SPRING 2010 • Vol. 1, Issue 1
Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:
Recognizing Ontario’s Best in Sustainable Building in 2009
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1/20/10 2:08:47 PM
The SuSTainable HouSing FoundaTion is proud to have the first issue of
Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:
out and in your hands. As a not-for-profit organization we depend on sponsors and advertisers to produce these issues. Our next issue is focused on developing sustainable communities.
To advertise or contribute an article, please contact
The Sustainable Housing Foundationâ€™s mandate is to positively influence all aspects of the building process by helping to create the conditions where those who build green get a competitive advantage. We work with building inspectors, permitting officials, town planners, councillors, trades, builderâ€™s sales agents, realtors, financiers, and manufacturers. We are working on the ground working to tip the playing field in favour of the greener option.
Building Sustainable Advantage! To sponsor or get more information about
the Sustainable Housing Foundation, please call 416-898-0835 or email Hart.Lenard@gmail.com SBM Spring 2010
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Celebrating leadership in Sustainability
elcome to the first issue of Sustainable Builder Magazine, a new publication dedicated to green building in Ontario. This is a magazine is an ambitious step for The Sustainable Housing Foundation, but we have confidence the industry will support our efforts. For the first issue, we celebrate leadership in the green building industry. We partnered with C. Caswell and Associates for a survey in which we asked who you think the leaders in the industry are. Those findings are the basis for our cover story. We have put together a brief history of low-rise green building in Ontario to recognize some of the past leaders, and assembled several stories celebrating leadership right now, including solar initiatives and First Nation communities. We have focused on leading-edge HVAC and solar initiatives, and established two regular columns, by Stephen Dupuis of BILD and Mike Lio of HPC. Finally, John Godden has set out the ground rules for a new media challenge, the Envelope Challenge, to stimulate friendly competition and help builders figure out how to cope with the 2012 building code changes. We could not put out a magazine like this without help from some good friends, and I would like to thank a few friends of the magazine for their support. Gillian Lind and Athena Iriaklios of Clearsphere, Pariac Lally of Roxul, Lynn DaPra of Cadorin Homes, Craig Backman of the McLelland, Michael White of RGL Home Inspections, Larry Brydon of Reliance Home Comfort, Mark Salerno of CMHC, Vince Naccarato of Rodeo Fine Homes, and Christian Caswell of C. Caswell & Associates, for all their support and assistance in putting this issue together. I would also like to thank John for his content review/directional support and Tracy Hanes for her input into making this magazine a reality. I would especially like to extend my sincere thanks to all the advertisers and contributing writers in our inaugural issue. You showed faith in this project, and I hope this issue lives up to your expectations. We plan on producing several issues this year and I would love to have feedback on what we do and what we could do better. This magazine is a forum for the sustainable building industry in Ontario, but if we don’t know about it, we can’t write about it, so send us a note. Also, if you have a comment or would like to be added to our free mailing list, please send me a note at publisher@SBmagazine.com. Lenard Hart Executive Director
SBM Spring 2010
Lenard Hart Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org Sustainable Builder Magazine is a quarterly publication. To advertise, contribute a story, or get your name on our distribution list, please contact sales@SBmagazine.ca Editor: Tracy Hanes Contributing Authors: Andrew Bowerbank Ryan Carr Gord Cooke Stephen Dupuis John Godden Shawn Griffiths Tracy Hanes Lenard Hart Scott Hills Peter Kinsey Gillian Lind Mike Lio Mike Whelply Industry Research: Christian Caswell Creative: Graphic Design Unlimited email@example.com Copyright by Sustainable Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without publisher’s written permission publisher@SBmagaizine.ca. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors exclusively and assumed to be original work. Sustainable Builder Magazine can not be held liable for any damage as a result of publishing such works.
CONTENTS 4 A Short History of Green Building in Ontario 6 What are you doing here?
8 Hitting the Wall in 2012 10 Leader in green home building, Fiume named CHBA president
11 What you need to consider when installing PV on new homes
12 Sustaining Sustainability 14 Green Technologies Assist in Keeping More Green in Your Pockets
24 Cover story Recognizing Ontario’s Best in Sustainable Building in 2009
26 Saugeen First Nation Builders at the Leading Edge of Energy Efficiency in Canada
30 Right-Sizing: it is Crucial to Green HVAC 32 Homesol partners with Owens Corning
to create a new Sustainable Buildings Centre
34 Moving the Market with High Profile Green Homes
36 How Best to Deal with Micro Loads 38 “A healthy
home” challenges record-setting attendance of the Pope, Rolling Stones and ac/dc
16 Marshall Homes the First Production Builder 40 The Glamour to Offer Micro-FIT Solar Upgrade
18 Home Sweet Home competition recognizes leadership in the green home building industry
21 Habitat Brampton Uses Design Charrette to
Plan Affordable Green Townhomes
22 Industry collaboration: Answering the call for environmental and economic action
of Green is Making HVAC Sexy
42 GREAT Connections to a Sustainable Future
44 Speaking in Code 46 Loving my LEED Platinum
SBM Spring 2010
A Short History of Green Building in Ontario By Lenard Hart
n the late 1970s, the federal government began research into the cold weather housing, to discover techniques that would significantly reduce energy consumption and ensure a homeâ€™s comfort, quality and health. The resulting program, launched in 1982, was called R2000, a futuristic nod to coming millennium. HOT2000 soft-
ware was developed to perform shell calculations on heat loss and the program was launched with considerable support in Ontario. Originally run by the Canadian Home Builders Association, Paul Duffy, now with Icynene, took on a leadership role and managed to garner significant uptake and impact, as gas and electric utilities supported it with subsidies and rebates. Many early R-2000 homes were electri-
usan Clinesmith, (with Enbridge), was the first president of EnerQuality. She was replaced by Peter Love (now with Love Energy), who inherited a long list of builders who were active during the subsidies days, but who were no longer building R2000 homes. Love got back to servicing a core group of active R2000 builders. For about 10 years, the R2000 program tended to be lead by smaller custom builders who grew it into a niche market product. High-quality custom builders like Steve Snider, Paul Rawlings, Mary Lawson, Gord and Steve Tobey, John Texiera or Joe Vella still build to these standards. When it became clear that R2000 was not going to have mass production builder uptake, Love began to lobby NRCan to offer something new. The government had been quite successful with the EnerGuide rating system, which unlike R2000, was not a pass/fail threshold-type label, but a scale that could rate and compare all homes. Then, the only application was in the existing home market, and there were some incentives behind the program. EnerGuide still exists, but was rebranded by the Harper government as ecoEnergy. EnerQuality, in partnership with NRCan, developed the EnerGuide for New Homes program with a pilot study in 1999 and then managed the Ontario pilot in 2003. It had some notable uptake by builders such as Empire Communities, Fusion
SBM Spring 2010
cally heated, so were a natural for Ontario Hydro subsidy dollars. Several big production players like Daniels and Fram ended up building thousands of these homes. The bottom dropped out of the R2000 program in 1990s when the subsidies ceased. At this point, EnerQuality, a partnership between the OHBA and a small group called the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, took on running the program.
Homes, Mason Homes, and Urbandale; however, Love realized fairly early on that the variations in the scale was not going to appeal to production builders who build the same house over and over, and wanted to the same rating, not a plus or minus 3, depending on orientation and walkouts, etc. Additionally, the scale could not measure renewable energy contributions well. And because it was also an existing homes scale from 1 to 100, it compressed the typical new homesâ€™ range from about 68 to 82. A gain of 5 points was significant in terms of performance, but to homebuyers, it looked irrelevant. In 2003, EnerQuality hired Lenard Hart (now with the Sustainable Housing Foundation) to work with veteran OHBA and EnerQuality stalwart Susan Woolsey (now with Clearsphere), and they began consulting with key industry stakeholders, builders, raters, utilities, governments and others. The process yielded three clear options: first was a made-in-Ontario energy label, second, a recognizable brand name like ENERGY STAR, and third was a green label like LEED that took into account much more than just energy consumption. Builders clearly wanted the ENERGY STAR program because of the brand recognition with consumers and for its simplicity and predictability. NRCan approached the US EPA to get the rights to use the ENERGY STAR brand on Canadian new homes.
he new program was a quick out of the gate. Hart, along with long time R-2000 evaluators John Godden (Clearpshere), Gord Cooke (Building Knowledge) and the late Doug Marshall (Marshall Consulting) went about selling the new label to progressive builders in the province. In 2006, the first year ENERGY STAR for New Homes was launched, there were more ENERGY STAR labels in Ontario than R2000 labels, a considerable feat given the 18month production windows most builders had at the time. Early leaders in promoting the program were Sean Mason of Mason Homes, Aldo DeSanti of MultiArea Developments, and Victor Fume then of Wilmot Creek. Other builders to take an early leadership position were Tartan, Tamarack, and Metric in Ottawa, along with Reid’s Heritage Homes, Marshall Homes, Jeffery Homes, Townwood, Durhams Homes, Palumbo Homes, Zed Group, Cambridge Homes, Brookfeild, SunDial, Wrighthaven, Gregor Homes and Mattamy. Others who championed the ENERGY STAR label were groups like Owen’s Corning and OZZ, with Larry Brydon (now at Reliance Home Comfort), who promoted the program as part of OZZ’s core services to builders. Local governments began to look at ENERGY STAR and East Gwillimbury took a bold step. Mayor James Young was the first local government official to require ENERGY STAR as a condition of subdivision approval
ecently, a new scale, based on the American HERS scale, called HERSCan, (developed by Bruce Gough who along with Tim Mayo developed the technical specs for the first ENERGY STAR specifications) has begun to gain some traction with Green is 50 builders who wanted a better way to show customers the value of buying homes what are significantly above ENERGY STAR levels. CHMC funded some 18 EQuilibrium demonstration projects, including the Inspiration home built by Minto in the Manotick area of Ottawa. Additionally, the notion of a Net Zero home, supported by Gord Shields and the Net Zero Energy Coalition, has gained some attention among builders now that the Feed-in-Tariff program makes solar PV viable. Long time educator and builder Tex McLeod, an ear-
on all residential applications. The ENERGY STAR program was bolstered by the work of Mark Salerno and others at CMHC who lobbied to include it in the energy efficiency mortgage rebate that they began offering in 2007. In the highrise world, two champions have been driving the push towards greener condos: Minto and Tridel. Minto was especially dedicated to bringing LEED NC to the condo market. Both have had their internal champions; the most salient of which are Jamie James of Tridel and Andrew Pride of Minto. Other groups like Daniels and Urban Capital are now carrying the torch for greener buildings In 2007, Peter Love became the Chief Energy Conservation Officer at the OPA, and longtime EnerQuality board member Mike Lio took as interim president and launched the GreenHouse program. In 2009, Corey McBurney took over as president and has continued to grow EnerQuality and its programs. In the meantime several new service organizations have started up to compete with EnerQuality in Ontario, the foremost of which is of Mindscape Innovations, whose president Derek Satnik was instrumental, along with Andrew Pride of Minto, in bringing the LEED for Homes program to Canada. Now called LEED Canada for Homes, it was launched in January 2009 and has already made a significant impact with municipal officials.
ly lobbyist for bringing ENERGY STAR to Canada, helped develop the solar ready program championed by builder Doug Tarry of St. Thomas. This is a short history of green building in Ontario, and while there are many names not included in this list who should be, any omissions were the result of an aging memories or a lack of firsthand knowledge. The point of this article is to celebrate all the great progress Ontario has made to identify some of the past leaders in the industry and to encourage new innovation. We have one of the greenest condo industries, some of the most innovative builders and one of the highest building standards in North America. Lenard Hart is the Executive Director of the Sustainable Housing Foundation.
