Howland Green Homes’ new mission is simple: build Beyond Net Zero. This objective is to be realized in the City of Markham, where the company is developing the ‘Howland Green Business Centre’, a commercial building which will produce more energy than it will consume. The first building of its kind in Canada, it could set a whole new standard for environmentally conscious development that goes above and beyond the current objectives Canadian developers must meet. 

Howland Green, Business Centre, Markham, Net PositiveRendering of the Howland Green Business Centre, image via Howland Green Homes Ltd

A forerunner in Canada’s ‘Net Zero Standard’ approach to residential and commercial property development, Howland Green has been active in a commitment to sustainability, energy efficiency and resilience at their development projects in the Greater Toronto Area. This development, to be constructed on Cachet Woods Court near the 404 and 16th Avenue in the Markham, will serve as the business centre for the company, offer unique office condo spaces to other companies, and signify a ‘giant ecological leap forward for the environment and the building industry’, according to Dave de Sylva, Howland Green’s founder and President.

Howland Green, Business Centre, Markham, Net PositiveMap of Howland Green Business Centre Site, image via Howland Green Homes Ltd

The ‘Net Zero’ energy standard describes a building’s self-generating ability to produce energy by renewable, onsite means. This practice has been increasingly realized in Ontario by a number of developers, and Howland Green are a pivotal example of such developments in the GTA. The GreenLife Centre, The GreenLife Golden, and the GreenLife Midtown buildings, all in Markham, are just three examples of the efficient and most advanced 'Net Zero' buildings Howland Green have built. Now they have are moving further ahead of the curve.

GreenLife, Net Zero, Markham, Net PositiveRendering of the Net Zero 'GreenLife Midtown' in Markham, image via Howland Green Homes Ltd

To go beyond Net Zero, or to become ‘Net Positive’, a building must generate more energy than needed for its annual operation. According to the company, this move ‘raises the bar’ in development practice, not only with regards to ensuring a clean ecological footprint, but also in terms of economic efficiency by reducing high energy related costs with less efficient buildings.

Howland Green’s method to ensure this standard comes in various forms, all combining to make the three-storey, 59,000 square foot building with two levels of underground parking one of Canada’s most innovative developments. The building will be fully powered by sun and geothermal energy—and will be fitted with the latest in geothermal technology for optimal energy balancing controls. The roof’s solar panels will capture approximately 420,000 watts of solar energy, to produce some 515,000 kilowatt hours of ‘clean, green energy’. 

Howland Green, Business Centre, Markham, Net PositiveTowards Net Positivity, image via Howland Green Homes Ltd

The building will be built with an enhanced insulated concrete form, to the effect that the building’s combined thermal resistance value is considerably higher than the insulated formwork of typical buildings. Similarly, the roof's insulation will exceed normal building codes by four times, effectively stopping any wasteful energy transfer. The windows as well will be fitted with an advanced fiberglass technology with considerably higher resistance and insulation value than standard multi-glazed windows. 

For the energy surplus created by the building’s various energy generating appliances, the building will have one of the first electric potential lithium-ion and pneumatic energy storage systems in Canada. Alongside the building's highly efficient, sensor-triggered lighting, automated heating and cooling systems, and an innovative water recycling system (which will harvest, recycle, and conserve all rainwater on site), the energy storage will allow for energy to be dispersed as needed. 

Howland Green, Business Centre, Markham, Net PositiveAerial view of Howland Green Business Centre, image retrieved from Google Maps

We will return with updates on this development.