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summer 2011 • Vol. 2, Issue 3

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:

The Renovation Issue

World’s Greenest Homes Host John Bell at Home

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CONTENTS SUMMER 2011 • Vol. 2, Issue 3

ON THE COVER: John Bell of HTO Water Technologies

2 The Renovation Issue 3 All Homes Need Mechanical Ventilation 4 The Virtual Roundtable: This issues’ question

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:



World’s Greenest Homes Host Takes His Job Home With Him

28 Congratulations to All Those

Recognized for Their Leadership

World’s Greenest Homes Host John Bell at Home

29 It’s Time to Move Beyond Green Marketing

to Green Business

30 Urbane Green at NV Home 6 Green Reno Consciousness Growing Rapidly 8 No Cost Energy Retrofits in the MUSH Sector 10 Green Condos Cost Less to Own 12 Renovating Without Rebates: Means Focusing on Doing What’s Right

32 Green Home TV Reno 35 Scott Demark Nears Net Zero on His Own Ottawa Reno

15 Site Specific - A Site-level Look at Those Who

are Making Sustainability Happen

16 Renewable Builder Showcase 18 A Quick Note on Furnace Replacement Sizing and HVAC Options

20 Community Transformation… It’s a SNAP!

38 How to Get your Ducts in a Row: Air Leakage, Moisture and Attics

40 In Pursuit of Passive House 42 High Performance Renovation 44 Ripple Effect: How One Renovation Project

Can Lead to Community Revitalization

46 Canadian Builders Could be Playing in the NHL

(Normalized Heat Loss)

48 Speaking in Code– Radon: Informing Canadians

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:

The Renovation Issue


his is the first time we’ve focused on retrofits in this magazine, but the cross over between new contraction and retrofit is frequent. In the call for papers for this issue, I noted that by 2050 most experts say we will need to have our greenhouse gas emissions stabilized at about 80 per cent of today’s levels. However, estimates have it that some 70 per cent of the buildings that will be in use in 2050 are already built. I then concluded that without a significant renovation, retrofit, and re-commissioning effort, it will be impossible to meet these targets. From this call I got a note back from Lloyd Alter, the housing editor at Alter felt we were on the wrong track, because, in fact, it is development density that’s the most important challenge, not energy efficiency, per se. According to Alter, research from the “Canadian Natural Resources Archetype study to the latest EPA study shows the problem is transportation and sprawl, in that a green house in the suburbs with all the bells and whistles still has a greater carbon footprint than the apartment downtown.” So rather that focusing on retrofitting his solution is that “We have to increase density, make smaller units more attractive to families, and kill sprawl.” As usual, he raises a most intriguing point. While it’s a debate we did not actually take up in this issue, I have to agree that simply lowering the energy usage of single-family suburban homes is not a panacea. In practical terms, we have to do better with both new and existing homes on all fronts, including density. So this issue, like all our issues, will look at only a piece of the puzzle, but I am encouraged by the many stories of transformation we received. It is not surprising that many of our greenest renos were done by renovators working on their own house. I mean who wouldn’t want to live in an energyefficient, healthy, and sustainable home? Also, many renovators have trouble convincing clients to take on deep-green renos, as this involves the renovator educating the client First. And, it seems many renovators use their own home reno to experiment and learn about new products and practices. By renovating their own home, they can take the time to experiment, research, test, and fine tune things. In many ways renovators are the closest of all building professionals to the customer. They often work on a home while the customer is home or at least living there. This affords them added insight into how customers view green upgrades, and our virtual roundtable question to the members of BILDs Renovators Council centres on this issue. It’s clear that the interest in healthier more energyefficient homes remains strong. It turned out to be an interesting time to put out a green reno issue, as were currently without an energy-efficiency retrofit incentive program from the federal or provincial governments. Yet, as Tracy Hanes notes, this may not be such a bad thing from a building-science perspective, as it allows renovators to focus on doing what is best, rather than chasing rebate dollars. That said, it’s clear that rebates drive energy-retrofit activity, and some industries, like the home-energy audit business, have virtually collapsed after the withdrawal of rebate cash, so it’s good to hear they are coming back. If you want to know more about the choices we made for this issue, look for the podcast link on our website Next up, we are doing two issues almost simultaneously. We’ll be focusing on improving the building envelope in the fall issue, and we’ll be doing a special issue on GreenBuild, North America’s largest green building show, that is coming to Canada for the first time. If you have a topic idea or wish to submit a story or comment, please contact us at Lenard Hart, Publishing Editor 

SBM summer 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

Publishing Editor: Lenard Hart Subscription rates for this quarterly publication are $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 Photography: Graham Dickhout Photography Contributing Authors: Ceara Allen • Noel Cheeseman • Gord Cooke Stephen Dupuis • John Godden • Jamie James Gillian Lind • Greg Labbe • Shannon Logan Peter Love • Thom Mills • Jonathon Ursini Copyright by Sustainable Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission obtained at . The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the authors 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

All Homes Need Mechanical Ventilation


was recently at a housing conference in the southwestern United States, where a local utility was helping impleBy ment a residential energyGord efficiency retrofit program, Cooke not unlike our Canadian ecoENERGY program, which ended in March 2011 (but may be resurrected, based on the recent federal budget announcements). Much like the conversations in the early days of our program, there was a long discussion of how tight you can make a house before you need to mandate the installation of ventilation systems. Hopefully, enlightened readers of this article will recognize how far we’ve progressed in thinking through this kind of issue. There was a time when most in the building community in Canada confused the unwanted air leakage through inadvertent holes in the building envelope as a ventilation strategy. Now, of course, we should all recognize that even our ancestors never really wanted, or needed, those holes in the wall, attic, or floor assemblies for ventilation, because they already had a much better, more controllable ventilation system. They knew how to open windows appropriately to manage air quality throughout the seasons. They opened windows on the windward side, and windows on the leeward side to induce flow-through in summer. In winter, they opened windows on the bottom of the house and on the top of the house to take advantage of stack effect. That worked really well before we had air conditioning, when energy prices were much lower and our communities were quieter, and in an era where we spent far more time outside. Now, all homes, new or old, tight or loose, need a new ventilation strategy more appropriate to our busy, more demanding lifestyles.

We need one that meets the ever-higher expectations of homeowners for home that are quieter, more comfortable, more controllable, healthier, and more efficient. And it’s taken us awhile. It was 28 years ago that I was designing and producing these things called air-to-air heat exchangers the “fresh-air machines”, the lungs for the house. I find it odd that I can ask homeowners anywhere in North America when they would like fresh air in their home, and they always answer, “All the time!” And, yet, just today I had a LEED builder try to talk himself out of including comprehensive mechanical ventilation for the high-rise building on the drawing board. So, I repeat, repeat, repeat – all homes, new or old, tight or loose, need the capacity for continuous, quiet, efficient mechanical ventilation. This includes every new house and every renovation project. Regardless of the shade of green in your building plan, you should include provisions for at least one of the new, small, cost-effective heat or energy-recovery ventilators recently on the market. Great new technical advances by leading Canadian manufacturers present new opportunities. Take physically smaller units with better fan technology, for example, that fit into smaller spaces and need smaller diameter ductwork to make installation easier in space- challenged retrofits new townhomes and condominiums. Or energy-recovery core technology that transfers both sensible and latent heat (moisture) while working in cold climates, to avoid over-drying in winter and reducing moisture loads in summer. Two of the most helpful new technologies in energy-recovery applications have been provided the Venmar / vanEE brands.

HRV airflow

In the last few years, the company has introduced the concentric or adjacent freshair and exhaust hood, so that only one hole through the building enclosure is needed for each install. This has been very useful in existing homes and even more so in townhomes, where there are far too many things needing venting and far too little exterior wall length in which to vent them. Now a new line of “smart” controls have been introduced, which help homeowners appreciate the real value of year-round ventilation year. Traditionally, the purpose of HRVs was to solve high winter humidity concerns in newer, tighter homes. As such the controls all centered on a big humidity dial, but few consumers could master the seasonal adjustments required to make it work well. The new controls automatically adjust humidity levels based on outside temperatures, allowing homeowners to benefit from a more consistent and appropriate delivery of fresh air. One of the best parts of this new control is that it displays outside temperatures, so homeowners tend to “visit” the control more often, thus gaining a better appreciation for the operation and value of the mechanical lungs of their home. So, while other markets continue to confuse the role of ventilation within the energy-efficient, green building world, contractors, builders, and renovators here should take advantage of the new technologies. Start applying HRVs or ERVs to every project you’re working on and provide your clients with the controlled, the fresh filtered air they’ve always known they’ve wanted, but were confused as to how to get it. Gord Cooke is a one of Canada’s top speakers, trainers, and consultants on green building; he is the President of Building Knowledge Canada. SBM SBM summer summer 2011 2011

The Virtual Roundtable Each issue we ask a question relative to the magazine topic to a group of industry leaders. For this renovation issue, we posed a question to the BILD’s Renovation Council to get their insight. This issues’ question is:


: Unlike new home construction, Renovations are al-

ways custom jobs, and your contact and connection with the homeowner is more immediate. Governments have off and on incented renovations to stimulate the market. In your experience, what are the drivers that motivate people to consider an energy efficient or green renovation and how have they changed?

Ken George Owner & Director All Angles Renovations Ltd. I think a lot of consumers want to do the “right thing”, unfortunately it all comes down to money. The ecoENERGY program was great for stirring the homeowner’s interest in investigating ways of saving energy and money. For our clients, the program was an additional reason for them to make upgrades and they also added some feel-good factor to our projects. The one interesting thing about ecoENERGY was that the homeowner became part of the team, as they now had a short-term, vested interest in the decisions they made and that there was a third party validating their decisions (rather than just their contractor). With renovations it’s difficult – while we know that the work we do will add comfort to clients’ homes, proving it is hard. What has changed the most over the years is the fact that we collectively are shifting so strongly to a greener mind-set than was ever previously done. Green is so hip now, more and more we are cutting back, saving resources, looking at life cycles and costs versus benefits. Corporations are embracing the three R’s and looking into alternative energy solutions and are proudly publicizing their achievements. I think training and some sort of accreditation for renovators is imperative. The ecoENERGY program gave us lots of home energy auditors, now we need to take a closer look at renovators and ensure they have the skills and capacity to do the work right. What we don’t need is more fly-by-night contractors coming in and talking green, when they don’t know how to deliver. Homeowners need to be reassured that if they want to have a green renovation done and done well, then there are contractors who are trained and certified to do so.

SBM summer 2011

Paul J. Mior President and Project Manager for Abbotsford Group Inc. The major driver for most customers has always been and still is cost. Although everyone nowadays is talking about green features, only a select few are willing to pay for the premium of green upgrades. We have found that when you sit down and explain the many benefits of going green, especially over the life cycle of a product where the benefits are more long term, the results are still mixed - some clients buy into the reasoning behind it, and other simply do not. One successful initiative that is particular to the HVAC side of the business is the rental programs offer by several companies trying to take the initial “sting” of the upgrade costs. For me financial incentives programs are the best way to get homeowners to do more green renovations. Everything from rebates, to tax credits, and even the new feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentives have had a positive effect on the industry.

Jim Cunningham Production Manager / Co-Owner, Eurodale Developments In our experience we have found that Government energy incentive programs provided us with a gateway into discussions with homeowners about the possible long term money saving advantages and reducing their carbon footprint. Despite the long term cost savings that energy efficient options provide, the initial upfront costs of these items often deterred customers and homeowners from implementing them, so the rebate programs allowed them with an avenue to finance these options. These systems now have people talking about the savings and the impact on the environment and I think consumers have started taking on the challenge more and more, and not just solely from a financial perspective. We’ve noticed that “green” “efficient” and “low energy” items have become more mainstream and even the norm. Now homeowners need to be educated on what materials, supplies, and systems are right for their home, since it does make a difference, home to home. Most customers were influenced by the marketing campaigns of the suppliers especially if it was support with an incentive. Our commitment as a Renomark renovator is to educate our customers and help guide them in the right direction.