SBM Spring 2010
What are you doing here? By Stephen Dupuis
remember attending a “green” function at the Design Exchange in the summer of 2007. If I had a nickel for every person that said to me, “What are you doing here?” I probably could have bought a Venti latte and we all know that’s a lot of nickels. At that point in time, neither I nor BILD were known for green leadership, hence the reaction of many of my colleagues that evening. Three years later, nobody would ask me that question – BILD has come a long way. I showed up that night because I had been reading with interest about the national integrated design process competition which ultimately produced the Archetype Sustainable House. If I had known that BILD would end up being the driving force behind the construction of the Archetype House, I might have thought twice about going. But in retrospect, it was the beginning of a lot of great green progress on several fronts. In 2007, BILD president Bob Finnigan championed BILD’s entrance into the world of green building, starting right at the top with the articulation of a strategic objective to “promote best practices in sustainable development and green building.” One of the first moves we made was to establish a Green Committee to steer BILD’s efforts in this direction. The inaugural co-chairs were Laurie Gordon of Berkshire Homes and Larry Brydon of Reliance Home Comfort. They oversaw initiatives like the creation
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of the Green Builder of the Year awards, our sponsorship of the Sustainable Condo and the building of the Archetype Sustainable House. Meanwhile, BILD was leading by example with the greening of its office building with roofing, lighting and window retrofits and the installation of timers, motion sensors and setbacks. We have reduced our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions so dramatically that our Bullfrog Power premiums have had to be readjusted downward. BILD also “got off the bottle” as I like to joke. We eliminated the use of all plastic water bottles in our offices by installing a Homespring water filtration system. We are now proudly to serving T-Eau (Toronto tap water) at all our meetings and events. The next piece of the puzzle is likely to be the installation of rooftop solar arrays
at our headquarters, so that we can be part of the green power solution while taking advantage of the feed-in-tariff under the Green Energy Act. Perhaps our most important green initiative to date is our training partnership with EnerQuality Corporation, under which we have provided ENERGY STAR for New Homes and/or GreenHouse construction and sales training to hundreds and hundreds of members. We don’t believe in telling our members what to do, but we certainly lead them to the water and many of them have become leading green builders as a result. Recognizing the value of this training partnership and the membership’s insatiable demand for information, the Green Committee has now become the Green Education Committee, lead by Paul Golini of Empire Communities with Larry Brydon continuing to serve as co-chair. Who knows what’s next for BILD? I can say with certainty is that we are well-positioned to move forward in a green direction, particularly with Golini assuming the chair of BILD in 2010, succeeding Leith Moore of Sorbara Development, who has been a quiet champion of everything BILD is doing on the green front. The ultimate testimonial to the transformation of BILD was our recent recognition as Leader of the Year at the EnerQuality Awards of Excellence. I guess we’ve come a long way since I was asked: “What are you doing here?” Stephen Dupuis is the President and CEO Building Industry & Land Development Association
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Hitting theWall in 2012 T
he last monumental change in residential construction was at the advent of the R-2000 era that was brought on by the energy crisis in the early 1980’s. The main innovation was the move from a 2x4 wall stud construction to a 2x6 wall stud construction to increase the insulation cavity space. The change was driven by a concern about the rise of long term energy costs, and found its way into the NDP’s version of the OBC in the early 1990’s. Nothing has really changed since. In 25 years our standard building code wall is still a 2x6 stud without insulated sheathing. Why would it change, for in reality our energy prices have remained subsidized and cheap. The building code change in 2012 will be legislative, rather than marketplace, driven. In a nut shell the 2012 code will force us to save cheap subsidized energy. The potential to sell energy efficient upgrades may become an even harder sell as the difference between the performance Code and ENERGY STAR performance shrinks. In Europe, due to the lack of resources, energy costs are up to four times more than in Canada. So there are real financial incentives for home buyers to conserve energy. I
10 SBM Spring 2010
believe that we cannot go on like this for ever, and that at some point energy costs
will rise in North America, as they have in Europe. Home builders can help prepare homeowners for the inevitable price increases by “future proofing” the homes they build. Marketing efforts could be directed at empowering people to create security for their futures or making homes that are adaptable to climate change. The Sustainable Housing Foundation has engaged the industry through the Green Builders Challenge (G50) and the Realtors Challenge. The G50 initiative resulted in 50 homes achieving HERS scores of 50 or under, and I hope the momentum from this can carry over into the new challenge for 2010, the Envelop Challenge. As 2012 approaches ENERGY STAR for New Homes (EGNH 80) will become
the minimum standard for every new house. Some questions naturally arise, such as will builders move to the new ENERGY STAR for New Homes standard of EGNH 83, especially if it is at an investment cost to consumers that will not be cash positive (that what if the monthly mortgage expense may be more than the monthly energy savings)? A relatively unknown for most builders is what does it take to get to an EGNH 83? There are plans to move R-2000 to the equivalent of an EGNH 86. It is not clear what these houses will look like in terms of their insulation levels and mechanical systems. The Envelop Challenge seeks to find the answers these questions through the process of continuous improvement. Discovery happens through demonstration, feedback, and experimentation. The Envelope Challenge, sponsored by Roxul Insulation and by Building Products of Canada, challenges builders to create a home that scores the lowest HERS rating based on its building envelope components only. The HERS scale measures total home energy use relative to a meaningful benchmark like the OBC. Each point on the scale corresponds (calibrates) to a one percent reduction in energy use. Zero is the ultimate
goal. Just like golf, the lowest GOOD score is the best. To calculate OBC 2006 the envelope performance HERS 83 ERS 74 only, the mechanical systems will be norAttic R40 malized (by assigning a Walls R19 Windows R2.5 90% efficient gas furnace, Bsmt R12 to 2’0 a 60% efficient HRV, and a .56 EF Hot water tank to ACH @ 4.0 the modelling regardless of the actual HVAC system installed). The Envelope Challenge is should garner a bit of media attention, and we will cover in this magazine. It is meant to encourage builders to figure out how to meet future code and market demands, while engaging in a friendly competition for a bit of bragging rights. Mechanical systems have always been the easiest way to improve performance. A good example is how ENERGY STAR’s trade-off packages compensate for walls with low R-values (without insulated sheathing) with higher efficiency furnaces, HRV’s and hot water heaters to “balance” overall energy performance. But I think the time has come to “hit the wall”, to focus on wall insulation, windows, and air tightness. We should know how to cost effectively get to a R30 or R40 wall? Here’s a little teaser of how you might try to max your envelope using conventional 2x6 framing. With a new Insulsheathing from Building Products of Canada, you can move from an effective R-value of 22.2 to 23.6, simply by moving to 24” on centre. The structural sheathing gives a solid backing that supports the siding and minimizes “racking” and nail pops. The next step might be to increase the cavity from 2x6 to 2x8, or increase the Rvalue of the insulation in the 2x6 cavity using higher density foam. Other wall systems are being developed to create thicker wall cavities, such as the SuperSTUD used by the Saugeen First Nations. The SuperSTUD with its eleven inch wall cavity allows for an overall R-value of R50. It’s time to look to for new wall systems, not just for increased R-value, by paying attention to thermal bridging issues, and maximizing air tightness. So that is the Envelop Challenge. Any G50 builders out there want to see what it takes to get to a HERS 25? Who is going to take the dare, and try the Envelope Challenge?
BETTER ESTAR V3.0 HERS 61 ERS 80
BEST SO FAR HERS 43 ERS 85
Attic R40 Walls R22 Windows R3.0 Bsmt R12 full height
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Leader in green home building,
Fiume named CHBA president
ictor Fiume of Oshawa, Ontario, an industry leader in green building practices, is the 2010 President of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). Mr. Fiume, who has served four terms on the CHBA Board of Directors, two of them on the Executive, was elected presi-
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dent at the Annual Meeting of Members of the CHBA held in conjunction with the Association’s 67th National Conference in Victoria, B.C. Mr. Fiume has three decades of experience in the housing industry as a new home builder, developer and property manager. He is the General Manager of Durham
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Custom Homes which specializes in the construction of both production and custom built single-family homes and town houses. His company was among the first new home builders in Ontario to adopt ENERGY STAR and GreenHouse Certified Construction as a standard. He was President of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) in 2005-06, chair of the OHBA land development committee from 2002 to 2005 and President of the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association in 2001-02. At the Annual Meeting of Members, Vince Laberge, owner of Wendy Lynn Custom Homes Inc., Edmonton, was elected First Vice-President. Mr. Laberge is a past president of CHBA – Alberta and chair of the CHBA Urban Council. John Friswell of CCI Renovations, North Vancouver, B.C., and Ron Olson of Boychuk Construction Corp., Saskatoon, were elected Second Vice-Presidents. The CHBA Treasurer is Jane Morgan of Nuport Holdings Ltd., St. John’s, NL and the Secretary is Joe Valela of Valemont Homes Inc., Toronto. Gary Friend, who completed his term as CHBA President at the Victoria Conference, is Past President. Three Presidential Appointees to the Executive Board are Don Darling of MMH Prestige Homes Inc., Sussex, NB; Mike Cochren of Cochren Homes Limited, Oakville, ON; and Deep Shergill of Prominent Homes, Calgary, AB. Michael Moldenhauer of Moldenhauer Developments, Mississauga, ON is also a member of the Executive as chair of the CHBA Urban Council. John Kenward of Ottawa is the Chief Operating Officer of the Association. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) is the national voice of the residential construction industry, representing more than 8,000 member firms across the country. Membership comprises new home builders, renovators, developers, trade contractors, building material manufacturers and suppliers, lenders and other professionals in the housing sector.
What you need to consider when installing PV on new homes By Scott Hills
ntario is one of the best markets in the world right now for the clean tech sector. The new feed-in-tariff (FIT) guarantees that local utilities will buy, at premium rates, all the renewable power homeowners, farmers, or small business owners produce. Solar power under 10 kW is set at 80.2 cents. In the new construction sector, there is a unique opportunity to capitalize on this offer, but good planning is essential. There are a number of considerations when planning to integrate solar panels into the design of a new home. Of course, I would encourage everyone to start by thinking about passive solar elements to maximize energy efficiency first. Then it’s critical to consider the site - specifically the building orientation, roof angle, and useable roof space. Solar panels perform best in direct sunlight, so orienting a roof to true south (not magnetic south) is ideal. As well, you’ll want to think about any potential shading issues: will that chimney cast a long shadow across the roof? Will that fast-growing tree be blocking the sun in 10 years? The roof itself needs to be considered. Solar panels can integrate with just about any roof, but panels do add some load to the roof, and can cause some uplift issues due to wind shear, so ensure the structure is designed to handle the additional stresses, typically though this is not an issue for most new homes. Selling an upgraded 40year shingle makes sense if a homeowner plans to have the array for over 20 years. I would suggest that panels be set at least 4 to 6 inches off the roof to allow for cooling, as hot panels do not produce as much energy as cool ones. When it comes time to spec the installation, you need to consider the domestic content requirements of the feed-in-tariff, to be eligible to receive FIT payments from the utility. If the system is on your model home and connect under FIT, you will have to pass the FIT contract, as an encumbrance, much like the rental hot water tank, on to your homebuyers. It’s easiest to sell the panels and let them hook up. Giving some thought to the electrical runs when under construction will also give you a big advantage when it comes time to put the panels on the roof. Dropping
a conduit running cable from the attic to the basement is best, instead of down along exterior walls and then into the basement (as is the case most often in the retrofit market). You’ll also want to leave space near the panel for an inverter. Protecting the inverter from weather will improve performance, but exterior inverters are also functional
and some rental programs require it. Lastly, I would suggest using a reputable installer with a track record. Only a few will have new home construction site experience, but the established installers will get up to speed quickly. Scott Hills is the President of Eco Generation Services
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By Gord Cooke
n my travels, I often get two oddly conflicting comments about my role as an energy consultant and trainer. Some in the building industry will say “Boy, you’re lucky, you got in to this energy efficient, green business at the right time, eh? You must be making a fortune!” But others admit that they, and some of their customers, are already tired of and confused by the whole green thing. So, after almost 25 years promoting energy efficient, healthy homes, I want to take a minute to look at how are we doing, where are we, in market development terms, on the product life cycle curve? Let’s start a timeline at the oil embargo of the mid 1970s and end it at 2030 when the stated goal of the American and Royal Canadian Institute of Architects, the Department of Energy in the U.S. and Natural Resources Canada is to have all buildings built to a net zero energy standard. On that 60 year scale, where are we now, 40 years into it? And more importantly, how do we collectively sustain the effort and progress made so far over the next 20 years? In 2009, approximately 15 per cent of all new homes in Canada were built under one of the green or energy efficiency programs such as R-2000, ENERGY STAR, Built Green or NovoClimat. That is a great start. The challenge will be, of course, to get more builders to sign onto these programs and also to ensure
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currently active builders continue to lead the way to ever more efficient, healthier, safer, more durable homes. That is, to get those 15% to not only to stay green but to engage in continual improvement process. Perhaps one of the maxims I recall from engineering school can be helpful in the quest for continual improvement: “If you measure it, it will improve”. That is, the actual measurement required to assess green and energy efficient homes is a value in itself. While we can argue with the specifics of the points, credits, stars and rating scales of individual programs, there can be no argument about the beneficial focus measurement of key performance attributes can bring to the building process. The popularity of individual labels comes and goes. But, setting the labels aside, I would like to offer my opinion of the top four performance measures that empower builders and trade contractors to identify opportunities for improvement in building performance and cost reductions. 1. Assess Water Management Effectiveness The first goal of green building should be to create structures that last, say at least 100 years. Given that water is what destroys buildings and building materials, all builders need to turn a critical eye to exterior water management details and focus on the path that water is going to take down the exterior of our buildings during the “50-year
storm”. The moisture control details you use today, soon to be hidden behind the brick, stone, stucco, or siding façade, need to stand the test of time. This means that a quality assurance checklist should be completed on each home before applying exterior finishes. Such checklists are available from programs like GreenHouse or LEED for Homes and they help you verify proper application of roof-to-wall and wallto-window flashings, as well as foundation drainage, site grading and capillary breaks. I suggest you develop a system for capturing digital photo records of all your moisturecontrol details to show your homeowners how tuned-in you are to these risks, and to document your own practices on every project. 2. Test for Tightness Make sure you verify air tightness with a blower door test, a definitive and demonstrative test that has become an important part of every energy efficient and green building program’s verification procedure. I suggest you be proactive with this test, by using the results to drive improvements within your trades’ scopes of work. Challenge your site supervisors, insulators, framers, and other trades to review air tightness statistics for different models or different crews with the goal of continual improvement. Tight, tighter, tightest is a cost-effective goal. Air tightness is always good and can be done for little incremental cost through simple training.
