NEXT-LEVEL CONNECTED HOMES P.27 INNOVATIVE & AFFORDABLE HOUSING P.17 AMSTED STEPS UP TO ADDRESS MENTAL HEALTH P.53
THE ELECTION DONE, IT’S TIME TO PUT WORDS INTO ACTION P.9
ENEMY WITHIN: A NATIONAL STUDY MAY HASTEN RADON CODE CHANGES P.43
ART SCENE From hoarding to sculpture, developers are leaving a lasting impression
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34 State of the Art
From hoarding to sculptures, builders are leaving an impression on their communities
It’s All Connected
It’s no longer about the number of devices, but their security and integration 9 One Voice With the election well behind us, it’s time to put that **** into action. 11 Ontario Report What the PC majority government means for Ontarians, the OHBA tours Vienna, and the Annual Conference and Awards of Distinction are back—live and in person! ohba.ca
17 Inside Storey This developer is taking an innovative approach to affordable housing, and it just might change the lives of its residents!
53 Building Buzz Amsted builds a better mental health workforce, Eddy tightens up its leak protection and Neolith and Ciot partner up.
21 Trending From scratch- and stainresistant flooring to stunning bathroom levers, the latest products for builders and renovators.
62 Frame of Mind Resembling a rural village, this Dutch project offers an affordable alternative to urban living.
43 Enemy Within With new research and increased awareness, radon code changes may be imminent
ON THE COVER
Muralist David Guinn and lighting designer Drew Billiau illuminate the way at Madison Group’s 150 Eglinton Ave. E.
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
The official publication of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association SUMMER 2022 | Vol. 38 Issue 4
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Even illumination where you need it most!
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PUTTING WORDS INTO ACTION
So what does all that **** mean in terms of policy? THE JUNE 2 PROVINCIAL ELECTION
witnessed an overwhelming majority victory for the Progressive Conservative Party under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford, who will govern for the next four years. Just as the campaigns came to an abrupt end, so did my cross-province journey of listening to the collective experiences of Ontarians searching for a place to call home. The big takeaway was that the housing crisis we are experiencing is not a GTAcentric problem and is present in every corner of the province. From Sarnia to Sudbury, and London to Ottawa, there aren’t enough homes to meet the demand, forcing people to commute or drive enormous distances in a desperate attempt to find a home that meets their needs and that they can afford. ohba.ca
“TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE IF THERE IS ANY HOPE OF ACHIEVING POSITIVE OUTCOMES.” During the election period, OHBA’s message was simple, clear, blunt and to the point. “It’s time to CUT THE **** AND BUILD MORE HOMES.” The acknowledgement from every party leader that there is indeed a severe lack of housing supply, along with the accompanying goal to build 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years, reinforces our message. But now the real work begins.
In other words, what does that **** really mean? I’m sure we can all fit a choice word or two into the message, but those are only words. The time has come for bold, aggressive action by all levels of government if we have any chance of nearly doubling our current annual housing production. The **** needs policies that address red tape, endless processes, regulations and restrictions, shortages of land, labour, materials, as well as infrastructure to enable our members to do what we do best—build and renovate the homes that families and individuals need. The **** highlights the urgency behind the housing crisis, and that time is of the essence if there is any hope of achieving positive outcomes and a more balanced housing market. The tremendous success of our campaign is due to the passion, dedication and leadership of our Industry Action Committee: Melissa Schenk, Sandy Tuckey, Louie Zagordo, Mike CollinsWilliams, Jason Burggraaf and Jared Zaifman, as well as the OHBA team of Sajida Jiwani, Emma Maynard, Alex Piccini and Larry Kotseff. Collectively, this group of talented individuals has been instrumental in ensuring that the concerns of Ontarians are being heard and amplified. For that, we are most grateful. Finally, this being my last “One Voice” article, I want to thank you, our members, for the honour, privilege and opportunity to serve our HBA family. Your tremendous support and passion for our industry has been truly inspirational and you need to be proud of your accomplishments. Remember, as one voice, the impossible can always be overcome by our relentless determination. It’s time to CUT THE **** AND BUILD MORE HOMES! OHB
BOB SCHICKEDANZ IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE ONTARIO HOME BUILDERS’ ASSOCIATION
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Polling data placed housing affordability as a top issue. Now the work begins to ensure the right policies and aproval processes are in place.
A CLEAR CHOICE
Ontarians decisively elect Progressive Conservatives, with a mandate to increase housing supply and choice In June’s provincial election, Ontarians returned Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party with a landslide victory. The PCs took a majority of the seats in the Ontario legislature, through pickups in North and Southwest Ontario, as well as the GTA. The New Democratic Party retained official opposition status and the Liberals returned as a second opposition party. The Greens captured one seat in Guelph alongside an Independent in Haldimand-Norfolk. Looking back at the election, millennials were a large block in this election and represent a group heavily impacted by the housing affordability crisis. Families, working adults and retirees are also feeling the challenges ohba.ca
posed by a lack of supply and choice of homes. Without the right variety and volume of housing options, Ontario risks economic repercussions as investment and people leave the province in search of more attainable housing options. What this all meant was that housing was a key ballot box issue for voters. In fact, polling data consistently placed housing affordability as a top issue. Voters had a variety of choices from the four major parties. While each party offered unique solutions, what was common among all four was a fundamental commitment to the 1.5 million home target, as outlined in the Housing Affordability Task Force report, as well as recognizing the role of
supply-side solutions needed to reach that number over the next decade. With supply identified as a common goal, the significant work now begins to ensure that the right policy, regulatory and approval processes are in place so that home builders across Ontario can do what they do best— build more homes. Everyday Ontarians are counting on increased supply and choice to improve housing attainability. Our association is prepared to work collaboratively with government to meet the challenges that new-home buyers are facing, with bold and innovative solutions so that more people can reach the dream of homeownership in a community where they can live, work and play. ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
What This Means for New-Home Buyers A re-elected Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government is a positive result for new-home buyers and renters in Ontario. The PCs have committed to enabling the construction of 1.5 million homes over the next decade and critical infrastructure projects throughout Ontario. There are also a number of pro-housing MPPs and Ministers returning to Queen’s Park, including Premier Doug Ford and Ministers Steve Clark and Monte McNaughton. This result will provide the re-elected government with a strong foundation to help facilitate policies that will get more homes built, faster than before, in communities big and small across Ontario. This election result has also provided our industry with the opportunity to build upon the successes of the past four years and to bring forward new ideas to facilitate home building in Ontario. Since 2018, our industry has worked collaboratively with government to achieve numerous successes for Ontarians looking for a new home. These wins include:
* A Housing Affordability Task Force Report with prescriptive measures that would streamline the home
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
construction process and bring more supply and choice to the market.
* A new Growth Plan to better align housing needs with Ontario’s population growth, ensuring we build enough homes for all those who will call Ontario home in coming years.
* Shortening development approval times by holding municipalities accountable to prescribed timelines set out in the Planning Act.
* Addressing the case backlog
at the Ontario Land Tribunal by increasing resourcing and staff so that projects move ahead with fewer delays.
* Establishing Skilled Trades
Ontario, which will bring more workers into the residential construction industry so that homes can be built faster.
Our industry has fought hard for homebuyers and these wins are a direct result of the collaborative relationship our industry has with government over the past four years. This strong relationship solidified housing supply as the core solution to improving housing
attainability in this latest election. Moving forward, the re-elected government has an ambitious set of housing priorities ahead of it. As part of the PCs re-election pitch to voters, the latest provincial budget presented their vision for increasing housing supply and choice in Ontario. This plan includes:
* Introducing annual Housing
Supply Action Plans for the next four years using the Housing Affordability Task Force as a roadmap to facilitate the building of 1.5 million homes over the next decade.
* Establishing an Advisory
Committee to provide ongoing advice and input on housing supply measures.
Our industry is ready to work with the provincial government and share our industry expertise in building the housing supply Ontarians are counting on. Together, we can advance unique and bold solutions to put the dream of homeownership back within reach of more Ontarians. The opportunity for government to deliver on the people’s housing priorities is critical and OHBA members are prepared to help get the job done.
Ontario Report OHBA’s annual housing tour made its way to Vienna in May. Below, the group poses in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Aspern Seestadt, a new greenfield community at end of U2 subway line, features a variety of building facades.
The Library and Learning Centre at the University of Economics Vienna (UW) was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid.
OHBA’s Vienna Tour Showcases Smart Housing Options In May, OHBA members toured Austria’s capital city of Vienna to experience firsthand how “smart cities” are integrating technology and urban design to deliver more sustainable and connected communities. A key focus of the tour was exploring how European cities like Vienna have integrated energy-efficient standards like Passive House into both new and existing housing developments. Passive House is a voluntary standard for energy efficiency that reduces the building’s ecological footprint. The standard incorporates five core concepts of thermal insulation, high efficiency window technology ventilation heat recovery, airtightness and an absence of thermal bridges to construct highly efficient, comfortable and affordable homes. OHBA members visited a passive house development at the transitohba.ca
oriented community of Sonnwendviertel, located near the central Vienna train station. The tour also explored how Vienna builders are utilizing tall wood mass timber in transit-oriented community projects. These developments use cutting-edge roof solar technology and district energy via waste incineration to meet incredibly high efficiency standards, while being directly connected to the city’s mass transit system. It was an incredibly insightful tour that highlighted how Vienna, as well as many other European cities, are integrating efficiency, convenience and diverse architectural styles to build sustainable communities for the long term. This tour would not have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors: Building Knowledge Canada, Cricket Energy, EnerQuality, In2ition Realty and Ozz Electric. ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
LIVE AND IN PERSON!
