In a few weeks Airdrie resident, Samantha Shannon and her family of five will find out if they won in a nationwide competition, Live Net Zero.

The challenge, developed by Canadian Geographic, saw seven other Canadian families going head-to-head in different weekly competitions to address sustainability in their households.

during the Solar install with Airdrie's ONLY local solar company - Solis Energy based out of Coopers.  (Lochlan(9) in the black and green, My husband Kevin Shannon, Grace (5), Myself, Landon (7) blonde boy in blue.) the kids were very excited to be apart of the process and get the opportunity to go up and see the panels installed up close. The Shannon family in Airdrie was part of a nationwide competition to reduce their carbon footprint. This is the moment captured when the family's solar panels were being installed by Solar Install - the only local solar company based in the city. (Photo provided by Memories 2 Memory)

When DiscoverAirdrie last spoke to Shannon, her family was in the first weekly challenge concerning commuting. At that time, the family home was also in the process of becoming the second home in the city to have a geothermal exchange heating unit installed. The exchange allows the home to heat at 400 per cent efficiency. 

Since then, the family completed other challenges including a heating and cooling challenge, an electricity challenge, as well as the culmination challenge during the holiday season. 

"It has been a bit of a whirlwind. We had the six challenges, and they all [went] for about two weeks at a time."

When asked which challenge was the most difficult, Shannon said the holiday challenge proved hard, only because the family already has many practices in place to reduce their carbon footprint.

"We don't travel over Christmas; we have always used Zoom to broadcast our kids opening their Christmas presents. Their grandparents from B.C. and Southern Alberta, and our extended family in Ontario all get to be a part of the magic without everybody having to fly and commute or drive."

Shannon also shared a few tidbits of knowledge from the process, which may turn other owners onto thinking about more energy-efficient sustainable homes. According to Shannon, approximately 30 per cent of homes' heat energy is lost through air leaks.

"It is one of the most cost-efficient ways to reduce your energy consumption, thus saving money on your utility bills – which is of importance to everyone. A lot of our competitors sealed up air gaps with DIY [Do It Yourself] methods, while we opted for a process called Aerobarrier, which uses physics and an atomized sealant to find and seal leaks that aren’t always accessible to a human in a finished house."

But what about the unbearable cold snap Alberta was plunged into in January? Did the family find it difficult to heat their home, while also being cognizant of their carbon footprint?

"Though we are still grid-tied and reliant on the electricity from the grid, we were able to maintain comfortable temperatures inside our home the whole two weeks," Shannon said. "When we were in that state of emergency because we are already so self-sustainable as it is, we were still able to be well below what was advised for electricity consumption. We were heating our home and our kids, were still watching Netflix."

With winter behind the family, Shannon said that she is looking forward to summer.

"Even though our home is net zero, it's on an annual basis, not necessarily day-to-day. So, we're reliant on those summer months, where we can overproduce on electricity with our solar array."

The family has a total of 42 solar panels on their roof, and not only will that generate energy for them, but they also get a credit from their utility companies.

"We use that towards the additional amount that your every typical family needs over the winter time. We're very excited to get our first summer of consumption, and then our bills will equalize over the year."

But that's not the only thing that Shannon is eagerly awaiting. As part of the 2024 Calgary Eco-Solar Home Tour, the family's home will be showcased and the public will be able to visit it.

"...for those that are interested in seeing what a sustainable house looks like in Airdrie! You can come by and tour the house and ask us questions and see that even though our house is no different than our neighbours, it runs much differently."

Shannon is also focused on the release of a documentary that she has worked on for the better part of two years. She said the documentary is a sister project in the city that saw the same practices utilized to try and achieve Net Zero.

"That short-form documentary “No Demo Net Zero” has been submitted to 13 film festivals across North America, and will be released on Telus later this year thanks to funding from STORYHIVE."

The Shannon family was the only family from Alberta to participate in the challenge. Other contenders include families from Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and New Brunswick.

According to previous Statistics Canada data, 23.8 per cent of Canada's total energy consumption is used to power our homes, and generates 18.8 per cent of the country's Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

The winner of the challenge will win a $50,000 cash prize.

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to You can also message and follow us on Twitter: @AIR1061FM

DiscoverAirdrie encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the DiscoverAirdrie app. For breaking news, weather and contest alerts click here.