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spring 2011 • Vol. 2, Issue 1

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:

The HVAC Issue

Old School Values Keep Him on the Leading Edge

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CONTENTS spring 2011 • Vol. 2, issue 1

ON THE COVER: Mike Martino, winner of BILD Trade Contractor of the Year award and Energy Minister Brad Duguid

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:


2 Can HVAC Fix the Political Vacuum? 26 COVER STORY Old School Values 3 It’s Time to Re-Examine HVAC Controls Keep Him on the Leading Edge 4 Getting to Know Your HVAC Association: The Name is New, 31 Like a Green Phoenix but the Industry Mandate Remains the Same 32 Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Furnace?

Old School Values Keep Him on the Leading Edge

8 Being the Change 10 Sourcing Recycled Content12 The Virtual Roundtable

Building Materials

33 Enbridge Ranks as a World Leader in Green 34 Solar Site Planning – Part 2 36 Green by Example

38 Site Specific- A Site-level Look at Those Who are Making Sustainability Happen

14 Effective Ventilation in Large Homes 16 Is Information the Forth Utility? 18 Innovative Home Energy System Harnesses Power of Sun 20 Growing Calls for Zero-Energy Homes 22 Sustaining the Future by Reclaiming the Past 24 Renewable Builder Showcase Royal Pine Homes

40 When is the Right Time to Choose Renewable Energy? 41 Pink is the New Green 42 Adapting to Climate Change: Insurance Industry Developing a Safety Accreditation for Builders

44 Rainwater Harvesting Guidelines for Ontario 46 Not All High-Efficiency Furnaces are the Same – Just as a Buick is not a Lexus

48 Speaking in Code– Regulating Energy Ratings for Houses

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:

Can HVAC Fix the Political Vacuum?


t’s no surprise that as environmental and energy-efficiency issues become more mainstream they also become more political. Originally, green was more of a left-versus-right or fringe-versus-centre debate. Now the politics are more cynical and more subtle. Recently, the Ontario government, after taking much positive press for its Green Energy Act, announced that it’s not proceeding with proposed offshore wind projects while further scientific research is conducted: Applications for offshore wind projects in the Feed-In-Tariff program will no longer be accepted and current applications will be suspended. This absurd position (What difference could there be between on and offshore wind power, and why would Ontario’s freshwater installations be any different than the hundreds of other successful saltwater installations this technology?) only makes sense from a political perspective: Keep the reactionary element placated by stopping offshore wind. Likewise, the wildly successful ecoENERGY program, a tweaking of the equally successful EnerGuide for Houses program, has been shut down with only a slim prospect of renewal for in the near future. This has sent the homeassessment industry into a death spiral again. (Remember, it’s not the first time the Harper minority has done this.) This, too, only makes sense as a political manoeuvre: Use the environment as a bargaining to tool to get the needed support to stay in power. So, while the Ontario Liberal and Conservative parties try to pander to the immediate concerns of rising energy bills, at the expense of long-term global climate change, and while the federal Conservative Party continues to do nothing on the climate change file, and Canadian politics becomes ever more cynical and pandering, the rest of us have to get on with our business. Here’s the news flash: the government isn’t going to save us on this one…we have to do it on our own. Having an HVAC contractor on the cover of this builder magazine was a tough choice, and regardless of how he got there, Mike Martino is now part of the solution. Like so many other business featured in this magazine, he has found that efficiency sells, and so does indoor air quality, healthy, green, and smart technology. Its good for consumer’s and its good for business. For me, this is the crux of the sustainability movement. The homebuilding industry does not make as good a poster child for sustainability as your localorganic-yoga-aromatherapy store, but I will bet my future on the kind of real change going on in this industry over the fashionable green trends evidenced in others. The fact is that the construction industry has a lasting impact on the environment, and changing that legacy and this industry is not a matter of trends and fashion. Change in this industry requires innovation, leadership, and a sound business case. We focus a lot on innovation and leadership in this magazine. Whether it’s a new HVAC technology or an early adaptor of a European Energy Label, we will cover it. What we wanted to stress this issue was the third component: economics. In order to address real climate change, we need real action, and that is not going to be done by government or think tanks, policy wonks or even the localorganic-yoga-aromatherapy crowd. It will be done by those who do the work, run the businesses, employ the trades, and drive the economy. In this current political leadership vacuum, we are celebrating all those who make their living doing the jobs that contribute to sustainable building, while reducing our collective impact on the environment.

Sincerely, Lenard Hart, Publishing Editor SBM spring 2011

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:

256 Doris Ave. Unit 2109

Sustainable Builder Toronto, ON M2N6X8 B6<6O>C:

416-898-0835 • fax 416-250-6322 Sustainable Builder Magazine is a sponsor of

Publishing Editor: Lenard Hart Hart.Lenard@gmailcom This is a quarterly publication. Subscription rates: $24 annually or $7 per single copy. To advertise, contribute a story, or get on our distribution list, please contact: Submit news, events, or articles to: Feature Writer: Tracy Hanes Copy Editor: Jennifer D. Foster Creative: Tony Lomuto Graphic Designs Unlimited Photographer: Graham Dickhout Photography Contributing Authors: Gord Cooke • Greg Cooke • Chris Despins Stephen Dupuis • David Flood John Godden • Sam Goldberg • Lenard Hart Michael Lio • Peter Love • Ashley Smith Copyright by Sustainable Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without the publisher’s written permission at The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors exclusively and assumed to be original work. Sustainable Builder Magazine can not be held liable for any damage as a result of publishing such works. Publication Mail Agreement #42014026 ISSN: 1925-4881 Sustainable Builder Magazine

Return undelivered Canadian address mail to: Sustainable Builder Magazine 2109-256 Doris Ave., Toronto, ON M2N 6X8

It’s Time to Re-Examine HVAC Controls Far

too many officBy es that use commercial HVAC equipment Gord are still controlled by outCooke dated technology, thus limiting opportunities available to contractors. All HVAC contractors should be able to identify and demonstrate at least a few of the most cost-effective applications of the control options now available. A typical office is occupied from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., which leaves the potential for 15 hours of energy-saving downtime. Heat transfer across a building enclosure is a direct function of the temperature difference across the walls, windows, and ceiling assemblies. If the outside temperature is -20° C and the indoor setting is at 20° C during the day but 15° C at night, heat flow throughout the unoccupied period will be reduced by 5/40 = 12.5 per cent. Prorated over a 24-hour period, this would amount to an energy savings of almost 8 per cent in heating costs on cold days and an even higher percentage of savings on milder days. There really is no merit in the old argument that the energy needed to warm up the building in the morning negates any savings you might gain over the night. The energy saved during the cooling-down period is roughly equal to the energy needed to reheat, with the real savings coming from the extended lower temperature differential during the setback period. Where there may be some merits, however, is in the complaints that the first generation of digital setback thermostats were difficult to read, program and maintain. Most of those issues have been completely resolved by the industry’s leading manufacturers. Companies such as Emerson, White Rodgers, and Honeywell have led the way with second-generation building controls

and have produced more accurate controllers that have defined ranges to limit occupant misuse. Some higher-end thermostats can guarantee an accuracy of +/-1° F. This level of accuracy, resulting from better sensor and anticipation technology, eliminates many of the temperature swings that used to lead to the tampering of settings and comfort complaints and also ensures optimal energy use. Managing the comfort expectations of a wide range of occupants in an office can be further enhanced by features such as adding a second remote temperature sensor, allowing the averaging and/or weighting of temperatures across different spaces. Specifically designed for commercial applications, the enhanced lockout selections and adjustable temperature limit ranges allow occupants some measure of control, while maintaining the integrity of preprogrammed set points. This type of security combined with better, more intuitive touch-screen displays offer much more energy performance predictability. Newer thermostats can control fans, fresh air dampers, compressor run times, and other accessories, all from a single location. While this may require running additional wires, it allows for the optimization of energy use and of indoor air-quality control and comfort. Another excellent control opportunity is in existing buildings with high but variable occupancy levels, such as schools, offices and fitness or entertainment facilities. Their poorly controlled HVAC systems that have fixed ventilation rates required for proper air quality control dominate the total heating and cooling loads and lead to temperature-based comfort issues.

Ideally, ventilation would be provided through an energy recovery ventilation system; however, the capital cost and complexity of adding an ERV in an existing building may be prohibitive. A more affordable strategy would be to apply an occupancybased sensor control such as a carbon dioxide control. Carbon dioxide levels are an excellent indicator of ventilation needs for people. The new generation of CO2 sensor technology avoids the need for annual calibration and can provide a stable output signal proportional to detected levels of carbon dioxide. This signal can easily be linked to variable-speed fan motors or damper controls within the fresh-air intakes or economizer sections of existing roof-top HVAC equipment. The result of such a CO2-controlled ventilation system is a reduction of the energy needed to reheat or pre-cool fresh air during low-occupancy periods, while still allowing for optimal air-quality control during peak periods. Demand controlled ventilation (DCV) can be cost effective in many applications with the addition of controls and modifications to fan and damper controls. Bottom line: it’s time for HVAC specialists to talk to their commercial clients about improving the HVAC controls. It’s a tremendous opportunity for service work in slower months from existing small business owners who can appreciate the value of energy savings and it’s not hard to demonstrate how new thermostats (or even some CO2 sensors) is a great investment, improving comfort and air-quality levels, as well as overall building performance. And, with an installed cost of only $600, it can offer an ROI of between 10 to 12 percent. Gord Cooke is the President of Building Knowledge Canada SBMspring spring2011 2011  3 SBM

Getting to Know Your HVAC Association: The Name is New, but the Industry Mandate Remains the Same By Tracy Hanes


he role of residential contractors, who install heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems in homes and condominiums, is becoming more complex. No longer just the people who install furnaces, these contractors must be knowledgeable not only about heating, but also about ventilation, humidification, cooling, and indoor air quality. And, they must be able to design systems specifically suited to each project. Residential contractors must be able to integrate the latest technologies, such as high-velocity systems, in-floor radiant heating, and combination systems. That is why the Toronto-Residential Air Handling Group is now known as the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Contractors Association (HVACA). The board of directors felt a rebranding was necessary, to better reflect the scope of work of today’s heating contractors. “It’s not just going out and putting in a furnace, hanging

SBM spring 2011

ductwork and installing an air conditioning unit, like the old days. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s a lot more involved in the process of selecting a proper heating system,” says HVACA Executive Director Domenic di Battista. Though its name is new, the group’s history dates back to September 4, 1968, when the Residential Sheet Metal Contractors Association was incorporated as a non-profit trade association, to represent nine member contractors in any matters pertaining to the residential sheet metal industry. Over time as membership increased the association’s name was changed to the Toronto-Residential Air Handling Group, to reflect the diversity of the members and capture the essence of the scope of work at the time. Currently, the association represents 31 member residential contracting companies that perform about 80 per cent of new heating and air conditioning installations across the GTA as well in Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka and Durham region. HVACA members come from many HVAC sectors,

carrying on the business of manufacturing, fabrication, assembling, handling, erection, installation, dismantling, reconditioning, adjustment, alteration, repairing, and servicing of sheet metal work, and of equipment such as controls, insulation, piping and refrigeration associated with ventilation, air conditioning, and warm air heating. Members of the association employ unionized workers represented by Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Local Union No. 285 The associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mandate is to represent its members in any matters pertaining to the residential sheet metal contracting industry, and when necessary, to negotiate on their behalf as may appear to be in the best interest of the industry; and to represent members in any matter pertaining to the building and construction industry. By hiring HVACA members, builders are assured they are getting professionals with the proper training, certification, and expertise in designing and installing systems. The member contractors will take into con-

sideration factors like heat gains and loss, air infiltration and building envelope when designing a heating system. Member contractors involved in the highrise sector are governed by engineered mechanical drawings and specifications. They must ensure that systems they install will perform in accordance with the design criteria. They work alongside other trades and co-ordinate their installation to ensure the components fit in the allowed mechanical space. HVACA members are governed by the Ontario Building Code, local municipal bylaws, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), Tarion, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The association is an accredited bargaining agent under the Labour Relations Act, permitted to negotiate on behalf of membersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in ways that are reflect the best interests of the residential sheet metal contracting industry. It also represents members of the association in matters pertaining to the building and construction industry in its accredited areas in Ontario.

