Table Of Contents

The Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) is a landmark cold-climate home. Situated in Canada's northernmost major city, Edmonton, Alberta,  it will produce as much or more energy than it consumes over the course of a year. Furthermore, it aims to be Western Canada's first LEED-Platinum certified residential building. Construction began on July 30th, 2008.

The co-owner of the home, Conrad Nobert, is blogging about the many green features of the home. This is a table of contents of his blog entries. You can navigate using the table, or scroll down to view the posts in reverse chronological order.

  1. Introduction
  2. Philosophy/Motivation
    1. Affordability
  3. The most important aspects of a cold-climate NetZero home:
    1. Insulate and Seal
    2. Insolate and Add Mass
  4. Walkable Location
  5. Solar Awning
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
  6. Solar Hot Water
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
  7. Flex House
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
  8. Computer Simulation:
    1. Whole-house Heat Loss (HOT2000)
    2. Solar Hot Water System (WATSUN 2008)
  9. Deconstruction
    1. Reclaiming Maple Hardwood Floors
    2. Reclaiming Fir Floors
    3. Giving Stuff Away
    4. Scrap Metal Part 1 and Part 2
    5. Saving Concrete
    6. Reclaiming Cedar Siding
    7. Saving Lumber
    8. Saving Bricks
    9. Demolition
  10. Heating System
  11. Wood Heat
    1. Wood Burning Stove (part 1)
    2. Wood Burning (part 2)
  12. Recycling Gluelam Beams
  13. Square Footage
  14. Insulated Basement Slab
  15. Foundation Walls
  16. Light Pipe
  17. Pipe Insulation
  18. Metal Roof
  19. Passive Solar Design
  20. Waste Reduction
  21. Heathy Home
  22. Media
    1. Part 1 (coverage from first open house)
    2. Part 2 (techlife article)
  23. FAQ
  24. Airtight
  25. Concrete Floor Finish
  26. Phantom Load
  27. Ventilation
  28. Water Usage
  29. Grey Water
  30. Window Coverings
  31. Reusing Doors
  32. Cold Room
  33. Financial Incentive
  34. Progress
    1. Part 1 - foundation, framing
    2. Part 2 - more framing, wood reuse
    3. Part 3 - windows, front porch posts
    4. Part 4 - roof, light pipe, plumbing
    5. Part 5 -  insulation, photovoltaics
    6. Part 6 - concrete floors, counter tops, drywall, wood burning stove
    7. Part 7 - stucco, hardwood, moving in
  35. Observations
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
    3. Part 3
  36. A Net Zero Energy Year
    1. Beginning
    2. Questions
    3. Assumptions
    4. Oct 18 - Dec 15, 2010
    5. Dec 15, 2010 - Jan 15, 2011
    6. Jan 16 - Jan 30, 2011
    7. Feb and Mar, 2011
    8. April, 2011


I made the first post to this website more than eight years ago. My initial vision was a type of clearinghouse for Edmonton-based green ideas, and looking back, that's what the website is full of.

At the height of my content production, the site was getting almost 10,000 unique views per month. It still gets over 3,000 uniques/month, and I think that is a testament to the quality and enduring value of the content.

My biggest accomplishment on the site was copiously documenting the building and design of our Mill Creek NetZero Home. Most of the information about the house, which is a state-of-the-art (2009) cold-climate building, is still entirely relevant.

This site will remain here as a resource for googlers and green info seekers.


Conrad Nobert

P.S. Thanks to Ken Hemmerling, who was one of the very few people to take me up on my "let's build a community resource" offer. His blog posts were interesting and topical.

Net-zero housing in Edmonton

An interesting article on how Edmonton is a hotspot for net-zero housing:

Edmonton Housing: The Bad and the Good

I work in Windermere (on the southwest edge of the city - south of Henday Drive) and see the kind of houses that are being built and find it kind of depressing.  Houses are framed with significant thermal bridging, there’s no thought towards orienting the streets or individual houses for maximum solar gain, many homes have just double pane windows and there’s not a single solar panel anywhere.

It’s not possible to squeeze another north-facing window on this house. These will be a net energy loss every year for the entire life of that house.

When I was a boy if we didn’t close the entrance door fully in the winter time, my father would chastise us by saying “What are you doing, trying to heat the great outdoors?”.  Apparently that’s what this house is designed to do as it has an outward facing gas fireplace built in to its side.

It was against the backdrop of the above that I ran across Oxford Phase 2 - a neighbourhood that requires all homes to be certified by either BuiltGreen Canada Gold, LEED Canada for Home, ENERGY STAR, R2000, or achieve a minimum EnerGuide rating of 80. Not only that, but people lined up overnight just for a chance to buy a lot!

There is a demand for energy efficient homes in Edmonton.  I suspect that one of the primary reasons for someone to buy a lot in Oxford is the fact that you wouldn’t have to risk developing an advisarial relationship with your builder by pushing them to build a high efficiency home.  By building in Oxford, you can make the city the bad guy and say “I’d love to buy your standard home but, gosh darn it, the city is forcing me to get a certified house” then get the house you really wanted in the first place.