The Annual Conference & AoD are back! The OHBA Annual Conference and Awards of Distinction is back! Fallsview Casino Resort in beautiful Niagara Falls will host this year’s much anticipated event from Sept. 18-20, presented in partnership with the Niagara Home Builders’ Association. Here are five reasons you don’t want to miss this year’s conference: 1. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
2. CONNECT WITH COLLEAGUES
Led by industry experts, this year’s educational lineup is sure to bring you the latest and greatest from Ontario’s residential construction sector. There is something for everyone in our two streams of concurrent sessions. Check out the program at conference.ohba.ca.
From the opening reception through to the final afterparty, the OHBA Annual Conference provides opportunities to mix and mingle with the industry’s finest. Reconnect with old colleagues and grow your existing network to strengthen your business!
3. PRESIDENT’S GALA
On Monday, September 19, OHBA will induct the 54th provincial association president, Louie Zagordo of the Sudbury & District HBA. We will also honour current OHBA President Bob Schickedanz for his dedication and extended service to the association over the past three years. Don’t miss out on this “Night in Italy” celebrating our incoming OHBA president.
New this year, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, join industry partner EnerQuality for their Housing Innovation Gauntlet and Forum. 5. AOD 30TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Join us as we celebrate 30 years of honouring excellence in Ontario’s residential construction industry. Hosted by comedian James Cunningham, this celebration is sure to be an unforgettable night filled with glitz and glamour. Finalists for this year’s awards will be announced in August at ohbaaod.ca. Seating is limited, so be sure to book your table early. Register at conference.ohba.ca.
OHBA Annual Meeting of Members
The Ontario Home Builders’ Association will hold its Annual Meeting of Members at the 2022 OHBA Annual Conference and Awards on Monday, Sept. 19. The meeting will run from 9-11 a.m. in the Maple Room of the Fallsview Casino Resort Conference Centre, 6380 Fallsview Blvd., Niagara Falls, ON. All OHBA members in good standing are invited to attend. 14
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Inside Storey “So I had to get creative. During my research I discovered the idea of crosssubsidizing. The concept isn’t new, but doing it on the scale we’re doing— serving as many different groups and working with as many partners as we are—is new. It’s usually based on an individual partner and dedicating a portion of the units to them. But for this project we’re aiming at reaching 70% affordable housing—rental or ownership—with the other 30% serving the remainder of the units. “This is about helping people get to the next level—showing them that ownership can still be achieved by people with lower incomes. I think this can help tackle the poverty issue in the process.” CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PARTNERSHIPS?
“We’ve brought in different not-forprofits who have been doing this for a long time. They have the passion, the resources and the energy. But you need the proper partners on the Spotlight Development shines with innovative development side to help you get to where you want to go. And their affordable housing concept involvement will ensure a range of BY TED McINTYRE WITH SHERRY LARJANI community benefits and service opportunities, including access to youth Urban Capital Property Group shared WHEN SHERRY LARJANI closed programming, food services, clothing an Angelo DelZotto Fearless Innovator on a land deal at the intersection of and grooming services, childcare, as Award for Reina Condominiums, a Lawrence Avenue and Black Creek Drive well as employment, financial and project led by the first all-female in mid-March, she was admittedly lured senior services—all resulting development team in Canada. by the intriguing location. in a healthy, supportive and This one is no less “It was at the intersection of two sustainable neighbourhood. ambitious, replacing a major streets, with Black Creek basically “And we’re not just calling shopping plaza and parking being a highway,” says the president it inclusive, but actually doing lot with approximately 1,470 of Spotlight Development. “But then it—working with segments SHERRY two-, three- and four-bedroom I started driving around the area and that are mostly overlooked and LARJANI units in a one-of-a-kind saw the kind of buildings and housing underserved, such as the Black PRESIDENT, SPOTLIGHT development. there, and how much those properties community, the Indigenous DEVELOPMENT were, in my opinion, distressed, and community, veterans and how outdated the rental buildings were. newcomers to Canada. We’re trying to OHB: WHAT WAS THE GENESIS It was in need of revitalization. That’s gear this community toward groups OF THIS PROJECT? when the idea came to me—to devote with varying thresholds of affordability. SHERRY LARJANI: “I’ve always been the entire property to a transformative “Habitat for Humanity can really interested in doing affordable housing affordable housing community. Part of serve the families that require the projects and have been doing a lot of it will provide housing for families with deepest level of affordable housing. research over the past two years. But low to moderate incomes that fall below And then there’s BlackNorth, who when there isn’t a lot of will from the $75,000 annually.” work with Black families who not only municipality or the people involved, Larjani is not unaccustomed to require affordable units but are often you sort of give up on the idea— challenging industry convention. Last part of larger, multi-generational especially when there aren’t enough fall at the BILD Awards, Spotlight and families. So we have to pay attention to subsidies to allow you to do it.
A LEG UP
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
that from a design standpoint as well. “And through WoodGreen Community Sevices, Toronto’s largest non-municipal affordable housing provider, we will be dedicating clusters of rental housing units for those who need a safe place to live, such as youth and seniors and battered women. WoodGreen will also be providing our daycare/nightcare. The nightcare is another aspect that’s really been missing. Not everybody works 9 to 5. The family providers are often shift workers, many of whom have to leave their kids, who are often underage, at 6 p.m. to work the night shift. That exposes kids to things they wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, otherwise be exposed to if they had proper care. “And for families that might not be able to qualify for Habitat for Humanity, we have our next partner, Trillium Housing. With Trillium we are working with people who can afford close to market value but need a little bit of help. Trillium effectively postpones receipt of its share of project surplus through providing home purchasers with an innovative program that offers a payment-free mortgage of 25% of a home’s value. We’re actually repeating some of that through Spotlight’s own not-for-profit arm. “The targets are: 10% dedicated to housing for Black Canadians; 10% to Indigenous Canadians; 10% to Habitat for Humanity; 10% to Trillium Housing;15% to WoodGreen Community Services; and 45% will be serving all communities, including a portion dedicated to housing for veterans, through Spotlight Affordable Ventures.” YOU’RE PROVIDING A LEG UP, BUT TRYING TO BUILD A COMMUNITY AT THE SAME TIME.
“That’s the goal—to create a an inclusive and affordable community that’s serving its members, and to show how developers can still make sense of a project with the proper not-for-profit partners in place. “But we are also trying to help people succeed as homeowners. It’s one thing to create affordable housing with lower mortgages and lower rents. But the reality is that with the cost of groceries and other things in life, people often 18
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
have to make the choice between paying for their rent/mortgage and paying for their food or their clothing or something else. That’s why this community is looking at providing all the services that its resdients need, so that we can help them be successful at becoming—and remaining— homeowners or renters. “And we’re not pocketing any of the profits from the market units we’re selling. Rather, we’re cost-subsidizing it back into the project to serve the deepest levels of affordability.” YOU’RE NOT SCRIMPING ON THE DESIGN EITHER.
“Absolutely not. Search out the architect, Sweeny&Co., and look at the work they’ve done, how amazing their buildings look. We want to make sure that our building looks like any highcalibre building that we as developers would create around the city. It will not be built on the cheap side because we’re offering it as affordable.” DO YOU EXPECT THIS TO CATCH ON WITH OTHER DEVELOPERS?
“I get it. This is not where developers’ bread is buttered as far as making our businesses work. But many are already doing very impactful work and meaningful projects. That said, I’d love to see others dedicate some of their philanthropic activities to doing more of this kind of project. We’re the ones who are creating and selling the expensive houses in the city, so why wouldn’t we at least give something back to our communities in return, and where it is most needed? And while there aren’t any awards dedicated to creative solutions in affordable housing, I think there’s a shift happening with respect to making a change and being an innovator and stepping up to do something different.”