Sandra Baldwin, President A. Lifetime Contractor Ltd. Paul Caverly President MyHaven Homes MyHaven has been actively offering green/sustainable renovations options to our clients for the past three years. In our experience all customers are interested to learn more and we are always incorporating some green options into our projects. Recently the momentum has been building with clients increasingly incorporating energy efficient and other green features into their projects. As usual people are motivated by cost but now more than ever cost motivation is linked to rising energy costs and the overall long term sustainability of their homes. Our customers are aware sustainable green features incorporated now will translate into lower operating costs and increase the future value of their homes with the added benefit of contributing fewer carbon emissions into the environment. Currently we document green upgrades through our scope of work and green options check list along with the results of an ecoEenergy audit. In this way our clients gain some tangible proof of added value. The obstacle to moving forward and making green renovations mainstream is the lack of measurement tools to evaluate and document the various levels of green upgrades. Together with our Renomark green committee members and stake holders like Clearsphere and EnerQuality, we are working toward creating and implementing a green rating system or label. A recognizable rating system would be well received by customers and professional green renovators alike. It will be a great day for the industry and our clients when we can offer accredited third party verification for green renovations. Incentives offered by various governments and utilities are always welcomed by home owners. They add up and it helps home owners make the final decision to incorporate green features. Since we generally do whole home renovations we have had clients max out on grants and incentives valued in excess of $10,000. So incentives are a motivator but perhaps the real value of incentives is the public awareness they create.

In the ideal world homeowners would choose improvements within each reno to gradually get their residences off the grid, rebates would be on-going, banks would reduce lending rates for energy efficient projects, real estate professionals would favour and promote greener homes, and all renovators and trades would be fully informed and trained to implement the new technologies. But we live in the real world where things are not quite so easy. Homeowners still seem to be very unaware of the overall impact that could be made to our planet by reducing the demand for heat, hydro and water consumption within the existing housing stock. The urgency for conservation has not taken hold. I believe the primary driver for the consumer market is the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Green Dividendâ&#x20AC;? consisting of achieving a reduction to utility costs, qualifying for available rebates programs and realizing resale benefits. Green for Green, if you will. Unfortunately, less interest or understanding is given to the inherent health benefits for families, but with a better understanding of their upgrade options and benefits homeowners could be compelled to integrate maximum efficiencies in every renovation to their home. The homeownerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s primary source of valuable and pivotal information on green building technologies options comes from the renovators and architects they work with. These professionals, on the front lines, must learn to market the new technologies. At the outset of each project it is incumbent on renovators to present the sustainable options available within the scope of the project. Building technologies are shifting so rapidly that it is essential for renovators to adapt and stay ahead of the learning curve. They need courses to support them and their trades through the all important stages of delivery and implementation. They should associate with like minded sub trades committed to the environment. Renovators do rely on their associations such as RENOMARK and OHBA for on-going and up to date exposure on current technologies, cost benefits, rebate details at provincial and federal levels along with CMHC incentives. In my experience of doing small to mid size renos, the majority of homeowners are not ready to anti up the extra dollars without proven return on investment figures.

SBM summer 2011

Green Reno Consciousness Growing Rapidly By

Stephen Dupuis

SBM summer summer 2011 2011 SBM


ver the next 12 to 24 months we’re going to witness a sea change in the residential construction industry. We’re on the cusp of the greening of the renovation sector as a number of disparate initiatives coalesce into a much more comprehensive whole. The challenge in advancing the cause of green renovation has, to some degree, been about where to apply the focus: Are we greening the renovator or the renovation? I think we’re all coming to the conclusion that it’s a bit of both, and we’re starting to get on with initiatives that address one or the other. Our friends out West have grabbed the bull by the horns and have done a great job building upon the successful Built Green builder platform in order to develop a program for renovators. This program allows them to choose from a checklist of more than 290 action items, addressing everything from energy efficiency and water use to material selection and homeowner education. The program is backed by training and is already in the second year of Built Green renovation awards. We, in the GTA and Ontario, need to learn from this great work being done out West by members of our own family. Working from the top down, the Canadian Renovators’ Council (CRC) certainly has green renovation on its agenda, and, with the help of CMHC, CRC is working on a Green Renovation Guide, with a first draft coming this fall. It should augment and complement the earlier homeowner’s Guide to Green Renovations put out by the council a couple of years ago.

Here in Ontario, EnerQuality is striving to bring on a green renovation education and training program, which BILD has encouraged. As partners, we will market the program just as actively as we do the courses focused on home builders. We’ve already jointly offered an introduction to a green renovations course, which was well-received - the appetite is there. At BILD, our own Renovators’ Council has a sub-committee dedicated to exploring and understanding the green renovation question, while BILD’s Green Leadership Committee has solid renovator representation and focus. When the BILD Renovation and Custom Building Awards roll around early next year, you can expect to see new awards for green renovation. I look forward to publicizing the renovators and the green solutions devise for their homeowners. At the time of writing (about one week before the June federal budget), things were looking good for fresh funding of the EcoENERGY home retrofit program -- a superlative program for encouraging energy-efficiency retrofits. Once this is announced we can unleash a wave of publicity, encouraging homeowners to add a green dimension to their lifestyle renovations. Programs like EcoENERGY have the added benefit of ensuring the contracts and payments are all above the table, allowing the homeowner to successfully claim the tax rebate at the end of the project. That’s green of a different kind, but just as good. Stephen Dupuis is the President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD)

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SBM summer 2011

for the love of CONSERVATION by Peter Love

No Cost Energy Retrofits in the MUSH Sector

Confederation College, Thunder Bay, Ontario


n my column from last year entitled “Taking the Risk out of Retrofits”, I described the growing use of performance-based solutions to reduce the technical and economic risk of undertaking energy-efficiency retrofits. Performance-based solutions consist of a range of ways a private energy service company takes responsibility for funding an upgrade project, taking its remuneration based on the success of the project. In this way, the company transfers the risk from the building owner onto itself. This allows the building owner to put more of his or her time, energy, and limited financial resources into the services provided. Over the past 25 years, public sector buildings, often referred to as MUSH (municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals), have made extensive use of performance-based solutions to finance and manage their infrastructure renewal projects. This article summarizes eight successful MUSH projects that have used performance-based solutions from across Canada. Starting with municipalities, the City of Toronto undertook an extensive energy-efficiency retrofit of its eight solid-waste transfer stations. The measures included lighting retrofits, building automation systems, mechanical modifications and water-conservation fixtures. The project had an eight-year payback and resulted in reduced operating costs, improved building conditions, and environmental benefits. 

SBM summer 2011

The federal government has upgraded about one third of its buildings, many using a form of performance-based solution called an Energy Performance Contract. The Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa is an interesting example, where an $8-million retrofit has resulted in annual savings of $1million. This multi-use building consisted of offices, laboratories, and a refinery and production area used to produce gold and precious metal products. As this was a heritage building, special attention was required to maintain the historic elements. The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of the many universities in Canada that’s undertaken a successful energy-efficiency upgrade using a performance-based contract. In addition to UBC’s $25 million in energy-efficiency upgrades, the contract also provided $12 million for facility renewal projects, such as building metering, training/re-commissioning, and compressor controls. This project involved 277 separate facilities. While the expected annual savings were $2.4 million, the actual achieved savings were $3.4 million. Saving energy and money in schools is not only important for taxpayers, but also an excellent way to teach students of all ages to adopt and promote conservation practices. In Montreal, the Lester B. Pearson School Board undertook a major retrofit of their head office and 26 of their schools. The $14 million project was financed by

guaranteed energy savings of $1 million per year. Among the many measures undertaken as part of this project was commissioning to ensure four-season year-round optimal operation of all systems plus the implementation of preventative maintenance program to reduce occupant complaints and increase equipment life. The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board undertook an extensive retrofit that involved 60 schools and 68 portables. Lighting retrofits, building automation systems, boiler replacements, and a conversion from electric to natural gas/propane were among the many measures undertaken as part of this $11-million project. All of the $1.2 million in annual savings were used to retire the capital investment. In this contract, 80 per cent of the savings were guaranteed. In the health-care sector, London Health Sciences Centre used the merging of its three sites into two as a chance to re-evaluate its energy and operational efficiencies across all buildings. Faced with rising costs, reduced government funding, and aging equipment, the hospital turned to a performance-based contract. Turnkey projects included evaluation, design, procurement, and operating and maintenance process analysis, as well as financing. The first two phases of this contract resulted in annual savings that were 164 per cent and 112 per cent of the energy savings guaranteed in the contract. A critical component of this work was that it was undertaken without disrupting the everyday operations of the hospital. Another example of a guaranteed performance contract in the heath-care sector is L’Institute Philippe-Pinel Hopital Psychiatrique in Montreal. The challenge was to upgrade infrastructure to address aging buildings systems, high energy waste, and high operating costs with limited capital funding. The solution was a seven-year energy performance contract, guaranteeing the energy savings will pay for the upgrades. Measures included improved lighting and pumping systems, an upgraded cooling tower, a reduction in steam production in the summer, and control optimization. If you’re responsible for the operation of institutional or commercial buildings and are faced with limited financial resources, consider using a performance-based Solution. Your board, CEO and CFO will love you for it -- and so will the environment. Additional details on each of these projects, as well as 28 others, are available online at 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.

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The View from Up There

Green Condos Cost Less to Own


By Jamie James

ast fall, this magazine published an article about the Toronto Atmospheric Fund’s (TAF) green financing initiative with Tridel entitled “How Green Condominiums Became the Norm in Toronto.” The article described an instrument that finances the incremental costs of energy-efficiency enhancements in the design and construction of new high-rises by leveraging anticipated savings from reduced energy bills. As a bridging mechanism intended to help developers overcome capital-cost barriers, the TAF approach accomplished its goals. Tridel, for example, financed approximately $6 million worth of improvements in a dozen new buildings targeting an average energy-efficiency benchmark of 33 per cent, compared to the prevailing codes. While the green loan helps to repair the split incentive that rewards the homebuyer for additional investments made by the developer, without having to increase the price of the home, the capitalized cost savings are theoretical. Since the savings are estimated before the building is constructed, there is no baseline, other than a digital reference building designed in the energy performance model. The integrity and accuracy of the energy models, therefore, are critical. Otherwise, the green loan will be a net charge to the condominium corporation, with no off-set savings. Now, thanks to a study completed by TowerLabs@MaRS and sponsored by the Parc Nuvo in Etobicoke Conservation Fund of the Ontario Power Authority, we have strong evidence of the effectiveness of energy modelling as a predictor of energy use from the first Tridel green condominium tower that borrowed funds from TAF. The TowerLabs study, carried out by Provident Energy Management, compared the utility bills on two neighbouring Tridel buildings. The two towers share most of the same characteristics, except that the newer building is Certified LEED-Silver and contains more than $500,000 worth of energy-related improvements compared to its neighbour and both have been outfitted with thermal sub-metres in each dwelling unit, enabling owners to manage their own energy costs. A comparison of the gas and electricity bills over the course of a two-year period reveals a stark contrast in energy performance. The LEED-certified tower recorded a reduction in energy intensity, meaning energy use per square foot of floor area is at of 41 per cent in comparison to its neighbour. While electricity costs were modestly lower in the LEED building, the major surprise was in the amount of natural gas saved – half as much in the LEED building. From a climate-change perspective, this is significant, as every cubic metre of natural gas saved avoids CO2 emissions that affect 10 SBM summer 2011

the natural balance of our atmosphere. Exceptional natural gas savings is also an important harbinger of future savings. Natural gas prices have been at historic lows, but the commodity is subject to considerable volatility over time. Since the LEED tower uses so much less natural gas, we can anticipate this building will be insulated against future inflation, magnifying the savings in the future. Translating the energy savings into costs savings offers especially good news to the LEED building residents. They are spending $124,000 less, on average, than their neighbors. Since their building is actually a little bit larger, the savings understate the level of efficiency designed into the building. There are two important lessons to draw from this study. The first is that building energy modellers can predict, with some accuracy, the energy savings that will result from energy-efficient designs. The LEED building actually used $20,000 less energy than anticipated by the model. This should give condo developers confidence that energy models are useful tools when it comes to estimating the energy component of first-year operating budgets. More importantly, mortgage lenders should take them seriously when calculating the cash flows of a prospective borrower who wants to buy into a green community. The second take-home message from the study is that the Green Condo Loan, financed by the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and assigned to the Condominium Corporation by the developer in order to pay for some of the incremental construction costs, was a worthwhile investment. The net savings to the condominium owners after paying back the principal and interest on the loan in a 12month period was $74,000, compared to the non-LEED building - after normalizing costs based on energy intensity ($37,000 compared to the estimated energy savings in the energy model). Sustainability cannot be accomplished with good intentions alone. We need to accomplish real empirical reductions in energy use if we want to tackle global challenges like climate change and protect ourselves from the rising costs of resource scarcity. Tridel’s new green condo towers are leading the way and leaving cash in the pockets of their customers. Hopefully, mortgage lenders will take note, and we’ll start to see more financial institutions following TAF’s lead. Parts of this article first appeared in Jamie James is a Founder of Tower Labs and 350 Capital and advises Tridel on sustainability. James also serves as a Director of the Canada Green Building Council.

