By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

A few months ago, a house in Windermere became the first certified Net-Zero Ready home in the Columbia Valley.

Indeed the home, which belongs to local couple Scott and Cori Wilisky, is also the first certified Net-Zero Ready home in the East Kootenay and the 19th to be certified in the entire province.

Scott, owner of STW Builders, built the house with his crew, and he and Cori moved in to the home in May 2019. Although the house was Net-Zero Ready as soon as the family moved in, getting the certification (which comes through the Canada Home Builders Association, CHBA) took more than 20 months, partly because the certification process simply takes awhile.

A Net-Zero home is one that produces as much energy as it consumes. The first step in creating a Net-Zero house is contacting an energy advisor or Net-Zero builder to figure out how much energy your new house will use (or your current house uses, if you are seeking to refit or renovate an existing home to become Net-Zero). This then lets you know how much energy your house needs to produce to offset the consumption.

The Wiliskys’ home produces energy through the solar panels Scott installed on the roof.

Scott explained to the Pioneer that he wanted to build a Net-Zero home “partly for the energy efficiency and partly for the overall comfort. You not only save money, but the air is fresher, the temperature is very consistent in the house and there are no cold spots. There are a lot of good reasons to have a Net-Zero house, but no matter which reason you choose, at the end you have a nice, comfortable home, which is great.”

Another benefit of a Net-Zero home is that they tend to be quieter, with much less outside sound audible inside.

In the long-term Net-Zero makes a lot of sense, outlined Scott. “Why would you build a home that meets code today, when you can build a home that will meet the codes of the future?”

Several criteria and design elements help the Wiliskys’ home meet Net-Zero standards. The house’s air tightness had to be less than 1.5 air changes per hour. All the windows are superior-quality triple pane. There is plenty of extra insulation (the walls have an effective R value of R38, the roof an effective R value of R56), and there is a hot water heat pump.

Although it doesn’t count towards a Net-Zero Ready certification (which is based on electricity use), Scott uses a wood-burning stove to help heat his home, which offsets the conventional heating he needs.

“The house is oriented to be south-facing so that in wintertime, the sun puts heat into the building,” said Scott (the home has a big bank of windows on its south-facing wall). “The coldest days of the year in the Columbia Valley are also often the sunniest, so they are some of the easiest to heat our house, because not only do you have the sun pouring in the windows, you also have the solar panels really going.”

Scott has added electric exterior blinds to the windows, which he can close in the summer, to prevent passive solar energy pouring in and to help make the house cooler. The house also has no west-facing windows, which tend to be the worst for inadvertently heating a house in summertime.

“It’s extremely comfortable, and we didn’t have to skimp on anything. We didn’t cut corners to make it. You can have a normal house and you can have a high-end house that is Net-Zero. It’s a bit more complex, but not too much more,” said Scott. “Even the size of the home doesn’t matter too much in the end. All you need is to think about the design a bit more: where will the windows go, what is the heat source going to be, how are you going to place the home on the property, and those kinds of things.”

Scott is working on two other Net-Zero buildings in the Columbia Valley, which should be finished in a few months time. One is a 9,500 square foot Net-Zero home, and the other is the Radium micro brew-pub. Although the Radium brewery cannot be CHBA certified as a Net-Zero home (because it is a commercial building instead of a home), it will be the first Net-Zero commercial building in the Columbia Valley.

On Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, when this issue of the Pioneer hits newsstands, the home will be featured in a CHBA webinar on Net-Zero building.

To learn more visit: or contact Scott at [email protected].