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“The site plan application was made April 30. We’re hoping that the planning department will understand the importance of this project and help us get to an approval a little bit faster.” OHB
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
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ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
METALS OF HONOUR Baldwin has taken one of its most popular lever designs and expanded its finish offering with its new Estate Mixed Metal. Designers, renovators and builders can help their clients create a custom look with both the L029 and L030 lever models, now available in 24 beautiful mixed metal finishes and combinations. BALDWINHARDWARE.COM/MIXED-METAL
LOOK BENEATH THE SURFACE Pre-engineered, with all parts numbered and labelled, iSPAN’s Composite TotalJoist (distributed by Fastform ICF) provides an easy-to-install, premium floor that is 50% lighter than the average concrete floor system. Combining a steel joist with large, pre-cut service holes, dovetail-shaped decking and poured concrete, the system’s lightweight properties can help eliminate tedious steps in the building process, such as installing shoring posts. It also offers high acoustic and fire ratings, as well as excellent vibration control. FASTFORM.CA
PLAYING BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE Al-Mar Vinyl’s new AV Hybrid fencing is a hybrid of black aluminum posts and rails with a choice of Chai Grey, Green Teak or Mocha Walnut PVC tongue-and-groove pickets that run horizontally at 6’ post centres. With a sleek, modern woodgrain look that complements today’s new brick and siding colours, this low-maintenance fencing is available in 5’, 6’ and 7’ heights. Its strong 3”x3” powder-coated black aluminum posts are ideal for either cementing in or surface-mount applications. ALMARVINYL.CA
PACK IT UP! WE’LL TAKE IT! Milwaukee’s expanded Packout modular storage system features more than 20 new solutions to customize your shop, with wall plates, hooks, tool racks, tool holders and a cabinet. The wall plates feature quick alignment tabs on all sides, making installing rows and columns of multiple plates easy. Available in two sizes, with a 50lb or 150lb wall-mounted capacity. MILWAUKEETOOL.CA 22
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
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INDUCTION CEREMONY KitchenAid’s versatile 30-inch Slide-In Induction Range provides a baking drawer that adds options to the oven. This separate compartment allows your client to bake at a different temperature. This range also contributes to flawless cooking thanks to EvenHeat True Convection. The unique bow-tie design and convection fan help ensure the entire oven is heated to—and stays at—the perfect temperature. TAAPPLIANCES.COM
GO WITH THE FLOW Delta’s new Monrovia Kitchen Collection is highlighted by gently tapered corners and a striking handle design. Features include a Lumicoat finish, which resists mineral buildup and hard water stains; Touch2O technology, which allows a simple touch anywhere on the spout or handle will start and stop the flow of water; MagnaTite docking, which uses a powerful integrated magnet to snap your faucet spray wand precisely into place and hold it there so it stays docked when not in use; and Delta’s easy-to-install, leak-reducing Diamond Seal. DELTAFAUCET.CA/MONROVIA
YOU CAN BREATHE EASIER NOW Tightly built homes can limit ventilation, but Panasonic’s new WhisperAir Repair Spot Air Purifier employs nanoe X technology, which uses existing moisture in the air to neutralize pollutants in providing advanced air purification and odour elimination. Maintenance-free and easy to install with no ductwork or filter changes required, it features a lightweight and efficient compact ceiling-mount. The device is ideal for bedrooms, walk-in closets, powder rooms, mud rooms and pet areas. PANASONIC.COM/CA GIVING VIRUSES THE BRUSH-OFF Powered by Corning Guardiant antimicrobial technology, Behr’s new Copper Force Interior Paint promises to give your homeowner clients added protection by killing 99.9% of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, within two hours of exposure on the painted surface. Guardiant technology stabilizes the most bioactive form of copper ions and releases them over time to help continuously protect surfaces from harmful bacteria and viruses. Available in 2,000+ colours. BEHR.COM
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ARTISTRY IN WOOD
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IT'S ALL CONNECTED Clearing up the complicated world of home integration technology BY T E D M C I N T Y R E
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Plugging into greater potential he conversation goes like this: “Siri, can you call Alexa?” “Sorry, I don’t communicate with Alexa. And Alexa doesn’t talk to me.” We get that a lot these days. As new smart-home products flood into the market in biblical proportions, getting Apple, Google and the rest of our Internet-of-Things devices to work together is like trying to converse with a fish. And this, of course, is not a fad. According to Delawarebased Verified Market Research, the global smart-home market is expected to swell to $495.15 billion US by 2028, with a staggering compound annual growth rate of 23.59%. Continually delayed but hoping to launch later this year, one platform seeking to integrate many of those varying IoT devices under its own cloud-based solution is called Matter. Overseeing the Matter standard is the Connectivity Standards Alliance (or CSA, formerly the Zigbee Alliance). “Manufacturers will comply to the Matter standard to ensure their devices are compatible with smart-home and voice services,” Wired magazine advises. “For folks building a smart home, Matter should enable (homeowners) to buy any device and use the voice assistant or platform they prefer to control it. While it will support various platforms, they will have to choose the voice assistants and apps they want to use. There is no central Matter app or assistant. “What sets it apart is the breadth of its membership, the willingness to adopt and merge disparate technologies, and that it is an opensource project,” with interested companies able to incorporate their devices into the Matter ecosystem for free, Wired indicates. But this isn’t blanket coverage. “Some devices will work with Matter after a firmware update. Others won’t ever be compatible,” Wired cautions. “Matter 1.0 will, for example, only cover certain categories of smart devices, including light bulbs and switches, plugs, locks, blinds, shades, thermostats and HVAC controllers.” In the interim, one company that truly matters on the connected front is Schneider Electric. With energy conservation among the leading attractions in the home IoT category, Schneider is not surprisingly a frontrunner. The company’s focus is “to provide a 100% protected and connected residential ecosystem using both the grid and distributed energy resources such as solar and battery,” says Schneider’s Arti Yellewar. Schneider combines the electrical panel, inverter and switching and protection hardware into an AI-powered monitor called Wiser Energy. The monitor deciphers the electrical signature of each load in the house and feeds data to the homeowner via an app, providing a detailed energy report, the capability for setting goals, budgets and alarms, and more. “Studies have also shown that homeowners provided with energy data do make changes to reduce consumption,” says Yellewar. “It’s time to transform our thinking from smart to smart and sustainable.” Schneider’s line of connected wiring devices, which operate within its Wiser Home app, “gives homeowners peace of mind, allows them insight into their energy usage and enables them to 28
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By looping multiple hardware accessories into its AI-powered Wiser Energy monitor, Schneider provides homeowners with a plethora of valuable data.
E D DY S O L U T I O N S
The combination of 24/7 real-time display, IoT technology and robust data is stopping costly water damage before it happens, while cutting insurance costs.
Smart Home Penetration 60
HOME E N T E R TA I N M E N T
CO N T R O L A N D CO N N E C T I V I T Y
E N E R GY M A N AG E M E N T
CO M F O R T A N D LIGHTING
R E V E N U E I N B I L L I O N S ( U S D)
Household penetration in the Canadian smart-home market will be 31.7% in 2022 and is expected to hit 53% by 2026. With a projected annual growth rate of 11.4% over the next four years, revenue in the Canadian smart-home market will be US$4.10bn by 2026, with the number of active smart-home households projected at 9.0m users by that time.
manage their energy usage. And it also gives their home a modern look,” Yellewar notes. Regarding the product’s clean aesthetic, Schneider’s Square D wiring devices are available in two looks. The XD Series (a range of modern, sophisticated cover plates) easily mounts on X Series switches and receptacles. The cover plates simply snap onto the device, allowing homeowners to easily and safely update their look and colour without changing the device or exposing the wiring. The wiring devices, meanwhile, are available in multiple matte finish colour options, providing flexibility to adapt to any interior decor.
BUILDING ON RELATIONSHIPS Two companies with longtime builder relationships that have made forays into the smart-home world are Reliance and Enercare. The Enercare Smarter Home is a turnkey offering that takes the service responsibility off the builder’s shoulders. “We looked at what would be innovative that could help make homeownership easier,” explains Tim Myers, Enercare’s Director of Business Development & Relations. “We called it Smarter Home, because not only are we bringing in an array of products to identify a problem, but to provide a solution as well, such turning off the water to stop a leak, or turning off the thermostat from heat/cool mode if we detect CO2 to avoid spreading more gas in the home. Far beyond monitoring HVAC performance, Enercare Smarter Home hooks into smart devices ranging from smart ohba.ca
water leak sensors and thermostats to light switches and outlets, and from interior and exterior cameras to door and window contact alerts. Built around an integrated system of sensors and locks that can be automated and controlled from the homeowner’s phone, the system collects and analyzes data and makes it available through a mobile app that scans 24/7 for unusual performance, energy use and other anomalies, while prompting the Enercare team to act when issues occur. Security and privacy are at the forefront of the set-up. “Wifi can be an area of concern,” Myers says. “Sometimes people leave their modems on the default password, which aren’t the hardest to hack. So when we looked at this solution, we looked at what technology would prevent that situation from occurring. We have to rely on wifi for our cameras because of the bandwidth, but we went with a bank encryption-level of security for everything else. And what we have packaged into our solution is professional installation, with those pro installers spending at least a half hour with the homeowner, teaching them about the system, setting up parameters, like a thermostat schedule, and educating them on how to use the system so that they can avoid security breaches.” Interoperability among the array of products was also vital, Myers says. “This removes the need for multiple apps to control your home, as the Enercare Smarter Home app controls the entire ecosystem of products.” Reliance Home Comfort is also active in this space. Taking the guesswork out of a connected home set-up, the company’s new ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Smart Home program is the latest addition to a Comfort Value Bundle that already included water heating, HVAC and water purification. Reliance has teamed up with Google Nest to provide builders with tailored solutions, no-cost smart-home equipment, professional installation and ongoing support. And once the homebuyer moves in, Reliance will guide them through the use of their smart-home products and connected app solutions. And as a Google Nest Pro Elite-certified company, Reliance’s technicians are specially trained to install and test new equipment. “We’ve constructed the initial ideal starter bundle that includes the Nest thermostat, Nest doorbell and Nest Hub Max with the Google Assistant, allowing homeowners to control all their compatible connected home devices with their voice or on a single dashboard with Home View. That lets it all be part of the Google ecosystem,” says Shannon Bertuzzi, Reliance’s Director of Builder Markets. Featuring low monthly fees, the program also allows homebuyers to choose from a selection of additional smart-home products, including equipment that works independently or with existing connected devices. All smart-home packages are customizable. And as Reliance customers, homebuyers take advantage of full equipment and in-home service warranties and repairs, no-charge repairs, free replacement of unrepairable equipment and ongoing live 24/7 customer support.
