SASKATOON -- Big Block Construction is breaking ground on what it says is the first building of its kind in Saskatchewan ⁠— a multi-unit development that will produce as much energy as it consumes.

The project in the city's Willowgrove neighbourhood will meet "net-zero" building code standards the federal government is recommending provinces have in place by 2030.

The use of solar panels will be one of the ways the building will achieve its net-zero status according to the builder.

The building is on one of only seven such projects that are part of a national initiative coordinated by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and could help influence changes to the National Building Code of Canada.

Saskatoon and Region Home Builders’ Association CEO Chris Guerette believes the project will help iron out a lot of the details in achieving success in multi-unit energy efficiency.

“It will require a lot of extra time figuring out technology and how to do things because building a single-family home is quite different than a multi-unit and so this is quite significant," Guerette said.

In total, the Willowview Heights townhouse development will include 72 units, including 36 three-bedroom homes and 36 two-bedroom homes with 12 of the units meeting net-zero standards.

Six units in the development will be designated as affordable homes for persons with intellectual disabilities and delivered through a partnership between the National Affordable Housing Corporation and Innovative Residential.