Providing effective ventilation solutions for today’s high performance housing. Do you really want to install the same old fans in your next project? You can differentiate yourself as a sustainable builder by choosing Energy Star qualified Panasonic WhisperGreen™ ventilation fans. WhisperGreen™ fans are designed to provide both continuous whole house and spot ventilation for improved indoor air quality. The automatic variable speed control allows the fan to run continuously at a pre-set lower level for whole house ventilation. Turning on the switch or activating the motion sensor elevates the fan to a maximum level of operation for effective spot ventilation. Quiet, powerful and energy efficient, Panasonic ventilation fans are also Energy Star, LEED, and ASHRAE 62.2 compliant making them a wise choice in sustainable building. To learn more about Panasonic WhisperGreen™ ventilation fans email, visit or call 1-800-669-5165.

SBM summer 2011


Attach Insulation Before

Spray Foam Insulation After

Renovating Without Rebates: Means Focusing on Doing What’s Right


By Tracy Hanes

ot too long ago I flirted with the idea of jumping on the ecoENERGY bandwagon. Our 1950s-era brick side-split needed some updating, and the idea of grabbing some government cash was enticing. So, I called on green building consultant/certified energy auditor Peter Reynolds to do the audit; sustainable building expert John Godden of Clearsphere also attended. My significant other, who does infrared thermography at his day job, brought his infrared camera home to pinpoint where air and heat were leaking. Our kitchen, living, and dining rooms, bathroom, and one bedroom are on the main level. Two bedrooms are on the upper floor above the garage. The basement is finished. The main floor is 1,185 sq.ft.; the basement adds an additional 600 sq.ft. of living space. The biggest problem was the two rooms over the garage. In winter they were freezing and in summer, unbearably hot. One was my home office, but I eventually abandoned the idea of trying to work there. Our EnerGuide rating after Reynold’s initial audit was 63. The goal, after implementing all recommendations outlined in the report, was to reach a rating of 74, to save 31 per cent on energy con12

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sumption. The air leakage rate was 8.53 air exchanges an hour. A previous homeowner had replaced all the windows with North Star low E windows, so changing them wasn’t a consideration. The gas furnace was a mid-efficiency model (80 AFUE), and while Godden suggested replacing it and our rented gas hot water with an instantaneous condensing hot- water unit to provide both domestic water and space heating (distributed by a clean-air furnace), I balked initially, seeing as the existing furnace was only three years old. And the units he suggested weren’t on the ecoENERGY grant list. Our central air-conditioning unit was 30 years old, but still chugging along. While it was an electricity hog, and we knew its days were numbered, after talking to Reynolds and Godden it didn’t make sense to replace it until we addressed the building envelope issues, such as improving the air sealing and insulation. I noticed that with the ecoENERGY program, many homeowners were doing things that garnered them the most rebate money, not necessarily the things that improved the house’s overall efficiency. Many were replacing things like furnaces, when air sealing and insulating should have been priorities. In our neighbourhood, I saw one homeowner install a geothermal heating system that required vertical drilling. I doubted that the ultra-costly venture made sense on an urban street, where natural gas was available.

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As Reynolds pointed out, you deal with the building envelope first, then match new equipment to deal with the lesser-demand load. He suggested common-sense solutions, like air sealing around electrical boxes, window frames, plumbing, and baseboards. As we suspected, the rooms over the garage and attic were priority areas to consider for more insulation. We knew it would take a while before we could implement the needed changes. We had to save for them, and the biggest, messiest job would be tearing down the garage ceiling, allowing us to insulate it. My spouse planned on doing most of the work himself, but a shoulder injury put the job on hold for months, until he healed. I also wanted to take time to research the options that were most practical and would make sense in the long run, not necessarily rush into ones to meet the grant money deadline. This spring, we decided the time was finally right; ironically, the federal ecoENERGY program had since been cancelled (though the feds subsequently announced they are resuscitating the program).





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I’d seen the FlowMax condensing hot-water heaters and the Lifebreath clean-air furnaces (90 per cent plus efficient, equipped with ECM motors and HRVs) in Energy Star and LEED new-home projects and learned how efficient and economical they were to operate. I’d started to see the wisdom in future proofing against rising energy costs. When Godden again floated the idea of replacing our existing rented tank and mid-efficiency furnace, we went for it. Adding a tank to the FlowMax 120 (98.4 per cent efficiency) also allowed us to put radiant heat flooring in the rooms above the garage. We also opted to replace our aging air conditioner with a 16.5 SEER one. I’d also been impressed by a foam insulation product, Icynene, I’d seen in LEED houses. I knew its insulating and air-sealing properties would be an excellent choice for our garage ceiling. First, we tackled the air sealing, using Great Stuff around electrical boxes, baseboards, and other leaks. Taking down the old garage ceiling was as unpleasant a job, as we suspected. Old chunks of Fiberglass insulation, and mouse droppings rained down. But once that job was done, we had an uncluttered surface to work with. Godden and my spouse installed the lines for the radiant floor heating, and insulation retrofit contractor GreenSaver blew in half-pound Icynene insulation, which will be impervious to future attempted mouse – and air – penetration. The upper bedroom floors and garage ceilings are now R33. We put down a new vapor barrier in the attic floor, and put down 6.5-inch batts of Roxul over the old R20 batts, bringing the insulating value to R42. While we were at it, we replaced the rotting window up there. HVAC contractor Branko Mijatović, president and owner of Alpha Comfort Control, handled the installation of the new mechanical systems. Immediately we felt a difference in the home’s air quality. It wasn’t as dry, more comfortable. The system was much quieter. And my seasonal allergy symptoms improved. An intermediary blower test showed that even though our house is still a work in progress, we have already reduced air leakage by approximately two air changes an hour. We plan to replace our bathroom fan with a high-efficiency one from Panasonic, replace a leaky back door with an Energy Star one, and there are more places we can air seal. Though we didn’t go the ecoENERGY route, I don’t regret it. We made the changes that made the most sense and will pay off in the long run, in terms of energy-cost savings, greater resale value of our house, and the opportunity to qualify for a lower rate eco-mortgage offered by our bank. While saving money was certainly a big motivator, equally important was comfort. Our indoor air quality is noticeably better, and those formerly intolerable over-the-garage rooms are, for the first time, pleasant living environments.

Site Specific A Site-Level Look at Those Individuals Making Buildings Sustainable

Peter Reynolds: Residential Energy and Building Performance Consultant. Current occupation: Reynolds is a certified evaluator for the ENERGY STAR for New Homes, R-2000, ecoENERGY, EnerGuide, and HERS rating systems, as well as the LEED Canada for Home initiative, since 2003. He helps both large- and small-scale builders and their trades with improving the durability and energy efficiency of their homes, and their bottom line. Reynolds is also an active member of Durham College’s Energy Program Advisory Committee. Career path: Reynolds started in 1972, when he trained as a journeyman carpenter, studying for many years at the “school of the mud,” as he calls it. He then supervised on-site construction crews, first in Alberta, then later in Ontario. In addition, Reynolds has worked in the architectural glass and aluminum industry and in the industrial automotive sector as a facilities project manager, where the effects of solar gain, heat loss, and air leakage of large buildings were key design issue to oversee, in order to operate efficiently and cost-effectively. He was challenged by commissioning the assembly operation of a 500,000-sq.ft. space in Dallas , turning it into an energy-efficient, air-conditioned production facility. Claim to fame: He’s always on a construction site. He’s always wearing his hard toes. He connects best with the on-site workers, and he relishes being one of them. Motto: “I don’t believe in theories. I only believe in results.”

Green Home Rater Peter Reynolds

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Renewable Builder Showcase


By Staff

or more than 30 years Mountainview Homes has been one of the most successful and largest new home builders in Ontario’s Niagara region. To a large extent, its success has been a result of its focus on the customer. Mountainview has been a finalist for Tarion’s Builder of the Year numerous times, winning the award in 2004. It was OHBA Builder of the Year in 2007, and EnerQuality recognized Mountainview as EnerGuide Builder of the Year in 2009. As a production builder it has a unique offering for homebuyers - to keep them in the loop every step of the building process. Homebuyers can log onto its “My Home Tracker” website, to get regular updates on their home’s progress. They can also make innumerable change orders at no cost and attend free information session before closing and for two years afterward. All this is part of Mountainview’s approach to customer satisfaction. Likewise, the energy efficiency, green, and renewable-energy upgrades are also driven by its effort to give customers what they want. Whether it’s a drain-water heat-recovery device, like the PowerPipe, or its better air sealing, it all comes down to customer comfort and customer satisfaction. Operations manager Mike Memme notes that communication with customers is key and to that end all staff has to be up to speed. “To keep costs down and quality high, the single biggest thing a builder can do is to educate every employee in the office and on the site about what reduces waste and increases quality, then communicate that information to the trades physically doing the work on site, not just the owners and managers,” he explains.

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Memme says that renewable energy is something he would like to pursue more, but other than passive shading and heat recovery, he hasn’t found cost-effective upgrades. Mountainview labels all of the more than 150 homes it builds each year under the EnerGuide Rating system. The company knows that first cost is still important to customers. By keeping prices low, Mountainview has more than a 20 per cent uptake on its Energy Star upgrade package, at just above $3,000 for singles and just under that for towns. “You really can’t charge that much more for energy or green upgrades, but I think it does tip the scales for consumers who are trying to decide on a builder they can trust,” Memme explains. Mountainview is participating in Inequality’s Leap Tap program, working with veteran housing experts Gord Cooke and Tex McLeod, to try adding several new upgrades to its production. These include advanced framing, zoned heating and cooling (including testing out automation options), and elevation-specific, triple-paned windows. Memme notes that the changes to the building code will affect the upgrades that Mountainview will offer, and that the company will spend some time to figure out what energy-efficient upgrades customers will find reasonable beyond the new code, before going to market. As Memme says, “It’s all about finding the right balance for customers to feel comfortable and get the best home for the value.” The Renewable Builder Showcase is 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.

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.

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A Quick Note on Furnace Replacement Sizing and HVAC Options By John Godden


he Ontario Building Code limits furnace sizing in new homes to 140 per cent of the designed heat loss. In existing homes the common practice is for the contractor to replace the existing furnace with one of similar size. In a recent retrofit, we measured heating performance before and after the HVAC system was upgraded. The original furnace was 80,000 Btu/hr of output with a standard PSC motor. The actual calculated heat loss of the home, including air-tightness data, was 38,400 BTU/hr. The measured air flow using the Trueflow Pitot array was 837 cfm. The new furnace is a two-stage Bryant, with an electronically commutated motor (ECM) motor and it delivered a measured air flow of 898 cfm. On the same ductwork the new furnace provided 7.3 per cent more delivery. In both cases the overall duct leakage was about an average of 18 per cent, which is better


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HVAC Installer Branko Mijativic Testing Airflows performance than standard air systems. The system was balanced to increase the air delivery to the second floor, because of heat gains from lighting and a large 4’ x 4’ acrylic skylight. To improve the comfort during air conditioning on the second floor, it’s recommended the homeowner change the halogen pot lights to a lower wattage bulb. For example, the 10 pot lights in the master bedroom add 500 watts of heat (equivalent to a small baseboard heater) to that space during air-conditioning season. Secondly, the skylight could be equipped with a shading system. Lastly, an exhaust fan could be installed in the skylight vault to help dump hot air from that area back to the air conditioning system to be cooled. The existing air conditioner was 3 tons, a heat gain calculation indicated the home only required slightly more than a two-ton system. The house had an ecoENERGY audit, which actually generates a design heat loss that could be used for sizing during furnace replacements. However, Natural Resource Canada discourages its energy advisors from using these calculations for perceived liability reasons. Without it, the furnace would most likely have been replaced with a unit that was more than 100 per cent bigger than necessary. An energy-recover ventilator (ERV) and a HEPA bypass air-filtration system was also added, and the occupant with asthma responded immediately in a favourable way to improvements with the indoor air quality. This house was originally built in 2005, with an exterior stucco finish that was very air tight at 2.75 ACH at -50 Pa. For hot water, an old 75-gallon power-vented tank was replaced with a 60-gallon tank and a six-foot-long “Power Pipe” drain-water heat-recovery unit (DWHR). The newer configuration has a much higher efficiency and can easily deliver in excess of 200 gallons of hot water per hour. On-demand water heaters are also an option, as they reduce standing heat losses. The addition of a DWHR unit delivers the same efficiency, but allows for capacity that can easily fill a large bathtub. The energy savings for space heating and hot water are estimated at $150 a year. The electrical savings, because of the ECM motors in the furnace and ERV, would account for about $500. The customer was more motivated by a desire to improve comfort and indoor air quality than saving and was very pleased with the results.