Smarter than Smart
MASS APPEAL On the multi-residential side, the partnership of Rogers Communications and 1Valet has provided Rogers Ignite Internet customers with exclusive access to a unique smart building ecosystem. The Rogers Smart Community leverages 1Valet’s software-based platform to offer a smartphone-centric living experience that includes hands-free digital building access, video guest verification and facial recognition access. For operations staff, the platform enables remote multi-building management, while also bringing together otherwise disconnected building systems such as cameras, access control, resident management and package delivery into one integrated management portal. Part of a five-year agreement between the two Canadian companies, who feature a joint sales force, it offers “the tools to help create a safer and smarter community,” says Michael Krstajic, SVP of Field Sales & Major Accounts at Rogers Communications. “This is a unique set of services that you cannot get anywhere else.” The Rogers Smart Community bundles high-speed connectivity with its Rogers for Business IoT products and consulting services, while 1VALET’s smart building platform and mobile resident application seamlessly tie it all together into a single user interface. Another Canadian company making lives a lot easier for multi-residential builders and occupants is Eddy Solutions. Protecting against water damage, the comprehensive system provides a real-time display of robust data by combining IoT technology with 24/7 monitoring, as well as LoRaWAN, a networking protocol that wirelessly connects devices to the internet and manages communication between end-node devices and network gateways. Smart sensors and remote and automatic shutoffs help protect all areas of a building, including risers, mechanical rooms, suites and common areas. The system learns and adjusts through sensory and flow data to automatically identify anomalies and mitigate threats. From a residents’ standpoint, it helps buyers avoid potential displacement and common fund increases from damage, as well as providing insurance discounts. From a builder perspective, it’s added value for new buyers, many of whom are very environmentally sensitive and want to conserve water. Building owners, meanwhile, can expect a reduction of overall costs, protection and extended life of mechanical 30
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HONEY WELL T6 PRO SMART T H E R M O S TAT
While its array of product can help identify a problem, Enercare Smarter Home also provides homeowners with solutions to those problems.
Feathering the Nest
equipment, protection of finishes and reduced environmental damage. In June, Eddy announced an $8 million agreement with The Daniels Corporation that will provide intelligent leak protection at 13 GTA projects—both during construction and afterward—for more than 5,000 residential units. “Resilient construction is a particular area of focus for us as a developer/builder,” says Sam Tassone, Partner, The Daniels Corporation. “Water damage can cause significant project delays and losses, and require major rework in an industry already under stress. Eddy’s intelligent system provides us with a holistic tool that not only allows us to mitigate and control water in our projects but offers insurance benefits as well.”
N E S T T H E R M O S TAT
By teaming up with Google Nest, Reliance enables homeowners to use their voice or dashboard to control all compatible connected devices with Home View as part of the Google ecosystem.
Avoiding tomorrow’s problems today is a particular specialty of Control4Home OS3. Unlike Matter, which is a cloud-based automation platform, the Control4 smart-home operating system is programmed and operated via a local controller on the local network. This ensures privacy and security while allowing the homeowner to own the code of their system. And that means the homeowner can easily transfer devices from the Control4 ecosystem to a new owner when it comes time for selling their home. Such infrastructure is not a luxury anymore; it’s an expectation from homebuyers, suggests Marcel Mukerjee, Senior Area Manager for SnapOne, Control4’s parent company. “The average home today has at least 33 electronic devices that don’t integrate with each other,” Mukerjee says, which is a reason why this is not a space builders should be dabbling in. “I know of a builder who had a Tarion clause issue because he gave away some IoT devices, including an iPad as the control interface. The homeowner had certain expectations, but the builder quickly discovered that each homeowner had a different ISP provider, and each of those ISPs had to add those devices differently.” Mukerjee proceeds to work his way through five levels of integration. At Level 3 there’s up to 25 devices in the home, with each accessory, from the furnace to the thermostat, featuring a connected app. There is even some ‘scene setting,’ with, for example, home lighting or temperature changes based on the time of day. This is what most consumers consider “integrated.” But they're not even close, Mukerjee says. Moving on to Level 4, he introduces a robust, secure, built-in home infrastructure, able to integrate as many as 1,000+ devices across the entire home. And then there’s Level 5, where the technology is so heavily integrated that it’s invisible; where the home knows and learns your routines and proactively protects the home from potential intruders. Those last two levels are “the ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Wholehome solutions Automation and networking provider Control4 cites five levels of connectivity, from disparate devices to true integration
L E V E L 3 : I N T E G R AT E D A C C E S S O R I E S
No digital infrastructure; all add-on accessories. There are as many apps as accessories. Scenes, routines, etc. are toy-like and fragile. The exploding complexity requires professional help.
L E V E L 4 : B U I LT- I N
Accommodating 40-1,000+ devices Robust infrastructure helps make accessories fantastic. Devices integrate across entire home for a singular experience. Personalized, but for the whole family. A robust, refined, whole-home smart home that delights.
LEVEL 5: AMBIENT & INVISIBLE
Accommodating 40-1,000+ devices Ambient. Integrated so deeply that nobody notices the tech. The home understands human intent. It proactively protects the home from prying eyes and intruders. 32
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pro space, where builders want to live, where the margins are greater— where Control4 operates,” Mukerjee says. This is the home where, thanks to presets, when you unlock the door with your personal code, the alarm is disabled, your thermostat and lighting are adjusted depending upon the time of day and the season, and your favourite media begins to play. “Everything is not going to exist in a wireless ecosystem. Certain things need to be hard-wired,” says Mukerjee—particularly when it comes to privacy. “Commercial-grade networks will be required, especially at a time when many people are now working from home. People are going to see how hacking can be almost as devastating as a nuclear bomb. I’m surprised insurance companies haven’t woken up to this, because you can go into a home and steal material without breaking into it physically. You can leave the back door open easily.” The installation and care of such advanced technology requires specialists, Mukerjee stresses. “The home is the family nest and they want to space to be managed for them. So ultimately the pro becomes the tech concierge for your house. Whether you’re adding a new phone or putting in a new TV that needs to be hooked into the system, the pro handles it. This is a service and specialized trade, much like an electrician, except the home keeps changing and evolving.” Mukerjee says step one is helping builders lay the foundation for their clients by providing an “integrative-ready” home, complete with his company’s OVRC platform, a remote network-managing tool that allows for real-time identification of a system problem. Step two for Mukerjee is introducing the builder/renovator client to Control4’s partner, FM Audio Video, where the clients can visit the Brantford dealership and Experience Centre to see how clean, uncluttered and intuitive their home could potentially be. “When it comes to building a new home, you don’t know what you don’t know—what the real possibilities and the options are,” says FM Manager Geoff Forrest, who works with designer partners, offering an area where customers can choose their products and another that is integrated, allowing them to experience it as a homeowner—from intuitive lighting to automatic blinds. “With Control4, yes we do have an app and we can make it all work into one, but that’s not really the magic,” Mukerjee says. “It’s not automation; this is what we call control. The unified platform offers the power of multiple commands in one device. And you can also get feedback from all those devices on one platform. But the true opportunity is coordinating these connected devices to make them aware of one another. That creates a better personalized experience. That’s a key thing.” OHB ohba.ca
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From striking temporary creations to inspired permanent displays, Ontario builders know how to make a public scene BY T R AC Y H A N E S
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Artist Danielle Cole portrays local animals as playful substitutes for the people who will be joining Crown Communities' Greenwich Village community.
t 18 Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, a whimsical bronze sculpture often causes passers-by to pause and reflect on the story it tells about new immigrants to Canada. Colourful alien-like creatures have been the subjects of numerous social media posts at 155 Redpath Ave. in the city’s midtown. On weekends, a folk-art carousel in Downtown Markham gives the young and young-at-heart merrygo-round rides. These are just a few examples of public art installations that have enlivened neighbourhoods, sparked conversations and spawned a thousand selfies, brought to you by builders and developers. Under Ontario’s Planning Act Section 37, municipalities can allow developers to increase heights or densities of buildings in return for community benefits such as parks, recreation facilities, affordable housing units or public art. Toronto followed the lead of major U.S. cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago to implement the Percent for Public Art Program in 1985. Administered by City Planning’s Urban Design section and embedded in the approval process, it recommends that a minimum of the 1% of gross construction cost of significant developments be contributed to public art. The developer can direct funds equal to the public art contribution to the city’s pooled Public Art Reserve Fund, or for city-supported public art. Developers typically hire public art consultants to navigate the process and understand city requirements. One of these consultants, Public Art Management, has worked with numerous developers, connecting them with artists, determining what installations are appropriate and helping secure approvals. Ben Mills of Public Art Management says his company is brought in early to view the site, discuss opportunities with the developer and get a feel for the budget, and is involved through to final installation. A public art piece may be a free-standing sculpture, integrated into glass, paving or architecture, or may involve digital screens or lighting. ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
“Public art is an obligation for developers, but I believe they do appreciate and understand how this can make a development
Blue Republic's space aliens keep an eye on passers-by at Freed's Stargate at 150 Redpath.
