The Beckwith NetZero Project


Beckwith Ontario

Completion date

Summer 2020

The Beckwith NetZero Project

Project Type Custom House
Client Private
Neighbourhood Beckwith, ON
Concept Contemporary Sustainable Design (Net Zero)
Contractor The Conscious Builder Inc.

ARCA-VERDE is pleased to introduce the Beckwith NetZero Project.  The clients requested a home designed for their family, attuned to the surroundings, in a manner that allows the structure to generate enough energy to meet the demand.  The clients intend to live in the home with their young family in a compact and energy-efficient manner.  However, the interior should be carefully designed to provide flexibility as much as possible.

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The project site is situated along the ski-doo trail known as The Beast in the Beckwith area. The clearing through the trees influenced the project concept and site planning. The house is located mid-site to ensure maximum solar exposure and provide distance from the existing and mature trees along the road.


ARCA-VERDE was delighted to work with the clients to develop a simple expression that reflects the site, the environment, and the clients.

The house is composed of 2 volumes; one, the main house, is presented at the west and orientated towards the south, it is a result of the NetZero requirements; the second, the garage volume, is located on the east, working with the neighbouring front yard setback it is rotated to present to the street.  The garage includes a second-floor art and music studio.

The result is an expression that is elegant, unimposing, and reflects the site and personalities of the clients.


It is an ARCA-VERDE desire that all technology within a house has little to no presence. It can be difficult with sustainable ideals, but by allowing the architecture to be the first response, it is achievable. Rather than relying on technology or equipment to light, heat, cool, and ventilate the building shape, interior configuration and window placement are all required.  For the Beckwith NetZero Project, the house shape promotes natural lighting in all rooms except the mechanical room, main-floor washroom, and second-floor washroom.

Natural ventilation is provided with low windows that allow air to enter the house and rise to the higher windows on the opposite sides. The east-west long axis with large south-facing windows allows the winter sun to heat the interior, helping to reduce the need for supplemental mechanical heat. Carefully places windows connect interior to exterior allowing the surrounding tall trees and yards to be part of the house interior.

The building shape and off-center peak maximize the roof surface area facing south, allowing solar panels to generate enough energy to operate the house (NetZero Energy).

Functional Description

The interior of the Beckwith NetZero Project is divided into two zones; all public and semi-private functions are located on the main floor, and the private functions are on the upper level.  Without a basement, the mechanical equipment is behind the kitchen and pantry area.  At only 1,650 square feet, the interior layout utilizes open planning concepts and a double-height space over the living room to create an open feeling. 

The open concept plan creates expansive interior views, allowing natural light penetration, and offers few obstacles for natural ventilation. However, the planning presents areas of repose and isolation as well, with a second-floor Den and main-floor reading nook under the stairs.

The main floor utilizes custom-made movable furniture for everyday use but allows flexibility for large gatherings.  The kitchen island and entrance bench include wheels that allow their location to easily change.

The second level is divided by the stair opening and double-height space of the living room, the master bedroom and ensuite is separated from the two bedrooms and bathroom in the children’s wing.  A small Den offers an area for kids’ toys or a study area when the kids are older.

The functional layout is intended to be void of formal circulation. Overlapping functions foster a creative and friendly environment without increasing the house size.  A wood-burning fireplace is located at the center of the floor plate in the double-height space to maximize its effectiveness.

ARCA-VERDE has considered every detail in the Beckwith NetZero Project. The placement of functions and arrangement of space creates an economy of space. Designing with the environment in mind creates a home with a low impact on the earth, a bright interior, and reconnects occupants with the exterior environment.

Working with these clients has been an honour, and we are excited by what has transpired.

Material and Design Features

  • Triple pane, high-performing windows
  • Well-insulated roof, walls, and floor
  • Provisions for photo-voltaic panels on sloped roof sections
  • An estimated return on carbon investment, after the project is complete, of 12-14 years