Canada can already design net zero-energy homes, and now the federal government is looking to take the next step towards sustainable, and energy-efficient cities.

Yesterday in Ottawa, Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt and Ed Komarnicki, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Human Resources, launched the $4.2-million, three-year EQui­l­ibrium Communities Initiative to build communities that take advantage of the most up-to-date energy-efficient building technology.

“It’s important that these communities are not just clusters of energy-efficient homes. They will be efficient sustainable neighbourhoods with designs driven by water and energy efficiency, sustainable land use and clean energy transportation strategies,” said Raitt, adding a request for proposals from builders and developers will be launched this month.

The proposals could be for new communities or the redevelopment of older areas.

The money would be used for research, technical analysis and design work to raise the design efficiency level higher than the current practice.

“Our money will be to hedge all the risks that the team will take looking at options,” said Natural Resources Canada research and development manager Francois Dubrous.