Mills said Toronto is a world leader in the amount of public art commissioned since the 1990s. “Mississauga and Vaughan are also going gangbusters and Markham has really embraced it and we are seeing the benefits of these things for developments.” STEPS (Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space) Public Art also assists developers. It is the only national public arts-focused charitable organization in Canada and has worked with developers since 2013. It has delivered public art services for more than 150 clients, including Tridel, Daniels and CentreCourt. 36
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“We are seeing more and more developers wanting to do more than the bare minimum and integrate public art,” says Anjuli Solanki, STEPS program director. “They want to build a community and use public art to do it. Most developers are keen to work with local artists and are using art to foster community engagement. It’s really wonderful to see.” Solanki said STEPS works primarily with GTA-based clients, but increasingly is working in mid-sized and smaller municipalities to develop cultural plans and with developers to provide public art. “Public art is an obligation for
developers, but I believe they do appreciate and understand how this can make a development more meaningful,” says Jeanhy Shim, a board member with Waterfront Toronto and president of independent housing research and consulting company Housing Lab Toronto. “We need more than just buildings, and public art adds surprise and delight for people walking down a street.” Mills says such works can be like a bookmark or point in time, such as Between the Eyes, a 1990s steel sculpture by Richard Deacon that resembles giant egg beaters at the World Trade Centre condo in Toronto. British-born Deacon ohba.ca
LIG H T I N G T H E WAY
Muralist David Guinn and lighting designer Drew Billiau combined their talents to create an illuminated mural on the west wall of 150 Eglinton Ave East. The project was commissioned by Madison Group to highlight a pedestrian walkway from Eglinton Avenue to parking lots. This work is part of a larger scheme by Madison Group to invest in art for the public on its properties.
is considered one of the most important sculptors in contemporary art. Mills says pieces such as Douglas Coupland’s Red Canoe in Canoe Landing Park at Toronto’s CityPlace have become neighbourhood signifiers—“Meet me at the Red Canoe.” Concord Adex, developer of CityPlace, has likely commissioned the most public art of any developer in the country, says Mills.
Welcome to the new world
Lanterra Developments’ chairman Mark Mandelbaum and president and CEO Barry Fenton, both avid art collectors, get involved in the process at their ohba.ca
condominium projects. Lanterra’s first public art initiative was Immigrant Family, a 2007 bronze sculpture by Tom Ottnerness in front of 18 Yonge condominiums. It tells the story of people coming to the new world and looking outward toward the future. Since then, Lanterra has done approximately 10 other installations. Art, in fact, is the inspiration for one of its latest projects, Artist’s Alley. The mixed-use condo, steps from downtown Toronto’s famous art corridor, will include a pathway connecting Simcoe and St. Patrick streets, lined with shops, cafés and, of course, art. Fenton, Mandelbaum and interior designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge travelled to galleries, museums and auction houses in New York and London to find design inspiration and to select artwork to display for common areas. Lanterra has also partnered with internationally acclaimed British artist Ryan Gander and OCAD to create an outdoor piece for the development. Julie Di Lorenzo, president of Mirabella Development Corp., (the evolution of Diamante Development Corp.), says her company wasn’t required to provide public artwork at Mirabella Luxury Condos at 1926 Lake Shore Blvd. W., but saw the opportunity to use a large swath of concrete wall facing the Gardiner as a canvas to inspire and educate passers-by about the area’s biodiversity. Artist Jennifer Macklem
was commissioned to create Motion in Air (Ma), a 12.5m x 120m mural made of 500 custom-printed recyclable aluminum panels. “I think people passing by are immediately surprised, as you don’t expect to be attracted or entertained by a facade of a condo building,” Di Lorenzo says. About 100,000 commuters on the Gardiner Expressway see the mural every day, as well as GO Train riders. Toronto’s Lifetime Developments principal Brian Brown enjoys selecting an artist collaborator for each of his firm’s project. Recent examples include celebrity photographer George Pimentel, whose photographs will grace Oscar Condos’ common areas; artist Matthew Del Degan, whose Lovebot sculptures and murals will be found inside and out at XO2 (Lifetime and Pinedale Properties); and street artist Daniel Bombardier, who created a 20’ x 50’ mural at the XO sales office at 1221 King Street West to reflect a “strange love story.” The artwork is down now that construction has commenced, but will be repurposed into the completed XO condo building. “We believe in supporting great talent in Toronto to tell a story, capture the essence of the neighbourhood and to add an extra creative layer to our buildings,” Brown says. Lifetime prefers artwork at ground level, where people can interact, look and touch. Artists are included as part of the project team; their artwork ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Dream, Great Gulf and Westdale Properties commissioned a striking 17’ glowing moon to promote Forma, a Toronto mixed-use, twin skyscraper on King St. West. The temporary piece was featured from late May to mid-June.
Immigrant Family, by sculptor Tom Otterness, is a welcoming sight at Lanterra's 18 Yonge condominiums.
One of two kinetic sculptures by Ron Baird at Pratt Homes' Elements Condos in Barrie.
becomes part of the branding and helps distinguish the uniqueness of each project. Last year, Rogers Real Estate Development Ltd. and Urban Capital Property Group announced a $500,000 contribution to commission new artwork for M City, an eight-tower, 15-acre, 4.3 million sq. ft. community being developed in downtown Mississauga. They also commissioned new windscreens by Canadian artist Ed Pien, selected through an invitational contest 38
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held by the city’s Public Art Program. “Public art is an important element of what makes Mississauga a vibrant, creative and innovative city,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a press release, adding that such partnerships with developers help advance the city’s goal of being an arts and culture hub.
Galleries without walls The Remington Group, developers of 242-acre Downtown Markham, used art to enliven the urban centre and
to establish it as a destination in York Region—even before the city required public art contributions. The $30 million Remington Contemporary Art Gallery (RCAG) uses the entire community as a gallery without walls to display a collection by international artists. Pieces can be found on the main floor of 169 Enterprise Blvd. A second exhibition space has opened at the Toronto Marriott Markham, where visitors will find surrealist sculpture, as well as the New York Times’ Canadian Photo ohba.ca
Canadian Originals This windscreen is one of two pieces by internationally acclaimed Haida artist James Hart at Edenshaw Development's TANU Condos in Port Credit. The condo is named after the island located in British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii. The windscreen illustrates across five panels the story of how the Raven, a prominent figure in Haida mythology (and Hart's other piece) stole the world’s first light and bestowed it to humanity. Edenshaw acknowledges the lands which constitute the presentday City of Mississauga as being part of the Treaty and Traditional Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Huron-Wendat and Wyandot Nation.
Archive, which contains more than 24,000 photos, acquired by the Rudolph B. Bratty Family Foundation. RCAG’s signature piece is the Pride of Canada Carousel, a working merry-go-round that features 44 surreal Canadian characters made from recycled materials by urban folk sculptor Patrick Amiot, painted by his wife Brigitte Laurent and assembled by Daniel Horenberger. It’s housed in an open glass pavilion at 8080 Birchmount Rd. and operates daily, weather permitting. Dream Unlimited Corp., developer of numerous Toronto office and residential assets, has contributed multiple sculptures to Toronto’s Distillery District and installations and murals in the city’s Canary District. Recently, Dream, along with Great Gulf and Westdale Properties, were involved with a unique temporary piece to promote Forma, a Toronto mixed-use, twin skyscraper by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry at 266 King St. West. A black-and-white film was released and a 17-foot glowing moon was installed above the site from late May to mid-June to “embody the ohba.ca
creative, unique design ethos” of Forma and the artistic neighbourhood. The film follows a young Toronto boy who chases the moon through Toronto streets. Dream’s portfolio includes eight historical buildings along Bay St. that are being restored and upgraded, and its 330 Bay St. was the site of a massive piece of public art during ArtworxTO: Toronto Year of Public Art, from 2021 to late spring 2022. “We have a good relationship with the city and reached out to them,” notes Brad Keast, head of innovation and development for Dream Office REIT. “We identified a good opportunity to do something impactful with this facade.” The city supplied a list of six artists and emerging Toronto portrait photographer Jorian Charlton was chosen. Charlton’s work focuses on Jamaican-Canadian culture through her and her father’s personal experiences. Untitled, depicts two seated identical twin males in dresses and a woman with her hands on their shoulders. “It was an incredible piece, the colours were vibrant and it was massive,” observes
Keast. “It was right on Bay St. and not what you would expect to see there.” He says it generated a lot of buzz until it was taken down to accommodate work on the building’s facade. “Curators noticed the piece—Jorian’s had a show at the Art Gallery of Ontario since, and her career is taking off,” Keast says.
Untitled is one example of the increasing use of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) artists and themes. In May, Edenshaw Developments unveiled a custom windscreen by James Hart, an internationally renowned Haida artist and master carver, at Tanu Condos in Port Credit. The five-panel windscreen, adjacent to the 15-storey residence entrance, is the public-facing accompaniment to a cast-bronze raven sculpture by Hart in the private courtyard. The windscreen illustrates the story of how the raven stole the world’s first light from the old man who was hoarding it, and then dropped it, shattering it into pieces that became the sun and the stars. The bronze raven has a depiction ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Measuring 3,000 sq. ft., Untitled by Jorian Charlton, adorning Dream’s 330 Bay St., finished its display in the spring.