SBM spring 2011


he Sheet Metal Workers Local 285 has represented workers for more than 50 years in the Greater Toronto Area, says union business manager Louie Petricca. The area covered has spread far beyond Toronto, and the union now has 1,200 members, sheet metal workers, gas fitters, and production workers in the residential sector. “The people who hire our workers can assure themselves that the workers are properly qualified and are guaranteed that the work will be done and done correctly,” says Petricca. “Ninety-nine per cent of the work will be done on time and on budget.” Petricca agrees with di Battista, in pointing out that the nature of the work his members are doing has become increasingly more complex. “There has been a big change in the demands put on our members,” he explains. “The work has become much more technical with the building industry becoming concerned about energy savings, green energy, and efficiency. It’s all been passed down to the trades, and they need to know a lot more to be efficient.” The union started in Ontario in 1957, and Petricca says that was the era when energy conservation wasn’t a consideration and relatively small houses had large yet inefficient furnaces. “Now you have larger houses with very efficient small furnaces,” he notes. The boom in condominium construction has also meant his union members have had to adapt to the times, learning how to work on myriad condo projects that have sprung up across the GTA.

SBM spring 2011

“Systems in the condos have evolved more dramatically than in [low-rise] housing,” says Petricca, “from central heating and cooling systems to individual units in each suite. A lot of condo suites are much smaller than a house, but still need the same comfort. Our members need to know the proper workings and installation.” He notes that now, condos are including more compact systems, like high-velocity and combination water/air heating units. HVACA employs Local 285 members, and here’s how Petricca explains the two groups’ roles. “The association knows the direction the market is taking and the skills our members will need in the future. Our job is to make sure our members will have the skills they need. Historically, we have been setting standards in the industry with the association,” he says. “When it comes to negotiating wages, we’re often on opposite sides of the tables, but when it comes to running the industry, we’re on the same side. We make sure they have the best-trained workers, so we can achieve the ultimate goal of having employment for our members.” The union operates a training facility for its members at its Toronto headquarters in Etobicoke, and is actively trying to attract new workers to the trade. The union works on regulating government intake of apprenticeships, attends high-school career fairs, for example, and is also involved in Hammerheads, a program which helps guide high-risk youth to skilled-trade careers.

SBM spring 2011

Being the Change By Lenard Hart and John Godden


his is a new feature for Sustainable Builder Magazine; we are highlighting new products and technologies that are potential game-changers. The col-

Panasonic WhisperComfort™ Spot ERV Ceiling Insert Ventilator with Balanced Ventilation with Capillary Core.

umn is focused on those technologies, products, or practices we think have the potential to transform the market in some way. These are not advertisements or endorsements, and we make no claims as to accuracy, so check with the manufacturers for full details.

FlowMax 120 Condensing Tankless Combination Water Heater

Range: 10 - 40 CFM Power: 23 watts @ 40 CFM Heating efficiency: 66% @ 30 CFM Cooling efficiency: 36% @ 29 CFM Offering heat recovery and balanced ventilation in a very small space, Panasonic’s new WhisperComfort Spot ERV may be the ideal product for retrofitting older homes.

Efficiency = 98.4% Max. heat output: 123,670 BTU/hr. Min. heat output: 33,200 BTU/hr. DHW flow rate: at Δ 45° F rise = 5.3 Gpm or 14 Lmin With a modulating Viessman core, this unit is affordable and powerful enough to heat a home and supply endless hot water.

Honeywell WT6500 Wind Turbine

Philips 12 Watt LED replacement bulb

Size: 6 ft. or 1.8 m Weight: 185 lbs or 84 kg Sound: 35 dB at 10 ft. Blades: Enclosed in a fixed shroud Vibration: Negligible Typical production: 1500 kWh per year This is a continuous motion wind turbine that generates power on the blade tips, rather than at the hub like conventional wind turbines. This lightweight, quiet turbine operates in as little as 0.5 mph or 0.2 m/s wind speed could provide new opportunities for the urban wind-power generation. Mounts on poles, flat, or peaked roofs.

Output: 800Lumens Colour temperature: 2700K (soft white) Operation: Instant-on light, dimmable to 10% of full light levels Rated life: 25,000 hours rated average Mercury levels: 0.00 Phillips LED replacement for a 60-watt incandescent bulb is now the first of its kind to earn an ENERGY STAR rating from the US EPA. While it uses the about the same power as a compact fluorescent, it has no mercury and lasts much longer.

GE GeoSpringTM Hybrid Water Heater

Envelope performance = 15 kw/m/a Building performance = 45 kw/m/a Air tightness = 0.6 AHC @ -50 Pa Thermal bridging = near zero The R2000 program started it all, and ENERGY STAR for New Homes got the production builders back and interested in higher-efficiency housing. Since then several new labels have been vying for attention, but none has the potential to change the industry like Passive House. With its focus on the envelope, preventing thermal bridging, and extreme airtightness levels, this label could truly change the way we build. Currently, it’s getting a lot of buzz, including SHSC looking at Passive House retrofit potential for their low-income properties. Currently only for the earliest of adopters, once the big insulation companies get behind this movement it could well gain builder uptake.

Fuel type: electric Capacity: 50 gal. First hour recovery: 63 gal. Energy factor 2.35 in hybrid mode Power: 240 watts, 60 Hz Stand by consumption: 2 watts This hybrid tank can run off-electric resistance heat, off the heat pump, or both. It also has five modes: eHeat™, hybrid, high demand mode, and standard electric modes, plus a 3 to 90-day vacation setting. With a 2.35 energy factor in hybrid mode, this 50-gallon tank boasts savings of 62% or $320 per year. 

SBM spring 2011

Passive House Certification



















Eric Legault, insulation expert from Owens Corning, demonstrates the ease of installation when using new Owens Corning EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® Insulation for an attic re-insulation project

Sourcing Recycled Content-Building Materials By: David Flood


e all recognize the benefits of sourcing green building materials and increasing the availability of low-impact products and materials across the industry. Sustainable building products not only cut down on energy consumption and pollution, but they can also help promote Canada’s commitment to using green materials, products, and technology on building sites that help to reduce our overall carbon footprint. There are choices that we, as those involved in the building industry, can make to help alleviate the impact on the environment, starting by using renewable, recycled materials from the ground up. As has become all too clear, our reluctance to decrease our dependence on non-renewable resources is becoming a costly battle. Jeff Rubin, a world-renowned energy expert and author of Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller (Random House Canada, 2009), suggests the production of oil, the world’s most important energy source, may have already peaked and may be on the way toward depletion. The fragility of the world we live in, coupled with the scarcity of its resources, means we have to be mindful of how our activities and our choices impact the environment. And that means being energyand resource-efficient, and educating our customers to do the same. While we have limited control of the behaviour of others, we can certainly influence our own energy-consumption patterns and those of our customers who rely on our expertise and decision-making skills when it comes to determining the best building materials for the project. It may not be a surprise to learn that 98 per cent of Canadian consumers expect energy efficiency, according to a J.D. Power & Associates survey conducted for EnerQuality Corporation in 2008. Consumer demand for energy-efficient homes, products, and materials has been on the rise in recent years, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Research also shows that customer spending on residential green buildings is set to rise by 35 per cent between 2006 and 10

SBM spring 2011

2013, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s The Green Home Builder SmartMarket Report from 2008. So, what does this mean for the building industry? Despite builders citing risk and cost as the most frequent barriers to using green building materials (cf. Jamie James, Sustainable Builder Magazine, winter 2010 issue), there are foundational elements that are not timely or costly that can be used to help achieve an energy-efficient, sustainable structure. Poor insulation, resulting in cold floors, uneven heating levels, and mould on walls, increases the inefficient consumption of energy in homes (, meaning insulation is a cost-efficient and reliable resource for ensuring the energy efficiency of a home. Sealing and insulating are key factors in helping a building achieve LEED Certification, creating an energy-efficient building, and helping residential and commercial buildings become more airtight, all of which can help increase energy efficiency and reduce the overall environmental impact. It’s important to identify and rely on manufacturers and suppliers that deliver the performance to support this incentive. A blower-door test recently conducted after installation of the system at the framing stage in Guelph, Ont., tested 0.97 ACH at 50 Pa at the framing stage. In comparison, ENERGY STAR homes are coming in at 2.5 ACH at 50 Pa at the pre-delivery stage, showing that the performance of Owens Corning insulation is out-performing current requirements when it comes to creating energy-efficient homes. Owens Corning is not only a leading manufacturer of energy-saving insulation, but it also produces composites used in wind turbine blades that generate renewable energy worldwide. However, 40 per cent of global energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still coming from homes and buildings1. This means that despite our best efforts to source means of renewable energy, there is still a need to create more energy-efficient homes and buildings to combat this issue. Implementing energy-efficient resources and material in the building process is one way to start any project off on the right foot. See page 14

Each home you build will have many owners. But there’s only one planet earth. You’re committed to building better quality homes with higher energy efficiency and more respect for the planet. That’s why we created EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® Insulation. It’s made from natural** materials, it’s formaldehyde-free and it’s guaranteed to provide the same thermal performance that Canadians have counted on for decades. For an insulation product that’s durable and dependable, think PINK™. It’s the best way to go green.

Why choose EcoTouch™ PINK™? • • • • • •

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THE PINK PANTHER™ & © 1964-2011 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. The colour PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning. Certified Thermal Insulation Material CCD-016. *70% recycled content is based on the average recycled glass content in all Owens Corning fiberglass batts, rolls, and unbonded loosefill insulation manufactured in Canada. **Made with a minimum of 99% by weight natural materials consisting of minerals and plant-based compounds. The GREENGUARD INDOOR AIR QUALITY CERTIFIEDSM Mark is a registered certification mark used under licence through the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. This declaration may only be used with products that have been verified to be formaldehyde free by GEI. The formaldehyde free mark may not be used alone. It must accompany the appropriate GREENGUARD Certification mark. Owens Corning PINK insulation is GREENGUARD Certified for indoor air quality, except bonded loosefill products. LEED is a registered trademark of U.S. Green Building Council. © 2011 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved.

SBM spring 2011


The Virtual Roundtable Each issue, Sustainable Builder Magazine will ask a question to a select group of industry experts to get some insight into pressing issues. This issues’ question is:


: Last year marked a watershed for green building in Ontario, with more than 20 per cent of low-rise and a rapidly growing number of high-rise buildings certifying to one of the green labels in the marketplace. What do you think were the most significant factors increasing green labelling in 2010? What does 2011 look like in terms of green building? And do you feel the pending changes to the Ontario Building Code will affect the percentage of green-labelled building in 2012?

Akash Sinha President Dharma Developments More projects having a green label is not a surprise. With the increasing awareness of environmental issues, consumers are going to look for some indication that a builder-developer is addressing these concerns. Many consumers do their research to learn what the various labels mean. Others will turn to experts in the industry builders and developers - and place trust in their knowledge. From the industry side of things, it is good to see leadership being taken by many builders and “raising of the bar,” with respect to green construction. No doubt many builders build more greenly grudgingly when regulations force them to do so, but I believe the vast majority of builders (and trades and suppliers) want to find a way to do the right thing. In fact, I have come across some suppliers who were following many of the standards set out in LEED, but were unaware they were doing so. Had the information been available to them sooner, they would have been able to market their green contributions much sooner. And, this is the biggest challenge for green home labels: Unless the consumer and the industry are fully versed in what makes a building or project green, it’s nothing more than a marketing label. The home building industry needs to work with the regulatory bodies to better define what green construction is and educate the consumers on the merits of the various certification labels. There are some green features that cannot be regulated by the Ontario Building Code (which is primarily concerned about safety and home quality), but are identified in labels like LEED-Canada for New Homes (which also draws attention to community amenities, healthy lifestyle, material use, etc.). The label should make it clear how the construction addresses three green issues: (1) conservation of energy, water, and other resources; (2) consideration of the materials used and their lifecycle; and (3) the methods of applied construction and waste management. It really doesn’t matter if the number of labelled buildings increases or decreases in the future, as long as the quality of the construction in these three areas continues to improve. 12

SBM spring 2011

Andy Oding, LEED AP Operations Manager Reid’s Heritage Homes I find it hard to comment on the industry as a whole, but I can give some insight into what I have experienced as part of Reid’s Heritage Homes. Being a builder who is situated outside the GTA, I think the main driver for green building uptake in the marketplace has been the above-code requirements set by municipalities within the GTA. In the places we build, there are no such initiatives yet, so we’ve seen a much more modest increase in consumer uptake of green homes. It seems to me the drivers are more external and regulatory than market driven. And that means that they’ll last as long as the regulations do; and those regulations will likely last only as long as consumers will tolerate them. My company builds green homes, but on a market-driven basis. We sell through the value proposition of added resale value, better comforts, healthier indoor environments, and low fuel costs, so our customer know what they are getting. We train our sales staff on this, and we approach change carefully and incrementally. We are much more inclined to include higher value-added items, like an HRV, that improves energy savings and IAQ than, say, bamboo flooring which has a harder- to-define societal benefit. This is the reality of market-driven green building. As for what the future looks like, it’s clear to me the 2012 code changes will take up a considerable amount of resources and require a lot of teamwork on our part. We need to work with staff, trades, sales, and even local building officials to make sure we have a smooth transition to the new code. This will naturally impact that amount of time and attention we’ll be paying to non code-related green issues. For this reason, we’ll be taking a more strategic approach to green, but I certainly think we’ll continue to have some form of green offering for our customers.