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Community Transformationâ&#x20AC;Ś Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a SNAP! Something exciting is happening in Brampton, Ont. Governments, utilities, green - building experts, residents, and businesses are working together to bring about change- beginning with one neighbourhood. By Shannon Logan The SNAP The County Court Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan (SNAP) is a collaboration of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the City of Brampton and Peel Region to develop a retrofit plan to move a 30-year-old suburban neighbourhood toward increased sustainability. By creating a measurable, action-oriented plan for environmental improvement and management of municipal infrastructure, the SNAP is intended to build local resiliency to climate change and support enhanced quality of life. The SNAP puts a strong focus on implementation among multiple partners and seeks to make the business case for sustainable action and innovative financing schemes, such as com20 20

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munity purchasing or local incentives. These initiatives seek to co-ordinate and maximize benefits of local projects through integrated technical analysis of storm-water management, natural heritage and urban forest, water and energy conservation, and efficiency. Green Home Makeover: a Catalyst for Change The team is using on-the-ground demonstrations to engage interested partners and the neighbourhood in real solutions. In County Court, one lucky family is participating in a Green Home Makeover with energy, water, and landscape to document and showcase green action to other homeowners and the renovation industry. Renovation is planned for summer with a ribbon cutting and organized tours starting later this year! Keep up to date at

Green Home Makeover opportunities, County Court SNAP (TRCA, 2011)

This effort has been made possible through the donation of products and services by platinum sponsor Reliance Home Comfort, gold sponsors Enbridge Gas, GreenSaver, and Sears Canada; and silver sponsors Water Matrix, Hanson Hardscapes, Sheridan Nurseries, and Flexible Rainbarrels, among others. The Neighbourhood County Court is a 220-hectare neighbourhood in the City of Brampton (northwest of Toronto), located northeast of Hwy 407 and Hurontario Road. The site was selected based on municipal and watershed priorities, and, in particular, the need for retrofit of a local stormwater facility. The neighbourhood contains a diverse population and a variety of land uses, including the Provincial Court House, residential, institutional, commercial and recreational lands with two golf courses, and Etobicoke Creek. Although more than 50 per cent identified themselves as foreign-born, most have lived within the community for more than 10 years. Residents are young and educated, earning higher-than- average wages and living in privately owned, detached homes. Making Local Connections The SNAP seeks to help residents and businesses understand what local change can look like and build neighbour-to-neighbour dialogue to facilitate that change. Community-based social marketing and other innovative forms of engagement help us get a clear understanding of barriers to sustainable action on private land and strategies to overcome them. Focus groups, person-on-the-street in-

terviews and pilot marketing strategies support research. Fun family events, such as eco fairs, workshops, tree plantings, and resident meetings build interest and capacity in local champions. Co-ordinating Partners for Big Impact Planning and delivery of a neighbourhood retrofit involves numerous community partners and implementation agents. Along with staff and councillors at TRCA, the City of Brampton and the region of Peel, the SNAP is engaging Enbridge Gas, Hydro One Brampton, local residents, businesses, non-government groups, and private-sector companies. Larger participating landowners include Brampton Golf Club, Peel Village Golf Course, and the Ontario Realty Corporation. The SNAP is also connecting with industry associations CMHC, Landscape Ontario, Ontario Water Works Association, Canadian Water Resources Association, Canada Green Building Council, and others. Together, collaboration is making change happen. A consulting team led by Dillon and urbanMetrix is conducting technical work and building the concept plan, business case, and implementation strategy. Planning Alliance, LURA, and ARUP were also involved in earlier phases. So far, strategic public-realm changes include a retrofit of local storm-water facilities, using runoff to irrigate the golf courses, improving gathering spaces and building a sense of community, greening the streets through urban forests, bioswale and rain-garden demonstrations and monitoring, and restoring sections of Etobicoke Creek, in combination with green golf course initiatives and naturalization. In the short term, privateSBM summer 2011


Green Town Hall Meeting realm changes include water and energy- conservation measures, such as those showcased in the Green Home Makeover, and an innovative model for native tree planting across the neighbourhood as a first step in private-land greening.

initiatives at multiple scales and may include technologies, projects, practices, and programs. Other SNAPs are happening in Richmond Hill, Ont. and Toronto, and discussions are taking place on future SNAPs in Mississauga, Ont., and Markham, Ont.

A Living Lab Lessons learned from this pilot can be used to accelerate transformation of other communities across Ontario and beyond. As one in a series of pilots, this SNAP is expected to contribute creative design solutions for improved sustainability within a “typical” suburban context - and achieve cumulative benefits. These include retrofit

Shannon Logan, MES, (Pl.), RPP, MCIP, is a project manager with the Watershed Planning group at TRCA. TRCA is a government agency that works with partners to ensure The Living City is built on a natural foundation of healthy rivers and shorelines, greenspace and biodiversity, and sustainable communities. Learn more at

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World’s Greenest Homes Host Takes his Job Home with Him By Tracy Hanes


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hile working as host of HGTV’s World’s Greenest Homes, John Bell came to realize that less is

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more. After seeing what others around the globe were doing to reduce their carbon footprint, he and his wife Patsy were motivated to do the same. The first order of business was downsizing from a century-old 4,500-sq. ft. home in

Toronto and finding something significantly smaller. “The heating was terrible, the windows were terrible, it was a monster in energy bills,” says Bell, a carpenter (on TV’s Colour Confidential), green reno project manager, and a former sports anchor. “It was definitely not a house conducive to being energy efficient.” The Bells found what they were looking for on a quiet cul de sac in an urban Toronto neighbourhood. Bell looked for a boxshaped house that lent itself to linear, clean lines within walking distance to amenities. He found it in an 1,800-sq.-ft., 1970s-era home. He’s added 1,000 sq. ft. to the twostorey house and reconfigured it to a threebedroom design from a four-bedroom plan. It’s been gutted and is in the midst of a reno to become a highly energy-efficient family home. Though Bell had seen many green projects with his TV job, he called on green consultant John Godden of Clearsphere to guide his home through the transformation. “The best thing that came out of this house was my association with John,” he says. “I didn’t have the knowledge. He’s the David Suzuki of green building.”

Kinswater Construction (for which Bell has been a project manager) is carrying out the extensive renovation, and company partner Philip Barton has benefitted from Godden’s expertise in learning about sustainable construction techniques. Bell has always used rock wool insulation in his reno projects, “and this whole house will be a Roxul solution, with no foam in living quarters, except to fill cracks,” he says. Two-inch R8 batt was used on existing masonry walls, then a two-by-four “cheater wall” was built in from the original walls, allowing for installation of R14 batts and bringing the walls’ total R value to R22. Bell lost two inches of interior floor space on those walls, but willingly traded that for greater insulation. Wiring, services, etc. were accommodated in the cheater wall to avoid punching holes in the building envelope. Mineral wool doesn’t trap moisture like foam might, thus avoiding damage to the exterior brick. The home’s original roof was in good shape, so it was preserved as much as possible. Two-inch rigid foam insulation was used in it, as well as the rock wool batts, to achieve R40 insulating value. The home is oriented south, allowing for passive solar design. It won’t need much artificial light during the day, and about 50 per cent of the home’s heating will be through passive solar in cooler months. When heat is needed, the thermostat activates a pump and hot water is supplied by the FlowMax condensing hot-water heater at 98% efficiency. A heating coil in the Air Max Hi Velocity air distribution system supplies heat distribution using an ECM fan motor. The flexible insulated supply pipe minimizes air leakage and maximizes comfort. Each bathroom has an HRV exhaust with a push button timer. The Van EE highefficiency HRV also has an ECM fan motor that consumes only 24 watts of power. The master ensuite bathroom has a Panasonic smart fan with a motion sensor and CFL light build in. In combination, the drain water heat recovery pipe and an indeirect storage tank provide hot water at over 100% efficiency.

Insulated structural sheathing

The FlowMax unit will also supply hot water for the radiant-floor heating in the basement and in other select floor areas. A fourteen-foot window on the second floor, where the main living quarters are, will slide open, so the Bells can talk to their children, 5 and 7, as they play outside. A stair-

case from the ground to third floor will have floor-to-ceiling glass. Windows receiving southern exposure will be low E cubed with a slight tint, while those on the east, west and north sides will be low E squared. All windows are supplied by Ridley Windows & Doors.


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High velocity duct

Bell nixed three planned skylights when Godden informed him he’d have to increase the air conditioning unit by half a ton to handle the cooling load. Five rooftop solar panels will create a five kilowatt system which will feed into the grid and generate about $900 a year in income. Solar thermal will preheat water for the hot-water boiler, and Bell is also using a drain-water heat-recovery power pipe, which won’t be hidden between walls but incorporated as an architectural feature.


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John Bell of HTO Water Technologies

“Every single home I saw for World’s Greenest Homes had a way of conserving water, and I’ve put in a grey-water recycling system here,” says Bell, who, as co-founder of HTO Water Technologies, is a dealer for Brac water recycling systems in Ontario and a distributor for the state of Colorado. “Water is the new oil.” As toilets “are a big waste of water,” the Brac system will collect, disinfect, and recycle water reclaimed from showers and baths for toilet flushing. Flooring for the home will come from sustainably managed forests, supplied by Moncer Specialty Flooring, a company that deals with boutique hardwood manufacturers from around the world. The white oak staircase will come from R & A Stairs, another company that deals with suppliers using sustainable practices. Combining the old house’s existing features with new ones was “extremely challenging,” notes Bell, especially when it came to lifting steel beams (used for support to create the new open-concept layout) over the house, then hoping the partially gutted home would stand until the new structural supports were in place. “Honestly, there were heart palpitations until it was framed in,” he says. The project is targeting LEED Silver and scores a 50 on the HERS scale.