conditioning system to be sure it matches manufacturer specifications. 4. Measure Waste Finally, you should add a waste audit to your building process. Pick one or two homes and ensure all waste from those sites is collected, sorted and measured. A comprehensive audit would include comparing original material purchase orders against actual product use and waste generated. But in its simplest form, a waste audit allows site supervisors and trade contractors to identify opportunities for reuse, reduction, and recycling. This very green activity is a great opportunity to identify cost-sav-
ing opportunities both by more effective use of materials and reducing waste removal costs. Challenge yourself and your trade partners to design and include tangible measurements and inspections of as-built performance as part of your building process. They will simultaneously improve the health, safety, comfort, durability, and energy efficiency of homes, but they will also present opportunities for cost savings. And in the end, these steps will begin your continual improvement process. Gord Cooke is the President of Building Knowledge Canada.
SETTING THE STANDARD FOR QUALITY
3. Test HVAC Performance Given the ever-increasing comfort expectations of homeowners, in my opinion, there are some basic commissioning tests that should be conducted on all HVAC systems. Of course, this process starts with accurate heat loss and heat gain calculations, and effective duct designs for each house reflecting the actual energy features you will be installing in your buildings. Then the following tests should be performed: • Measure the total air flow of the furnace or air handler and compare it with the design requirements and the manufacturer’s specifications. There are simple pressure measurements that use the same gauge as used for the blower door test that can help verify air flow. • Measure and adjust air flows at each supply diffuser or grille to match the heat loss and gain air flow requirements. • Measure the pressure across rooms with doors closed to ensure adequate return air pathways. • Check the refrigerant charge in the air
VISIT WWW.CRESNET.CA TO LEARN MORE
SBM Spring 2010
Green Technologies Assist in Keeping More Green in Your Pockets By Ryan Carr
reen building standards become more prevalent with each passing day. As governments preach conservation and demand side management, innovations continue to surface to accomplish these goals. The largest challenge faced by builders is instituting
green and sustainable technologies in a cost effective manner. Let’s look at three technologies that are becoming ever more cost effective. Reducing Domestic Hot Water Costs Drain water heat recovery (DWHR) is an extremely affordable option for both new home builds and retrofits. Domestic hot water heating comprises the sec-
drain water heat recovery.
• 40% energy savings on domestic hot water.
• Eco Grants Available www.ecoinnovation.ca
16 SBM Spring 2010
ond largest expense in home operation aside from space heating. Installation of a DWHR unit can cut these costs by as much as 40%. Moreover, a DHWR dramatically increases the hot water output of the ever more popular tankless water heaters and wall hung boilers by raising the inlet water temperature. With up to a 30% hot water capacity increase, DHWRs simultaneously improve cost effectiveness of systems while providing more hot water for demanding homeowners. In the new home arena, market transformation programs such as those run by Union Gas and Enbridge provide incentive dollars to builders for utilizing this technology. These programs have done a great job of bringing drain water heat recovery technology into the limelight. Although it appears to be a new technology DWHR has been around since the early 1980s. The technology has since evolved from original designs, warranting higher efficiencies. For retrofits, ecoENERGY grants can be had, totalling up to $330. These grants and programs make drain water heat recovery a very attractive option, often providing a return on investment of less than 4 years. New Solar Opportunities Harnessing the power of the sun to produce electricity and hot water has a renewed buzz in the renewable energies world. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels (converting sun’s rays into electricity) are enjoying new popularity thanks to Ontario’s MicroFIT and FIT (Feed in Tariff) programs. The programs promise locked in payouts for 20 years based on how many kilowatts are fed back into the electricity grid. While solar thermal (hot water production) systems have been overshadowed by their PV counterparts, they are in fact very cost effective. Like drain water heat recovery, solar thermal systems result in dramatic cuts to domestic hot water costs. Once the sun’s rays have been captured the heat energy is transferred off into a hot water storage tank using a water glycol solution and a simple heat exchanger. Two technologies, flat plate and evacuated tube collectors are available. Research shows that evacuated tubes produce more energy over the course of a day because of the 360 degree collector surface coating. This provides a passive ability to track the sun from sunrise to sunset. This leads them to more consistent production over the course of the day versus a flat plate col-
lector whose optimum operating range is between 10 am and 2 pm, or when the sun is nearly perpendicular to the panel. The spacing between evacuated tubes in a manifold also results in reduced wind and snow loads versus flat panels. From a contractor’s perspective, vacuum tube systems allow installation of racking (if necessary) and manifolds in one step and tubes in another, making for a safer and simpler install versus transporting large flat panels up to and around the roof. Timing Energy use Smart meters and Time of Use (TOU) rates are being brought forth to produce a culture of conservation in Ontario. Smart meters will monitor energy usage in real time, providing the electricity provider with not only how much power has been used, but at what times of day the power was used. With these meters being installed across the province on all homes and small businesses by the end of 2010, Time of Use rates will follow shortly thereafter. With business and industry putting a large strain on the power grid, daytime residential usage will be discouraged by instituting an “on peak” rate for electricity, where the cost per kilowatt is much more expensive than in the evenings when “off peak” rates come into play. Electric thermal storage technology empowers homeowners to reduce the cost of space heating - the single largest component of utility costs - by shifting consumption to off-peak times. These highly intelligent units, featuring a central microprocessor are intelligent enough to know when “off peak” rates start in
the evenings and will only draw energy from the grid at this time, doing the job of load shifting for you. The electricity is then converted into thermal energy and stored within the interior of the cabinet, where specially designed ceramic bricks reside within an aggressively insulated cabinet, acting as a storage medium. These bricks can reach up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit if needed and will provide the necessary heat energy to heat the home the following day while only ever paying “off peak” rates. Both forced air or hydronic applications can be serviced, or a combination thereof, making electric thermal storage a very attractive option with time of use rates coming into play. Coupling electric thermal storage technology with an air source heat pump provides similar operating costs to those seen by a ground source heat pump (geothermal), while coming in at a third less for cost. The electric thermal storage unit will supplement the discharge air temperature from the air source heat pump, keeping it at the desired preset temperature and eliminating the notorious cool discharge temperature air source heat pumps are known for in cool climates. The future is looking quite green. These three technologies, not only will you be in step with current green building practices, you will be prepared for the next frontier of smart metering, padding your pockets at the same time. Ryan Carr is a Market Development Coordinator with Air Solutions Inc.
Humidity Sensing Fans The bathroom’s often steamy atmosphere is the reason why Broan endowed its latest fans with the ability to adapt seamlessly to that environment. They don’t just remove moisture, they sense it. Responding automatically to rapid changes in humidity, they simply turn themselves on and off as needed. And with their Energy Star rating and ultra-quiet operation, the homeowner will thank you for it. Choose the QTRE100H at 1.5 sones or the QTXE110H at 0.7 sones. www.Broan.ca
SBM Spring 2010
Marshall Homes the First Production Builder to Offer Micro-FIT Solar Upgrade By Tracy Hanes
raig Marshall was the first Ontario production builder to offer solar hot water preheat and solar-geothermal heating and cooling to his homebuyers. He is now embarking on another green first. Marshall Homes has is offering the PURE Energies’ Solar upgrade, a program to install and maintain rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on new homes at no upfront charge. Through the program, homeowners will receive a portion of the income produced by the individual system (which feeds energy into the power grid) up to a maximum $1,200 per year. Marshall will
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install the first PURE Energies’ PV system on a model home now under construction at his Kingsfield subdivision in Oshawa. All buyers there will have the option of having a PV system installed on their roofs. The program aims to accelerate the adoption of solar energy in the province by eliminating the upfront cost of this technology for homeowners. PURE Energies is based in Toronto and formed last summer to capitalize on business opportunities presented by Ontario’s Green Energy Act, says president and CEO Zbigniew Barwicz. The company designs, installs, finances, and operates numerous residential rooftop systems and as such is a decentralized power plant of sorts. PURE
Energies has partnered with Suntech Power and SMA America, the world’s largest supplier of solar panels and inverters. Homeowners do not use the electricity generate directly in their own home, all the power is sold back to the grid. PURE Energies will derive its income from Ontario Power Authority’s feed-in tariff, which pays 80.2 cents for every kilowatt hour generated by residential solar PV systems of 10 kilowatts or less, and will pay a small percentage back to the homeowner. Homeowners get a service performance guarantee and a portion of the revenue generated as income over a 20-year period – the government feed-in tariff (or FIT) requires a 20-year contract. At the
end of the two decade contract, the homeowners can purchase the PV systems for $1 and should get another 10 to 15 years of use from it, says Barwicz. Barwicz says his company will be able to supply up to 17 megawatts of solar energy systems for the Ontario marketplace in 2010 alone. That is the equivalent to the energy required to heat and cool 6,000 homes for a year. In terms of reducing the province’s carbon footprint, it’s like taking 3,000 cars off the road and eliminating the emission of 16,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. “Pure Energies recognizes the tremendous opportunities created by the Green Energy Act and has made a smart decision to invest in Ontario,” said Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade in a press release. “We welcome this investment and the hundreds of new jobs that will support the growing demand for solar energy in the residential market.’ Its no wonder companies like Pure Energies are setting up shop in Ontario, the deal offered under the FIT program right now (and it will likely not be this good for long) is quite attractive to investors, but it has a high upfront price barrier to entry for most home owners. Looking a Table A you can see the Pure Energies model provides homeowners the option of still getting some revenue for no upfront or operating investment. For Marshall the choice to work with Pure ENERGIES was clear, he likes the simplicity of the offer and be thinks that customers will find it appealing. There is also an installation allowance for builders to give them some direct benefit from the program. He also likes that his venture with PURE Energies represents a private sector solution to increasing the use of solar energy in the province. Marshall says this program offers no barriers to entry and it will also help to reduce the environmental footprint of subdivisions and generate more revenue for the homeowner. “From our perspective, it’s a solution that ties in directly with our long-term goal of building homes that have a zero energy footprint,” says Marshall. To participate in the program a home must have a roof must with south, west or east exposure of at least 350 square feet of area for the solar panels, says Barwicz. Marshall’s model home faces south and will have 900 square feet of solar panels, which can handle a 10 kilowatt system and will yield the maximum $1,200 payback per year. There are about 80 homes in Kingsfield and virtually all of there are suitable for a PV system, says Marshall.
Table A Estimated Micro-FIT income and expense for 3kW* PURE Energies Program Year
1 10 20 TOTAL
Investment & Maintenance Expenses
$ 0 $ 0 $ 0
$ 297.00 $ 297.00 $ 297.00
After Tax Cash Flow $ 193.05 $ 193.05 $ 193.05 $3,861.00
SOLAR DEVELOPMENT COMPANY SEEKS LOW RISE BUILDERS LEED certification costs too much ?! With PURE energies get Solar PV for your subdivision FOR FREE!!