M. David Speigel P.Eng. Executive Vice-President, Operations Tribute Communities I believe green labelling increased during 2010 for the following two reasons: 1. Consumer awareness; and 2. More accessible builder offerings.

Lou Bada Construction Manager Starlane Homes In my opinion the “success” of green labelling in 2010 in the GTA was not so much market driven as it was politically mandated by municipalities through the planning process. It was sold to councils and staff more than it was sold to end-users and it ultimately served more of a political purpose. Without these artificial drivers, I think the uptake would have been much lower. As for 2011, we’re still inheriting the decisions made years ago through the planning process, so I expect much of the same. I believe the 2012 OBC changes make green labels far less likely to be a market-driven upgrade as the cost-benefit equation in regard to energy efficiency becomes less attractive. It appears that energy-efficiency targets for future code changes will out-pace market transformation. Sustainability, more generally speaking, is still (unfortunately) a niche market, in my opinion, but it may represent an opportunity for some builders to differentiate themselves. I also believe, especially in the GTA, affordability is a looming issue. It’s becoming clear that homeowners are spending far too much of their disposable income on housing, and it is detrimental to the overall economy when there is little spending ability left after paying for the necessities like shelter. Unsustainable economics do not fit well with sustainable building. There needs to be an attractive value proposition for customers, not just ever-higher first costs. Right now, the incentives, in terms of fuel costs and waste costs, etc., are still not decisive. So, until the day comes that we pay the true environmental cost of energy and products we use, I feel the market transformation we all hope for may still be a ways away.

I can’t pinpoint any particular event or milestone that would have spurred consumer awareness. I believe awareness has increased as a natural evolution of education over time, both through media and general discussion. Green building techniques, labels, products, etc., are constantly in the media (mostly print), and it has become a common point of discussion, with most people looking into real estate investment or personal changes. Builders have become much more sophisticated in their green offerings. ENERGY STAR as a standard or upgrade option is now available from most builders in the GTA. And 2010 saw increased builder green participation and acceptance for several self-explanatory reasons: 1. Customer awareness and demand; 2. Ease of adopting ENERGY STAR practices; 3. Ease of selling Energy Star as an optional upgrade; and 4. Builder awareness of pending building code changes that will incorporate many ENERGY STAR- related features. As for 2011, I believe the impact on current green labeling will remain strong. However, increased energy efficiency standards of the building code, which begin January 1, 2012, will dramatically reduce builder and consumer interest for increased ENERGY STAR offerings above the new code. The payback and impact of the forthcoming version of ENERGY STAR will be much lower than previously experienced. If builders want to continue offering green labelling choices to their customers, they’ll have to choose other initiatives other than the energy- efficiency improvements available through ENERGY STAR. These initiatives will likely lead to choices such as indoor air quality, water conservation, solar alternatives, ground-source heating, and cooling alternatives. The payback of these green offerings are not as dramatic as ENERGY STAR, so builders will be challenged getting customers to consider these new options. Builders will, instead, have to determine how to incorporate new initiatives into their building standards, so they can be offered to their customers as a standard selling feature and not as optional upgrades. SBM spring 2011


Effective Ventilation in Large Homes


reater competiBy tion for less deJohn velopable land, increasing development Godden charges, and the HST are changing the landscape in residential home building. To increase yields, many builders are starting to build semi-detached homes and townhouses. Gross floor areas are shrinking, and fewer occupants are living in those dwellings. Housing form is changing, and with an overlay of energy efficiency we need to have another look at effective efficient ventilation. In the new code, mechanical designers and builders may want to rethink their ventilation strategies. With ENERGY STAR Version 5.0 (NRCan’s Common Spec: ENERGY STAR for New Homes - Technical Specifications in Ontario - January 2011), we now have a prescriptive standard for attached houses that does not recognize the importance of HRVs. They are not included in trade-off packages. Tighter construction of party walls resulting from improvements in blower-door testing means that conventional exhaust-only systems may not provide ventilation within the range of operation required. Standard exhaust fans cannot provide sufficient ventilation, which depends on air displacement (that is, fresh air coming in

as stale air is going out). Anyone who has ever “shot gunned” a can of beer understands the basic concept. The second hole in the bottom of the can allows for rapid displacement of the liquid. This is balanced supply!!!. More innovative HRV manufacturers are thinking of baby units, but they face a cost barrier because of a high installation costs associated with a forced-air system. Lifebreath has a solution with vent max, as the HRV is integrated with a hydronic fan coil for condo applications. Currently this unit is not recognized by the Heating and Ventilation Institute and does not get credit for its heat-recovery contribution that could yield a higher EnerGuide rating. Builders will need this credit when ENERGY STAR moves to EnerGuide 83 on the EnerGuide Rating System (ERS) after 2012. In airtight dwellings, balanced ventilation systems are a prerequisite for superior indoor air quality. Panasonic has two ventilation strategies that meet the whole house requirements of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning of Engi-

neers (ASHRAE) 62.2, which is used in the LEED-Canada for Homes program. A twobedroom stacked townhouse. at 1,200 sq.ft. requires 34.5 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of mechanical ventilation. At 7.5 CFM per bedroom (the master bedroom times 2), plus 1 CFM per 100 sq.ft. The Whisper Comfort Spot Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) operates in a central location to provide between 10 and 40 CFM, with 66 per cent heat recovery. It is installed like a regular exhaust fan, except it requires two 4-inch flex connections. Its installed cost is less than half of a normal ERV. The second approach could be a DC variable-speed exhaust fan that could provide bathroom exhaust and whole-house ventilation. The fan runs on a lower setting to provide the driving force for trickle vents in bedrooms. These passive air inlets wash the walls with 12 or 18 CFM, without drafts or discomfort. A single fan and control could cover the principal and total ventilation capacity of newer, higher-density residential units. Indoor air quality and ventilation performance is an easy way for sustainable builders to differentiate themselves in a changing marketplace.

Sourcing Recycled Content-Building Materials Continued from page 10 Owens Corning also produces sustainable insulation products like its new EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® insulation – the latest innovation in insulation from the company that invented fiberglass insulation 70 years ago and has continued that leadership in fiberglass technology.2 Made with PureFiber™ Technology, the new EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® insulation products are designed with attention to the needs of the environment. They use a formaldehyde-free formulation, made with natural* materials and manufactured with more than 70 per cent** recycled content, the highest in the industry in Canada. As well as guaranteed thermal performance for the life of one’s home, EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® insulation products install quickly and easily, and perhaps most importantly, create significant savings*** on heating and cooling bills. Re-insulating an attic, for example, will help any homeowner save up to 28**** per cent on heating and cooling bills. In addition, the EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® insulation products are third-party GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified SM, GREENGUARD Children & Schools CertifiedSM , and are verified to be formaldehyde-free. EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBER14 SBM spring 2011

GLAS® insulation is also certified under the EcoLogoCM Program CCD-016 certification criteria for thermal insulation materials, making Owens Corning fiberglass batt insulation a smart choice for home energy savings and sustainable building projects. This is one example of a product which, in addition to its strong functional benefits, helps save both money and the planet. It only goes to prove that when Canadian builders include sustainability in their structural decisions, they may also get better value for their money – a double incentive to make energy-efficient choices. * Made with a minimum of 99 per cent by weight natural materials consisting of minerals and plant-based compounds. ** More than 70 per cent* recycled content, based on the average recycled glass content in all Owens Corning fiberglass batts, rolls, and unbonded loosefill insulation manufactured in Canada. *** Savings vary depending on the original amount of insulation in your home, climate, house size, air leaks, personal energy use, and living habits. ****Based on an average attic size of 1700 SF, with existing R19 insulation, averaged over seven cities in Canada.

David Flood is an insulation expert with Owens Corning.

WhisperGreenâ&#x201E;˘ Ventilation Fansâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; the perfect choice when every watt counts. To qualify for Energy Star, ventilation fans must meet key efficiency criteria including a minimum efficacy level. Our latest generation of WhisperGreen fans are an incredible 390%-816%* more efficient than minimum Energy Star standards, so when planning your next project consider choosing a fan from our WhisperGreen line. To learn more about Panasonic WhisperGreen ventilation fans visit or call 1-800-669-5165 *based on Energy Star Key Efficiency Criteria minimum efficacy level for Residential Ventilating Fans as of Feb 16, 2011 using data from the HVI Certified Ventilation Fan Product list dated Feb 1 2011.

Panasonic made the Prestigious Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies list for 2011.

SBM spring 2011


Is Information the Forth Utility?


By Lenard Hart

recently had the chance to listen to Rick Huijbregts, vice-president, Smart + Connected Communities with Cisco Canada, speak about the changes coming to the Internet. Cisco is, of course, a worldwide leader in developing digital networking that transforms how people connect, communicate, and collaborate.

He noted there are now more than 500 billion devices hooked up to the Internet, and that the speed of technological change is advancing rapidly, so getting to a second 500 billion will take much less time than the first. He estimates we’ll reach a trillion in fewer than three years. Huijbregts sees the real-time monitoring and control of building systems moving to web-based platforms, to better measure and reduce both energy use and total footprint impact. He feels the Internet should be looked at less as a network and more as a utility. Growing it means an increase in energy, but smart technology and telecommuting, and all the other footprint reductions the web enables, are at least 16

SBM spring 2011

five times greater than what it uses. In 2009, Cisco took on carbon footprint monitoring as part of the Clinton Climate Change Initiative. At the same time it also launched its Telepresence rollout to reduce the need for business travel and brought in web-based building controls for its own buildings. The company has some 19 million sq.ft. of office space spread over some 400 buildings worldwide. Cisco set a lofty goal of a 27 per cent reduction by 2012. It has already exceeded that goal, reaching a 47 per cent reduction by 2010. That is not only good for the environment, but it has also saved Cisco millions of dollars. Much of its reductions have come from energy saving (mostly in the buildings it owns), but a significant portion has also been realized through changing the way the company does business. The average amount of office space for each employee has decreased to as low as 120 sq.ft. per person, largely by creating unassigned flexible work stations, where multiple sales staff share a limited number of spaces. Cisco has also put systems in place to make business travel much less necessary. By using virtual boardrooms, which allow for video conferencing with multiple monitors, it seems like people are in the room, avoiding some 165,000 travel trips for meetings, so far. Cisco has also identified that up to 60 per cent of its space is underutilized for significant periods, when the lights and cooling/heating could be controlled. Huijbregts sees the trend toward using the web to manage all our building operations, and even our building portfolio operations is gaining speed. “It does not make sense to have multiple building controls running on multiple backbones, when you can converge them all on the Internet, and let everything talk to everything else,” he noted. “It makes building controls and energy conservation a shared activity that allows for best practices to spread more quickly.” Huijbregts sees a day when the Internet will be the forth utility, along with gas, electricity, and water, as it becomes an essential component to running all buildings.

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Make Comfort Value Bundles a standard in all your new builds. Call 1-888-499-7255 or talk to your Reliance Key Account Manager today. 2008 Supplier of the Year Award Winner * Subject to standard terms and conditions. TM â&#x20AC;&#x153;Relianceâ&#x20AC;?, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Reliance Home Comfortâ&#x20AC;?, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Right Call. Guaranteed.â&#x20AC;? and the Reliance Home Comfort logo are trademarks of Reliance Comfort Limited Partnership.