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Congratulations to All Those Recognized for Their Leadership Our Own John Godden was among those nationally recognized: Congratulations to all the nominees and winners: 1. Chapter Leadership – Cindy Choy, CaGBC Manitoba Chapter, Manitoba 2. Government Leadership – Province of Ontario 3. Industry Leadership – Michael Brooks, REALPac, Ontario 4. CaGBC Volunteer – Curt Hepting, Enersys, British Columbia 5. Green Building Champion – John Godden, Clearsphere Consulting, Ontario 6. Academic Leadership – Dr. John Robinson, UBC, British Columbia 7. Lifetime Achievement Award – Wayne Trusty, The Athena Institute, Ontario

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:

FALL 2011

Pushing enveloPe


Focuses on improving building envelope, including air sealing, windows, insulation, framing, weather barriers, wall assemblies and more… To place an ad, contact To suggest a story, contact 28

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Special iSSue on

GreenBuild® cominG to toronto North America’s Largest Green Building Show is coming to Canada for the first time, so we are going to talk about what is new and exciting at GreenBuild®, including some tips on what, and who, to look for. To place an ad, contact To suggest a story, contact

Sustainable Builder B6<6O>C:

It’s Time to Move Beyond Green Marketing to Green Business


By Jonathon Ursini

leven years ago, when my company, Durock Alfacing International, moved into our latest building in Woodbridge, green products weren’t in the building community’s vocabulary. Green was merely a thought that came to life several years later. Even then, we felt it was important to not only sell ecofriendly products, but to operate our business in as sustainably as we could. When we moved into our building, we started immediately digging up the floor, so we could put in the pipes that would collect waste water. We decided to start recycling water in hopes that one day we could turn dirty waste water into a finished stone product for home. It’s been a six-year project and we’re on the home stretch. It doesn’t release any carbon emissions, it’s fireproof and is the epitome of green. We are also using recycled glass bottles to create stone facing that is made from 80 per cent waste material. The green products we develop and sell include Pressure Utilized Compartment Cavity System (PUCCS), InsulRock Exterior Finish, Jewelstone, DuROCK DEFS, and TIO Coat reflective roofing membranes and we’ve worked to get them certified under the LEED rating system. Our goal is to come

out with products that make a difference. We put our TIO-Coat (WWW.TIOCOAT.COM) white reflective roof membrane on the roof of our production plant, thus reducing our cooling load. We bought doublefaced Sanyo solar panels to produce one of the most efficient solar arrays in Ontario. The panels capture sun directly, and also capture the reflected sun off the TIO-Coat surface. This almost doubles our capacity and allows us to offset much of our energy use with solar power production. We are constantly trying to reduce our carbon footprint and are working towards going carbon neutral. We wanted to make our building as sustainable as possible because we felt it was the right thing to do. But we’ve found it has given us a marketing advantage when selling our products. We bring clients in and give them a green tour of the full facility, ending with a visit to the roof so they can see our products in action. We are a strong Canadian company with about 50 employees. Creating a sustainable facility wasn’t that difficult for us. We are able to back up our green product claims through the way we operate our business. I believe looking at companies’ manufacturing processes will be key to the next stage of the green market transformation. SBM summer 2011


Urbane Green at NV Home


By Tracy Hanes

icholas Ancerl, a partner in NV Home, is creating a niche in the high-end Toronto real estate market with what he calls “sustainable luxury.” Company founder Ancerl, who is an interior design graduate and also studied Urban and Environmental Studies at York University, has more than 10 years’ experience working with a wellknown Toronto interior design firm and the Green Design Studio. He transformed a 1950s-era home in East York into a luxurious 3,000-sq.-ft. abode with a host of green features. The four-bedroom home has 3 ½ baths, a tandem two-car garage and sits on a 50’ x173’ lot. It’s listed for sale for $1.749 million. “I want to show that green homes can be very contemporary, modern, and fit everybody’s lifestyle,” he says. As he walks to the front door of 118 Parkview Hills Crescent, Ancerl points to a Japanese red maple that was carefully protected during the renovation and is now a key element of the front yard’s landscaping. The stone for the walkway and steps is natural Wiarton stone. “I’m very big on local products,” says Ancerl. Three of the home’s original walls were kept, while the back of the house was taken down to accommodate an addition. Keeping the existing walls (to avoid charging HST, as required on a completely new build), however, was not without its obstacles. Ancerl’s open-concept layout on the main floor required large beams the original structure couldn’t handle. So, the existing brick was sliced, and the engineer designed a cement casing on columns that surrounds the home and now acts as the structure. And the exterior red brick is now well hidden behind the modern stucco, cedar, and stone façade. 30 SBM summer 2011

The house is insulated with Roxul and a soy-based foam insulation with recycled pop-bottle content. Floors on the main level are 12 feet high and nine feet high on the upper level. All lumber used for framing was FSC. While budget constraints prevented salvaged or reclaimed wood being used for the hardwood floors in the house, it was used for the distinctive stair treads. Wood came from Urban Tree Salvage, a company that recycles trees in the GTA affected by insect infestation, storm damage, and urban development into useable lumber. Other floor materials include cork, polished concrete, marble, and limestone. A Lifebreath clean air furnace, equipped with HRV, distributes heat by a high-velocity system. Space and hot-water heating are supplied by a high-efficiency FlowMax condensing hot-water heater. The FlowMax also supplies heat for the radiant-heat flooring in the kitchen and family room. A Brac grey-water recycling system will direct used shower water to a tank for storage and filtering, which will be used for toilet flushing, reducing water usage by more than 40 per cent. Toilets are low-flow, and all taps are single lever with built-in, water-conserving aerators. While Ancerl could have used long-life asphalt shingles on the roof, he opted for a steel roof, which contains 56 per cent recycled content and will last for the life of the home. It’s also a better insulator by 15 per cent over conventional shingles, he says.

One of the home’s most spectacular features is its ability to become an indoor-outdoor living space, thanks to two 12’ x 12’ bifolding glass walls that slide open, allowing the large backyard, which backs onto a ravine, to become an extension of the family room and kitchen. The doors and windows for the house are one-inch glazed aluminum, supplied by Solar Innovation. The custom kitchen is outfitted with energyefficient appliances: a glass tile feature wall and glossy Caesarstone countertop reflect the light and greenery from outdoors. In the living room, a three-foot Ecosmart ethanol fireplace, housed in a custom unit by ALX RAW, burns a clean open flame. All paint used in the home is Benjamin Moore’s Ecospec brand, which is VOC-free. Now that the East York home is finished and on the market, NV Home’s next project will be a new infill home, to be built in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood. “That one is going to blow this one away (in terms of style and sustainability),” says Ancerl. While the city originally required him to keep the heritage home intact, it started shifting during initial work and had to be demolished. The brick will be reclaimed and incorporated into the new facade. The new home will feature Insulated Concrete Form construction, have rooftop solar panels and a plug-in for an electric car. “There will be no compromising inside,” says Ancerl. “Everything will have a green or a local touch.”



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SBM summer 2011


Green Home TV Reno


By Thom Mills

his past April, Green Home TV covered the CaGBC 2011 Symposium focusing on existing buildings. This symposium was based on the knowledge that a huge inventory of buildings exists that will be inefficient consumers of energy well into the future. Sessions looked at strategies to address these older buildings, including the CaGBC’s “LEED for Existing Buildings” and “Green Up” programs (go to for all links and references made in this article.) While the symposium and these programs are set up for commercial and multi-unit residential, the same case is made for residential housing. It is this challenge on with my own home and filmed the process for Green Home TV. In my case, my family and I started with a 170-yearold home with the following goals in mind: • adding living space, including an accessible one-floor living space for my aging parents; • reducing the home’s overall energy consumption, addressing both the addition and the original portions; • maintaining or improving the esthetic appeal. 32 SBM SBMsummer summer2011 2011 32

After going through a number of design revisions, a 2,000 sq.ft.-addition was planned that allowed for an accessible one-floor living space of about 1,000 sq. ft., a second-floor portion that added bedrooms to the original home for my family of six, and common basement space of about 800 sq.ft. The challenge was how to do all this in a way that still reduced the home’s total energy consumption. In many ways this project is a mix of new construction and a renovation. The planned addition would effectively double the size of the original house, so how it was built would have a whole-home impact. The size of the addition also introduced the opportunity to address mechanical solutions that could improve the entire home. The opportunity to make energy- and resource-related changes were identified in the following areas: insulating, heating, cooling, water use, electrical demand, and materials Insulating Insulation has been the first and most important factor in reducing energy consumption in both original and new portions of the house. Records indicate the house was built circa 1840. In those years it was

Old Insulation in Need of and Upgrade

common in this area for homes to be built of solid brick. The original exterior walls of this house were three-course brick, without studding or insulation. A renovation in 1965 added studding, providing two inches of insulation and space for electrical and piping. In an era when some new homes were still being built without any insulation, this was a substantial improvement. Over the years, some insulation had been blown in the attic, while nothing had been done to address basement heat-loss. As part of the current project, the attic insulation has been increased to R-50 using cellulose and Roxul ridged insulation installed in the basement to an R-14 level (the stone foundations create a unique situation, where too much insulation can compromise its structural integrity.) As the esthetic value of the original brick is a key design feature, any additional insulation will need to be achieved on the interior side of the wall. Interiors in the original part of the home will be addressed in the next phase of the project. (See our “Attic Insulation with Capstone Insulation” episode.) When considering the exterior wall system for the new addition, we looked at a number of different systems, including 2 x 6 batt walls, SIPS, spray foam, and even straw bale. In the end, we chose to build in ICF due to a number of factors, including structural integrity, insulation value, and speed of construction. (See our “Building with ICF” and “Home Energy & Conservation Planning with John Godden” episodes.) This, in combination with In-Line Fiberglass’ Triple Pane Low E2 windows, created a build-

ing envelope for the addition with a projected heat-loss of 18,000 BTU/hour - a substantial decrease from the code specification, which would have resulted in a heat loss of about 50,000 BTU / hour. Heating With our insulation plans addressed, we were ready to look at how to meet the building’s heating requirements. The original home was heated with a 1980s-era oil furnace. New oil furnaces typically have efficiencies around 85 per cent. We can only assume the installed model was well below that. After considering a number of options, a fuel-switching approach was chosen using propane, sun, and wood. But even before looking at fuels, we need to address the question of how the heat was to be distributed. The original home’s installed duct-based heating system is typical of one from the late ’60s. Indeed, in many ways, not much has changed compared to a typical new installation. Due to greater efficiency and com-

Basement Walls

Air Handler

fort, we chose to install hydronic radiantfloor heating as the primary heat source based on products by Uponor and DARO Flooring Systems. This choice then led us to move our whole heating system to a hydronic-based system, featuring a Viessman wallhung boiler feeding the radiant floors, domestic hot water, and a LifeBreath air-handler for the original portion of the house. (See the “Solar and Boiler Plans” episode.) The combination of addressing insulation and heating has resulted in a 50 per cent reduction by total square footage. Or, put another way, we doubled the size of the home and kept roughly the same heating bills. The recent addition of solar and wood fuel sources have been added into the mix to reduce this further. Viessman solar panels for domestic hot water (DHW) have been recently brought online, in addition to hot-air solar panels by Your Solar Home, with distribution via the integrated HRV in the air handler. It is anticipated the solar hot-water panels will show about a 50 per cent reduction in DHW in the whole home, and the solar air panels should provide a 25 per cent reduction in the heat contribution to the addition. A Power-Pipe, from RenewABILITY, was also installed, which will recover 50 to 60 per cent of the heat of the drain water in the addition. Cooling The home is located on rural farmland north of Toronto, Ontario, at a higher elevation compared to the surroundings, so we get a lot of cooling breezes most of the summer. SBM summer 2011


Grey Water Recovery Tank Installation

Instead of addressing cooling through air conditioning, we chose to focus on cooling via strategic shading and window placement. Cross ventilation throughout the addition is complemented by a majestic 80-year-old maple tree for shading. As a result, the house has no mechanical cooling load. Water Use Water usage and heating can be a huge energy factor in any home. All water and septic requirements are handled on the property itself via a well and septic bed. We chose to address our water conservation through reductions in showers, sinks, and toilet flow. Moen’s low-flow fixtures allow quality of water use to be maintained, while reducing actual use to 1.5 gallons/min. This reduction in use has been combined with Brac’s Greywater recycling system, allowing shower and tub water to be gathered, stored, and reused for toilet flushing. Toilets are three- to sixlitre dual-flush models, lowering the overall demand on the septic system. It is estimated the home is now using about 50 per cent less water through these efforts. Electrical Demand Prior to 1965 this home had no electrical service. A 100-amp service was installed at that point and considered large for that time. From a traditional building perspective, upgrading this service to 200 amps was recommended. Our question became, “Do we need to?” Looking at our plans, it appeared our electrical load had not really grown substantial34

SBM summer 2011

ly due to natural lighting and no electric heat load. Large windows in combination with ODL tubular skylights provide natural lighting throughout the addition, resulting in very little artificial lighting required during daylight hours - even on cloudy days. During the evening, high-efficiency LED, fluorescent and MR-16 from Juno Lighting and Columbia Lighting create a dramatic look, while using little energy. We chose to have any additional heat loads to be based on propane, including the Jenn-Air gas range and high-efficiency Whirlpool gas dryer. The DHW load was moved to propane and solar.The result of all this meant the overall electric demand has not substantially increased, even though square footage has doubled. Materials We looked at sourcing product wherever we could from within a 500-mile radius. For many products this was practical; for some,