WITH US YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL MAKE MONEY AND YOU WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE ! • PURE energies provides a “turn key”: system design, installation, 100% financing, maintenance and operations. • Every Home Buyer receives a guaranteed revenue stream from PURE energies for twenty years ( up to $1200/ year! ). • NO UPFRONT COSTS, NO CREDIT CHECK! • No hidden costs and no fine prints. CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR OFFERING: sales at (416) 913-0787 email@example.com WWW.PURE-ENERGIES.COM First Canadian Place 100 King Street West, Suite 5700 Toronto, ON M5X 1C7 Canada
www.pure-energies.com SBM Spring 2010
Home Sweet Home competition recognizes leadership in the green home building industry By Tracy Hanes
n an issue focused on the best in the green building industry, it makes sense to explore how we recognize leadership. As the market for energy efficient and greener homes matures, and we move away from the early adopters, more needs to be done to celebrate leadership and reinforce the message that we can do more when it comes to sustainable building. The Home Sweet Home Competition is perhaps the most inclusive of the competitions out there. Launching this year, the Ontario-wide competition is developed by the folks at Mindscape Innovations and OntarioGreenSpec.ca. The Home Sweet Home Competition aims to encourage advances in green home building and renovating. Hosted by the online green building directory, OntarioGreenSpec.ca, the competition welcomes entries from those who build or support the building of green homes in Ontario. This includes architects, builders, trades, renovators, suppliers, homeowners, and of course, the home builders themselves. The award goes to the building itself, so all those involved can share in it. The competition intentionally uses the term “sweet” rather than “green” in recognition of the fact that today’s green homes are far more than just energy efficient. “Ecological performance is at the heart of every Home Sweet Home award,” says Derek Satnik, acting director of OntarioGreenSpec.ca. “But with this competition, we want to spread the word that green homes are for everyone. Our judging criteria are
20 SBM Spring 2010 18 SBM Spring 2010
rigorous and they recognize the full range of ecological, health, economic and social values embodied in today’s best homes.” The awards run across four categories: Production, Custom, Affordable, and Renovated. OntarioGreenSpec.ca has chosen four Founding Homes to exemplify the unique character and benefits of each of the competition’s four categories. These Founding Homes depict environmental leadership within each category. For example, a LEED Platinum home by Williamsburg Homes was recognized under the production builder category.
Production Home of the Year
To be eligible, the home must be built by a builder that builds an average of at least 25 homes per year. Homes submitted in this category represent a model option that the builder intends to offer again in the future as one of their options.
Custom Home of the Year
This category promotes ingenuity and leading edge techniques that push the boundaries of what is possible. These homes are sufficiently unique that they are not necessarily expected to be repeated again, though it is hoped that the lessons learned from these builds will inform and affect future projects by the various members of the project team. The awards will be judged by some folks who are well know to the industry: Peter Love of Love Energy Consultants, formerly with EnerQuality and Ontario’s Chief Energy Conservation Officer; Marion Fraser, a well-respected consultant serving in Ontario’s energy sector and Founding Chair of Sustainable Buildings Canada; Jamie Doran, manager of the Ontario Centres of Excellence green building portfolio, and Lyle Shipley, Executive Director of the Canada Green Building Council – Greater Toronto Chapter. The list of judging criteria is similar to LEED for Homes categories, in that they go beyond energy to deal with materials, water conservation, transportation, and innovation, but adds few original categories like social engagement, commitment to green, and affordability or ROI. For more information contact Jill Thompson at 519-744-3592 x224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Affordable Home of the Year
It recognizes those who achieve the best performance while serving the low income housing sector, reducing energy costs for the people who need it most. This category is restricted to projects that qualify for government social housing assistance.
Renovated Home of the Year
This category is restricted to homes that are at least five years old, and the judging will rely heavily on energy analyses from before and after the renovations.
SBM Spring 2010
22 SBM Spring 2010
Habitat Brampton Uses Design Charrette to Plan Affordable Green Townhomes
abitat for Humanity Brampton held an integrated design charrette recently to explore how it could build affordable, yet energy efficient and healthy homes. One of the biggest challenges in building green is reconciling the often-high cost with affordability constraints. The Sustainable Housing Foundation facilitated the charrette for Habitat Brampton, to identify possibilities for improving performance and reducing operating costs for owners of a 15-unit townhouse development. The charrette also served as a new method of exploring the development and planning vision for Habitat for Humanity and looked at how a stronger green focus might benefit families and Habitat affiliates. Habitat Brampton had a notional goal of building a net zero building that would earn as much from power production as it spends on energy consumption. It was a tall order for the charrette team, seeing as this is one of the highest goals a builder can aspire to and only a few have achieved it. The team explored and developed a series of sustainable design options and strategies through the Integrated Design Process (IDP), a method where designers collaborate in the initial design stages, rather than working in isolation. It challenges them to consider new strategies, systems and products that more appropriately support a sustainable design scheme. An integrated team formed at the concept stage can maximize potential benefits. This is when concepts can change easily as new ideas are considered. An integrated team includes energy simulators, costing experts, energy efficiency experts, envelope specialists, municipal engineers and planners, and alternative energy specialists, along with the design team members. Team members worked together to achieve a higher performance, value-added building and site with lower demands on energy and infrastructure.
This multi-disciplinary relationship should continue throughout the design and construction phases with additional charrettes scheduled. The groups explored best practices, keeping in mind that this is affordable housing and economic feasibility is paramount. Two scales were used to assess the designs: the EnerGuide scale was used to assess energy performance using the government of Canadaâ€™s HOT2000 software; and the Canada Green Building Councilâ€™s LEED checklist was used to assess the environmental impact by seeing how well it would likely score on the LEED scale. Habitat Brampton is working with partners to implement the charrette designs. Anyone interested in supporting Habitat Brampton on this ambitious build can contact Thomas Fischer, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Brampton, email@example.com
SBM Spring 2010
Industry collaboration: Answering the call for environmental and economic action
By Andrew Bowerbank
have been very fortunate over the past few years to participate in a number of leading green building and sustainable community projects. Although my goal and the goal of my colleagues were to educate and fast-track the acceptance of “green concepts” within the building industry, I am still surprised at how fast market awareness has developed. Now, it’s about moving from market awareness to adoption. Only 5 to 8 per cent of building projects in the market are adopting green practices. Efforts to improve renewable energy only account for 13 per cent of global production. Only 2 to 5 per cent of vehicles being built will take advantage of alternative fuels and new plug-in electric technologies. There is still much to be done, but the good news is these percentages are increasing rapidly. We are going to see greater integration of technology across sectors. Very soon your car will plug into your house, and charge from the electric grid. We must break down our occupational “silos” and learn to communicate across sectors for true market transformation automotive manufacturers, home builders, local governments and utilities need to talk seriously about an integrated approach to infrastructure development. As a first step, the EC3 Initiative (Energy, Climate, Communication, and Collaboration) hosted a workshop on March 10, 2010 to review infrastructure requirements for coming plug-in electric vehicle technology. The workshop was conducted in partnership with the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Waterfront Toronto, and the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) with sponsorship from Toronto Hydro, Royal Bank and Loyalty One. The focus was primarily cross-sector engagement. We wanted to get industry leaders from auto manufacturers, electric utilities, home builders and property developers together. The Ontario Centres of Excellence identified that this type of collaborative effort to engage builders and developers had yet not been estab-
24 SBM Spring 2010
lished in Ontario and it was crucial for sector leaders to discuss concerns in order to achieve any real change. The next step for EC3 will be to work with government leaders, electric utilities, builders and developers, and the auto industry to establish pilot programs focusing specifically on how the housing market (low and high-rise) and community infrastructure will be able to respond to the shift in transportation technology. Our plans are to establish three separate pilots. The first is an urban program in association with Toronto Hydro and Waterfront Toronto; the second is a suburban program working with PowerStream in Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan; the third is focused on a transit corridor program. EC3 has started discussions with PowerStream to create a network of charging stations along the 400 highway to support electric fleet vehicles and demonstration automobiles. A number of years ago, the State of California launched the “hydrogen highway pilot project” to test the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel alternative. This has been a very successful initiative, in supporting the development of the technology and as a public relations opportunity. In order for new technology to be successful in the marketplace, people need to hear about it. A demonstration transit corridor electric vehicle program in Ontario would build on California’s experience and raise awareness in the province and across North America. By empowering automotive manufacturers to test new commercial vehicles, the public will see these new vehicles in action and begin to develop confidence in the technology. Roger Smith of Fleet Challenge Ontario and Al Cormier of Electric Mobility Canada agree that electric car charging starts at the home; it’s convenient, controllable and usually off-peak. By building on the profile of the pilot programs, the public can begin to realign its thinking to accept getting transportation fuel from their buildings and electrical infrastructure.
We must recognize that buildings and electrical infrastructure globally contribute 40 per cent of green house gas emissions. This is more than the transportation sector or the manufacturing sector. We must also recognize that urban societies spend 90 per cent of their time living, working, and playing indoors. With the United Nations estimating that global population will grow from 6.5 billion today to over 9 billion people by 2050, it will be the responsibility of industry nations to support change away from fossil fuel use and embrace alternative fuels, renewable energy, and decentralized distribution systems. It is a great opportunity for market transformation in Ontario. The shift has begun. We have entered a new, more mature phase in the green building industry. Until now, green has been the buzzword and the sector was led by energetic promoters with a passion for sustainable design strategies. In the past, it was difficult to find hard facts, case studies, and industry professionals experienced in building green. Today, we have organizations around the world with staffing and infrastructure in place to support industry leaders; we have mainstream architects, engineers and builders who are receiving awards and growing their businesses because of their contribution to green building; and we have governments who understand the importance of supporting sustainable community development. The EC3 initiative is looking for forward-thinking builders to help develop these pilot programs. For more information, join us at www.ec3initiative.com. The next phase in the green building movement is within reach and this time, I donâ€™t think I will all be surprised at how quickly we get there. Andrew Bowerbank is the President and Chief Strategy Officer, the EC3 Initiative
Sustainability Begins At Home
Visit www.powerstream.ca/conservation SBM Spring 2010
or the inaugural issue of Sustainable Builder Magazine, we celebrate those who lead the industry in sustainability in 2009. Who tops your list as the most sustainable builder, trade, product manufacturer etc.? Who demonstrated overall commitment and leadership in sustainable home building during 2009? We have our opinions, but we wanted yours. In an on-line survey conducted by C. Caswell and Associates, as part of its Customer Insight program, we polled some 300 champions of sustainable building in Ontario to see who the industry thinks the real leaders are. The response rate was almost 30 per cent and the results, although not scientifically accurate as this is not really a random survey, are informative of how the industry sees itself. Christian Caswell, president of C. Caswell & Associates, commented: “We were pleased by the number of responses. Our research has shown a strong customer interest in sustainability issues, but I inspired to see how strong the response was from the industry as well.” We asked about builders, trades, manufacturers, leasing agents, marketing, financing, and municipalities, because they all affect how many and how sustainable the new home construction industry is in Ontario. The survey covered low-rise and highrise and was GTA focused, with some representation from Ottawa and southern Ontario. The results were generally close, and in our opinion, very accurate. There may be some “greenwashing” in this industry but the folks we surveyed do not seem to be buying any of it. Because this is not a statistically accurate survey (i.e. we cannot determine our plus or minus margin of error, 99 out of 100 times etc.), our analysis is not going to focus too much on who ended one vote ahead of someone else, but will focus on the group of leaders in each category and some of the reasons for their leadership. Mid- to High-Rise Let’s start with a discussion of the tight race for the mid- to highrise builders that demonstrated overall commitment and leadership in sustainable building in 2009. The top two were Minto and Tridel, to be expected as they have been at this the longest and both have made significant commitment to LEED NC rating on all their buildings. Notable third place finishes go to Daniels and East Forest Homes. Dan-
26 SBM Spring Spring 2010 2010 24 SBM
iels, active in the Regent Park redevelopment will hit some significant green targets with that, and East Forest gets special note as a builder outside the GTA who still garnered many votes. At a recent Toronto Star Editorial Roundtable discussion on green building, Jim Ritchie of Tridel noted: “The Toronto condo market is one of the most energy efficient and innovative in all of North America.” We agree, and Tridel, Minto, Daniels and East Forest are great representatives of leadership in this sector. Low-Rise production In seeking out production builders that have demonstrated overall commitment and leadership in sustainable building in 2009, there was a virtual three-way tie for first. Empire Communities, Minto and Monarch topped the list, with Reid’s Heritage Homes and Marshall Homes second and third. Paul Golini at Empire has been a champion within Empire and the industry. Minto’s Green Team, lead by Andrew Pride, is unique in the industry, as the green R&D and continuous improvement department for Minto low- and high-rise. Monarch won BILD’s Green Builder of the Year award in 2009 for one of the most significant commitments to an all-LEED community. Reid’s deserves added credit for its remarkable showing in a GTA-centric survey. Andy Oding of Reid’s, a tireless champion of green, chaired the LEED for Homes technical committee that brought that program to Canada five months ahead of schedule. Finally, Craig Marshall is one of the most innovative builder/promoters of green, combining solar thermal panels and ground source heat pumps and now offering free solar PV. Low-Rise Custom Production Here Rodeo Fine home was the clear winner with a notable mention to Durham Custom Homes in second. Doug Tarry Homes, Garden Homes and Gregor Homes got honorable mentions. Rodeo’s leadership on the LEED front is clearly why it ranked number one. It was the first builder to get an entire subdivision to surpass LEED Platinum standards and has been the poster child for a successful builder/municipality partnership. Durham Homes has shown industry leadership, with general manager Victor Fiume taking on the president’s role at the CHBA, and was the first builder to champion the GreenHouse label.