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Innovative Home Energy System Harnesses Power of Sun by Tracy Hanes


new home energy system from Lennox Industries harnesses the sun’s energy to provide residential heating and cooling offer more benefits than traditional solar installations. The SunSource Home Energy System provides builders and contractors with the opportunity to offer a green HVAC option to homeowners, who will benefit by saving on their hydro bills. The system uses solar power to reduce the electricity consumed by a heat pump or air conditioner. It can also use that power to operate other devices in the homes such as lights and appliances at times when heating and cooling isn’t required. And any surplus power can be send to the grid to reduce homeowners’ electricity bills (and take advantage of Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff program). The Sunsource system consists of a solar-ready, high-efficiency Lennox air conditioner or heat pump that has been enhanced to serve as the platform for the system; a solar subpanel that connects the utility-active solar power system and the HVAC unit; one to 15 roof-mounted solar modules that will power the system; and a communications system that lets homeowners monitor the solar modules’ operation, energy production and carbon offset. The more modules a homeowner adds, the greater savings on their utility bills. Lennox is the first HVAC manufacturer to use solar power for central heating and cooling and Lennox International product


SBM spring 2011

management vice president John Hurst has described it as “a gateway to the future of innovation in the HVAC industry.” Lennox’s most energy efficient air conditioners and heat pumps automatically come solar ready, allowing consumers the option to integrate a solar package upon installation or in the future. Because the SunSource Home Energy System is expandable, homeowners can start with a few solar modules and add more for up to a total of 15 at a later day. The SunSource system can be partnered with several products from the Dave Lennox Signature Collection, the company’s line of premium heating and cooling products. For builders, renovator and contractors, the SunSource allows them to offer their homebuyers a renewable energy option from a trusted brand name and an easy way for homeowners to upgrade when they install an HVAC system or in the future. The solar options can be included in a new home upgrade package, allowing homebuyers to roll the cost of the installation into their mortgage. The system also offers builders the opportunity to gain LEED or other green building credits available by adding a renewable energy system. In November, Ontario’s long term energy plan was released and the average electricity bill in the province will double over the next 20 years under the $87 billion plan to modernize Ontario’s electricity system. Over the next five years, rates are expected to increase by 46 per cent. A little more than half a home’s average energy costs are estimated to be for home heating and cooling. Savings will depend on the amount of sun an area receives and how many solar panels a home-owner opts for.

Introducing the SunSource Solar Assisted Comfort System â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the first and only solar powered HVAC in the world. It harnesses power generated from photovoltaic cells and functions at full PV capacity when peak consumption loads

match peak solar output. So it keeps your customers comfortable while reducing energy bills and carbon footprints.

To learn more about this or any of the home comfort breakthroughs we offer, call 1-800-9-LENNOX or visit I N N O V A T I V E












SBM spring 2011


for the love of energy by Peter Love

Growing Calls for Zero-Energy Homes


p until only a few years ago, the idea of zero-energy homes was known, but was generally limited to situations where grid connections were not feasible. This has changed, and a number of leading international, national, and local organizations are paving the way. Reducing the energy requirements to operate our buildings is critical; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted in its recent report that buildings are the largest users of energy and raw materials, as well as the largest generators of greenhouse gas emissions. They estimate that buildings account for about 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and direct and indirect emissions from the buildings sector increased 75 per cent between 1975 and 2004. At the international level, The Group of Eight (G8) international forum commissioned the International Energy Agency (IEA) to develop a set of policy recommendations. At their 2007 meeting, all eight members adopted the 12 energy-efficiency policies recommended by the IEA, which included “Governments should set objectives for Passive Energy Homes and Zero-Energy Homes’ market share of all new construction by 2020.” That means they want to see more passive and zero-energy homes. On the international scene, Canada offered to chair a collaborative international partnership focused on net-zero housing shortly after joining the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. This project was endorsed by the other members, and Canada is now leading this initiative, which will accelerate the identification of optimal solutions, improve conditions for innovation, and transform the market. One of this group’s first public initiatives has been the creation of a Zero-Energy Housing Map that gives the location, construction details, and a score on 245 zero-energy homes in the seven member countries of the partnership. Included in this map are 47 zero-energy homes in Canada. Visit www.zeroenergyhousing. org to see the map. At the national level, one of the boldest initiatives is being taken in the United Kingdom, where the building code will require all new homes to be zero-energy buildings by 2016. While the weather is certainly less extreme than in most of Canada, this is a major step forward and is being closely watched around the world. In the United States, one of the more interesting initiatives gaining broad support is Architecture 2030. The 2030 Challenge asked the global architecture and building community to adopt a number of targets, with the foremost being all new buildings and major renovations shall be carbon-neutral by 2030. To date, the 2030 Challenge has been adopted by the U.S. Green 20 20 SBM SBM spring spring 2011 2011

Building Council and The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), as well as the US Conference of Mayors and various city councils. In Canada, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Ontario Association of Architects, and the City of Vancouver have all signed onto the challenge. Not surprisingly, California is the clear leader among American states. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has set a goal of all-new residential construction to be zero net energy by 2020 and all-new commercial buildings zero net energy by 2030. CPUC Commissioner Dian Grueneich recently commented that “Zero net energy isn’t just a big, bold goal – it’s a reality today.” In Canada, CMHC launched its EQuilibrium Program nationwide to support housing that ultimately achieves zero environmental impact. Fifteen teams were selected in 2008 to build these homes across Canada; one was even a renovation of an older home in Toronto. Four of these homes (which are located in Kamloops, B.C., Calgary, Winnipeg, and Manotick, Ont.) and are still open to the public. Although no provincial building code has set a time when zeroenergy homes would be a requirement, it is noteworthy that Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009 did create a Building Code Energy Advisory Council. This council is to review the building code with reference to standards for energy conservation every five years. Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, which sets very aggressive conservation targets, notes that these targets will be met through a combination of programs and initiatives, including “next generation building code updates.” One of the most useful sources of information on zero-energy homes for both builders and homeowners is the Net-Zero Energy Home Coalition. Its website ( includes links to zero-energy homes initiatives around the world, as well as links to recent projects from across Canada. If you’ve been part of a team that has built zero-energy homes, congratulations on your leadership! The next step is to offer such homes to more of your customers. If you have yet to build one, this is a great time to find out how- it’s done and get yourself on the zero-energy map. Peter Love is President of Love Energy Consultants, after having served as Ontario’s first Chief Energy Conservation Officer. He was recently appointed Visiting Distinguished Research Fellow at Ryerson University’s new Centre for Urban Energy.


green A well-known Ontario contractor partners with one of the world’s most recognizable home brands.




Martino Contractors 150 Connie Crescent, # 14–16 Concord, Ontario L4K 1L9 905-760-9894



ecocentralª livingsystem



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Sustaining the Future by Reclaiming the Past


hen building a new home, builders have many decisions to make. Working with their architects, they design for heat, water, and electrical savings, but what about the actual materials they use to build the house? Are By they utilizing new carbon-based materials that Sam have been transported thousands of miles to the job site? Goldberg A number of homeowners have decided to build their sustainable houses from recycled materials. Across Canada there are now many Habitat for Humanity ReStores (www. These stores take surplus, slightly blemished, or nearly new building materials donated from renovators or manufacturers and sell them to the public. However, what about home builders looking for that something special? With the increased popularity of TV shows such as Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers, and the DIY network, many people have learned to appreciate the quality, craftsmanship and detail that were invested in old homes. In many cases, the tradespeople or artisans who built the houses have long passed away, but their work lives on in stained glass, transoms or staircase spindles. A number of companies across Ontario have recognized that not all buildings can be heritage sites, but they do combine historical elements with materials that are still viable for reuse as sustainable construction materials. Demolition companies brought in to tear down homes turn to the expertise of these organizations listed at the end of this article to recover as much of the materials as possible. While there may be many antique stores across Canada selling furniture, curios, or artwork, sustainable builders must focus on securing materials that can be both beautiful and practical for constructing homes. One of the first people to recognize the beauty of these materials and create a business around recycling architectural pieces was Sam Mirshak of The Door Store. Located in the interior design area of 22

SBM spring 2011

Castlefield Road in Toronto, Mirshak has rescued doors, hardware, fireplaces, mantels, and other materials from local and imported homes. Down the street from him is Victorian Revival, run by David Doucher. His company focuses on lighting and fixtures. With today’s drive for energy efficiency, Victorian Revival can remodel or retrofit an antique fixture to make it both fashionable and sustainable. Doucher also works with gas lanterns, converting them to electrical fixtures. For builders in Eastern Ontario, he also has an Ottawa location. The Junction Triangle area of Toronto is home to a collection of vintage architectural stores along Dundas Street West. Smash Recovery is a large storefront owned by Paul Mercer, who presents individual pieces, like fireplaces or ironwork, in a gallery-like setting. Across the street is Post + Beam Reclamation, operated by Doug Killaly, is yet another location for architectural materials, such as fireplaces, doors, and mantels. Less than a block down the street is Metropolis Living, run by the brother-sister team of Maggie Gattesco and Phil Freire. They handle architecturally interesting goods, but also repurpose them into other items, as does Forever Interiors, which was established by Martin Scott who creates furniture and interior items from vintage materials. Further down the block, Peter Breese of Eclectic Revival specializes in light fixtures from the 1900s to the 1930s. Travelling westward to St. Jacob’s, Ont., is Artefacts - Salvage & Design, run by Chris Blott and Scott Little. This company has moved from being an architectural salvage company to one specializing in furniture from recycled wood, stained glass, terra cotta, and industrial materials. However, if you have a “certain something” you’re looking for, you may want to contact them first. In Mallorytown, east of Kingston, Ont., is Ballycanoe and Company. John Sorensen specializes in19th-century architectural salvage. Housed in an 1850s-era homestead, Ballycanoe focuses on rural architectural salvage. Included in its collection are folk-archi-

tecture pieces, many with their original paint. As expected, most of the stock comes from homes salvaged in Eastern Ontario. Closer to Toronto, in Cobourg, is Legacy Vintage, operated by Sven Kromanis. Located close to Hwy 401, his multi-acre site is organized by categories. As you enter, you see electrical fixtures and hardware. Further in, you’ll encounter plumbing, decorative metals, mantels, and fireplaces. The basement is filled with windows and doors, organized by decade and individually labelled by location. If you’ve seen a period movie, like Cinderella Man or Chicago, chances are the doors or fixtures came from Legacy Vintage, and most of the doors and fixtures from the Saw 1 through Saw 4 horror movies came from Legacy Vintage, too. The front yard is filled with facades, front porches, and decorative outdoor woodwork. The back acres are filled with wood, ready for recycling, taken from floors, walls, and barns. Kromanis does not remanufacture or refinish these materials. Unfortunately, not all homes may be preserved, so many rural and urban homes are eventually slated for demolition. If you’re looking for a 4-inch-thick, solid-oak door from a mansion in Toronto’s Forest Hill or some hand-cut limestone from a Kingston, Ont., home that was removed to make way for a new building on campus, these are some of the places to find materials that can be reused in your new sustainable building. When we reuse building materials, not only are we saving the environment, but we are also reclaiming a little bit of our history. Sam Goldberg established Canada’s first biodiesel retail outlet in 2003. Since then has been involved in energy conservation, green construction, and renewable energy development. He is currently a freelance energy consultant. Company


Artefacts Salvage 46 Isabella Street & Design




St. Jacobs 519 664 3760

Contact Chris & Scott

Balleycanoe & Co.

