitored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to determine if the high-efficiency design delivers on an operational basis. Learnings from all stages of the project will be incorporated in other sustainable residential solutions.

“These types of projects are so important if we are to find sustainable solutions to affordable home ownership,” said Alfred Nikolai, president and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton. “The partnership between Habitat, Lafarge and Stantec demonstrates how community partners can work together for the benefit of humanity.”

"Lafarge is committed to building better cities and this project is an ideal example. Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Stantec has allowed us to do innovative research on the energy efficiency that concrete brings to buildings while helping two deserving families attain home ownership. From a sustainable construction and sustainable communities perspective, Lafarge could not be prouder of all this duplex has achieved," commented Larry Diduck, vice president-Edmonton.

“Working with Lafarge and this group of designers to find solutions that make sustainable precast concrete homes a reality has been an exciting challenge, and the result is a testament to the teamwork that has taken place over the last two years,” said Keith Shillington, Edmonton Capital Region vice president at Stantec. “Habitat for Humanity is such a valuable partner in the community for Stantec, and designing homes for two of their families made this project even more meaningful for our team.”

Volunteers began construction on July 10, 2012 and a total of 3,050 hours were given by 159 different volunteers. As a charity, Habitat mobilizes volunteers and community partners to bring their affordable home ownership model to hard working families. The NetZero Energy project has been embraced by many in the community, the corporate sector, small business sector, by individuals and municipal and provincial governments.

“The NetZero project is another milestone for Habitat for Humanity that supports sustainability on so many levels,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths. “Habitat for Humanity and its partners deserve our recognition for being affordable housing leaders and ensuring our communities are built with the environment in mind, while supporting Albertans in need.”

The land for the state-of-the-art duplex was made possible by the City of Edmonton Cornerstones program.

"The City of Edmonton continues to benefit from the partnerships established through the Cornerstones Plan for Affordable Housing," said Mayor Stephen Mandel. "Working with Habitat for Humanity, we've been able to help build attractive, affordable homes for families who need them, and energy-efficient design will keep them affordable for years to come."

The homes are designed and constructed to be sustainable, which complements Habitat’s sustainable home ownership program. The two Habitat homeowners will pay an interest-free mortgage to Habitat and their payments will never be more than 25 percent of their income. The families’ mortgage payments are then reinvested into building more Habitat homes, ensuring an ongoing Habitat program. Families also contribute 500 hours of “sweat equity” on Habitat build sites as a down payment for their home.

Many others partnered with Habitat, Lafarge and Stantec to make this project a reality: Government of Alberta, City of Edmonton Cornerstones, Kassian Dyck Associates, Dow Chemical Canada, All Weather Windows, NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul Services, Landmark Solar Productions, Vital Engineering, Clark Ecoscience and Sustainability, RBBN Contractors and Painting Ltd., Cascade Aqua-Tech, Irving Wire Products Corporation, Canada Green Building Council – Alberta Chapter, Eco Ammo, Deck X, Siteline Inc, Whirlpool, Patching Associates Acoustical Engineering Ltd., Hunter Douglas, NIC, Schneider Electric, Eco Synergy, Threshold Energies, and Ecobee