Recognizing Ontario’s Best in Sustainable Building in 2009
Installers In asking about which trades provided the best installation practices to meet your sustainable building requirements during 2009, the “do not know /not applicable” responses tended to overshadow the winners, but some notable exceptions were: • CoolTech • Dearie Martino Contractors • Prima Air • Pinnacle Home Environment Solutions • Yanch Heating & Air Conditioning • Hy-Mark Mechanical For HVAC installers and for renewable en-
virtually tied for first place. Jeld-Wen was a clear leader in the window department. In the insulation field, Roxul was the leader with 25 per cent of votes, Owen’s Corning was next with 18 per cent, and surprisingly, a spray foam insulator, Icynene, managed a respectable 14 per cent. We were surprised that Roxul would rank so high, as it does not have much market penetration in the low-rise sector, but within the niche of green builders, they seem to have taken a real leadership position. Likewise, Icynene, which has a significant price premium over batt insulation, had a remarkable showing. Services When we asked which lending institutions provide the best green mortgage to homeowners to promote sustainable housing, it might be considered a trick question because none of them have a real driver of a green mortgage. But TD lead RBC in this category. Direct Energy and Reliance Home Comfort quite expectedly lead the pack when it came to providing the best lease options for HVAC appliances in green homes. McBrain Sharpe and Montana Steele got the nod for top marketing groups, but like the top architectural firms of Cassidy & Co. and RN Design, they were overshadowed by a huge “not applicable / do not know” vote. Green Labels We also asked which green labels your company considered when designing and building its new homes and communities. The overwhelming answer was ENERGY STAR at 48 per cent with LEED and GreenHouse in a virtual tie for second.
ergy installers: • Clearsphere • Reliance Home Comfort • Air Solutions • Canadian In-floor Heating Manufacturers We asked which supplier/manufacturer you felt demonstrated overall commitment, leadership, and provided the best green products in each category during 2009. For HRVs, Venmar/VanEE and Lifebreath were head and shoulders above the pack, and for furnace, Carrier Lennox and Trane were
One of the more interesting questions was ‘which municipality that has the most knowledgeable building officials when it comes to sustainable homes’, or in other
words, which municipalities do not get in your way when you are trying to build greener. Leaders were Newmarket and East Gwillimbury, with Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Richmond Hill, Markham, Guelph, London and Kitchener all getting respectable nods. Newmarket has Dave Potter as its CBO and East Gwillimbury has Dan Stone, both industry leaders who have their building official training frequently refreshed on green building innovation; it’s no surprise that they garnered the most votes. Sales and Marketing Integration Finally, we asked you to identify the new home builder who has most successfully integrated energy efficiency and green through its marketing initiatives and sales agents. The answer was Minto and Rodeo Fine Homes in a virtual tie, with Empire a close second. Empire is likely to be high on everyone’s list next year, as it is aggressively looking to make green building central to its market offering. Rodeo’s partnership with Newmarket is a template for other builder/municipal partnerships, and its LEED Platinum subdivision has no peers as of yet. We wanted to comment on the remarkable leadership shown by Minto, who championed LEED in low- and high-rise. It was part of the CMHC EQuilibrium project for homes and is now involved in the EQuilibrium project for whole communities. It was the first, and to our knowledge, the only builder to date that has taken on the vital task of measuring its carbon footprint in order to lower it, and link senior staff bonuses to resource conservation targets. Minto has taken up the challenge to not only be a green builder, but to be a green business. This sums up our first industry survey. Again, we note that this is not science, but it’s meant to share ideas and opinions and stimulate discussion. Many respondents were disappointed to not see their name listed in the pull down, and we apologize for any omission, but industry opinion seems pretty clear who the leaders and who deserved the accolades for 2009. We congratulate all our leaders and we look forward to working with C. Caswell & Associates to make the 2010 survey even more insightful. To get on our survey e-mailing list, please contact SHFsurvey@ccaswell.com or survey@SBmagazine.com 2010 SBM Spring 2010
Saugeen First Nation Builders at the Leading Edge of Energy Efficiency in Canada By Lenard Hart
bout a half hour west of Owen Sound, in an idyllic setting on shores of Lake Huron, is not where you will would expect to find some of the most advanced low-rise green building in Canada. Eight low-income rental townhomes, to be constructed on the Saugeen First Nation Reserve by the band’s building agency, will surpass the energy conservation of anything built in the GTA this year. The low-energy homes – I see them as a Canadian-climate-specific version of the Passive House gaining popularity in Europe - have some innovative features GTA production builders might want to look at to help meet the 2012 building code challenges. Chief Randall Kahgee Jr. said the band wanted to take a leadership position on green building, not just within the on-reserve housing community, but with conventional off-reserve homes. They also had much broader goals than building green. “We are not just building houses here, we are creating jobs through our Youth Employment and Training Centre, and we are producing healthy affordable homes for families to live in,” Kahgee explained.
28 SBM Spring 2010
The key to the project’s conservation claims is its building envelope. With triplepaned windows, insulted concrete form foundation walls, near R-50 above grade walls, straightforward design, no thermal bridging, and extreme air tightness, the buildings are reminiscent of the German Passive Houses I saw in Damstad. The walls are made with S-11 SuperSTUDsTM, basically a two-by-six joined to a two-by-three, but separated by three inches of rigid insulation, providing a non-engineered stickframed wall with an 11-inch cavity. Housing director Ron Root chose to upgrade to two layers of R22 Roxul batts in the 24-inch wide cavities and sheath the building with insulated wallboard. “This is an affordable housing project and we are building on a very tight budget, but Roxul, Uponor, VanEE, EnerWorks, and SolarSheet all stepped up to make sure we were able build these homes with the industry’s most advanced materials,” Root told me. The band’s building crews are R-2000 certified and have built energy efficient homes in the past, so were prepared to build to high levels of air tightness and were open to addressing thermal bridging issues. The studs were built by local workers on
the reserve under the supervision of Ross McLean of SuperSHELL Homes Corporation., which makes designs and manufactures the SuperSTUDs in Ontario, in association with Four Winds. “When the project team at Saugeen First Nation approached us to set up a mini-assembly plant for this project, we knew that process could be replicated on a smaller scale, but we were not sure that the quality and cost would be the same. Well, they managed it just fine and they are now looking to supply other projects for us in southern Ontario,” McLean explained. The project had some planning support from the Sustainable Housing Foundation, who did an integrated design charrette with all key trades and players to redesign the HVAC system to deal with such low levels of heat loss. The middle units had a designed heat loss of less than 7000 BTUs, so low that a typical furnace would be ridiculously oversized. Additionally, the homes are off the natural gas grid, so it the heating fuel had to be propane, wood or electric. Electricity was the most affordable and reliable heating solution, because of an innovative method of off-peak storage that works in combination with solar air panels. See page 28
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Continued from page 26 With the support of Hydro One, CMHC, and Uponor, dense-looped radiant tubing was added to the over-poured crawlspace slabs to provide off-peak thermal heat sink for the homes’ electric hot water tanks to charge at night. Additionally, solar air panels were used to feed warm air into the fully ducted HRV system (with an in-line electric heater for back up). Project development consultant Tom Laronde, president of Four Winds Inc., and project manager Derek Laronde, CEO of Aboriginal Building Construction Services Inc. are looking to promote this kind of
high-efficiency, healthy home construction to other local governments and builders. “We are dealing with families who often do not have much in the way of disposable income, so whatever we can do to lower their utility costs and improve their living conditions we need to consider, and in this case we are also lowering their environmental footprint and providing them with homes that are among the most energy efficient in the country.” Laronde said. The project will be complete by April 1 and Chief Kahgee said they plan to build another 14 units this summer. The homes have not been officially rated, but Clearsphere will be providing both EnerGuide
and HERS ratings once complete. The homes were modeled at the charrette with EGNH rating 86 on exterior and 87 on interior units, but the actual buildings are expected to rate even higher. If talks to get solar PV panels on all the roofs work out, it is likely that these homes will be net zero, and cash positive, in terms of utility bills. Europe’s best builders have been seeking to maximize the thermal envelope for half dozen years; now, the first viable custom production effort in Canada has taken up that challenge. Lenard Hart is the Executive Director of Sustainable Housing Foundation
9cfne$`e`ejlcXk`fe]ifdFn\ej:fie`e^n`ccdXb\pfli_fd\Zffc\ik_`jjgi`e^ Do-it-yourselfers can re-insulate their homes with AttiCat™ Expanding Blown-In Insulation System During the busy spring renovation season, Owens Corning (NYSE: OC) reminds Canadian homeowners and professionals how to insulate their attics with the easy and efficient do-it-yourself AttiCat™ Expanding Blown-In Insulation System. The AttiCat™ system is designed to minimize handling and mess to help Canadians insulate attics in a way that takes little time and yields solid results. “We are committed to helping our customers, both do-it-yourselfers and professional contractors, find easy and affordable ways to insulate your attic that can be hard to access,” says David Flood, insulation expert at Owens Corning. “With the AttiCat™ System, Canadians can feed insulation where they want in less than two hours.” The AttiCat system is a self-feeding machine that conditions the AttiCat™ Expanding Blown-In PINK™ Fiberglas® insulation by breaking it up and fluffing it. This process creates millions of the tiny air pockets that increase insulating power and will not settle, retaining the energy saving R-value over time. With the self-feeding machine, which puts insulation even in the most hardly accessible places, blowing the insulation takes less than an hour and a half, and the whole job can be completed in less than four hours, based on a 1,000 sq. ft. attic at R-30. According to JL Belisle, an Owens Corning customer, “The AttiCat System is a very cost-efficient method for do-it-yourselfers to upgrade existing inadequately insulated homes,” says JL Belisle at JL’s Home Hardware Building Centre. “The ease of use and performance ‘as advertised’ is what impresses customers most.” With over seven million under-insulated attics in Canada, there’s an opportunity to provide both homeowners and professional contractors an easy, affordable system to help insulate homes. After all, making sure homes are properly insulated increases energy efficiency and provides a great return on investment – especially since a properly insulated attic can help homeowners save up to 28* per cent on their heating and cooling costs.
28 SBM SPRING 2010
The AttiCat™ System meets all of a do-it-yourselfer’s needs, providing them with: 4 Convenience – Renting AttiCat™ machines at a local building supplies store 4 Flexibility – Conducting attic re-insulation projects on their own time and at their own pace 4 Ease – Performing projects safely, effectively and with no mess 4 Return on Investment – For a day’s worth of rental and insulation, helping achieve savings on energy bills and creating an energy-efficient and comfortable home for many years To learn more about Owens Corning AttiCat™ Expanding Blown-In Insulation System and see a step-by-step instructional video on how to insulate your attic with the AttiCat™ system, visit www.owenscorning.ca. About Owens Corning Owens Corning (NYSE: OC) is a leading global producer of residential and commercial building materials, glass-fiber reinforcements and engineered materials for composite systems. A Fortune 500 Company for 55 consecutive years, Owens Corning is committed to driving sustainability by delivering solutions, transforming markets and enhancing lives. Founded in 1938, Owens Corning is a market-leading innovator of glass-fiber technology with sales of $6 billion in 2008 and about 16,000 employees in 30 countries on five continents. Additional information is available at www.owenscorning.com.