150 Rockfield Mallorytown Road RR4 613-659-3874

John Sorensen

Eclectic Revival

3075 Dundas St. W Toronto


Peter Breese

Forever Interiors

2903 Dundas St. W Toronto

Martin 416-291-2001 Scott

Legacy Vintage

540 Division Street Cobourg


Sven Kromanis

Metropolis Living

2989 Dundas St. W Toronto


Phil Freire

Post + Beam Reclamation

2869 Dundas St. W Toronto


Doug Killaly

Smash Recovery 2880 Dundas

St. W



The Door Store

1260 Castlefield



Paul Mercer Sam Mirshak

Victorian Revival

1150 Castlefield



Dave Doucher

· · · · · · · ·

Assurance Services Acquisitions and Mergers Business Advisory Services Corporate and Real Estate Financing Estate and Succession Planning Special Investigations and Audits Taxation Services Valuations

Abrahamse Berkis Pinto LLP CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS 2 St. Clair Avenue West, 9TH Floor Toronto, Ontario M4V 1L5

Tel: 416-927-8700 • Fax: 416-927-8948 Email: SBM spring 2011


Renewable Builder Showcase

Royal Pine Homes By Staff


n the world of mandatory labelling, Richmond Hill, Ont., stands out as one of the few cities that leaves it up to the builder to propose solutions. In order to secure limited sanitary sewage allotmentss for new development, builders were asked to make sustainability proposals to the town, with the best proposal getting the most allotments. Royal Pine Homes seized this opportunity to go above and beyond the ENERGY STAR standard with a number of HVAC upgrades, including a strong focus on renewable energy. Renewable energy comes either directly from the sun or is opportunistically gleaned from sources that would otherwise go to waste. The renewable upgrades include a PowerPipe, or drain water heat recovery (DWHR ) device, which extracts up to 40 per cent of the heat that goes down the drain during a shower and uses it to preheat incoming cold water. This upgrade was funded by Enbridge’s DWHR program. Another upgrade is a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), which recovers waste heat (or in summer, the waste cooling) from exhaust air fans to condition fresh intake air. In addition to these two heat-recovery devices, each home will have a solar hot-water preheat system. This single panel EnerWorks solar array was installed by Alpha Comfort Control. The installation requires five separate steps and a significant level of co-ordination between the site supervisor and the installation contractors. As this trade is still relatively new in Ontario, companies like Alpha Comfort Control are creating the standard for service, commissioning, maintenance, and warrantees for leading builders like Royal Pine. The Richmond Hill project is important both from a sustainability perspective and in terms of creating and improving the industry’s capacity to install renewable upgrades. When a large production builder, like Royal Pine, takes on a significant renewable upgrade, like solar or DWHR, it has a positive ripple effect across the industry. The learning curve on new installations and new trades services can be quite steep. Here are two examples of the kinds of learning curves that go into these renewable upgrades. Both the PowerPipe and the solar lines sets are made of copper, which is a valuable scrap metal that requires a set of loss-prevention protocols be put in place to ensure the product does get removed from the site. The solar installation process overlaps with several traditional building trades, including: plumbing, HAVC, roofers, and insulators/draftproofers. The solar trade has to be aware of the schedules and activities of each of these other trades to ensure smooth and timely installations. The homes also feature rigid insulated sheathing, compact fluorescent lights, 92 per cent efficient furnaces, 65 per cent efficient HRVs, and Zone “C” ENERGY STAR windows. These homes rate an 82 on the EnerGuide scale, which is 20 per cent better than ENERGY STAR currently requires as its minimum. There are other innovations of note in this showcase project. For example, Royal Pine is offering home buyers several upgrade packages beyond this high baseline, which include extended warrantees for the solar array. Consumer education and awareness are keys to executing these upgrade sales, and Royal Pine is supporting this with extensive customer surveys and consultation. The “Renewable Builder Showcase” is a new Sustainable Builder Magazine feature, sponsored by the Enbridge Drain Water Heat Recovery Program, in order to promote industry uptake by showcasing builders who use renewable energy upgrades in their new homes. 24

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Comfort and control.

Tankless condensing combination water heaters from Flowmax Flowmax condensing wall hung water heaters with on-demand domestic water production represents the latest technological know-how in producing space heating and domestic water production. The efficient Energy Star approved compact design products allows for ease of installation for new construction and retrofit applications. The availability of three model capacities and burner modulation affords flexibility in design and the ability to meet varying requirements for domestic water. The Flowmax water heaters can be used with multiple hydronic heating systems incorporating radiators, fan coils or in-floor heating while maintaining high efficiency levels and control. The products are manufactured with a corrosion resistant stainless steel heat exchanger for long life. The units also have a built in expansion tank, circulating pump and a flat plate heat exchanger. These Energy Star approved products offer a 10 year warranty on the main heat exchanger and 5 years on parts. The direct venting for these units can be installed with 2” or 3” PVC ULC S636 pipe and fittings with a maximum length up to 100 ft. These units have been certified by Intertek.

71 Innovation Drive, Unit 8 & 9, Vaughan, Ontario L4H 0S3 Tel. 905.264.1414 Fax: 905.264.1147 SBM spring 2011



Two hybrid systems each having 96% high efficiency gas furnace and add on 14.5 CEER air to air heat pump.

Old School Values Keep Him on the Leading Edge By Tracy Hanes


s Mike Martino walks through his company’s 25-year-old industrial warehouse unit in Vaughan, Ont., he points out the recent upgrades, such as the expanse of shiny, new ductwork that runs along the ceiling. He’s ripped out a series of inefficient ceiling-mounted heating units that used to warm the space, and replaced them with the new ductwork that will better distribute the heat generated by the 95 per cent high-efficiency central furnace that he’s installed. The old loading bay doors have been replaced with new insulated ones, and he’s replacing an old water heater with a new, highly efficient GE heat-pump water heater. “This is a typical industrial building; it’s very ineffi-


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cient, but all you hear about is the big push in new construction,” says Martino. “Yet, there are thousands of these old industrial units in the GTA (along with thousands of old houses) where we need to focus our attention. I decided to do something about it. I went back to basics, insulated where I could, changing the doors, changing the heating equipment, putting in low-flow toilets, and a new water heater”. “I’m going to save on heating costs upward of 50 per cent, and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. If owners of other units similar to this one did the same, they’d save considerable money.” Martino, president and CEO of Martino Contracting, believes in energy efficiency, whether it’s his own building or one of his clients’, which include many of Ontario’s largest builders such as Arista, Alliance, Aspen Ridge, Brookfield, Conservatory Group, Green Villa, Re-

High velocity Airmax heating systems installed in a closet complete with air conditioner

gal Crest, Country Wide, Great West, Great Gulf, Kaitlin, Lifetime Developments, Hush and others. His heating and air-conditioning company was recently honoured as 2010 Trade Contractor of the Year at the BILD Associate Awards. This award recognizes BILD’s associate members for quality, service, professionalism, leadership, and innovation when working together with a builder or renovator on a new home or renovation project. Some of Martino’s client relationships go back more than 30 years. One client says “they are committed to being innovative and lead their industry in implementing green solutions, while making their products and services user friendly”. “They lead the industry in providing increased homeowner warranties and after-closing support to new homeowners.” Martino, who is also the president of the Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning Contractors Association (HVACA), has worked in the heating, cooling and air-quality business for 34 years. His company has more than 45 employees and annual revenues of between $10 and $15 million. A large part of the business is centered in the residential sector, but he also does industrial and commercial projects, as well as retrofits and change-outs. In house, the company manufactures sheet metal for duct-

High efficiency furnace with Martino Airguard Filtration system

work and does all of the installation. It also services and installs high-efficiency gas furnaces, air-conditioning, indoor air-quality products and gas fireplaces, many of them ENERGY STAR rated. During his high-school days in the early 1970s, Martino had no intention of going into the home-heating and air-conditioning business. He wanted to be a physical education teacher, but it was a tough time for teachers then, and his basketball coach talked him out of it. He was also taking various shop classes including refrigeration and air conditioning, thinking he’d become a service technician instead. On a week-long work placement while still in high school he worked at Lennox Industries. “They were very kind to open the business to me and give me the opportunity,” recalls Martino. “I was in the application department, and I learned how to select and size equipment for homes, how to calculate heat gain/heat loss, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is interesting.’” He most enjoyed his time spent with the technical sales rep. “It got my mind going, and I got to know the vicepresident of marketing who mentored me. I thought it was a great career, and, even then, believe it not, we were talking about energy savings,” he says. “It convinced me to

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High efficiency furnace with Martino Airguard Filtration system

see that everyone needs heating, everyone wants comfort.” After graduating from Humber College in 1976, Martino accepted a full-time job at Lennox. “I walked in the first day and had on a suit. I had to report to the manager of parts and service, and he said, “Where do you live?’ Then he told me to go home and put on jeans and a T-shirt.” For 10 weeks, Martino swept floors, loaded and unloaded boxes, and hounded the sales manager and vice-president until he was put on the order desk. Within a year he was selling. “In four or five years I was the No. 1 territory manager, making the most sales in Canada,” he recalls, while taking sales and marketing courses at Ryerson and all of the technical courses offered by Lennox. In 1987, he and the late Alan Dearie formed Dearie Martino, which they eventually sold to Lennox, while continuing to operate the business 28

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for them. Fifteen months ago, Martino bought the company back. The company has installed more than 70,000 HVAC systems throughout Ontario since 1987. Martino has always been a firm believer in energy efficiency and reducing our impact on the environment. He has weathered the ebb and flow of green popularity, from the government’s off-oil program in the early ’80s, where incentives were offered to consumers to switch their old oil furnaces to natural gas, to the advent of the R2000 program and, more recently, the introduction of ENERGY STAR, GreenHouse and LEED-Canada for Homes designations. Ontario Building Code changes coming in 2012 will also make it mandatory for builders to meet higher efficiency standards, which is something Martino has collaborated with builders on for over 30 years.

Technician working in Martino’s fabrication shop

On balcony: Martino Air side discharger air conditioning unit installed with Airmax high velocity system

Industrial unit retrofit: installing new ductwork for central heating and cooling.

“My interest in energy efficiency and green products goes back to the ’70s,” he says. “It’s just part of doing your job well.” To illustrate his point, Martino produces a series of photos from 1978, celebrating the opening of a new home development that featured rooftop solar PV. He also notes that heat pumps, which became popular and then faded in the market, are making a resurgence, as well as solar hot-water heating systems. Martino was part of the installation of ground source

heat pumps for Townwood Homes in the 1980s. While falling fuel prices put the brakes on energy-efficiency momentum in the ’80s, he believes the current interest in green is here to stay. “The reason there’s so much interest in it now is that the coming generation, my children and others, are really concerned about climate change. And it is reinforced by the fact that energy prices are so high,” he says. “It’s been an evolution to get us to where we are today. EnerGuide and ENERGY

Lennox high efficiency air conditioning systems and Lennox gas generator installed in a custom home

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From left to right: BILD President Stephen Dupuis, Mike Martino and Energy Minister Brad Duguid

STAR have created more awareness, and people are more familiar with terms like SEER.” (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio used to rate air conditioners.) He has watched heating and cooling technology evolve furnaces from 55 per cent efficiency, to 78 to 80 per cent efficient models, to today’s 95-plus super-efficient units with two stage gas valve and variable speed direct-drive motors. Heat recovery ventilators and air-filtration systems are becoming more commonplace as homes become more airtight. “Everyone learns as we go along,” he says. “And as builders begin to look at the house as a system, they are realizing an integrated design approach is required, and they are watching more closely how different components influence each other.” For example, a high- efficiency furnace still needs to be rightsized, and that is dependent upon the levels of air sealing and insulation. As homes are better constructed now, Martino thinks “the day is coming when we are going to have to zone houses or have two systems.” An example he cites is a recent Hush project where the large new home incorporated an HEG furnace with a high-efficiency heat pump.


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Other builders are incorporating high-efficiency furnaces with electric and radiant heating, and Martino sees more applications for high-velocity heating, such as in-cooling third floors. His company is also starting to rent high-efficiency water tanks and combo systems. While his focus on green has given the company a competitive advantage, Martino says excellent customer service is another vital component of the business. Martino does things that other competitors do not, such as installing a Martino Airguard filter box (enabling the homeowner to install filters of their choice up to 16 MERV efficiency), installing setback thermostats as standard, providing extended warranties and initiating free homeowner visits to measure the airflow within homes and properly balance air distribution. “This is my way of improving the environment and reducing the carbon footprint. Succeeding in this business is all about getting the right systems installed and working at peak efficiencies. Ultimately, it comes down to service,” says Martino. “It comes down to service and giving the homeowner what they need.” For more information click on

Like a Green Phoenix By Staff


nergy Saving Products’ (ESP) CEO Leon Prevost was in Chicago attending the AHR Expo in January 2009 when he got a phone call from his wife, company President Elaine Prevost, telling him of the late night fire. Although devastated, his was determined cease the opportunity that was available even in this crisis. With resolution and a lot of hard work from employees, suppliers, customers, friends and family, the company was up and running in a temporary facility within two and a half weeks of the fire. Then the whole Prevost family set about designing a new building. The design of the new building was completed by Leon and his sons (Tim, in Technical Support and Training, and Daniel, in charge of Electrical Research and Development), working closely with the General Contractor on the reconstruction of the new manufacturing plant. “We came up with our own plans from the start of the design to the finish,” says Daniel. “We wanted practical energy-efficiency, and of course we also wanted to showcase our Hi-Velocity System for everyone visiting the factory.” High-efficiency chillers, boilers and solar panels were also included in the new plans. Some 22 months later the company had leading edge manufacturing facility, which will be certified under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. “The

new factory reduces our energy usage by 60 percent,” notes Daniel. Each air handling unit utilizes its own a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). The warehouse and office space are outfitted with multiple air handling systems with numerous zones allowing each occupant to control the temperature in their own space. This promotes productivity, comfort and well-being, as well as demonstrating a fully energy efficient system. Each air handling unit also uses the company’s own HE PS air purification system, which utilizes photo-catalytic technology to eliminate VOC’s, CO, and odours from the air. The air handling units are also equipped with CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) monitoring sensors that modulate the amount of fresh air and exhaust air to provide the building with optimal indoor air quality. Another renewable energy system being incorporated in this building is a solar collector system to supply supplementary heat to the building and hot water tank. What began as a disaster has turned into a new vision. System. “We look forward to our Grand Re-opening in May, and greeting existing customers as well as welcoming new customers,” said Leon. “Now, we not only talk the talk on efficiency and sustainability, but also walk the walk and lead by example.” You can find a video featuring the new building on YouTube by searching ‘Energy Saving Products New Facility’.