of celebrated Haida artist (and Hart’s mentor) Bill Reid on its chest. “It’s a true honour to have had James Hart create these special pieces for Tanu, and we are proud to provide opportunities for Indigenous art to be celebrated, appreciated and admired,” says Edenshaw president and CEO David McComb, who used to live in British Columbia and named his company for Haida chief and creator, Charles Edenshaw. “The sculpture and windscreen will live in perpetuity for the residents of Tanu and Port Credit to enjoy.” Public art funded by developers and builders is finding its way into communities beyond the GTA. In Barrie, home builder Pratt Homes has commissioned world-renowned Canadian sculptor Ron Baird to create pieces for its nature-inspired, mid-rise development, Elements Condominiums. Baird’s Spirit Catcher is the Barrie city logo, reflecting the community’s pride for First Nations. For Pratt Homes, Baird will create sculptures reflecting the elements of water, fire, earth and air. Two 35-foot-tall, 2,600-pound kinetic sculptures will move in the wind. Two smaller pieces will be on display at the 40
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sales office until being placed on the condo grounds. Construction site hoarding is another way developers are bringing art to communities. Since 2015, a Toronto bylaw has required that a minimum of 50% of hoarding on construction sites be devoted to public community art. Due to its Public Art Through Construction Hoarding (PATCH) exhibit service, STEPS has become a leading provider of these services. “We as an organization saw an opportunity to provide more income to artists, to have roots in placemaking and to transform places that were largely advertising spaces into exhibit space,” says Solanki. “Often developers will reach out to us, we’ll get a sense of the site, what the hoarding requirement is and work with them based on their desires, or if the councillors want public engagement or a commissioned piece of art.” Waterfront Toronto’s Shim believes public art policies can have a huge positive impact for cities, adding dimension and richness to neighbourhoods. She notes current trends including incorporation of urban and street art into projects and artwork that promotes diversity, and
predicts more interactive art in future. Ontario developers and builders could take inspiration from examples such as an LED-lit bike path in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night, or Musical Swings in the entertainment district of Montreal, where people of all ages and backgrounds swing together to make beautiful melodies. Toronto resident and photographer Mary Crandall frequently includes public art on her blog, As I Walk Toronto. “I think art that makes us smile or just brightens our day a little because of its presence is my favourite,” says Crandall, who takes a shine to “quirky” pieces such as CityPlace’s Red Canoe. She also enjoys the coloured glass murals at 155 Redpath condos in the Young-Eglinton neighbourhood (where the Stargate installation also includes colourful space aliens by the artists of Blue Republic). “Toronto is changing so quickly. There is so much happening, so much development. I am glad that public art is part of that,” Crandall says. “Large condo developments lack soul and character. Smart placement of interesting art can go a long way to add a bit of humanity to the street scene.” OHB ohba.ca
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ENEMY WITHIN THE
Canada’s radon threat is getting worse, and code adjustments are likely to follow
BY TED McINTYRE
“In 2012, my wife Janet was diagnosed with lung cancer and given four months to live unless she underwent immediate surgery to remove the tumors in both of her lungs,” Alan Whitehead relates. Two years of surgeries ensued. “Touch wood, Janet is doing well now,” Whitehead says. “But she’s in the ohba.ca
minority. Lung cancer survivors are rare.” The mystery with Janet was that she had never smoked, nor had she even been regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. But Alan had an inkling. Five years earlier, he had helped found Radon Environmental, which provides consumers, mitigation professionals and builders with high-performance
options for preventing radon exposure. “We were living in B.C. when Janet was diagnosed, but had previously lived in Rockcliffe Park in Ottawa, and I knew Ottawa was a major hot spot for radon—rich in uranium,” Alan says. “When we reached out to the occupants of our former home in Ottawa to suggest they test for radon gas, it ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
Radon Potential Map
needed to make a clear case to implement meaningful changes to the next Canada Building Codes (in 2025),” the study indicates. “By changing our building practices to fundamentally reduce the way houses capture and concentrate radon, we can protect everybody from the health risks of radon exposure.” The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, predicts “that without intervention, by 2050 the average radon level of a new Canadian home will increase another 25% over current levels, which are already third highest in the world.”
H E ATE D DISCUSS ION While researchers are not yet 100% sure why Canada has seen such an increase in radon compared to Sweden, they note “that there is a major difference between Canada and Sweden in terms of how properties are heated, with natural gasbased furnaces (57%), electric baseboard heaters (27%) and boilers (radiators) (5%) encompassing the majority of heating
in Canada. By contrast, Sweden began to phase these methods out during the mid-20th century, replacing them with district heating. District heating uses the combustion of biomass fuels in a centralized facility to produce steam that is then forced through a pipe network to individual properties for radiant heat distribution. By the 2010s, district heating accounted for more than 70% of heating in Sweden, while natural gas-based furnaces encompassed less than 10%. Natural gas-based furnaces require forced-air ventilation from lower to upper property levels to distribute heat, a process that has major implications to air dynamics and pressures within a given building. (This) might be a major reason why introducing HRV has corresponded with an increase in innate radon risks, versus the decreases observed in Sweden and elsewhere.” The study’s researchers are calling for proactive radon mitigation systems to be included in all new residential properties constructed using the 2025 Building ohba.ca
MAP: RADON ENVIRONMENTAL
came back at 3,200 Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m³). That’s 32 times the World Health Organization’s action guideline and 16 times Health Canada’s guideline of 200 Bq/m3.” Naturally occurring, invisible and odourless, radon gas is formed when radioactive metal (radium, thorium or uranium) breaks down in rocks, soil or groundwater. While it quickly dissipates outdoors, it can build up in higher concentrations indoors, where it can enter a home from anyplace that’s in contact with the ground—from cracks in foundation walls and floor slabs, to construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, sumps and floor drains or interior wall cavities. As the Whiteheads learned the hard way, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, accounting for 3,200 deaths in Canada annually (16% of overall lung cancer fatalities), according to Health Canada. The good news is that it’s exactly the same number of fatalities the federal government was reporting five years ago. The bad news is that the number of homes measuring beyond the guideline appears to be increasing, with the Canadian government now noting it as close to 10%. Recent data gathered by researchers from the University of Calgary, however, suggest that number could actually be closer to 20%—with 5,600 of 30,000 homes tested nationwide exceeding the 200 Bq/m³ ceiling. The trend is supported by a 2021 study produced by Evict Radon, a trans-disciplinary national non-profit enterprise aimed at both understanding and ‘engineering out’ radon from the Canadian residential environment. The study, which compares Canadian and Swedish houses, found that “homes built from the 1950s to the 1970s in Sweden tended to contain higher radon versus those built in Canada in the same period, (but) by the 1980s, houses built in Canada and Sweden were constructed with the same—relatively high—radon level. From then on, radon in new Swedish properties decreased, while the reverse occurred in Canada, such that new Canadian homes are now built with an average of 467% higher radon levels compared to a new house built in Sweden. “Our goal is to gather the essential building, health and economic data
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HOW RADON ENTERS A HOUSE 1
Radon in groundwater
Radon in soil
Radon in wellwater
5 7 4 2
Code, says Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, an associate professor with the University of Calgary’s Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and founder and scientific director at Evict Radon. “Radon 'take action' guidelines vary around the world, but our goal in mitigation is to keep indoor levels as low as possible, and ideally below 100 Bq/m3,” suggests Robert Maccarrone of Stoney Creek-based GoTek Radon. “While Canada recommends that corrective action is taken if the average annual radon level exceeds 200 Bq/m3 in the normal occupancy of a building, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends corrective action at 150 Bq/m3, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends it at 100 Bq/m3,” Maccarrone notes. “And for 46
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
reference, the Kentucky Association of Radon Professionals has published an infographic that compares exposure to an average annual radon level of just 148 Bq/ m3 to smoking eight cigarettes per day. “The National Building Code of Canada 2020 was released March 28, 2022, and there have been only slight updates to the radon-relevant references in the code,” Maccarrone shares. “At the CARST (Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists) annual conference in April, we learned that work is being done to prepare recommendations for more significant changes, and it was suggested that there may be an update this fall.” “Around the same time, we're told that the Canada Labour Code will be amended to require radon testing provisions to protect workers in all workplaces,” says
Whitehead, a former president of CARST. As for current rules across the land, “it’s a patchwork quilt,” Whitehead says. “Atlantic provinces, not including Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan and Alberta have all adopted 2015 National Building Code recommendations, including the rough-in and soil depressurization systems for new builds. Quebec has quietly been testing 20,000 homes over three years, with 25% well above Health Canada guidelines, so they’re looking hard at adopting something in the next 12 months. Half of B.C. requires radon control measures to be put in place during construction and went beyond national code recommendations. The vent pipe that used to go four feet above the slab is supposed to be capped and sealed. In many cases, it wasn’t being capped and sealed, so ohba.ca
DIAGRAM: LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY
you were literally creating a four-inch-wide airway into the home. So B.C. said, ‘We’re going to extend that vent pipe through the roof space during construction.’ We’re expecting that to be recommended in the next National Building Code cycle, hopefully later this year.” For now, the Ontario Building Code lists only three areas as mandated to meet the 200 Bq/m3 guideline: the City of Elliot Lake, the Township of Faraday in the County of Hastings, and the township of Hyman in Sudbury. The rest of the province continues to decide for itself. “Over the past few years, Guelph, Thunder Bay, North Bay, Peterborough, Kingston, Hamilton and Ottawa have all changed their radon requirements,” Whitehead notes. In Guelph’s case, residents seeking a building permit must proactively address radon risks with steps that include mandatory rough-in and testing, sealing the foundation or installing a full mitigation system. “I don’t hear any complaints about it anymore. It’s just part of building a house,” Nicholas Rosenberg, a program manager at the City of Guelph, told the Toronto Star last year.