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SBM Spring 2010
Right-Sizing: it is Crucial to Green HVAC By Mike Whelpley
nergy efficient houses are sometimes more of a challenge to cool than they are to heat, and green trends in building science and construction techniques are radically reducing building design loads. With homes becoming increasingly more energy efficient due to green building advances, the ability to correctly size HVAC equipment is critical. Oversizing benefits no one and can lead to complaints and inefficiencies. The AIRMAX small duct high velocity fan coil system, used in conjunction with a properly selected water heater or boiler, can be sized to meet the specific requirements of a building’s design. Building design is stretching vertically; there are more three-level townhomes with the trend toward higher density housing. This trend has caused a shift to high velocity air distribution systems to ensure even heating and cooling distribution and reduce bulkhead sizing throughout the entire home. The high pressure, small diameter ductwork used in these systems is sealed and insulation is used on the final flex runs, resulting in superior performance. High velocity air handling systems have been in use for many years; however, noise has been a concern. The design and sizing of the AIRMAX distribution system has been engineered to alleviate these concerns. In addition, the diffusers are easily located in floors, ceilings and walls, allowing for greater design flexibility and easy adjustment. Continuous low speed operation of the blower is required for ventilation distribution, air circulation and air filtration, all which contribute to a higher level of indoor comfort and air quality. Most designers are overlooking the inefficiency of blower motors used in air distribution. The AIRMAX “e” series line of small duct high velocity fan coils uses a true ECM motor which can dramatically reduce annual hydro costs. The reduction in electrical load not only benefits the homeowner with lower utility charges, as well as hedging them against future cost increases, but, can also affect sizing at the actual distribution level and with higher numbers can affect peak loads.
32 30 SBM Spring 2010
In custom luxury homes, many owners are choosing radiant floor systems. The addition of an AIRMAX small duct high velocity air handling system allows an efficient
means to add air conditioning, secondary heating, filtration and circulation. A LEED custom home being built in Mississauga by Easton Homes, which has approximately 9,300 square feet of conditioned floor area, is using three AIRMAX fan coil systems with one condensing boiler to heat the house instead of multiple furnaces. Ward Bruce of The Arceo Group Inc., a high-end custom builder, used the AIRMAX system to virtually eliminate bulkheads: “The small diameter pipes can fit in floor joist systems. Another key feature in the design decision was the ability to apply the optional prioritization system, allowing the system to react to the needs of the home and its occupants, without over-conditioning areas that are satisfied.” Large volume builders Greenpark, Daniels and Country Homes have chosen to install the AIRMAX “e” series small duct high velocity air handling systems, offering homebuyers the efficiency of the ECM fan motors. Greenpark has incorporated the prioritization system as well, to allow superior comfort control within the homes. At an upcoming project in Markham being built to LEED Silver, the efficiency of the air distribution system equates to three LEED points. The use of the ECM motor means the whole subdivision has the means to radically lower its draw on the grid. Mike Whelpley is a Technical Sales Representative of AIRMAX Technologies, Small Duct High Velocity Systems.
A breath of fresh air.
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MM i niinD u cu te temm i D c teddHHi -Ve i -Vel loocciittyy AAi r H a nddlliinngg SSyysste Optional Pr ior itizing of Comfor t Levels with Energy Savings MAX SERVICE
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• All mechanical and electrical components are accessible from the front of the unit.
• The MAXAIR fan coil is so compact that it fits anywhere: laundry room, attic, crawl space, you can even place it in a closet.
• The supply outlets can be placed in the wall, ceiling or floor.
• Heating coil and fan/motor slide out for easy service.
• Each unit has four choices of locations for the return air connections.
• It can be installed in new or existing homes.
• One of the most extensive warranties in the business: 1-year parts & labour, 2-years on parts only, where applicable.
• It takes less than 1/3 of the space of a conventional heating and air conditioning unit.
MAX ENERGY SAVINGS
• With the increased efficiency of this optional Electronically Commuted Motor (ECM), homeowners will be free to cycle air continuously with a minimal increase in electricity cost. Continuous fan operation helps improve filtration, reduce temperature variations, and helps keep the air clear of dust and allergens – making your customers’ homes more comfortable.
• Energy savings, temperature control and comfort levels are achieved in individual levels of the home by prioritizing the requirements. This is achieved by installing optional space thermostats. If any area calls for heating or cooling, the individual thermostat allows the space it serves to achieve optimum comfort and still maintain continuous air circulation throughout the home. • This method of prioritizing is a great energy savings measure while offering an increased comfort level to the home owner.
• The FLEXAIR™ insulated 2½" supply duct will fit in a standard 2"x 4" wall cavity. • Can be mounted for vertical or horizontal airflow. • Can be combined with humidifiers, high efficiency air cleaners or ERVs / HRVs. • Snap-together branch duct and diffuser connections.
MAX ELECTRICAL SAVINGS • ECMs are ultra-high-efficient programmable brushless DC motors that are more efficient than the permanently split capacitor (PSC) motors used in most residential furnaces. This is especially true at lower speeds used for continuous circulation in many new homes.
For distribution of Air Max Technologies products call
SBM Spring 2010 33 airmaxtechnologies.com
Homesol partners with Owens Corning to create a new Sustainable Buildings Centre
etermined to help create a new generation of energy-efficient homes, Homesol Building Solutions has successfully partnered with insulation giant Owens Corning to create a green building training centre in the heart of the Ottawa Valley. The new facility, called the LivelyUp Sustainable Buildings Training Centre, will serve builders throughout Ontario. â€œOur goal is to create a new generation of builders to use the most advanced materials and green construction techniques,â€? said Ross Elliott, Homesolâ€™s President. Currently under construction with a completion date of Fall 2010, Homesolâ€™s LivelyUp Sustainable Buildings Training Centre is located on property owned by Elliott and his wife and business partner, Kathryn Elliott, in McDonalds Corners, 27 kms from Perth, and 80 kms from Ottawa. Far from being an ivory tower institution steeped in impractical theory, Elliott approaches green building challenges with a lifetime of hands-on expertise ranging from
:PVNBLFBXPSMEPGEJĂ˛FSFODF )PNFTPMDBOQSPWFJU Driven by a passionate commitment to green building, Homesol is a leading provider of energy consulting, testing, labeling and verification services for contractors, renovators, homeowners, and government agencies â€” with over 6,000 energy evaluations since 1999. Call Homesol today!
34 SBM Spring 2010
historic renovations to running his own custom homebuilding business. With his team of certified green building consultants, Homesol Building Solutions is now one of Canada’s leading providers of environmental and energy efficient green building consulting services for residential new construction and renovation. More than 30 top Ontario builders turn to Homesol every day, along with green building contractors, renovators, homeowners plus Provincial and Federal building efficiency standards organizations. For more on Homesol, please go to www.homesol.ca. “The opening of the new training centre demonstrates Ontario’s position as a hub of sustainability building,” stated David Flood, Insulation Expert, Owens Corning. “We are proud to support an initiative that will increase the use of sustainable and efficient building solutions.” As a lead partner in Homesol’s LivelyUp Sustainable Buildings Training Centre, Owens Corning will contribute its most advanced building materials including: • PINK FIBERGLAS® Insulation • Celfort®/FOAMULAR® Extruded
Your comfort Your environment Perfect harmony
• • • • • •
Polystyrene Rigid Insulation • Cultured Stone® veneer • Duration® Shingles • QuietZone® Noise Control Solutions Other sponsors of products and services include Concord Ontario’ Fibertec Window and Door Manufacturing and Ottawa’s Linda Chapman, Architect. “The Ottawa Valley offers some of Canada’s most extreme climate changes, from minus-30-degree Celsius winters mixed with snow and freezing rain to plus-30-degree summers, and builders can come to the LivelyUp Sustainable Buildings Training Centre to learn how to maximize energy efficiency and comfort with these state-ofthe-art products,” explains Elliott. “Builders use these products every day,” said Elliott, “but we’re demonstrating their use in unique combinations and with techniques that can meet or exceed LEED Platinum standards for energy efficiency, air quality and durability. The building technology is readily available from companies like Owens Corning, and with adequate training it can transform Ontario’s housing stock to be the greenest on the planet.”
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SBM Spring 2010
By Tracy Hanes
n this year’s Princess Margaret Hospital Home Lottery, offered along with a $3.6 million mega mansion grand prize, luxury automobiles and exotic vacations, are two ‘green’ showhomes built by Greenpark Homes. For the 15th year, builder Greenpark is providing the prize homes for the Lottery and for the third year, has added two ‘Eco Friendly’ homes to the mix. The homes on Dalgleish Garden in the Town of Milton, one built to LEED Silver specs and another to ENERGY STAR standards, are among five detached homes and one high rise condo the builder has provided for the cancer fundraiser. Anthony Martelli, the Director of Design and Project Management for Greenpark, says Greenpark started adding Eco Friendly Homes to the lottery mix a few years ago, for two reasons: to bring a higher profile to energy-efficient and resource-conserving new home features, and to fit with the Princess Margaret Lottery’s mandate to become more sustainability-oriented. (That’s why there are hybrid and electric cars offered as well as the luxury gas-guzzlers). However, Martelli is somewhat surprised that more has not been heard from the public about the benefits of “green” home features. “We would like to get more feedback and this would be achieved by raising awareness.” Greenpark markets the sustainable and energy efficient features in two different Eco Friendly packages; ENERGY STAR and ENERGY STAR Superior, being the equivalent of a LEED Silver rating. “While Greenpark has noted some interest in its ENERGY STAR packages, homebuyers need a greater understanding of the inherent benefits of LEED homes. The ENERGY STAR package carries a 3% cost increase while the LEED Silver package carries a 10% cost increase. The additional cost has to be viewed as a beneficial investment in terms of energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource friendliness, a healthy home along with future resale value.” Greenpark’s Eco Friendly ENERGY STAR package includes
36 SBM Spring 2010
energy efficient, healthy home and resource-friendly features. Specifically, they integrate improved insulation and air-tight design, a high-efficiency furnace, compact fluorescent lighting, recycled attic insulation and ENERGY STAR appliances amongst other features. ENERGY STAR rated homes are 30% more energy efficient and reduce green house gas emissions by approximately 3 tonnes a year per home. The ENERGY STAR superior package incorporates all of the ENERGY STAR features along with high performance enhancements such as solar assisted hot water heating, low VOC paints, a drain water heat recovery system, FSC rated hardwood flooring, Green Label Plus broadloom and quartz counter tops, incorporating renewable or recycled products in the finishes. Water-saving options involve rain water harvesting barrels, dual flush toilets, automatic sensor faucets and low flow shower heads. A LEED Silver home is 60% more energy efficient by approximately 4.6 tonnes a year per home. However, Martelli finds that most homeowners still tend to spend their money on aesthetic upgrades like granite counter tops and hardwood floors. He says consumers need to think of their new home purchase like they do a new car, in terms of greater fuel efficiency certain models offer, and add to that the advantages of a healthy family environment, resource conservation and added resale value. Very soon, two lucky winners will be able to enjoy all the benefits of living in a beautiful new Eco Friendly home for the price of a $100 lottery ticket! The 2,639 square foot Hadfield 6B on Lot 241 Dalgleish Garden, is the LEED Silver home. The Hadfield 2A on lot 242 at Dalgleish Garden is a 2,240 square foot home built with the ENERGY STAR package. The prize homes are open for viewing from 1 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays, just north of Derry Rd. in Milton, between Tremaine Rd. and Bronte St. N. The Princess Margaret Lottery final ticket sale deadline is May 20 and the final draw is June 3. Please visit www.helpconquercancer.ca for more information.