Celebrating leadership in the HVAC industry, we congratulate Martino Contractors Ltd. for their award as BILD’s Contractor of the Year!

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Furnace? By Greg Labbe


here are simple lessons in folk tales and traditional stories that are retold and reinterpreted time and again. I want to try a modern building-design read on the tale of the Three Little Pigs. If you read carefully, you will see there was never much debate about straw-bale versus wood-framed versus full-brick construction. The focus was, rather, about durability, quality, and resiliency of the building envelope. As for the wolf, I think he represents a depleted environment and our concerns about energy security personified in the big, bad utilities cutting you off, because you can’t pay your bills. The moral I take form the story is that you should invest in a quality building envelope, one that keeps the energy wolf at bay. Customers will always say they can’t afford this or that upgraded, especially when it’s for something as unspectacular as the building envelope. But, I have always looked to OBC codes for what they are: bare minimums for comfort and envelope performance. That is my starting point and then I look at where my maximums could be and find a realistic spot somewhere in between. My belief in the importance of the building envelope was reinforced recently as I was insulating a home on a bitterly cold January 32

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day. I’ve been in the insulation business for more than 12 years. I’ve worked with old and new houses, some had insulation, some didn’t; but what they all had in common was at least one large heating system chugging away come winter time. I was working on a major retrofit of an older home. These homeowners did their research and they didn’t blow their budget on granite counter tops, but, instead, they wanted to perfect the home’s thermal envelope. They had the rather impressive goal of retrofitting a 1950s house to the Passive House standard. Naturally, I poured a lot of insulation into the second-storey roofline, so much so that, while it was -10oC outside, it was more than 15oC inside, with only a 1,500W plug-in electrical heater (not much better than a glorified hair dryer) running in the basement. The question I had, since there was no conventional heating system chugging away to keep the place warm, was: “Why do we even need one?” This was an unfinished shell, with only a third of the insulation installed in the walls, yet the place was just as warm as some of the rooms in my own 1920s, double-brick house in Toronto. I have been looking into the Passive House concept along with a colleague, who studied the standard while going to school in Germany. And, I admit it takes a bit of time for the enormity of the concept of no conventional heating system to sink in. But in that little retrofit on a cold January day, I began to really understand what it meant. In

the same way I now fully understand the story the Three Little Pigs. Though variations in the tale exist, I will sum them all up to say that the two pigs who built simply to code minimums, hoping their oversized HVAC system would save them, ended up taking refuge in the third pig’s house. So, I would not be surprised if, one day, this Passive House retrofit homeowner could have a house full of unexpected guests, including those who thought they had renovated sufficiently by getting a high-efficiency furnace. I’m specifically thinking of the way folks got to know their warmest neighbours after the infamous 1998 ice storm in Quebec. I also want to talk about the classic drawings of the various pigs’ houses, because there is a lesson there, too. They were only as big as they needed to be and of a thermally simple design. That may be a result of the fact that heat loss is a function of a home’s surface area, not its volume. The surface area of a home is increased by adding dormers, overhangs, and extensions, which results in added thermal bridging. Insulation is vital, but design is also key to keeping the wolf at bay. The trends in the United States are showing that more new home buyers are opting for smaller houses and are happier as a result1. This is something Sarah Susanka has been reinforcing in her book series The Not So Big House. Susanka essentially says build small. And what you save in materials and labour, plough it back into a great design with personalized features - something that speaks volumes about you and how you want to live your life. I have long been a fan of traditional wisdom. I think there is a lot to learn from the past, even the recent past, like the 1970s, if you know where to look. With a small footprint and basic design, R60 attic, R44 walls, R60 basement walls, and R30 insulation under the

basement floor, the 1977 Saskatchewan Conservation House needed no conventional heating system. And, it was built in Regina, which has a designed degree day rating of 5661! Seems we forgot about that one, and, to a certain extent, we gave up on the quest for radically energy- efficient housing when cheap energy prices returned in the 1980s. More than a decade later the Germans and Swedes refined the concepts used in the Saskatchewan Conservation House by creating the Passive House standard. Their approach was simple: instead of trying to figure out which heating system will compensate for a poorly insulated, leaky envelope, they wondered what kind of building envelope was needed to minimize the heating system. This was their new take on an old familiar tale. With regard to the building shell, the base-line heat-load assumption in the Passive House standard is 15 kWh/m²/year, and the building shell is tight down to 0.6 ACH @ -50 Pa. The average Ontario house has about 10 times the air leakage and consumes 10 times more energy - or 170kWh/m2/year.2 I like to think the third Little Pig knew that HVAC systems last 10 to 15 years, but home envelopes last 100 or more. So, I urge you to take another look at your building envelope and consider the lessons of the Three Little Pigs: build a well-insulated shell of simple design, with minimal thermal bridging and air leakage, and the Big Bad Wolf will never be at your door. Greg Labbe is the Director of Green Consulting and New Home Rating at GreenSaver, a not-for-profit company dedicated to improving the built environment. He was the head of GreenSaver’s home insulation division, until opening the consulting and rating division in 2011. www.

Enbridge Ranks as a World Leader in Green By Lenard Hart


nbridge is currently ranked as the top Canadian company in the World’s Top 100 Sustainable Businesses.* It’s hard to say whether it’s better to be No. 16 in the world or No. 1 in your own country, but Enbridge is both. For the past decade, Enbridge has supported many green activities in Ontario and in other parts of Canada. But, it was a surprise to me they are so far along the path to becoming a sustainable business.

Top Canadian Companies


Enbridge Inc Encana Corp. Sun Life Financial Inc Nexen Inc Transcanada Corp. Toronto-Dominion Bank Royal Bank Of Canada Telus Corp.

16 25 50 59 65 68 71 88

CO2 Productivity Sales ($) divided by CO2 (tonnes) $3,782 $2,819 $397,663 $1,953 $630 $244,577 $255,324 $28,012

In the past, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Enbridge on the R2000, EnerGuide for Houses, ENERGY STAR for Homes, lowincome housing, drain water heat recovery, the, and the High Performance New Construction programs, as well as the Green Building Festival, at least a dozen integrated design charrettes, and a solar hot water, measurement program and, now, as a sponsor of this magazine. Such international recognition is rare for any Canadian company, and we at Sustainable Builder Magazine wish to congratulate Enbridge and all eight of the Canadian companies that made this prestigious list.

Leadership Diversity % of Women on the Board of Directors

% Tax Obligation Paid in Cash


15% 20% 25% 8% 15% 25% 20% 8%

62% 64% 100% 70% 84% 100% 100% 0%

Canada Canada Canada Canada Canada Canada Canada Canada

* Analysis for the Global 100 was based on the work of a group of sustainability research providers. The top 10 per cent of sustainability and financial performers from a global universe of 3,500 stocks were identified, and these were then ranked by a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) calculated using environmental, social, governance (ESG), and financial data collected by Corporate Knights Research Group and verified with The BLOOMBERG PROFESSIONAL® service.

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Ashley Smith


n an article from the winter 2010 issue, I made the assertion that siteplanning should take solar access into account, and that solar site-planning calculations are easy. The aim of the present article is to illustrate how solar angles can inform site-planning and also to demonstrate their simplicity. Since this issue is focused on HVAC systems and energy, it seems fitting to include a discussion on passive heating techniques, such as reductions in heating and cooling loads, and how they have important ramifications for HVAC design and overall building energy consumption. Research carried out by NRCan in conjunction with CMHC, has shown that solar passive design can reduce a home’s heating demand by up to 50 per cent compared with a traditionally designed home with no solar considerations. This is a significant reduction. The tricky bit is that unless so34

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Solar Site Planning Part 2 lar access is considered at the site level, the architect’s options for incorporating passive strategies into the built form are likely to be severely restricted. A detailed explanation of the calculations can be found in Site Planning for Solar Access: A Guidebook for Residential Developers and Site Planners (1979) published by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development but a synopsis (and the important bits) are given here. Using the true altitude angle1 on December 21, at 9 am/3 pm, because this is the day when the sun is lowest in the sky, one can calculate the necessary minimum distance between buildings to absorb nearly all of the sun’s usable heat. At Toronto’s latitude, this angle* is approximately 14º. The next step is to represent the concept building envelope as a series of poles corresponding to heights at the corners, then plug the values into this equation:

“where S = shadow length (this is, what you’re looking for), H = the height of the S=

H [tan (A1 ) + tan (Sa )]

poles at each corner, Al = the sun angle (14º if you’re in Toronto on December 21, at 9 am/3 pm), and Sa = the slope of the site where positive lies above horizontal in a clockwise direction”. Note, you must calculate an S value for each different pole of height H. Once S is calculated, draw its length in a plan, angling it 45º east and west from north, and, lastly, draw a box around the projections. This gives you the “angular obstruction zone,” or the area which the building shades and where another building should not be placed. Alternatively, if 14º is too low, and the zone is too large to accommodate the necessary number of plots, NRCan (Tap the Sun 1998) recommends using the true altitude

on October 21, at 10 am/2 pm, which is approximately 33º at Toronto’s latitude and will capture about 70 per cent of maximum solar radiation between October and February. Additionally, one can reduce the angular obstruction zone by drawing the length S in the plan and angling it 30º east and west of north, rather than 45º, as previously suggested. The methodology described above will provide a lot size, shape, and orientation based on a concept building envelope and will safeguard solar access, enabling passive solar gains in winter. The next step in the development process is, of course, designing a building which also incorporates solar considerations. For instance, windows must be given protection such that the low winter sun can penetrate inside, while the high summer sun is blocked. Also, at least 50 per cent of the window area should face south or not more than 25º east or west of south. And ideally, south-facing windows should open onto a thermal mass, which can take the form of stone or tile flooring or masonry interior walls, etc. While this elementary calculation does not take the place of detailed energy modelling, it does provide planners with sufficient input to include solar access in their highlevel decision-making - input that, in the author’s opinion, is essential to the future of low-energy consumption homes.

We’ve got what it takes to make top quality pipe, duct and fittings.

Ashley Smith, LEED AP, is a freelance sustainability consultant. She hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biodiversity and Conservation from McGill, and a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from U of T. * The true altitude angle can be interpolated from a stereographic sun diagram, such as the Pilkington Sun Angle Calculator, or obtained from almost any energy modelling software. 1-800-561-3842 SBM spring 2011


Left to right: Zbigniew Barwicz of Pure Energies, Energy Minister Brad Duguid, BILD Chair Paul Golini, Chris Stern of Pure Energies, and President and CEO of BILD Stephen Dupuis

Green by Example By Staff


orking with solar aggregator PURE Energies, BILD has recently installed an eighty-panel solar PV array on the rooftop of its offices at 20 Upjohn Road in Toronto. The installation includes a monitoring system in the buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lobby displaying real-time performance data on a screen for all visitors. Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid was at the BILD headquarters for a real-time demonstration of how the solar installation operates and how it transfers energy to Ontarioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s power grid. The solar array, which will produce about 15,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year (producing an estimated $12,000 in annual clean energy revenue) was the next logical step in the greening of the headquarters building for the residential construction industry which has been extensively upgraded for energy efficiency, and has a plethora of motion sensors, timers and set-back switches installed throughout the 20,000 square foot facility.


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â&#x20AC;&#x153;This solar project is an example of the active role the residential construction industry is playing in Ontarioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clean energy economy. Ontarioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s energy plan is creating jobs and opportunities for businesses and families across Ontario as we continue to build a clean, modern energy system,â&#x20AC;? said Minister Duguid. The solar PV installation not only generates revenue for the partners, but more importantly assists Ontario in its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and most importantly, provides a highly visible example to residential home builders within the GTA and across Ontario. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are not in the business of telling our builders what to do, but we are happy to lead by example and to provide information and education to builders on best practices in sustainable development and green building,â&#x20AC;? said BILD President and CEO Stephen Dupuis. Dupuis noted that the facility is home to BILD as well as the Ontario Home Buildersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Association, and EnerQuality Corporation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Homebuilders visiting at 20 Upjohn Road for forums, workshops or governance meetings wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be able to miss the roof-top solar panels mounted along the south perimeter, but even if they do, a screen mounted in the lobby will continually display the performance of the roof-top mounted panels,â&#x20AC;? Dupuis stated. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are extremely proud to be a part of this project, which is an excellent example of the public policy of the Green Energy Act meeting the private investment of PURE Energies and the industry leadership of BILD,â&#x20AC;? added Chris Stern, PURE Energiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Vice-President of Builder Relations. PURE Energies of-

fers no cost solar to participants who will enter into a long term contractual arrangement, allowing any homeowner to participate in the producing green power, not just those with deep pockets.