U N FAI R R EQU I R E M E NTS? It’s not as though Ontario builders have had it easy, though. The statutory Tarion new-home warranty includes radon remediation coverage for seven years from the original possession date. For all purchase agreements signed on or after February 1, 2021, there is a maximum of $50,000 (up from $25,000) for warranted damage caused by environmentally harmful substances or hazards, including excessive levels of radon. Tarion advises builders to check if the municipality they’re building in has supplemental soil gas control measures as part of their requirements, in addition to any standard requirements within the OBC. “Tarion was the first insurer to include radon in its coverage, but it surprised us that they made it seven years retroactive,” says Whitehead. “That caused some consternation, particularly in Ottawa region, which is a major hotspot.” For retroactive fixes, it’s important to employ qualified radon professionals, stresses Whitehead, who has seen bigger problems pop up when poor work under 48
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
KEEPING RADON IN CHECK While the radon threat appears to be growing, it can be neutralized with simple and affordable technology at the time of construction, suggests Owens Corning and Amvic. Owens Corning’s new CCMC-certified Foamular XPS RadonBarrier Radon Abatement System is an energy-efficient and sustainable solution for radon abatement. The system’s components include the company’s Foamular NGX CodeBord Extruded Polystyrene Rigid Insulation, JointSealR Tape and ProPink ComfortSeal Gun Foam or code-compliant Flexible Sealant. Beyond improving indoor air quality, it meets codes in a cost-effective manner and is easier to cut and faster to install than conventional poly. Owens Corning notes that the system also offers 36-times greater performance than 6 mil. poly2, and is less expensive than SPF4 spray polyurethane foam insulation. Amvic, meanwhile, has launched Amrad, an innovative rigid insulation panel for underslab depressurization. Known for its industry-leading insulated concrete forms and EPS insulation building materials, Amvic’s new Amrad (pictured bottom right) can be a key component in a radon gas mitigation system. The space created by its integrated channels serves as an air gap for soil gas collection, which means that the radon gas can vent out to the exterior using a connected PVC piping with a continuously running exhaust fan. This panelized solution, with its unique channel design, void percentage, film and foam density, creates a strong and durable panel, giving builders the ability to build an insulated concrete slab while meeting radon building code requirements and improving the indoor air quality for occupants.
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the slab created a new airway to allow even more radon gas in. Though not yet a requirement everywhere in Ontario, some builders have recently chosen to include roughins for radon mitigation in their new homes. But where can mistakes get made? Although part of new builds, “it’s common to see failures with the capped rough-in vent stack, installed as part of local and OBC requirements, where the capped rough-in cannot be used due to improper location or installation,” Maccarrone notes. “Another issue that’s hard to control is the eventual development of gaps along the expansion joint between the foundation wall and the floor slab. Unless properly sealed during construction, these gaps, even minor ones, can lead to elevated radon concentrations. “We saw a home with radon levels of 1,500 Bq/ m3 in the basement, where the levels were in the 700-900 Bq/m³ range on the main floor,” Maccarrone says. “This was a very well-built home, approximately 10 years old, but there were cracks in the floor slab and gaps at the expansion joint between the slab and the wall. The homeowners had just moved in and were using the basement regularly as a study and as a play area for their four-month-old daughter. We repaired and sealed all basement gaps and cracks (approx. 600 lin. ft.) and an active radon mitigation system was installed over a two-day period. Average radon levels now range from 50 to 100 Bq/m3 in the home.” Following B.C.’s example and “extending the pipe through the roof costs little during construction. But the cost to retrofit a home with that system is typically $3,000 to $5,000—and you have to find a straight run for that pipe,” Whitehead explains. “What we do is go beyond code, and we have the only code alternatives approved by the Canadian Construction Materials Council.” Instead of four inches of gravel serving as a filter beneath the slab, Radon Environmental worked with an architect to design an alternative, RadonGuard, which creates large voids beneath the slab to move air and moisture more efficiently. Composed of expanded polystyrene (EPS), it also provides a thermal break, adding 50
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
“We have designers, developers, builders and renovators reaching out to us right now who are interested in learning more about radon and how to keep it out of their projects.” insulation. “You can put it down on compacted ground, then put our Radon Block, a radon-blocking barrier membrane, on top. Instead of just being a vapour barrier, ours is specifically designed to block radon gas and methane. The costs of the two different systems is very similar, especially when you consider finding and shipping the prescribed type of gravel, which loses efficiency over time anyway. “The other way of addressing the problem) is to use a ventilation system with a sensor that pilots the air exchange system when it detects a peak of radon and the fan runs until it’s dissipated, as opposed to fans in the roof space or basement that need to run 24/7,” Whitehead says. “Installed, you’re typically looking at $2,000 to $3,000. The builders we work with will usually build above code and install both the Radon Guard and Radon Block during construction. It takes six to eight hours, whereas it takes quite a lot longer to put down gravel and a vapour barrier.”
I NCR E AS E D AWAR E N E SS Expect more demand for such measures from new-home buyers. “I saw that Health Canada conducted a behavioural study in 2020 after sending a radon awareness postcard to around 1.5 million Canadians. They found a 4,188% increase in visits to the Canada.ca radon website by Canadians in areas that received the postcards!” Maccarrone says. Health Canada followed with a
distribution of another 3 million radoninfo postcards between November 2021 and January 2022. “We have designers, developers, builders and renovators reaching out to us right now who are interested in learning more about radon and how to keep it out of their projects where the local building code requires a mitigation plan. We also have a growing group of builders working with us to control radon in all of their new projects,” adds Maccarrone, whose company is also an authorized dealer of the Airwell treatment system for radon in groundwater. It’s a similar story for Whitehead, whose clients include Empire Communities, Wastell Homes and ERTH Homes, the latter of which is installing the company’s products into new homes where it’s not yet required by code. Ontario builders have recognized that this is an issue and are starting to proactively address the challenges, assures Luca Bucci, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. “We are encouraged to see that our members are working with radon mitigation companies to proactively manage the levels of radon for the health and safety of our customers,” Bucci says. “Our association looks forward to working with government and all stakeholders to develop unique solutions that maintain those high standards and expectations without negatively impacting housing affordability that is already strained.” OHB ohba.ca
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Building Buzz NEWS AND MOVES FROM THE INDUSTRY
DISTRESSED ASSETS Amsted addressing workforce mental health What are the top dangers of construction work? The easy answers are falls, electrocution, ‘caught-ins’ and ‘struck-bys.’ Yet more construction workers die from suicide each year than every other workplace-related fatality combined. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., the construction industry has the highest suicide rate of any profession. Further, more than 80% of construction workers have experienced stress at work, a 2021 CDC report notes. Working tirelessly throughout the ohba.ca
COVID-19 pandemic to support their families and communities has only exacerbated the stress, burnout and mental health struggles for these essential workers. And most individuals struggling with mental health—particularly in this field— do not seek help or express their feelings to others. “COVID has hit everyone hard. But as an unappreciated, and sometimes resented, essential service operating throughout the pandemic, the mental health impacts on our team were a bit unique,” shares Steve Barkhouse, owner of Amsted Design-Build just
southwest of Ottawa. “We started seeing signs of stress showing up in ways and to degrees that we hadn’t experienced before. Thankfully, a couple of members of our team were brave enough to reach out and bring their challenges to our attention, knowing that we would support them in looking for a solution together. “Through my position on the Algonquin College Board of Governors, I was able to connect with Dr. Gail Beck at The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group and Joanne Snell at Algonquin College,” Barkhouse says. “We wanted ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
to provide support, leadership and empathy while offering tools, strategies, education and understanding to our team and the industry. The collaboration and mental health support programming that we were able to create from there blew us away and has already had a tremendous impact.” In the male-dominated world of construction—where mental health discussions are rare—Barkhouse feels it’s critical for employers to cultivate a workplace environment in which workers feel supported and comfortable discussing mental health issues. Providing support and the right resources can help shift the industry’s outdated mindset around mental well-being.
Supporting Workers’ Mental Health “People really need people and men particularly need special consideration when it comes to supporting their mental health,” states the chief of staff with The Royal, and mental health advisor to the Amsted mental health initiative, Dr. Raj Bhatla. “One in 10 men experience major depression in their lifetime and it can manifest in different ways. We need to offer hope and help in a variety of ways. This initiative is a great opportunity to start those important conversations.” “For many years, Algonquin has had close ties with both the construction industry in Ottawa and The Royal,” says Joanne Snell, Senior Learning Consultant with Algonquin College Corporate Training. When Barkhouse reached out to Snell for ideas on how to help construction workers deal with COVIDrelated mental health stresses, they were forwarded a video featuring personal commentaries from construction workers and mental healthcare specialists, accompanied by a one-day Mental Health Toolbox Workshop for Amsted employees and takeaway reference materials. First-rate advice, information and workshop speakers were also identified at The Royal. And, as it happened, support to cover the costs of program development was available at the time through the SkillsAdvance Ontario program. “This turned out to be a truly 54
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
collaborative effort drawing on the partner organizations’ deep talent pools. Everything aligned beautifully,” Snell noted. With stigmas about mental health preventing many people, especially men, from seeking the help they need, redefining gender norms and cultural expectations in the construction industry can help normalize mental health discussions, reduce suicide rates and encourage men—and women—to speak up about their struggles.
acquired its main competitor, Reed Water, while also partnering with Canadian insurance company Northbridge to provide its leak control and water conservation for thousands of homes. Eddy’s client base already includes such blue-chip companies as Mattamy Homes, Tridel and Four Seasons.