ICF Walls of the Addition

not so, and for some it was simply impossible to determine. We did, though, have the opportunity to source product from very close to home. The home’s property has a 40-acre wood lot that’s been harvested to varying degrees over many years by its owners. This has resulted in a mix of hard and softwood cut, and stored for many years. This material presented an opportunity to make a sustainable and esthetic statement by using these materials in the project, where possible. The result has been stairs and hardwood flooring from the properties hardwood (by Alpa Stairs and Northern Wide Plank respectively), and decorative beam work and shelving from the softwood. Solid pine doors are also planned from the softwood, but a manufacture has not yet been confirmed. It was important these goals of adding living space and energy reductions be done in a way that also resulted in a visually appealing project. With guidance from our interior designer, Christy Bremer, of C2 Designs, lighting designer, Glenn Boccini, and accessibility designer, Scott Puddicomb, the project has become just that. With the addition of John Godden as our energy designer, this home now suits my family’s needs, and the whole process was captured for all to learn what we learned on Green Home TV. Thom Mills is the producer and host of Green Home TV, a web–based media channel dedicated to green building issues, see

o r e Z t e N s r a e N k r a Scott Dem o n e R a w a t t O n w O is on H

under retrofit.” we wanted to try to do it ora project house, his top pri By Tracy Hanes When setting out to find only way to to face south, as that was the had it t tha s wa ity a’s grid is tilted Green Solutions and its par ar gains, given that Ottaw sol erm g-t lon n his capacity with Build e hav to be in a neighDevelopments, Scott De ond must was that it had sec A s. ree ent company, Windmill deg 30 en justimost cutting-edge gre ment in the house could be mark works on some of the bourhood where the invest in the popular right candidate on a street the nd fou He projects in North America. . fied n. sus pment management and ties and public transportatio For BuildGreen, a develo Glebe area, close to ameni pe d sha ate egr ugh int s eno ate bad ilit in fac , Demark g for something kin loo re we e “W tainability consulting firm tain ng to do,” he h clients to implement sus of intervention we were goi el lev the tify jus to design processes, works wit or. d bones.” is a green economics educat s relatively tired, but had goo wa use ho is “Th s. say able design strategies, and drywall and tly closest to his heart is the and crew peeled back the rk ma De as t Bu But the project that’s curren a Ottaw ught it was,” -guzzling 1920s home in ch worse shape than I tho mu in s wa “it r, ste pla former energy- and water of sus ether by what g to turn into a showpiece k end of house was held tog bac ire ent the and that BuildGreen is strivin of ” team are incorporating two ingly calls “structural paint. tainability. Demark and his ies in the world – he jok teg ieve Passive House stanstra ach to lity ing abi try s tain wa sus I s ew iou kn ays alw “I the most ambit s sin t it wouldn’t net Communities – into thi making it so insulated tha be uld wo and d dar Passive House and One Pla a con s looking for not ot project. The project is nal furnace,” he says. “I wa tio ven con a d nee gle-family home retrofit pil for her d I knew it efforts to move the bar hig t also passive solar gain. An bu ar, sol ive act ly on tinuation of BuildGreen’s k ric no matter where we jects. It is being built by Pat supreme building envelope, a be uld wo sustainable development pro construction company. re going to build.” Reardon of Botan, a green included usbination of my work- we com a , me ho al ly features on his checklist son end per -fri eco her Ot “This is my il a civ n-potable water s Demark, who trained as collect water and using no to ern cist a ing ing life and home life,” say , use ho wanted to build a net-zero engineer. “My wife and I rofit, to flush toilets. ret or ing ild bu new of ts cep con at ked and when we loo


SBM SBMsummer summer2011 2011 35

Solar Roof Array Mounting Racks

“In hindsight, an infill or new build would have been easier or cheaper,” he notes. “But the biggest advantage with this house is, the setbacks are non-conforming to current requirements. It’s a narrow lot but a wider house than you would get new, and you would get no windows at all east or west walls. We were able to keep existing openings and get light from all four sides, which is a pretty important thing. That was a big advantage of using the existing shell of a house.” Demark took possession in June 2010 and spent almost two years prior planning the net-zero retrofit. The house was reduced to 1,800 sq.ft. from 2,000 after removing a small, single-floor addition that was riddled with mould and impractical. The renovated three-storey house will accommodate Demark’s family of four. A big challenge was creating the interfaces between the old house and new construction. “Our intent was to take off the roof, get rid of a finished attic and build a third floor,” Demark says. Connections were complicated structurally, because until you get layers of drywall and plastic off you can’t have 100 per cent completed drawings.”

The balloon framing of one wall was poorly done “so we couldn’t use that as a basis, and dimensions are strange.” A lot of extra materials were used to make walls plumb. After record-setting rains in September 2010, the basement was riddled with green mould. The original plan to excavate the basement floor, fully insulate, and excavate around the exterior to eliminate water penetration was scuttled. After dealing with the mould, the basement was treated like an outdoor space by fully insulating underneath and between the floor joists, putting an exterior-grade (insulated) door with an air seal between the house and the basement. Another problem was that trees made it impossible to get enough sun for the solar panels without a racking system. “That was a real issue, and the framers we were working with when we started didn’t address point loads related to solar load,” explains Demark. “We had to come back and weave point loads through structure, which was complicated, slow and expensive. Partially it’s a design challenge, partially in execution. In design, I Front Elevation


SBM summer 2011

BuildGreen Ottawa Project Checklist

Air Barrier Details

wouldn’t do it like that again. I would try to make the wood structure handle the load.” The racking system, or “spoiler,” for the solar panels ended up spoiling the solar-system budget. The system cost about $17,600, compared to the budgeted cost of $7,000, including the rack itself, structural support, installation and consulting. Instead of the rack, Demark says it would have been wiser to build a sloped roof at the back of the house solely for the purpose of holding all of the solar. This would have triggered a variance because of height, but it could have been achieved.  To super-insulate the old part of the home, Polarfoam soy-based spray-in foam insulation was used to create an air seal, followed by layers of polyisocyanurate. Demark and crew also created a new twoby-three-foot wall inside the old brick shell, through which to run the services without puncturing the vapor barrier), and they filled it with Roxul mineral wool. Local insulation supplier by Tod King dealt with the complexity of multiple insulation types in the retrofit. The house is extremely air tight and will breathe using a PAUL Novus 300 ERV that is 93 per cent efficient at heat recovery.  The German-designed system was supplied by Zhender North America. “The biggest detail is the windows. We invested in triple glazing,” says Demark. The Inline Fiberglass Windows and Portatec Doors are from a local supplier, Thermotech Windows. Architectural doors, which open the whole front of the house on the second floor, are from Meyers Windows and are suited to passive solar design. Other eco features include a Conservation Technologies rainwater-harvesting system, complete with a cistern that sits in the basement, used for flushing toilets and watering the rooftop garden. Salvaged ash wood floors and stair treads are supplied by Revival Flooring. A 3.41 kW rooftop photovoltaic system from Ottawa Solar Power will produce about 4,500 kWh per year.  One hundred and 20 solar thermal evacuated tubes will produce the equivalent of about 6,000 kWh per year of useful heat, and a woodstove will contribute about 2,300 kWh of heat on the coldest days.  The net result is a shortfall of about 950 kW hours per year short of the home’s net-zero target. “If I wanted to cover the entire roof with solar panels, we could make it. We only need about four more panels, but it would be quite inefficient, because they’ll spend part of the year in shade,” he ex-

• Reduce heating demand through passive solar design, super-insulation, and superior windows. • Eliminate space cooling; use effective natural ventilation. • Eliminate conventional furnace and disconnect the house from natural gas infrastructure. • Super-efficient Heat Recovery Ventilator, coupled with small heating coil to provide space heating • A total of 90 per cent of domestic hot water load (DHW) and portion of the space-heating needs met through an evacuated tube solar-thermal system. • Wood-burning appliance will supply additional heating capacity.  Wood will be sourced from local sustainable sources. • Grid-tied photovoltaic array will generate sufficient energy on a net annual basis, to offset the equivalent amount of grid energy required for fans, pumps, DHW, lights, and space heating. • Grid-tied PV array will be expanded over time, to offset the equivalent amount of grid energy required for all plug loads by 2020.

plains. “And the backyard is small and shaded, so there was no place to grow food, except on the roof.” Overall, the renovation cost about $500,000, estimates Demark. He says about $120,000 to $150,000 was for specialized features and products attempting to achieve net zero. The house as designed has been modelled to achieve a heating demand of 29 ekWh/m2.  This should be enough to achieve the emerging Passive House Standard for retrofit projects that is currently being piloted at 45 ekWh/m2.

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Photo 3: Sheathing and top of rafters mouldy.

Photo 2: 7Pa of pressure in the dog house driving the moist air into the attic

How to Get your Ducts in a Row: Air Leakage, Moisture, and Attics


By Greg Labbé

ver the past 12 years I’ve been called to many homes, both new and old, where clients experience one (or sometimes a combination of all) of the following problems: serious ice damming on the roof, comfort problems in parts of the home, or mould growth in the attic. More often than not, the places with the most significant problems have ductwork running through the attic. Both the Energy Star for New Homes and R2000 programs prohibit ductwork running outside of the thermal envelope and it’s well established that the attic is a less-than-ideal place to run ductwork, yet it still happens with some frequency on retrofits. In fact, it’s somewhat common to find retrofit air-conditioning systems and the associated ductwork in the attics of older homes. I want to make the case for banishing ductwork from Ontario attics - or at least severely curtailing their installation. First, a bit of perspective. The reality is that ductwork in attics isn’t that common, at least not in the GTA. Fewer than 25 per cent of homes have significant amounts of ductwork in their attics, but that 25% keeps us busy in the retrofit department. So, what’s the problem? The attic is a place where pot-light cans are rarely or poorly sealed, where drop-ceiling air barriers often have breaches, where coffered ceilings around skylights often leak air, and where chimneys are rarely sealed well to the surrounding wood framing. In short - most of the air leakage in a home occurs in the attic. Attics are typically vented to the outdoors, to help carry moisture out of the attic. This also serves to allegedly extend the shingle life by apparently lowering the air temperature inside the attic. The theory goes that eaves or soffit vents bring outdoor air into the unconditioned attic, and mushroom vents on the roof peak let air escape 38 SBM summer 2011

back outside. Yet the research on attics shows that cold winter air cannot carry much moisture and, therefore, the air has a very low drying potential. Research also shows that the temperatures of well- ventilated attics are very similar to those of sealed, unvented attics. The bottom line is, even well-ventilated attics cannot cope with large amounts of moisture. Let’s look at moisture. High attic humidity as a result of excessive air leakage from the living space is generally not a problem in the summertime; however, in winter it’s another story. An attic’s coldest points are - in order - the shingle nail tips, the sheathing, and the underside of the rafters. When the warm, moist air from the conditioned living area hits these cold surfaces the water vapour condenses into a liquid and then forms a frost and stays there until the seasonal warmth comes back. So if you only see condensation/frost on nail tips it’s a minor problem. But, if you see condensation/frost on the sheathing, it’s a big problem. And if you see it on the rafters it’s a really big problem. I often see frost on the rafters in home with ducts in the attic. Putting ductwork in attics, cold crawl spaces, or in floor cavities above cold garages is problematic for four reasons: these ducts move moist air, this air is pressurised, these ducts have many joints that allow air leakage, and these ducts are rarely well-insulated. Ducts forcefully carry moist air through leaky lengths of poorly insulated ductwork, and the pressure drives moist air into the attic. So, attics that are already at risk of being overburdened with air-leakage moisture from living space (from conditioned air driven by stack effect) will reach their tipping point when compounded with air leakage from attic duct work. Admittedly, the first priority is to air seal ductwork, then insulate it and Ontario Building Code (OBC) does require that ‘[duct] pass-

Photo 1: No seal around masonry chimney

Photo 4: No foam on duct and large area of delaminating ½ lbs foam

Photo 5: one of a few dozen blisters in the foam on the attic floor.