The top builders in Ontario have recognized the value or Solar with every new home they build, isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it time you learn why?

2010 OHBA Builder of the Year

Building Innovation & Excellence Award

Green Builder of the Year

R-2000 Builder of the Year


Contact: â&#x20AC;˘ 647-967-0787 â&#x20AC;˘ SBM spring 2011


Site Specific A Site-level Look at Those Who are Making Sustainability Happen Name: Branko Mijatovic Trade: HVAC contractor, president and owner of Alpha Comfort Control



Comfort. Health. Delight.

In the spirit of designing a home that suits your needs and lifestyle, HUSH offers four green packages: HUSH GREEN HOMETM HUSH EMERALD HOMETM HUSH HOLISTIC HOMETM À LA CARTE HOMETM


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Background: Born in Serbia (the former Yugoslavia) in 1962, he was trained as an aircraft instruments, radio, and electro equipment (IRE) mechanic and began his career maintaining and repairing airplanes and helicopters. He also got his international licence to work on Lear and Falcon jets. In 1982 he started a part-time business, servicing residential appliances and was also wrote, edited, and published technical manuals for washing-machine repairs and maintenance. This lead to working on commercial installations like coolers and walk-in freezers, and eventually to working on industrial compressor food-preparation equipment. He immigrated to Canada in 1999, and like many skilled new Canadians, he started all over again. Learning English was another big challenge, on top of retraining on North American equipment and meeting the necessary standards. He took several jobs as an HVAC subcontractor, doing everything from installing air conditioners to sheet metal ductwork. After gaining more than a dozen certifications in Canada, including a water furnace geothermal certificate, he started his own business. Claim to Fame: Installing renewable systems on Royal Pine Solar Development in Richmond Hill Motto: “Knowledge and quality work are the way to success.”

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When is the Right Time to Choose Renewable Energy?


e need energy all the time By to do everyGregory thing. We need energy K. Cook to build and operate the homes and buildings we construct. And we often use it without considering the source or the inputs for the energy to be generated. In Canada, oil is an exported commodity, and we no longer, typically, use it to power our buildings. In our predominantly cold climate, the switch to natural gas from oil for heating was driven by the much lower cost of natural gas. Yet, the impact of oil pricing on our buildings remains in the form of building materials and transportation. Until non-oil substitute materials are developed, oil remains an integral part of our costs in our buildings. At publication time, the price of oil was approximately $100 per barrel, and the price of gas in the GTA was $1.21 per litre. This latest pricing benchmark compares closely to September 2008, prior to the credit crunch and the following Great Recession. The recurring benchmark pricing is really just the other side of the “pricing pothole” through which the economy drove in the last two years, along the roadway of increasing oil costs. This recent benchmark was reached by events in the Middle East, and, in particular, Libya. A country that exports some two per cent of the world’s oil supply is significant for its part only because the supply is tight and the energy chain is sensitive. And, so, we are driven to consider what alternative energy supply opportunities are available. Consider solar power: sunlight is the world’s largest source of carbon-neutral power. In one hour, more energy from the sun strikes the Earth than all the energy consumed by humans in a year. Meanwhile, solar panels contribute a mere 0.1 per cent to global electricity consumption. These days you may consider a number of the clean technologies available to


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power your building - solar, wind, or geothermal. You may even consider on-grid and off-grid power solutions. The ability to capture and convert a freely available energy supply is attractive. The opportunity to do so will require an investment in some new technology. And, when considering new technologies the real questions you should be asking are: How soon? And how much? Early adopters face the uncertainty of the future. Without a compelling event or a deadline to mandate a decision, the cheapest outcome may arrive in the maximum amount of time. Conversely, the quickest result may cost the most. Within the timeframe for a decision, available choices limit your ability to get the best results in all cases. Each decision sets your future course. In preparing for a decision, you can try to align the facts with your view of the world and your expectation of the outcomes for the various paths of decision. As events unfold faraway from where you are building, the impacts on your decisions may not be revealed for some time. But the essential truths remain valid: a building costs money to maintain and operate; and the energy to heat it in our cold climate, or otherwise power it. If trying to decide whether to use renewables on your projects, you may want to consider the following: Q: Are renewable energies ready for market adoption? A: Yes. Q: Are renewable energies economically sensible at this time? A: Almost. As oil prices increase, the question of cost for alternative energy sources disappears and the timeliness approaches. Q: Is the leadership benefit worth the potential added costs and risks? A: This is the key question for you to consider and it will vary from builder to builder depending on your market position and risk tolerance. Gregory Cook, P.Eng. is a Consulting Engineer and President of Cook Consulting Engineers Limited.

Pink is the New Green


etween the bones of every house there is something that can help it be more sustainable and energy efficient. It’s the insulation. Sure, most By of the time it’s hidden beStephen hind the walls and even if Dupuis you get back there during a renovation, it’s not very sexy. But as the industry shifts to provide customers more green options, the manufacturing industry is no different, and there really is value in knowing what’s behind those walls. It’s no secret that poor insulation can result in cold floors, uneven heating levels and mold. Recently, I was invited to tour the Owens Corning Toronto plant on McNicoll Avenue in Scarborough. From the outside, it is a massive jungle of industrial steel and heavy equipment but inside, things are a little softer, a little pinker. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain. The international innovator of glass-fiber technology has been working over the last three years to increase the amount of natural and recycled material in their newly-launched EcoTouch Pink Fiberglas Insulation. They are touting a minimum of 70 per cent recycled content and a minimum of 96 per cent (by weight) of natural material consisting of minerals and plant-based compounds in this latest product.

Last May, the Toronto plant was “ecoretrofitted” and research and development of the product was completed in Canada instead of the U.S. Retrofitting of the American plants is expected to be completed later this year, but as I was told during the tour, the company is also proud to say that the product was available to builders and contractors in Canada first. Now, when does that ever happen? At BILD, we’ve adopted a mandate to promote sustainable development and green building practices. We also aim to educate and motivate members, which is one reason we partnered with EnerQuality Corporation, the organization that operates the ENERGY STAR program in Ontario, to provide workshops to our members. We know there’s a thirst for knowledge about innovative products and practices, and this new generation of insulation is only one example of how business leaders in our industry are looking at ways to minimize our impact on the environment—from the inside out. Sunning Ourselves at BILD HQ Just a few pages away, inside this issue of Sustainable Builder magazine, you’ll read all about the new 80-panel solar PV (photovoltaic) array that PURE Energies installed

on BILD’s rooftop. I admit, I was pretty pumped about our latest green initiative here at the Association’s headquarters so we invited our partners at PURE Energies, our Directors, our green builders, our staff and our tenants, which include the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and EnerQuality Corporation (the ENERGY STAR for new homes organization) to help us celebrate last month. We were also honoured to have Energy Minister Brad Duguid join us along with Elizabeth McDonald, President of the Canadian Solar Industries Association. One of the reasons we gathered everyone at the building and in front of a HD screen mounted in our foyer, was to show realtime data of solar energy collected and converted before being fed back into Ontario’s power grid. We also wanted to show how easily the elements can be installed and understood. This kind of project isn’t just for office buildings or new home developments either. A partnership between PURE Energies and Direct Energy has resulted in a new program for homeowners and the installation and maintenance of the solar panels is at no cost to the homeowner. We’ve learned how easy it is to soak up the sun and now you can too. Bring on the sun! Stephen Dupuis is the President and CEO of Building Industry & Land Development Association SBM spring 2011


ICLR’s First Designed… for Safer Living home located in West Point, on the western shore of Prince Edward Island.

Adapting to Climate Change: Insurance Industry Developing a Safety Accreditation for Builders


By Staff

anada’s home insurers are looking to establish a system to recognize builders who construct homes less likely to experience damage from earthquakes and severe weather events. New homes that exceed the requirements of the Building Code in terms of safety and durability would be eligible for this accreditation. The industry is currently looking for builders to create a system that would allow this to happen. The program under development is called Designed… for Safer Living® and it is aimed at demonstrating the quality of construction, design, and landscaping to consumers and insurers. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) is seeking to create market recognition for builders who design and build solid, resilient homes by creating a clear and understandable signal for consumers and insurers. ICLR is a research institute, founded by Canada’s insurance industry in 1997, with the mandate to find ways Canadians can reduce the risk of deaths, injuries, and property damage resulting from severe


SBM spring 2011

weather events and earthquakes. Worldwide, insurers report that losses from flooding, wind storms, wild fires, and earthquakes have doubled every five to seven years since the 1960s. By improving construction practices, the industry hopes to confront this trend. Canada’s insurers have invested in a long-term research program that identifies best practices for the design and construction of new homes. ICLR has provided support to dozens of academic researchers who are working to identify these best practices. This research deals with damage from wind, snow, ice, earthquakes, mould, and a range of other hazards. This investment is beginning to bear fruit. For example, in 2010 the insurance industry made its first submissions in several decades meant to strengthen the Building Code . Canada’s home insurers tasked ICLR to document practical building practices and materials that are proven to withstand earthquakes and extreme weather. The result of this research is available online at: http:// Some key insights involve adding protection to windows and doors, providing stronger connections between the roof, walls and foundation, and making the roof thicker.

ICLR recognizes that simply creating a list of good building practices will not by itself make Canadians safer. To date, ICLR has worked with Cooperators General Insurance to build three Designed… for Safer Living homes. They identified homes that needed to be rebuilt following major fires and agreed to go beyond their contractual obligations to build disaster-resilient homes. The first of these homes, in Prince Edward Island, survived the remnants of Hurricane Noel with no damage. ICLR is now reaching to home builders committed to building excellence, to provide affordable and independently verified property protection. The insurance industry was instrumental in promoting roadsafety improvements, such as side-impact air bags and ABS brakes, and consumers understand these safety features are worth buying. ICLR seeks to bring this thinking to the new home industry. Builders can make new homes more resilient and give homeowners the increased peace of mind. Program benefits to home builders: • Independent verification provides a clear signal to consumers that your company builds homes that exceed the Building Code. • Cost effectiveness, as modest changes in design can significantly enhance loss prevention and buyers will pay for added safety. A similar program operates successfully in the United States. Home builders have constructed several thousand homes across the

country, which provide a solid foundation for success in Canada. Participating in the ICLR program has just two steps. First, to meet with ICLR inspectors prior to construction to discuss the following: • Architectural drawings, showing floor plans and elevations. • Window/door schedule. • Structural drawings (if applicable). • Base flood elevation (if applicable). • Truss drawings from the truss manufacturer. • Documentation on wall and roof sheathing, fastening schedules, and roof-covering materials used. An ICLR inspector must verify that materials, installation, construction, and building techniques meet program criteria for the location. At the end of this first stage, ICLR authorizes the builder to use the Designed… for Safer Living logo in its marketing materials. The second step involves inspections during the building process. The program requires that an ICLR inspector visit the building site approximately four times to verify compliance. At the end of this process, the homeowner would receive certification from ICLR. To learn more about our program, please visit or contact Grant Kelly, director, Climate Change Adaptation Projects, at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at gkelly@ or 416-364-8677.

Specifications and dimensions are subject to change without notice. Artist's concept. E.&O.E.

Palgrave office hours: Saturday to Wednesday Noon to 5:00 pm 905.583.7676

Visit our website SBM spring 2011


Rainwater harvesting tank being installed

Rainwater Harves

ting Guidelines for Ontario

By Chris Despins


lthough rainwater harvesting (RWH) is an ancient technique and is still practised in many rural areas of Ontario and across the world, adapting it to today’s urban environments and meeting current building code requirements pose a challenge to those who are considering incorporating RWH in their projects. Many Ontario municipalities have expressed interest in rainwater harvesting, as a result of constraints they are facing in terms of water draws or storm and sewage allotments. There are numerous benefits to rainwater harvesting, including: • On-site storm-water management; • Potable water savings; and • Available credits under Green building standards, such as LEED or municipal programs like the Toronto Green Standard. A multi-stakeholder working group has just released the Ontario Guidelines for Residential Rainwater Harvesting Systems. These guidelines address fundamental questions of rainwater usage, treatment, and system sizing through a comprehensive overview of the various components that


SBM spring 2011

comprise an RWH system, including: rainwater catchment and conveyance, storage tank selection and sizing, rainwater quality and treatment, non-potable water piping, backflow prevention, and chapters on handling both insufficient and excessive amounts of rainfall. For each of these topics, detailed design, installation, and management guidelines are provided based upon codes and standards applicable in the Ontario, such as Ontario’s Building Code and CSA Standards. In addition to referring to the applicable codes and standards, the guidelines provide best practices for addressing issues unique to Canada – especially handling cold-weather issues. One important contribution of this research was the development of tank-sizing guidelines and the development of computer software - the Rainwater Harvesting Design Tool - specifically aimed at sizing rainwater storage tanks. Free copies of the Ontario Guidelines for Residential Rainwater Harvesting Systems and the Rainwater Harvesting Design Tool are available at: and Chris Despins, M.Sc., P.Eng., President, Connect the Drops

Congratulations Martino Contractors Ltd. on your achievements!

