Passive House and Net Zero – both are certification labels for ultra-low energy buildings that use very little energy to heat and cool them. Through thoughtful materials and design, a Passive House cuts energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90 per cent. A Net Zero building does much the same, but also produces energy through the use of solar panels and similar devices. This home was designed with Colchester County’s enhanced net metering program to reduce or zero the energy consumption. Being such a small home, it is expected that there will be $0 cost for the electricity required to heat, cool and power the house throughout the year, with extra energy provided from the panels sold back into the electric consumption grid. The home is greenhouse gas free through the use of electric baseboards and hot water tanks based on heat pump technology.

There are many ways to make a building energy efficient, from adding insulation and angling it toward the morning sun to making it airtight so it doesn’t let energy out and pollution in. But such high-performance, energy efficient homes need not look like one big solar box or be unattractive. This home has large windows, custom fabricated steelrolled panelling and wood finish. Inside, high ceilings, cork floors and recovered barn beams create a comfortable open-living space.


This house fulfils Passive House Canada and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s (CHBA) Net Zero Home Labelling Program. This home reduces energy costs and fights climate change by moving away from carbon-emissions within the extraction and use of fossil-fuels. Passive homes are easier to operate, maintain temperates more efficiently, and saves up to 90% heating energy costs and is expected to cost $0 throughout the year to heat and electrify. It is a bright, sunny, draft free, quiet, and low-maintenance home providing comfort and reduced carbon footprint. The home is resilient in storms; even without power for weeks the Passive House will maintain temperatures above 10C. Summers are cool as well; triple-glazed windows, high-level R40 value insulation, airtight construction, as well as recycled heat and air adds to the energy conservation.













The house is extremely energy efficient; net-zero homes are up to 80% more energy efficient than typical new homes and use renewable energy systems to produce the remaining energy it needs. This home is constructed with an air-tight building envelope: windows and doors are Energy Star certified and the slab, walls and roof are very well insulated. An airtight home requires mechanical ventilation; this home’s air filtration system runs 24 hours a day providing superior air quality and comfort. 















Canada’s future climate-change and fuel-security are issues of immediate importance. This home reduces the carbon footprint of home design and living; its energy efficiency radically reduces carbon emissions and supports Nova Scotia’s climate protection initiatives. The home was built with a ‘smart-home’ ecosystem providing self-intelligent shades, air flow, heating, induction stovetop, and dual washer/dryer as well as remote management of all systems and sensors. Beyond fossil fuels, future energy production will move away from the extraction of and construction with non-renewable materials such as Manganese and Nickel in the batteries or magnets of wind turbines and hydropower. Solar energy production costs have fallen the most significantly of any other energy source since 2009 and is an important opportunity for Canada to be the leader in carbon-free energy. 













At only 580 square-feet of interior living space, the home requires a change in lifestyle and consumption habits to maximise the benefits of the home’s construction and goals. Small home living reduces not only person-per-sf energy use but carbon-offset and consumer waste are minimised. Inside, the only new items purchased to furnish the home were a mattress and couch; all other home furnishings and materials are re-purposed vintage items found thrifting along the east coast. This small, affordable home allows time and freedom to spend outdoors travelling, hiking, cycling, and eating regional food while supporting local businesses. It is a quiet, comfortable, healthy home. 


Dr. Richard leBrasseur, the homeowner, teaches sustainable environmental design and landscape architecture at Dalhousie University and is Director of the interdisciplinary Green Infrastructure Performance Lab. His goal is to inhabit a home for the long-term that reflects his core values within teaching, designing and living. The future landscape here will include rainwater management and cleansing before entering the public system, a butterfly garden, an outdoor living area with sustainable and recycled materials, and a native, low-maintenance landscape surrounding the house which increases biodiversity, habitat, air and water quality, and carbon sequestration as well as a chance to relax and connect with nature. 

THE BUILDER - Little Foot Properties

Sandy Thorne, Owner

I started Little Foot Properties with the aim to provide home buyers with small passive net zero homes.  Using passive home design and solar power generation our homes will participate in the enhanced net metering program to attempt to reduce or zero the energy consumption of the home.  Depending on your energy consumption habits you will have little to no costs for utilities.

While similar to the movement of tiny home living and minimalism, we have put our own spin on things with the design we sourced from Passive Design Solutions - producing something special that we feel bridges the gap between the traditional large minimum building code home and the tiny home concept incorporating passive design and net zero qualities. 

Our passion is to be able to offer an option not presently available in the mainstream housing industry that offers a spectacular living space at a very affordable entry price.  We feel home ownership should empower you financially, not burden you with high monthly living costs for most of your working life.  In addition to this a home should not encourage or inspire consumption and accumulation of materialistic possessions.  It should inspire you to live for what matters, experiencing life, traveling, embracing what really matters.

30 Falcon Road, Valley NS B6L 4L7

Construction Completed May 2020

580 SF Cost per SF : about $320

1 br, 1 bath, open kitchen-living area

Upstairs loft over bedroom : additional xxx SF

This home and project was supported by:

Royal Lepage Atlantic

Kathy Harpell, Realtor

Truro, NS

(902) 647-2899

CIBC Small Home Construction Financing

Jason Flemming, Mortgage Advisor

116 Park St, Truro, NS B2N 3J3

(902) 647-2899

Both Rick and Sandy are aware that in just 13 years what you build today [according to current building code] will not be to code in 2033. Energy prices will rise; and the environmental damage for extracting these finite resources will continue to be significant. We both think about our environmental and social responsibility and know that housing has been identified as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and future… xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 


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The Green Infrastructure Performance Laboratory

Director, Richard leBrasseur, PhD

Dalhousie University

Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences

20 Rock Garden Road, EE Building, Room 223

Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada  B2N 5E3