ing through unconditioned spaces shall have all joints taped or oth- into the attic. Additionally, the spray foam wasn’t applied to the maerwise sealed’ but let’s be frank, who’s going to check and how do you sonry chimney for fear of breaching code (see photo 1). This resulted effectively seal the under belly joints on ducts that rest on the attic in massive air leakage up the chase, along the masonry chimney. floor? As for attic duct insulation, the OBC’s minimum is R12. ReOther problems in the attic resulted from the fact that it’s particmember the speed of heat loss is a function of the difference of tem- ularly difficult to air seal a round duct, especially a four-inch duct, perature between inside/outside (or Delta T) and because ducts of- without using (read: wasting) a lot of foam. In this home there were ten contain air that , a good argument should be made to increase many bare spots on the small round ducts, where the metal was conthose levels of insulation to at least current attic insulation densing moist air in the attic and causing small pools to levels or higher. form on top of the duct (see photo7). Large 16” x Putting an air conditioning unit, 16” new metal ducts were also installed in the atand its distribution system, in tic, and the seams were not sealed with masPhoto 6: Delaminating spray foam on a Photo 7: the hottest place i.e. under tic/silicone, but they were then foamed. But, metal duct elbow leaking air. Condensed the roof is clearly not a because the new ductwork is oil filmed, attic moisture “best practice.” In sumfoam easily delaminated from the duct on 4” ducts mertime, the system fissures in the foam were evident and air with bare has to run overtime leaks were detected (see photo 6). Had metal spots to compensate for the the ducts been cleaned of the oil film perduct. heat it’s absorbed in haps the delaminating would not have octhe attic, and in wincurred, or had the metal seams in the duct ter condensation issues been sealed with mastic or silicone, prior around the return grill or to spray foaming, the ducts would likely not supply outlets are common. have leaked as severely. Ideally, multi-head mini-splits would In this home, and in others I have seen, there be a more effective solution. Barring that, was clearly an issue with the foam sprayers not havthe way to mitigate the negative effects of attic HVAC ing enough access to do a thorough installation. Typically systems is to air seal ducts, mound R40 of insulation on the duct- they need least four feet of clearance around the object to be foamed. work. It should be noted that the AC’s “fan only” option to circu- The result was that large areas of dust near eaves were missed and late air should not be used during the winter months, and the hom- weren’t insulated (see photo 4). So, while, in theory, foaming ducts eowner should seasonally decommission the system in the fall by air may seem like a sound solution, in practice they almost never live up sealing all register and return openings to prevent moist air from the to their purported performance. living space getting up into the system and causing condensation to I would urge all contractors to do their utmost to design new or drip back down. retrofit HVAC systems so that all ductwork remains within the heatI know many who think spray foam insulation will solve these ed envelope of the home (i.e. on the warm side of the vapour barriproblems, as it both insulates and air seals, but I was recently called er). If it simply cannot be avoided, consider a “hot roof” insulation to a home where the attic floor was foamed expecting the product solution, so all the mechanicals are brought into the heated volume would seal and insulate the myriad ductwork for the air condition- of the home, leaving you an attic that’s conditioned and cleaner for er/steam humidifiers, ERV, in-line exhaust fans, and skylight tubes service personnel. all running in an unconditioned attic, but much the client’s chagrin, For rooms above the garage the ducts need to be on the warm side there was evidence of severe air/moisture leakage and the rafters were of the vapour barrier. As a last resort, if the client insists on running wet to the touch (see photo 3). the ductwork in the attic and his/her budget will not allow you to inThe cause of this excessive moisture was both the driving me- sulate the roof line, you can limit your liability by pressure testing the chanical pressure (see photo 2)and the poor installation of spray house, to make sure the attic floor is very well sealed, and then presfoam. My suspicion is that the attic floor must have been filthy, and sure test your duct sealing in the attic with a duct blaster fan. Idealthe sprayers covered over a very rough substrate, which resulted in ly the perfectly air-sealed ductwork should run low to the floor, so it many blisters (see photo 5) in the foam where conditioned air leaked can be mounded withR60 of less expensive loose-fill insulation. SBM summer 2011 39

Rear Elevation Facing South.

In Pursuit of Passive House sulated building envelope with no thermal bridges. Use high-performance, triple-glazed windows. Build it tight and use mechanical venhe notion of a Passive House and the Passive House Rat- tilation with high-efficiency heat recovery. In summer2009, Marion ing is gaining momentum in Europe and seems to be sur- enrolled in the Passive House Consultant’s Training program offered passing Net Zero as the ultimate goal for houses these by the Passive House U.S. Institute in Urbana, Illinois. “I travelled days. Oakville, Ont.-based builder Ed Marion was also to Urbana, on three separate occasions for a series of intensive three captivated by the notion and used it as the ultimate goal of the reno- day courses designed to teach the Passive House design approach and vation of his own home. how to use the Passive House Planning Package What started out as a cold, drafty, 1,000software, PHPP 2007. After passing an exam, sq.ft. 1950s brick and block bungalow has been I was given the designation of Passive House transformed into a 1,700-sq.ft. super-insulated, Consultant,” Marion explains. airtight, storey-and-a-half home with a comHe found himself in the position of Pasfortable indoor climate and a simple mechansive House Consultant, with lots of theoretiical system. cal knowledge and lots of enthusiasm, but with “Passive House is the world’s most rigorous zero experience in designing and building anyenergy standard and it’s really starting to get thing even remotely close to the standard. So he noticed here in Canada,” says Marion. Buildand his wife Lucy decided they were going to Ed with his wife Lucy ings designed and built using the Passive House use their own home as a test case. approach use 80 to 90 per cent less energy for Marion spent a year in the planning phase, heating and cooling compared to buildings condesigning building-envelope components and structed to the current building code. “I got hooked on the con- testing them with the PHPP. Here’s how it turned out. cept in fall 2008, after attending the North American Passive House Building Envelope Conference in Duluth, Minnesota,” Marion notes. The main Passive The house was gutted down to the masonry, keeping only the origHouse principles are fairly easy to understand - construct a well-in- inal first-floor platform and some of the first-floor exterior walls.



SBM summer 2011

By Staff

The entire exterior of the house is insulatties, from geothermal to solar, and found all ed, from the footings to the roof overhang, the systems were either too big, too costly, with a four-inch EPS product called R-Etro or too complex. Eventually, he decided to made by the ICF manufacturer Quadlock. go all electric. “I know I’m taking a chance The R-Etro connectors that attached the 1’ going all electric, but the loads are so small, x 4 ‘ panels to the wall allowed a wide variand I don’t have any gas bills to pay,” he exety of exterior claddings to be used - and not plains. just stucco. Inside, a 2’ x 4’ wall was framed A high efficiency ERV (RecoupAeraaround the perimeter of the original mator 200 DX by UltimateAir) delivers a consonry walls and insulated with Roxul batts. tinuous stream of fresh, filtered air into the Combined with the exterior insulation, ithouse, while recovering up to 95 per cent of gave the original walls an R-36 value, as calthe heat energy and maintaining consistent culated by PHPP. “In retrospect, it would humidity levels. When the thermostat calls have been easier and faster to take the house for heat, a 2.5 kW in-line duct heater turns down to the foundation and rebuild it from on and kicks the ERV into high speed-200 there, but we reused the existing gable walls, cfm. The duct heater heats the air stream to as well as the original basement foundation a maximum of 51° C, avoiding the burning Thicker Walls Require walls, “Marion acknowledges. of dust particles and preventing the air from Thicker Doors and Jams A second floor was constructed in the being overly dried. This keeps the indoor air storey-and-a-half style, with a shed dormer quality high and contributes significantly to on the back, south–facing side. They avoidthe home’s comfort level. ed going to a full second storey, because they felt a storey-and-a-half Hot water is supplied by a Marathon electric tank controlled by would blend in better with the existing neighbourhood. The sec- a timer. “The tank is well insulated and doesn’t need to run all day. ond-floor walls were constructed using a double stud wall approach I’m hoping that with the use of a smart metre, I can time when my that housed three layers of ROXUL batts on the inside and the four- water is heated, so it only runs off peak.” inch EPS block on the outside for a combined R-value in the R-60 For cooling he decided to install a ductless mini-split system by range. The EPS product was carried through to the second floor in Mitsubishi that could heat and cool. They are quite efficient (SEER order to beef up the thermal envelope and to maintain the exterior 23) and well suited for homes with small heating and cooling loads. siding plane. The inside air-handling unit is installed high on the second floor, so The roof is constructed of cathedral-style trusses, with special at- cool air can easily filter down throughout the house. Due to its proxtention paid to the venting strategy. A two--inch air chase in each imity on the second floor, the mini-split unit won’t heat the whole truss bay delivers ample air flow to a continuous roof ridge. “There’s house, but it will cool it. no access to the attic, and I was a bit nervous about that at first. But, The project is not a model for a typical homeowner retrofit, as it again, following PH principles, we designed the whole roof assem- took longer than projected and was extremely detail-intensive. But bly to have drying potential to the outside,” notes Marion. The roof it did provide Marion with a steep learning curve, making him one trusses are insulated with dens-packed cellulose to a minimum lev- of the experts on Passive House in Canada. And the final result? The el of R-65. house did not meet the energy-perThe basement slab was removed, formance requirements of the Pasand Marion installed 3”XPS (R-15) sive House Standard. What is Passive House? foam under the new slab. Triple“In the end, we didn’t quite make Developed in Germany and Sweden, the Passive House glazed Fiberglass windows supplied the retrofit benchmark, coming in Standard (PassivHaus in German), unlike other building by Thermotech Fiberglass in Carp, around 30 kWh/m2/yr. But that’s standards or certification programs, is only concerned Ont., play a key role in the home. still a reduction of about 75 per cent with the energy used to heat and cool a building. That is, “The windows on the south side below code. And, the air-tightness it does not allocate points or give credits for things like of the house allow more heat gain, level did turn out really well, at 0.53 waste or rain-water management strategies or low VOC while the ones on the north, east and ACH50.” finishes. west allow less gain, but have a higher E d Marion is willing to share his The energy reductions are deep - up to 90 per cent comR-value. There were no cold-convecexperiences with other builders and pared to code - when PH design principles are adhered to. tion currents rolling off the windows renovators. If you have any quesCertification is governed by the PH Institute in Darmstadt, Germany. during the coldest spells of winter. tions or want to see the house, conTo be certified as a new Passive House, a building must You could sit right next to a window tact him at meet the following criteria: and not feel uncomfortable.” Courses in Passive House as a de• Heating 15 kWh/m2/yr Choosing a mechanical system sign approach are offered by a Pas• Primary Energy 120 kWh/m2/yr was a challenge, because the heating sive House Institute in Canada and • Air tightness 0.6 @ ACH50 and cooling loads were so small. The the United States. A retrofit standard is currently being developed which PHPP predicted a heating load for Visit and would require retrofitted buildings meet the following: the house of just under 12,000 btus/ for more de• Heating 25 kWh/m2/yr hr. Marion looked at many possibilitails. • Primary Energy 120 kWh/m2/yr • Airtight: limit 1.0 @ ACH50, target 0.6 @ ACH50

SBM summer 2011


High Performance Renovation


By hat is a high-performance house? Noel After living in Cheeseman our 1940s, twostorey brick home that was drafty and had high energy bills, my wife and I were motivated to find out. How much energy - electricity and natural gas – a house consumes determines how well it performs. So, we set out to create a high-performance house through an extensive renovation of our Toronto home in 2009. A renovation is a long-term project. We were well aware that what we did and the choices we made would have an impact on how the house would perform for decades to come. One of the most important goals was to reduce our energy consumption, measurable via our utility bills. Based on our existing bills, we set an energy-consumption performance target of 25 per cent below our existing consumption, while expanding the area to 2,700 sq.ft., a 75 per cent increase in size. This would amount to a 57 per cent reduction in electricity and natural gas consumption per square foot. We thought we had a worthwhile challenge on our hands, but we also had other goals. Besides the need for greater space for our family of four, including two young children, we wanted more natural light, a delightful space, and good indoor air quality, without drafts. There was much research done, and I was fortunate to tap into building-science experts, given my work as a management consultant in the area of energy-efficient buildings. The four key energy- and water-performance areas we needed to focus on, in order, were: - making the house as air tight as possible; - using as much insulation as possible; - installing the highest efficiency heating and domestic hot-water system; - achieving high water efficiency. If we were successful in these four areas, we’d be setting a solid foundation for low energy and water use for the rest of the house’s new life. And once we began living in the new space we’d have more control over variable factors, including our daily habits, which comprise the rest of a home’s overall performance. Retrofitting a house is much more challenging to do well, as you have to live with certain layouts and related cost constraints. For example, we had very limited opportunities to take advantage of solar gains, because of orientation and well established shade trees. While we did have some specific green home-building expertise to assist us with the envelope and mechanical systems, we wanted to work with the typical contractor and the contractor’s trades, in order to understand where they were in their understanding of good and better efficiency practices. We chose not to hire an architect who had designed green homes, but a practical architect who would be able to fine-tune our own design. Finally, our goals and challenges were to: - devise a better solution to insulating double masonry walls from the inside, without compromising the exterior brick’s