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How Best to Deal with Micro Loads By Peter Kinsey
hat can we do to handle these micro loads of 3,000 TO 15,000 BTUs? Well, I should have titled this article “The Rebirth of Combo Systems”, as by having a volume of water, our appliance will need to raise say, 60 gallons of water to 10 to 20 degrees, resulting in a longer, more efficient run times and minimizing the start-up and shutdown losses. With a trend to build smaller homes with tighter construction techniques, heating requirements are getting smaller too. You’d think that heating these homes would be easier, but most equipment is oversized and the challenge is to understand how this affects efficiency. When we start our car on a cold day, the engine takes time to warm up until it runs at peak efficiency. This is the same with our home heating appliances, although not as severe, every time the thermostat calls for heat. We call the inefficiency of this warm up period start-up losses. Shutdown losses occur when an appliance shuts down and exhaust and residual heat are left in the appliance. Multiply start up and shutdown losses by hundreds, maybe even thousands of times, in a heating season, depending on how oversized the appliance is, and you can imagine added cost. There are numerous heating appliances on the market today that offer staged burners or modulating gas valves. But when our peak heating load is 25,000 BTUs and the vast majority of the season the load is 15,000 BTUs or lower, none of this equipment modulates that low. The trend toward using tankless water heaters and wall-hung boilers coupled with air handlers, or hot water baseboards, doesn’t solve the problem either. They have very little water volume, which can actually compound the short cycling problem. What can we do to handle these micro loads of 3,000 TO 15,000 BTUs? Well, I should have titled this article “The Rebirth of Combo Systems”, as by having a volume of water, our appliance will need to raise say, 60 gallons of water to 10 to 20 degrees, resulting in a longer, more
38 2010 36 SBM Spring 2010
efficient run times and minimizing the start-up and shutdown losses. Now that we have heated a mass of water with a boiler, tankless water heater, or even a gas-fired water heater, we have a multitude of heat emitter options at our disposal. An air handler will easily provide the space heating/cooling requirements for the home; there are air handlers on the market with built-in zoning capabilities. Imagine three zones of heating and cooling and floor heating in the foyer and master ensuite. We have now added a lot of extra comfort and solved our micro load problem. There are numerous styles of radiators and baseboards on the market that can meet any budget and design, and the ability to offer
zones of comfort throughout the home. One caution, and I’ve seen this on a number of occasions, is where someone will build a home with super insulation values and little air leakage, and install radiant floor heating. Remember that with floor heating systems, the floor surface temperature is dependent on the heat loss of the home. The lower the heat loss, the lower the floor temperature. Unless the home owner is aware of this, their comfort expectations won’t be met. Microloads do present some growing pains for the industry, but they can all be overcome, so that we can provide the homeowner with excellent efficiency and comfort. Peter Kinsey is the President of Canadian In-Floor Heating
IN-FLOOR HEATING 556 Edward Ave., Unit #85 Richmond Hill, Ontario L4C 9Y5 Ph: 905-508-0300 • Fax: 905-508-0390 email:email@example.com
:G:=:^L)>:=BG@/>G>P:;E>"G>K@R HGMK:<MHKL SBM Spring 2010
â€œA healthy homeâ€? challenges record-setting attendance of the Pope, Rolling Stones and ac/dc
40 SBM Spring 2010
Tony Genco, President and CEO of Downsview Park, speaks to hundreds during the opening of the Healthy Home exhibit, which showcases eco-friendly technologies and products readily available to industry professionals and consumers. By Shawn Griffiths
n 2002, 500,000 people welcomed Pope John Paul II at Downsview Park. In 2003, hundreds of thousands more visited Downsview during the SARS concert. Now, seven years later, a new exhibit hosted at Downsview is set to challenge those record-breaking attendance numbers. They call it, “A Healthy Home.” Opening its doors on March 11, A Healthy Home capitalizes on increased demand for more environmentally-friendly products in and around the home. A fresh re-design of popular attraction The Sustainable Condo, the exhibit showcases ecofriendly technologies and products readily available to consumers today. “From energy-efficient home heating equipment to stylish sustainable furniture, this exhibit showcases ways to save money and the environment,” said Mark Salerno, District Manager Greater Toronto Area, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “Industry professionals and consumers learn an incredible amount of valuable information in a very short time.” Before the redesign, more than 175,000 people toured the model home. Now, with enhanced products, additional industry partners and a new high-traffic location at Downsview Park’s Hangar hosting 750,000 guests per year, the number of visits to the revamped home could surpass that of the Pope, Rolling Stones and AC/DC. “We’re very excited to partner with industry leaders in sustainability to host the Healthy Home exhibit,” said Tony Genco, President and CEO of Downsview Park. “This exhibit provides a unique glimpse into innovative technologies, practices and lifestyle choices that will help raise envi-
ronmental awareness while contributing to Downsview Park’s green future.” By visiting the home, guests will learn practical ways to save energy, limit waste, reduce utility bills, improve indoor air quality and, ultimately, help the environment. “We have found that such exhibits have a unique power to communicate key messages, stir the imagination and spur concrete action leading to a transformation towards more sustainable, universal and affordable housing,” said Mark Salerno. Highlights also include features based on CMHC`s housing research initiatives, such as CMHC`s EQuilibrium, Healthy Housing and FlexHousing programs. Three key deliverables have been incorporated into exhibit, including: 1) Improving indoor air quality by using products, coatings and adhesives with minimal off-gassing of chemical pollutants; 2) Reducing the home’s ecological footprint through innovative mechanical
equipment, appliances and lighting specifications; 3) Ensuring a wheelchair accessible environment with no barriers to movement. The sustainability features of A Healthy Home are also designed to save money. In addition, healthy homes are eligible to receive green financing through CMHC and lender partners such as RBC. Major sponsors of the exhibit include Downsview Park, CMHC, EcoSmart Foundation, The Royal Bank of Canada, Sears Canada, NIKKA DESIGN, Greening Homes, Heritage Finishes, Antica Tile & Stone, Juice Works Exhibit & Display and TOTO. Free public tours of A Healthy Home are available seven days a week. For tour timings and more information, visit us at www.usinglessenjoyingmore.com or www.cmhc.ca Shawn Griffiths is a Consultant, Communications and Marketing, of CMHC Ontario Business Centre SBM Spring 2010
The Glamour of Green is Making HVAC Sexy
t one time, they were the tin-benders and basement dwellers of the homebuilding industry. Now, mechanical contractors are being asked to do more and more in the name of green energy efficiency. It’s becoming one of the glamour trades. As homeowners put more emphasis on green technologies, builders are looking for everything from renewable energy solutions, such as geothermal and solar, to the comfort of radiant in-floor heating. Many mechanical contractors have begun to make this transition, but one that has lead the charge is Pinnacle Environment. One of the first contractors to actively go out and sell through the value proposition to builders of the Energy Star for New Homes Program, Pinnacle now offers a full suite of green solutions. Services include: highefficiency, dual-staged forced air systems; geothermal heating and cooling; solar hot water preheat; solar photovoltaic arrays; radiant in-floor heating; tankless water systems. Pinnacle has one of the broadest range of green energy solutions in the marketplace. “Our goal is to really offer a turnkey solution to our builders,” says Linda Cerenzia, RNC account manager. “We find that we are able to bring overall costs down when we take full responsibility for the home environment”. As homeowners demand more efficient homes, the pressure is on the builder to not only deliver a beautiful home, but one that is green, healthy, and will save on utility costs. As Cerenzia puts it, “our job is to not only provide the installation service to the builder, but to also provide the builder with the information and sales tools required to effectively communicate with potential homeowners so that they see the value of the upgrades the builder is providing them.” Pinnacle has a 4,000-square-foot Home Environment that show-
cases the latest in heating, cooling, and fireplace solutions. Many builders have leveraged this sales space and have used it as a second design studio to specifically sell HVAC and fireplace upgrades. As the sale of HVAC upgrades becomes more of a focal point in new home sales, solutions like this will become more common, as it allows builders to expand their décor centres and have knowledgeable staff answer any technical questions that buyers may have. Pinnacle’s most recent addition is the Radiant Ready program. New homebuyers, now more than ever, are looking to utilize the space in the basement as additional living space. One of the biggest challenges has always been comfort. It’s uncomfortable in the winter because the floors are cold. Pinnacle is positioning its Radiant Ready upgrade as an affordable in-floor heating solution. For a modest cost, the radiant is roughed-in and can be ready to be hooked up, should the homeowner decide to have it installed. It obviously easier to retrofit radiant in-floor heating with a rough-in, but the fact that the floor is already there makes it more likely that homebuyers will choose to upgrade to a full radiant system. Builders that have taken advantage of this program feel they now have a sales advantage when it comes to upgrades, and also in terms of positioning their homes against others that are not radiant-ready. Radiant heating is not a green technology per se, but it is most compatible with green heating and cooling technologies, and more forward looking in terms of being compatible with future innovations. “Builders see the advantage, and homeowners have responded very well to the Radiant Ready program, Cerenzia added.”
Kohler Bolsters Leading Portfolio of 1.28 Gpf Toilets Kohler introduces new designs, affordable price points for high-efficiency toilets Kohler Co. has successfully converted several of its 1.6 gallon-per-flush high-performance gravity toilets to flush with a mere 1.28 gpf, assuring water savings without sacrificing performance. “Kohler has made it a top priority to offer homeowners the largest portfolio of water-saving technologies and designs – across all products and price points,” said Paul Nick, sanitary marketing manager at Kohler Co. “These new toilets truly adhere to the Kohler reputation for saving water without sacrificing design or performance.” The KOHLER ArcherTM toilet is the company’s first one-piece, single-flush, gravity, high-efficiency toilet. This toilet is part of the transitional Archer bathroom suite that features a combination of beveled edges and curved bases to create a classic look that appeals to an array of style preferences. Whether specifying plumbing products that help buildings earn LEED® water-efficiency points, reducing facility operating costs or accommodating the preferences of homeowners, environmentally friendly KOHLER fixtures and faucets address the challenging demands of customers and preserve one of our most precious natural resources. Visit www.kohler.ca/savewater for more information about Kohler’s water-saving toilets.
42 SBM Spring 2010
COMPANY PROFILE HEATING • COOLING • FIREPLACES
Residential New Construction - Low Rise
Pinnacle’s one-stop shop solution reduces the number of trades needed and provides the builder with a single reliable source for everything to do with your purchasers comfort.
Renewable Energy Solutions
The future is here with renewable energy solutions. Whether it’s geothermal heating and cooling or solar hot water pre-heat, Pinnacle has the expertise and know how to help you get to the leading edge.
The Romans did it and so should you. From rough-in only to drive way snow melt, provide your purchasers with the comforts that they demand.
Heating & Cooling
From the traditional forced air system to emerging hydronic technology Pinnacle offers a wide range of solutions and products including Furnaces, Air Handlers, Air Conditioners, Boilers, Tankless Water Systems, Filtration & Ventilation, and Hi Velocity.
Fireplaces & Mantles
Custom or standard Pinnacle can offer you unmatched product selection. With an in-house wood shop we are to quickly customize or produce the volume to meet your needs. Fireplaces: Gas, Wood burning, Electric, EcoFriendly Ethanol Mantles: Wood, Cast Stone, Cultured Stone
New Home Buyer Seminars & Sales Centre Training Pinnacle takes the term partnership to heart. At Pinnacle we believe that educating your sales staff and your purchaser is an integral part of our job. We offer both New Home Buyer Seminars and Sales Centre Training.
Is your HVAC contractor helping you look for savings? At Pinnacle part of our project process involves a full review of all mechanical drawings in order to identify cost saving modifications.
Reduce your capital costs of construction by offering purchasers rental program for everything from the mechanical system to the tankless water system.
1748 Creditstone Road, Unit 1, Vaughan, Ontario L4K 5V8 T 905.417.0111 Toronto Line 416.422.4663 F 905.417.5011
www.pinnacle-environment.com SBM Spring 2010
Great Labour Market Solutions staff. From left to right: Tonya Thomas Intake and Assessment Officer, Paula Sevestre Outreach and Public Relations, Doug Doolittle Job Placement Officer, Becky Logan -Project Manager and Kimberly Henry -Administrative Assistant.
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44 SBM Spring 2010
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lutions, launched in January, 2010, connects employers with skilled aboriginal trades people free of charge. Employers who hire through GREAT benefit from customized training incentives for new hires, including green building methods. Employers interested in building green can contact GREAT to see if there is a fit in their company for a skilled aboriginal worker interested in advancing his or her training. For 16 years, Grand River Employment and Training, on the Six Nations Territory, has provided services to employers such as training, skills upgrading and apprenticeship development. GREAT recently initiated services to help create a more sustainable future workforce. A centralized database connects all parts of Ontario and allows employers, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to connect with projects in aboriginal communities. “The benefits are many, as employers have the ability to target an untapped resource of skilled workers,” said Becky Logan, project manager, GREAT Labour Market Solutions. The project is a joint initiative of Grand River Employment and Training and the Construction Sector Council of Canada. Additional collaborative members are the Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board of Ontario (AABO) whose members include Aboriginal Human Resources Development Holders (AHRDAS), Aboriginal WorkForce Participation Initiative (AWPI), Human Resources and Skills Development of Canada (HRSDC), Canadian Union of Skilled Workers (CUSW), Service Canada and Canadian Apprenticeship Forum. Contact Paula Sevestre, Outreach/Public Relations, GREAT Labour Market Solutions, 1-877-670-WORK (9675) or 226358-4446 or click on www.GreatLMS.com.
Never Underestimate The Power Of A Dissatisďƒžed Homebuyer
Understand your customers
Every builder knows that a happy customer is their most valuable asset. Which is why knowing how your homebuyers feel about you, your product, and how quickly you respond to their concerns has never been more important. At C.Caswell & Associates our just released CustomerInsightTM program is a proprietary research tool which delivers immediate tactical feedback to help you gain insight into homebuyer decisions, while developing strategies that will â€” Recover Customers at Risk; Win Over New Customers; Build Customer Loyalty, and; Improve Company Performance.
