The Green House

How CABN plans to build the real estate market’s most-affordable net-zero homes

Jackson Wyatt has always had a thing for sustainability. His first company manufactured compostable alternatives to single-use plastic. The seven years he spent running it, before its sale in 2021, and the one year he spent stuck inside during the pandemic, helped spark his next big idea: sustainable affordable housing. “Everybody wants to do the environmental thing,” Wyatt says. “But, if it’s too complicated or expensive, they won’t stick with it.”

In 2021, he launched CABN, which builds net-zero homes that don’t come with astronomical price tags. The prefabricated houses are available in four sizes ranging from one to four bedrooms. Their smallest house measures 540 square feet and costs $219,000; their largest is 1,850 square feet and costs $549,000. All their models are move-in ready in five weeks, in part because their main component, cross-laminated timber, is easily transportable­—allowing the homes to be built in a weather-controlled facility and moved to a person’s lot once finished.

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From the outside, the homes resemble elevated cottages—cabins, really—but behind their modest façades are layers of sustainable tech. Glazed windows and an airtight insulation system moderate temperature, keeping interiors between 21 and 24 degrees year-round. Solar panels—optimally angled to maximize absorption—generate the home’s electricity and could someday funnel surplus power into a community grid, creating entire net-zero towns. CABN’s first two-bedroom show home opened in Mallorytown, Ontario, in early April.

The construction process for a CABN home requires less than 10,000 kg of CO2 equivalent. A traditional home uses 40,000 kg of CO2 equivalent for the concrete foundation alone
The roof’s 23.5-degree slant keeps the house cool in the summer and is oriented for its solar panels to absorb maximum sunlight year-round to feed the house’s battery bank
The largest model has an additional 850 square feet of deck space and can be made from either recycled composite or natural Canadian wood
The homes are customizable—to a point. During the design phase, buyers can select the type and colour of both the exterior cladding and the interior cork flooring
The home’s sustainably sourced timber keeps construction costs low by eliminating much of the manufacturing need for support elements, like steel rebar
The triple-glazed windows are made in Germany. The south windows have a dark tint to keep the house cool during the summer
The floors are heated, if you choose, and the entire home uses smart tech to monitor and maintain temperature
An exterior cellulose insulation layer combines with solar power to keep the house warm during the winter