SHEET METAL WORKERS’ INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION LOCAL UNION NO. 285 234 Attwell Drive Etobicoke, ON M9W 5B3 • Tel: 416-630-1160 • Fax: 416-630-2846

Geothermal made easy.

After many years of experience in the industry and hundreds of installations, we founded Quest Geothermal based on a simple idea: make it easy. Let us show you how to enhance your reputation as a green builder and a leader in your industry. Contact us today at 1-877-658-9997 or SBM spring 2011


Not All High-Efficiency Furnaces are the Same – Just as a Buick is not a Lexus


n my experience over the last 25 years, one of the worst things that can happen to a new home is to have a repeat failure of the heating By system, especially in an John ENERGY STAR-certiGodden fied home. After two failures, the homeowner’s trust and confidence in the builder is forever lost. And because ENERGY STAR labelling only deals with efficiency, it’s important for ENERGY STAR builders to choose furnaces that are also quiet, reliable, and durable. Until recently HVAC contractors have made all the decisions about the design and installation of heating systems in residential housing. The trend now is for builders to hire heating designers directly, in order to attain heating permits on a subdivision scale. With plans in hand, contract managers can now achieve more uniform pricing. Traditionally HVAC permits were secured by contractors, and the layouts were a “loss leader” to get the job, resulting heat loss designs were more cookie cutter. And in terms of energy-efficient housing, they usually didn’t reflect the actual home’s envelope as much as meet the minimum code. Thus, the heating plant was grossly oversized. To46 46

SBM SBM spring spring 2011 2011

day, heating designers are producing better designs, and the builder has better control of the furnace location. The more strategic placement of “risers” has created fewer bulkheads, resulting in lower costs. One question remains: Who chooses the actual equipment that is installed? It now seems in most cases the “brand” and model of the favoured HVAC contractor ends up in the house. The 2012 code changes allow for prescriptive path packages specifying furnaces with more than 92 per cent efficiency. This enables the builder to get a trade-off reduction in the required wall insulation levels when choosing higher annual fuel utilization efficiencies (AFUE). Currently, manufacturers are producing single-stage furnaces with 95 per cent efficiency ratings and three-speed motors, also referred to as permanently split capacitor (PSC) motors. In the past, such furnaces had electronically commutated motors (ECM), and efficiency ratings were at more than 92 per cent. It sounds like this is an improvement, but builders need to be aware that the real comparison should be made on other factors, in addition to high AFUEs and lower costs.

For gas-heated homes in southern Ontario, there will be 13 compliance approaches in the 2012 Building Code, and of these C, D, F, H, and J use furnaces with 94 per cent AFUE to trade off against insulated wall sheathing and an HRV. Path J is the same as the most popular trade-off package used by builders in the ENERGY STAR for New Homes – Builder’s Technical Specifications Version 3.0 and Version 4.0. In this option package, R22 walls are traded off against a 94 per cent furnace, and an HRV at 60 per cent, and a hot-water tank at an energy factor equal to 0.67 (EF= 0.67). In this industry brands such as Carrier and Lennox have long been considered the premium brands, with respect to furnaces. In the early ’90s, Carrier was the first to employ the use of ECM blower technologies in its Infinity furnaces. ENERGY STAR-certified builders became interested in ECM motors 15 years later, in 2005, with the electrical peak reduction pick list in ENERGY STAR Version 1.0. The Building Canada and Build America programs direct efforts to help builders critically review their production process to save materials and increase a building’s durability. The idea behind this is to spend more resources up front to reduce callbacks and increase consumer satisfaction over time.

As with best building practices, a higherquality mechanical system, such as a furnace, can reduce callbacks and increase customer satisfaction for only a couple of hundred dollars more at the front end. The question is: How do you choose when to invest more upfront? Other than an ENERGY STAR label and the right sizing of a furnace, what are the other key components a builder should “invest” in when choosing a furnace? For the answer, it is helpful to compare the choices available to a benchmark. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has various testing criteria that must be met by all furnace manufacturers. However, the ANSI tests only account for 60 per cent of some manufacturers’ test programs. ANSI tests, as well as the International Standard Organization (ISO) 9001 registered process, are applied by some manufacturers in their factories. In developing blower specifications and fan curves ANSI requires only one duct connected to the furnace. Many manufactures use this method. Better furnace manufacturers perform this test with more than one connection, to better simulate the actual performance in a house. Why? The better the distribution, the more comfort that exists, both in terms of “even heat” and air delivery for cooling for the occupants. There are industry maximum sound limits under ANSI testing for furnaces. However, better furnace manufacturers apply the same approach to reducing sound levels in air conditioners as they do to furnaces. There are big differences in the results between the quietest furnaces at low fire on two-stage, variable-speed furnaces and builder-model, high-efficiency furnaces. Typical furnaces experience a “noise spike” during ignition - a rapid rush of gas to cold burners. Quiet furnaces are outfitted with slow-opening gas valves to reduce this “spike.” When coupled with an ECM motor, the furnace can gradually and quietly “ramp up” to its desired heating mode. As houses have lower heat loss designs thanks to better windows, more insulation, and less air leakage, a “right-sized,” two-stage furnace provides more comfort to its occupants. Cycling, starts and stops, and large temperature swings are common with single-stage furnaces. Better quality two-stage furnaces can operate at about 60 per cent of full output and, thus, run for 90 per cent of the heating season. The average furnace cycles on and off an

average of 10, 000 cycles and burns gas for about 1,000 hours per annum. During a 20-year life expectancy that translates into 200, 000 on/off cycles and 20,000 hours of operation. A good analogy for understanding how a furnace works in a house is to think of it like an engine in your car. A car travelling 40 mph would have to travel 800, 000 miles and average four miles per trip (cycle) to achieve the same expected lifespan. Imagine turning on your car’s ignition a total of 10, 000 times for 365 days a year – that’s 23 times a day.

Some furnaces use hot surface igniters that are more brittle and prone to damage in transport to construction sites. The hot surface igniters are usually composed of silicon nitride, which runs on normal current (instead of failure-prone voltage regulators) that have passed 20-year reliability tests. Careful choices at the front end will result in a more satisfied home buyer. The less expensive furnaces may be priced that way for a reason, as even with a 94 per cent efficiency rating, they can still generate a service call mere weeks after closing, when an igniter (starter) fails.

attention attention QualitY builders QualitY builders

BIG CHANGES are coming with BIG CHANGES areCode coming with2. the Ontario Building in 2012. 2. the Ontario Building Code in 2012. How do I prepare? Howwill do I prepare? How maintain my advantage as a quality builder? How will I maintain my advantage as a quality builder?

Roxul presents a half day seminar in Milton to answer these questions and more and includes a tour of our of art to assist Roxul presents a half daystate seminar in manufacturing Milton to answerfacility these designed questions and morequality builders to stayaahead. The state seminar will be led by John Godden, known and includes tour of our of art manufacturing facility designed atowell assist quality builders to stay seminar. will be led by John Godden, a well known builder, rater andahead. energyThe consultant builder, rater and energy consultant. ®


Includes: Includes:

One seminar Roxul Half half day day seminars at at thethe Roxul Oneon half day 15th, seminar at the2011, Roxul plant on April plant Friday, April 2011 15th, 9am-1pm. plant on Friday, April 15th, 2011, 9am-1pm. 9am-1pm.

Topics include: Topics include:

Building Envelope, Mechanical, Municipalities and Building Envelope, Mechanical, Municipalities and mandated performance levels, and Renewables. mandated performance levels, and Renewables.

John is very passionate about the sustainability in the building industry. He does extensive John is very passionate about the sustainability in the building industry. He does extensive training with progressive builders and is happy to share the benefits of his experience. training with progressive builders and is happy to share the benefits of his experience. The seminar will run from 9am to 1pm and will include a short tour of Roxul’s The seminar will run from 9am to 1pm and will include a short tour of Roxul’s manufacturing facility. There will be an optional discussion period afterward for those manufacturing facility. There will be an optional discussion period afterward for those who wish to stay behind. Space is limited to 20 builders per event, so register early! who wish to stay behind. Space is limited to 20 builders per event, so register early!

To register please contact: Pamela Maclean 800-265-68782 SBM spring 2011


Regulating Energy Ratings for Houses By

Michael Lio Speaking in Code


rovinces across Canada are looking at the possibility of mandating energy ratings for houses. Mandatory labelling could help increase consumer awareness regarding their home energy use, encouraging them to upgrade their home’s energy efficiency, making it more attractive to potential buyers. It could also stimulate “green” jobs with many companies now positioned to capitalize on the demand for energy audits. There are, however, many unresolved questions that need to be addressed, to ensure any new regulatory system does not become a homeowner’s nightmare. Many point to the EnerGuide Rating System (ERS) as the answer. ERS has been the defacto standard that has served for many years as the voluntary approach to labelling. The ERS rater infrastructure has been well established across the country and could underpin a new regulatory system. While this is all true, redeploying a voluntary system to act as the new foundation for mandatory regulation may not be at all easy. Any mandatory rating system would need to enjoy broad acceptance. The EnerGuide Rating System has come under substantial criticism recently. In response, NRCan has agreed to substantially overhaul the system to better meet the needs of the marketplace. The new ERS


SBM spring 2011

will need some time to be tested and gain broad support if it is to act as an effective regulatory tool. With approximately 50,000 new homes built in Ontario every year that add to the approximately 1.8 million existing low-rise houses, labelling each house when it’s sold is not a formidable undertaking. Add to this the almost 1.5 million households in highrise condominiums and apartments, and it becomes clear very quickly that an arm’s length organization will likely be needed to co-ordinate the labelling activities. The system to rate Ontario’s houses must be thoroughly planned, managed, and administered to avoid problems and expenses that, ultimately, homebuyers would cover. The cost of the rating is a central concern that needs to be carefully considered. A needlessly expensive rating could generate widespread public backlash. The prevailing assumption that a rating can only derive from an on-site audit would need to be thoroughly tested. In fact, an argument can be made that for existing homes with an abundance of energy-use data already collected by local energy utilities, an on-site audit of energy use not only lacks precision, but is also redundant. It can be argued that an on-site audit adds an unnecessary cost and is only needed where homeowners are looking for advice on how to upgrade the performance of their buildings. The certification, training, and licensing of raters is a key issue that any new mandatory system would need to address. The rating a home receives cannot vary significantly from one rater to another. Public confidence in a rating system would be quickly eroded if home ratings were not calculated independent of the rater. Homeowner’s complaints must be dealt

with in a fair and transparent manner. The redress system that is adopted is critically important. The system will need to respond to homeowners’ complaints – everything from poor customer service to raters who recommend friends and relatives to perform the energy upgrades they recommend. Which stakeholders need to be consulted as a new system is devised? What role would be assigned to the provincial energy regulator as part of a new system? Do local electric and gas utilities have a role to play within the new system? If a rating is required under legislation, what actions taken by a homeowner would necessitate the need for an updated rating for his or her new home? These are important questions that would need to be resolved before the roll-out of any new mandatory system. Rolling out a mandatory home-energy rating system will be far more challenging than many imagine. A new mandatory rating system will need to use a well-regarded rating standard. It will need to use welltrained and competent raters. A new system will need to properly inform and educate homeowners and provide them with the assurance of accuracy and precision. Homeowners will expect courteous and timely service at a reasonable cost, and where the system fails to deliver on its promise, they will expect fair and prompt redress. Meeting the expectations of homeowners may well be the biggest challenge of any new mandatory rating system. Michael Lio is a building scientist and a professional engineer. He is the Executive Director of the Homeowner Protection Centre of Canada. He can be contacted at consulting@

Sustainable Builder Magazine - Spring 2011  

Sustainable Builder Magazine - Spring 2011

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