Tel: 705.252.5314 E-mail: email@example.com http://www.customerinsight.ca SBM Spring 2010 Customer Insight Ad_SBM_.indd 1
3/19/10 10:38:49 AM
Speaking in Code
Objective Statements SAFETY Objectives To limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of a building, a person in or adjacent to the building will be exposed to an unacceptable risk of injury due to: fire caused by:
a fire or explosion fire or explosion impacting areas beyond its point of origin. the collapse of physical elements due to a fire or explosion. fire safety systems failing to function as expected. persons being delayed in or impeded from moving to a safe place during a fire emergency.
structural failure caused by:
loads bearing on the building elements that exceed their load-bearing capacity. loads bearing on the building that exceed the loadbearing properties of the supporting medium. damage to or deterioration of building elements. vibration or deflection of building elements. instability of the building or part of it. collapse of the excavation.
hazards caused by:
tripping, slipping, falling, contact, drowning or collision. contact with hot surfaces or substances. contact with energized equipment. exposure to hazardous substances. exposure to high levels of sound from fire alarm systems. persons becoming trapped in confined spaces. persons being delayed in or impeded from moving to a safe place during an emergency.
the building’s low level of resistance to unwanted entry caused by:
intruders being able to force their way through locked doors or windows. occupants being unable to identify potential intruders as such.
HEALTH Objectives To limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of a building, a person will be exposed to an unacceptable risk of illness due to: indoor conditions caused by:
inadequate indoor air quality. inadequate thermal comfort. contact with moisture.
unsanitary conditions caused by:
exposure to human or domestic waste. consumption of contaminated water. inadequate facilities for personal hygiene. contact with contaminated surfaces. contact with vermin and insects. exposure to human or domestic waste.
high levels of sound originating in adjacent spaces in the building caused by exposure to airborne sound transmitted through assemblies separating dwelling units from adjacent spaces in the building. high levels of vibration or deflection of building elements. the release of hazardous substances from the building. To limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of a building, a person in the building will be provided with an unacceptable level of privacy. To limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of a building, a person in the building will be unable to experience a view to the outdoors. Figure 1.1 Objective Statements
46 SBM Spring 2010
(Div. A 188.8.131.52.)
thought hard about the type of column I might produce for this important new publication. As some might know, I have spent more than 25 years advocating for consumers. For eight years I was the Executive Director of the Consumers Council of Canada. A few questioned why a building scientist with a specialty in housing would want to manage a new association. At times I asked myself the same question. Nonetheless, it was exciting to take a fledgling organization and grow it to become Canada largest research-based, multi-issue consumer advocacy group. I’m sure it’s no surprise that of all of the issues we dealt with I found the issues that confronted homeowners the most interesting. Last year, I decided to devote myself more fully to homeowner advocacy by founding the Homeowner Protection Centre (HPC) of Canada. The Homeowner Protection Centre works with builders, suppliers, manufacturers and service providers to help them to better respond to the needs of homeowners. Our hope is to build HPC into a national resource centre for homeowners and for builders. Our challenge is to improve the quality of housing and housing services for homeowners across the country. We have all heard the banter that the home is the largest purchase that the consumer makes in his or her lifetime. I would add it’s also the one that is often the most confounding. It’s all too apparent that homeowners need help and that industry is often unable to deliver on its promise. I hope this column ultimately helps builders to better serve their customers. The column will be sufficiently technical to keep the hardcore interested but will also tackle those service issues that frustrate home buyers. With this first column, I want to begin by defining the basic requirement of housing. The definition provided by the building code is a good place to start. It outlines the performance objectives and the func-
tional statements that define the minimum acceptable standards for Canadians. The code suggests that housing needs to attend to the safety and health of the occupants, protection of property and environment, and conservation of resources. These broad objectives are supported by 61 functional statements that define the intention of each and every building code requirement. Beyond the codeâ€™s minimum requirements are the broader housing expectations of all Canadians. Over time as these become more and more important to Canadians, they become woven into the fabric of the building code. Our homes are among the most complex of human artifacts, fulfilling many functional needs while imposing themselves within our environment. They provide shelter, comfort and delight when done well. They fulfill basic psychological and social needs. Our houses protect us, console us and define us. They are part of our dreams and aspirations. It should come as no surprise that home buyers become enraged when builders fail to deliver, when the house of their dreams becomes a nightmare. It should also come as no surprise when home buyers broadcast to every potential buyer just what they think of their builder, or report it all to government and regulator. Deciphering the rules for building well is daunting for the builder and next to impossible for the home buyer. The rules draw on our understanding of material science and building physics. To work they need to be interpreted properly by trade and supplier. Taken together, they act as a pillar that supports our way of life and our standard of living. The trickiest of these rules I expect will become part of future columns. I hope to hear from builders and from home buyers and to feature some of the issues that you have encountered. We can build better housing. We can build reasonable home buyer expectations and we can deliver on our promise.
Objective Statements ACCESSIBILITY Objectives To limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of a building, a person with a physical or sensory disability will be unacceptably impeded from: accessing the building or circulating within it. using the buildingâ€™s facilities. FIRE, STRUCTURAL, WATER AND SEWAGE PROTECTION Objectives To limit the probability that, as a result of its design or construction, the building or/and adjacent buildings will be exposed to an unacceptable risk of damage due to: fire caused by:
fire or explosion occurring. fire or explosion impacting areas beyond its point of origin. collapse of physical elements due to a fire or explosion. high levels of vibration or deflection of building elements. high levels of vibration or deflection of building elements. fire safety systems failing to function as expected.
structural failure or lack of structural serviceability caused by:
loads bearing on the building elements that exceed their loadbearing capacity. loads bearing on the building that exceed the loadbearing properties of the supporting medium. damage to or deterioration of building elements. vibration or deflection of building elements. instability of the building or part of it. instability or movement of the supporting medium.
structural damage of adjacent buildings caused by:
settlement of the medium supporting adjacent buildings. collapse of the building or portion of it onto adjacent buildings. impact of the building on adjacent buildings. collapse of the excavation.
leakage of service water or sewage. RESOURCE CONSERVATION Objectives To limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of a building, a natural resource will exposed to an unacceptable risk of depletion or the capacity of the infrastructure supporting the use of the resource will be exposed to an unacceptable risk of being exceeded caused by: the consumption of water. the consumption of energy. ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY Objective To limit the probability that, as a result of the design, construction or operation of a building, the natural environment will be exposed to an unacceptable risk of degradation. CONSERVATION OF BUILDINGS Objective To limit the probability that, as a result of the extension, material alteration or repair of an existing building or a change in use of an existing building, the existing building cannot be acceptably conserved. Figure 1.2 Objective Statements
(Div. A 184.108.40.206.)
SBM Spring 2010
my LEED Platinum By Lenard Hart
y now, most builders are aware that LEED Canada for Homes is active in the Ontario marketplace. Most will have heard that municipalities love it and builders find it to be expensive and something of a pain in the neck. I want to offer a perspective that few can: A homeowner’s view of what it’s like to live in a LEED Platinum home. Despite working in the new homes industry for more than 10 years, most of my life I have lived in older homes. They were, as my mom the realtor would say, “real fixer-uppers”. These homes were in the core of Toronto and perpetually needed work. I was either too cheap and or too stubborn to sub out the work to professionals. I had no time to do it myself, so I lived for years with raw drywall on unfinished subfloors etc. These homes were inefficient and drafty, some had air quality issues, and all had plumbing or wiring problems. So, in 2009 when I got the chance to “walk the green
48 SBM Spring 2010
talk” and live in one of the greenest homes in Canada, a LEED Platinum home, I took the plunge. This was the beginning of a new adventure. Not only have I never lived in a LEED Platinum home before, I had never lived in a new home. Let me start by saying that in general, I love it; it works. From a customer’s perspective, it seems the right way to build. That said there is some subtlety to my praise and even a few things I am disappointed about. What do I love? I love the quiet. Mind you, I moved from Toronto’s Annex and the cacophony of Bloor Street to a new development in Newmarket (that you can’t even find on Google Maps). So one could argue that even if I lived under a 404 overpass, I would think it was quiet, but this place is dead quiet. Thick walls, very airtight, and great windows means extreme quiet. I never hear anything outside and I live next to a construction site. T he funny thing is that because it’s so quiet, I hear many more things inside,
from strange gurgles of the refrigerator to the tinny pings of the one-way vent flaps on windy nights, and the soft clicking expansions of the many radiant pipes that run throughout. I also love the fresh quality of the indoor air. This is the first home I have ever lived in with an HRV and I can’t recommend them enough. The house is never stale, never smells of food, and is never toxic. Good air quality is hard to notice, but I notice how fresh it feels in the house. Next, I would say that I love the rainwater harvesting system, mostly because my kids like it so much. I have not used a drop of city water to flush a toilet since August. When the sod went in late June, it required lot of watering and this required city water to top up my rain tank. I know this because I shut off the city top up tap, ran out of water and had to open the top-up tap on two occasions last summer. Otherwise, I have been using only the precipitation that falls on my roof. See page 48
SBM Spring 2010
Continued from page 46 Lastly on my love-it list, is the thermal comfort. Previous houses have been cold and drafty in winter and hot and humid in summer. This house is warm in winter and there are no drafts. With spray foam insulation throughout, forced air and strategic radiant floor heat, there are no cold spots. I did not have the air conditioning installed last year and never missed it. So that is a lot to love and I am not using the word that lightly. There are other things that I don’t so much love as like them a lot. I like the appliances. The builder model white ENERGY STAR washer, gas dryer, gas stove and dishwasher are superior performers to anything I have had in the past. They are not the stainless steel luxury models, but they work and use little energy. I really like the fantastic dual-flush toilets that keep me from running low on rainwater. I like the built-in kitchen recycling centre. I like the inhome energy monitor that tells me that I average between 250 and 350 watts per hour running the house. Mind you, when the HRV is on full and the washer is running and the fridge cycles on, I go up to 900 or so and think, well, what can I do? I like that the monitor is frequently interesting but it is not very empowering. This needs to be qualified, but I somewhat like my utility bills. They come in at about $170 month all-in (gas, water, electricity). It’s pretty clear that my local utilities do not know how to deal with my house. The relative amount I pay for service fees is way too high, and I am $193 cash positive on my gas equalization payments at the end of my first winter. Despite the fact that my biggest electric bill has been $80, I still had to put down a $300 deposit as a new hydro customer. But, when you pay more for your cell phone than you do to run your house each month, you really can’t complain, well, not about the utility bills. I like the super-insulated basement that serves as our recreation room; it’s open, warm and more livable than any finished basement I have ever
50 SBM Spring 2010
been in. I really like the solar panels on the roof. I have solar thermal air and hot water panels. The air panels face south and the water panels face west. They are not that noticeable from the ground, but I know they are helping to reduce my heating load by 75 per cent or so. They make me wish that I photovoltaic solar panels as well. So, in general, I am very positive about the place but there are a few things I was surprised by. Foremost, the poor quality of low-VOC paint used in new homes today. If you even touch my walls it leaves a permanent mark, so I am contemplating repainting after less than a year. Other things that I will admit to being less than impressed with is the hands-free faucet in the vanity that splashes everywhere no matter how you adjust it. Likewise, the misting aerator on the utility sink in the laundry; it takes close to four minutes to fill a bucket. And while the comfort is great and my daughter loves the radiant floor heating in her bedroom over the garage, I find that radiant heating actually conflicts with the programmable thermostat that I like to use, so mostly I leave it off. I generally like my adopted new town, especially its Farmer’s Market in the summer. I have to admit that collectively, an hour and a half commuting to Toronto from Newmarket and back each day seems
utterly futile (and I have worked for the federal Green Party on an election). Jean Paul Sartre said “hell is other people,” but I would add that it’s actually other people in their cars all trying to go to the same place at the same time you are. The location and nature of my work do not allow me to take transit, so I am stuck with the rush, but work is flexible and I can avoid the worst most days. Enough complaining. The place is great, but if I had my druthers, I would want more interactivity with its workings. I know many homeowners would not but I want to know how full my rainwater cistern is at any given time, or the temperature of the air coming off the solar thermal panels, or the humidity inside versus outside, and I would love to have PV panels with a monitor telling me how much energy I am producing. So in answer to the many questions I get as to what is it like living in a LEED Platinum house, I have to say I simply love it. It’s the best house I have ever lived in. While I may not be a typical homebuyer, I can pass along that I love my new home and I love that it enables me to live greener, smarter, and more sustainably. Lenard Hart is the Executive Director of the Sustainable Housing Foundation. The house in this article was built by Rodeo Fine Homes and it has received a Platinum certification rating under the LEED for Homes program and assessed to have equivalency under the new LEED Canada for Homes program.
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