Mental health matters “We received an immediate outpouring of gratitude from our team following the screening of this video and workshop,” shares Barkhouse. “They felt safe, not alone, heard, understood and relieved. They noted that they learned a lot and were able to make plans and use the tools provided, and they felt encouraged to talk about mental health and to be vulnerable. “We have the opportunity, but really, the obligation, to begin to shift the perception surrounding mental health in construction,” Barkhouse says. “Anyone can benefit from the tools, strategies and techniques presented here. And in turn, create a ripple effect through our industry, positively impacting the lives of the individuals and their families, encouraging the incoming labour force, and strengthening companies’ willingness to invest in the mental well-being of their teams.” T E C H N O L O GY
EDDY SECURES ITS POSITION IN LEAK DETECTION The highest amount of money paid out under home insurance policies annually is for water damage, according to Rates.ca. And billions of litres of water are wasted in North America every year due to leaks. But Toronto-based Eddy Solutions has been making inroads to lower those numbers. Creator of an intelligent leak detection system (much like a sprinkler or alarm system) that protects homes and properties from the scourges of water, Eddy has
UNILOCK CELEBRATES 50 YEARS IN STYLE In 1972, Ed Bryant brought the UniStone paving stone to North America, a decision that ultimately pioneered the hardscape industry. That paving stone was also the catalyst to the founding of Unilock, a leader in concrete interlocking paver stones for patios, retaining walls and walkways. Along with the paving stone, Unilock was first to introduce product innovations such as the circle paving system to create free-flowing designs, permeable pavers for stormwater applications, tri-colour blends and face-mix products to enhance the authenticity, overall aesthetics and unique surface textures of its pavers. It was also the first company to establish an authorized contractor program (demonstrating Unilock’s commitment to the contractors who install its products), to leverage European partnerships and to implement a lifetime guarantee in North America. ohba.ca
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More Options Designed For Your Kitchen Needs Liebherr introduces new combination options that elegantly integrate into any kitchen. The Monolith product lineup, featuring column refrigeration, freezing and wine products. The new Monolith Bottom Freezer Refrigerator in 30” and 36” will be available fully integrated, with panel-ready and stainless-steel door options to customize to your liking and is designed to enhance luxury and performance without compromising valuable space in your kitchen.
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“It all started with our first operation in Barrie, where we made just 12 stones at a time and limited our focus to municipal and institutional projects,” relates Andrew Bryant, Unilock president and CEO, and son of late founder Ed Bryant. “Now we have over 700 employees across 17 locations in six regional companies, have expanded our reach to include homeowners and have manufactured millions of square feet of pavers.” With a long-term outlook to the industry workforce as well, Unilock’s 2022 Paving the Future Scholarship will award $5,000 each to deserving students within the landscape construction and landscape architecture fields of study. The scholarship will help pay for their education expenses, including tuition fees, books, housing and transportation. Up to 27 scholarships will be awarded, with an August 31 application deadline for eligible students.
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CURATED LUMBER COLLECTION FROM TROPICAL FOREST PRODUCTS Mississauga-based hardwood distributor Tropical Forest Products, which operates throughout Canada and the U.S., has unveiled its premium Black Label brand of curated, certified-sustainable collection of tropical hardwoods. “Graded to the highest quality, the brand’s lumber portfolio consists of a selection of the finest Ipe, Cumaru, Jatoba, Garapa, Angelim Pedra and Black Label lumber is carefully and 100% legally sourced from South ohba.ca
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SICO ADDS FOUR NEW PAINTS TO PORTFOLIO Calling them “the brand’s best-ever paints designed to give homes durable refresh after pandemic wear-andtear,” Sico has launched four breakthrough, ultra-durable products. Sico Clean Surface premium interior paint-plus-primer “sets a new standard for stain-repellent washability, repelling difficult stains ranging from greasy hand-grime, crayon to wine, juices and coffee,” the company notes. Available in low-sheen eggshell, it is highly resistant to scuffs and unsightly marks from cleaning and abrasions, even in deep colours.
Sico Prestige, featuring more than 1,000 one-coat-hide colours, is a stainblocking, super-premium interior paint-plus-primer that covers existing paint in a single coat, with a formula derived from PPG Automotive Coatings technology. This ohba.ca
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The operations for Acuity Brands Lighting are now 100% carbon neutral. As part of its EarthLight initiative to reducing its footprint, Acuity has now gone carbon neutral since March 2021. It has also reduced energy consumption by 11.72% over its 2019 baseline, with eight of its 43 facilities employing zero-emissions electricity. From a customer standpoint, Acuity claims its LED lighting can reduce energy consumption by as much as 75% over fluorescent, HID or incandescent fixtures. And as part of its 100 Million Metric Tons Ambition, the company is helping its customers avoid an estimated 100 million tons of carbon emissions between 2020 and 2030.
NEOLITH, CIOT PARTNER UP Noted North American stone and tile distributor Ciot has partnered with Neolith, world leaders in sintered stone, a manufactured product made from a base of natural stone. “North America is one of the priority regions we’ve identified to expand our mission of inspiring the creation of unique spaces with our brand through sustainable, elegant and functional design,” said José Luis Ramón, CEO of Neolith Group, whose company celebrated their new deal with Ciot in ohba.ca
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16783 Thorndale Rd. Thorndale, Ontario, N0M 2P0 Tel: 519-461-1180 Toll free: 1-800-265-7086 Fax: 519-461-0903 www.trscomponents.ca Since 1974, TRS has offered builders a single source supply network of wall panels, roof trusses, floor panels. Our supply and install expertise will make your next job faster, easier and more efficient.
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June at a gala event at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Joe Panzera, president and CEO of Ciot Group, was also in Toronto for the event and expressed his commitment to their partnership. “As the engineered slab market continues to grow in Canada and for Ciot, in association with Neolith, an industry leader, was a natural next step,” said Panzera. Neolith has recently made a series of announcements demonstrating its strong commitment to North America, including the opening of a New Jersey distribution centre, a new facility in South Florida and an expansion to its North American team. D O N AT I O N S
ALAIR CAMPAIGN WILL HELP BUILD NEW SICKKIDS HOSPITAL Alair Homes has announced plans to help build Toronto’s new SickKids hospital through a pledge to donate a total of $100,000 to SickKids Foundation over the next five years. Known for building and renovating custom homes across North America through its 93 independently owned offices, Alair is uniting all 60 of its Canadian locations to support the #AlairVSMissing Home campaign, helping to achieve the goal through various community and industry events being held across the country. The Alair Ontario team is launching these efforts through an official partnership with Canadian TV host, media personality and SickKids supporter Cheryl Hickey. Alair and Hickey have been filming a digital docuseries featuring the design, planning and total transformation of her family home in Toronto, as they also raise awareness and funds towards an organization they both care deeply about. The collaboration will provide community engagement to further share the work SickKids does, as well as raise funds when Alair and Hickey co-host a renovation grand finale event and project reveal in the fall of 2022. OHB 60
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Frame of Mind
GOING DUTCH Intriguing Bloembollenhof project allows varying incomes to pay their way in a rural village-type setting AFFORDABLE HOUSING is in short supply in Canada. Creating that supply, however, need not result in an unattractive product. In general, housing is considered “affordable” if it requires 32% or less of a household’s income, including the mortgage principle, interest, taxes and utilities costs. But in most markets, homeowners and renters spend over half of their income on shelter-related expenses. So what can architects and builders do to bring costs down? The cost of a home depends, of course, on the pricing of its components: land, infrastructure, material, labour and landscaping. Land cost alone can easily render a project unaffordable. Narrow house designs offer the commonly preferred characteristics of homeownership. Other options that are similar, but that do not have private ground-level entrances or private yards, such as duplexes and triplexes, are even more affordable and sustainable. Narrow-fronted row houses are built on narrow plots, 4.3 to 6 metres wide, and share sidewalls with neighbouring structures. The narrow width makes the need for interior bearing partitions redundant, resulting in a greater flexibility in the arrangement of space. Large open spaces around the townhouse 62
ONTARIO HOME BUILDER SUMMER 2022
development may be planned to compensate for the lack of private spaces offered within the complex. To see it in practice, consider the Netherlands, where land is scarce and crowded. Bloembollenhof is an affordable-housing development in the town of Vijfhuisen, a small suburb of Amsterdam designed by S333 Architecture & Urbanism. Fifty-two housing units have been placed into simple yet interesting and non-repetitive forms in the development. Houses range from large, detached forms to smaller social-housing blocks and are scattered freely, catering to several incomes and lifestyles. Additionally, it offers a cheap alternative to urban living, with easy access to amenities. The project is part of a spatialplanning method put in place to control urban growth. Strict guidelines regulate the community’s design. The site must consist of at least 30% affordable housing, maintaining high unit density, yet also offer ample greenspace. Appearing more as a cluster of low-density housing typologies, Bloembollenhof resembles a rural village and retains dense urban characteristics. The architects aimed to create a ‘regular irregularity’ in their plan. This allows for the housing clusters to appear
less formal in nature, fostering the sense of a spontaneously built community. Houses have been placed in ways that frame communal open spaces and play areas for children. Residence views often overlook these courtyards, further connecting individual units to the broader community, and creating opportunities for parents to supervise their children from inside the home. Further, the placement of houses also creates shortcuts between major streets. Houses are made in simple geometric forms, yet incorporate several amenities. Roof terraces and patios have been cut out of the main mass, making up for the small private gardening area. The residences also house car-parking, minimizing the presence of automobiles on the street and eliminating the need for costly parking infrastructure. To keep costs low, houses are clad in hardwood and corrugated steel. The Bloembollenhof community has applied low-density housing typologies to high-density living. As Canada embarks on a search for affordable housing solutions, this out-of-the-box approach can be the first step. OHB AVI FRIEDMAN IS AN ARCHITECT, PROFESSOR, AUTHOR AND SOCIAL OBSERVER. AVI.FRIEDMAN@MCGILL.CA