SBM summer 2011

durability; - incorporate mainstream procedures and technologies readily available for reasonable costs; - use the house as an example of what is possible using a typical but a good quality contractor and trades; - report on the performance outcome, as well as what was learned for others embarking on or considering renovating an older house. What We Did While we greatly improved the airtightness of the house to 3 ACH at -50 Pa from 7.5 , I was disappointed we could not get closer to the R2000 standard. There were several subtle barriers. Firstly, we were dealing with trades who meant well, but to whom airtightness was not a priority. We did our best; from the electrician installing electrical boxes on exterior walls and ceilings, to the framers and the insulation trades, all were shown how to make it better. Our new windows were double glazed, low e2 argon-filled with coatings adjusted on different wall elevations to either take advantage of solar gain in the winter or to block it in the summer. We insulated the existing walls from the inside using a combination of R14 rock wool batts inside of a continuous layer of DrainBoard directly against the masonry. This greatly increased the effective R value of the wall, as it provided a thermal break for the 2’ x 4’ interior wall. The additional layer of R4 board used continuously across the entire wall before the 2’ x ‘4’ framing increased the wall’s effective R-value by 47 per cent. With so many houses in Toronto and nationwide built with a double masonry wall and no insulation, this approach will deal with the movement of moisture from the outside through the brick and cinder block. Without careful attention when insulating from the inside, the freezethaw cycle on the masonry wall can lead to brick spalling. Addressing this issue was a major goal for this project. Rock wool R22 batts in 2’ x 6’ walls were used in the new extension, and when the exterior two-inch EPS foam was added for the stucco, we knew we had a good solution with a relatively high R-value and limited thermal bridging. I was fortunate to obtain a nearly new small 95 per cent efficient Viessmann on-demand boiler, which became the heart of the hot-water heat source for our forced-air furnace (air handler), the radiant heat in-joist loop we installed in the two second-floor bathrooms, the radiant loop in the basement slab of the addition, and for domestic hot water. To improve capacity and store some hot water we used an indirect 30-gallon tank with high insulation. Air conditioning was added, and somewhat undersized at 2.5 tons (14.5 SEER), as we don’t use it much and with a tighter house, this turned out to be more than enough. We also installed an ERV, which we interlocked with the air-handler ECM fan. Now we use it practically year-round on a 20- to 40-minute on/off cycle to bring in fresh air. The ERV takes care of maintaining humidity levels, and we had no need for a humidifier in the dead of winter. For water efficiency, we installed the necessary low-flow fixtures and six-litre toilets. But we also had the plumber run all of the toilet-

water lines together on a separate circuit that can be easily redirected to a future grey-water system we plumbed for in the mechanical room. We kept all of the bathrooms close to each other over the basement and two floors. This design alignment allowed us to install a drain-water heat-recovery pipe. We installed copper tubing and control wire from the attic to the basement mechanical room for a future solar-thermal system to preheat domestic hot water. Making the house solar-thermal ready was an easy decision. With no drywall installed, running the lines was an easier task than retrofitting it later. Actual Performance We now have more than a year of post-renovation utility bills that I’ve used to determine the following performance numbers. Initial computer-based modelled numbers done for the project were EnerGuide 83 and HERS 50. These rating systems generate numbers used in newhome construction when there are no actual bills on which to base performance. But once a house is a home with people living in it, real performance matters and that comes from the actual electricity and gas consumption on our utility bills over a one-year period. The table shows how we performed on a consumption basis and on a per-square-feet basis. While we did not hit our target of a 25 per cent ac-

tual reduction, coming in at around 18 per cent overall was still satisfying. When looking at the energy intensity on a squarefoot basis, 9.9 ekWh/ sq.ft. is quite good, since the average house in Toronto uses more than 10,000 kWh and around 3,000 m3 of gas annually. As a comparison, the Passive House standard is 15 ekWh/m2 for space heating and 120 ekWh/m2 for total energy. Our house’s total consumption comes in at 106.5 ekWh/m2, and our annual emissions reductions are just above a ton of eCO2 (carbon). Unfortunately, a malfunctioning water meter has prevented us from determining our water usage. It’s not difficult to measure the actual performance of a home. It is a practice that can close the loop for contractors, trades, and others by informing us all of the impact of our work. We will build and renovate better when we measure what we’ve done. Our hope is that an increased number of contractors and their trades will become more familiar with these performance metrics and the best practices to achieve them. With better processes, including standardization methods like labelling for houses and training, we’ll all pay more attention to what makes a highperformance house. Noel Cheeseman BSc. is a principal at Enerlife Consulting, a Canadianowned management consulting firm situated in Toronto.

SBM summer 2011


Ripple Effect: How One Renovation Project Can Lead to Community Revitalization


By Gillian Lind

s in many North American cities, apartment neighbourhoods were built in Toronto as a solution to urban sprawl, providing density to support transit in the growing suburb, as well as affordable housing. Many of these communities today lack services and amenities, and the area of Kingston Galloway/Orton Park is no exception - until the inception of The East Scarborough Storefront in 2001. The Storefront is a partnership between community members and service agencies working together to address some of the most pressing needs in the community including employment assistance, legal advice, settlement services, youth groups, arts programs, mental health and counselling/parenting programs, and health services. The Storefront is located in a former single-storey police station owned by the City of Toronto. In response to outgrowing the current building, the desire to update the facility, and to provide a more inspiring environment that better matches the centreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work, The Storefrontâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director, Anne Gloger, embarked on a project in 2009 called


SBM summer 2011

The Community.Design.Initiative. This project engages community youth in imagining, designing, and working on the renovations and additions to their Community Resource Centre, with mentors from Sustainable.TO, students from the University of Waterloo, and archiTEXT. With feedback from other community members and elders the youth developed a master plan for the building and the site by 2010, with the following goals in mind: 1) accessibility for all, and 2) sustainability now and into the future. Turning It Into a Reality With expertise from architect Paul Dowsett, his team at Sustainable.TO, and with recommendations from TH Energy, the 7,800sq.ft. retrofit and two-storey, 8,000-sq.ft. addition are targeting a near net-zero building status and LEED Platinum certification. The building will be designed to take advantage of passive techniques, where possible, to reduce the heating and cooling demands of the building. Features include adding an exoskeleton to the existing building to increase thermal resistance, improving air tightness, and using the existing masonry structure as thermal mass; adding window shading

and cool, green roofing to reduce heat gain in summer and to take advantage of it in winter; adding light shelves and skylights to increase natural lighting; and including a natural green screen on south facade to provide natural shading and cooling during summer months. The existing building’s lighting system will be upgraded with 25 Watt T8 lamps, and the whole building will receive task lighting, occupancy sensors, and system controls, as well as ENERGY STAR qualified windows, appliances, and office equipment to reduce electrical demands. The existing 1960s-era heating, cooling, and ventilating system will be replaced with energy-efficient equipment, serving multiple zones and programmable thermostats. Solar technologies will be installed, including a photovoltaic panel to generate all, or more, of the facility’s electricity requirements, and solar thermal panels to supply approximately 80 per cent of the hot-water needs of the facility. Implementing all of these capital and energy-efficiency measures will prevent approximately 16 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year - the equivalent of removing about 31 cars from our roads. The building will include a rainwater collection system for site irrigation and toilet flushing, and all faucets and fixtures will be ultralow flow, to further reduce water demand. Where possible reclaimed, recycled and low-VOC materials will be used, including low- or noVOC paints, natural-ingredient Marmoleum flooring, and recycled content/recyclable InterFace carpet tiles. The entire project will be implemented in eight phases over the next few years, and since the building is owned by the city, Wayne Robinson, a city Community Development Officer, oversaw the initial siteplan approval phase. His support role engaged appropriate city and community resources, in order to develop and maintain local partnerships that provided new ways for the city to conduct its business. Phase 2 of the renovation of the resource centre was completed in May

2011 by many community youth. Funding came from the province via Employment Ontario, providing momentum and inspiration as the project moves into Phase 3, the Eco Food Hub renovation, funded by the Metcalf Foundation. The Eco Food Hub combines a commercial-grade community kitchen, along with a community garden, to create and serve as a local example of closed-loop agriculture, creating waste-free food and resources for the neighbourhood. Extending into the Community The Community.Design.Initiative master plan caught the attention of Graeme Stewart, an Associate with ERA Architects who are tireless champions of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal. “The Storefront provides a unique model for service delivery and community leadership with great potential for repeatability in Apartment Neighbourhoods throughout the region. Every neighbourhood should have a Storefront, says Graeme.” The goal of the City’s Tower Neighbourhood Renewal is to enable tower communities to achieve their full potential as prosperous, vibrant and sustainable places. The project’s master plan is in alignment with the City’s Tower Neighbourhood Renewal initiative and as such The Storefront and the adjacent apartment towers have been marked as a case study by the city. ERA Architects and the City are developing a plan that will revitalize the entire surrounding neighbourhood with more efficient vehicular access, and increased pedestrian walkways, accessibility between sites and landscaped public spaces. Paul Dowsett describes the project best. “It is where we all come together -- Community, Professionals & the City - working to deliver what the Community wants, that the sustainable magic occurs.” For more information on The Community.Design.Initiative, visit www.

COMMUNITY. Design. Initiative.

a case study of tower neighborhood renewal at the east scarborough storefront

East scarborough storefront in 2009, 4040 Lawrence avenue East

november 2009: community Design Initiative Charrette: local youth, designers, planners, architects


January 2010: community speak: Local residents engage in identifying the critical design components


February 2010: design phase i: architext and mentor local youth to master plan the new building

september 2010: design phase ii: youth mentored to design the new resource center

january 2011: design phase iii/iv: youth mentored to design the new eco-food hub

may 2011: newly renovated resource center is complete, local youth and residents unveil the new space


2012 CR IR











In partnership with:


by antenehe alemu, nosa osagie, ajeev bhatia

For those of you who don’t know, something spectacular is happening in our neighborhood. The East Scarborough Storefront has been involved in the Community Design Initiative (CDI) project since 2009. This project involves members from the community getting together to learn and contribute their thoughts and ideas towards the renovation and expansion of the East Scarborough Storefront.


ECONOMIC a project of:

The new east scarborough storefront: a renewed, integrated and diverse hub in a tower neighbourhood.

We are the youth ambassadors of the East Scarborough Storefront. Our contribution to the East Scarborough Storefront is to help get the youth of our community involved and contribute their ideas and thoughts to for the Community Design Initiative Project.


Adaptive re-use of building Re-Use of materials Access to community green space and food initiatives

Opportunities for local entrepreneurship Local employment Capacity building in local youth by exposure to traditionally inaccessible careers


winter 2013: completion of the accessible western expansion

the community Story


SOCIAL Collaborative community design process Youth led design Built in community supports - before, during and after tower neighbourhood renewal project


Winter 2012: completion of the eco-food hub

As residents of the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park neighborhood we think this new renovation is greatly needed to continue to help the bridging of our community. With the Eco-Food Hub, we are finally getting what we have desired for a long time – a bigger kitchen! We have been cramped in a small, confined space. We started off with a small group, but as word got out, more and more people showed an interest in food. Now we are at a point where we have to turn people away because we don’t have enough space and equipment for the participants. With a commercial grade kitchen in the plans, we can now achieve more, and much more efficiently. With the Eco-Food Hub in place for the community, we will be able to provide for community events and fundraising activities so that more residential activities can be organized. We are residents of the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park community, which means that we have ideas about how the Storefront should be redesigned and renovated to best provide for and serve our community. Without Storefront in our community, it would be so hard for us to get services that we might need to succeed in life.

SBM summer 2011


Canadian Builders Could be Playing in the NHL


(Normalized Heat Loss)

e’ve recently come through a Stanley By Cup final, where John a Canadian team Godden played off against an American one. Both teams played on the same ice surface, with the same rules. In February 2011, I attended the Residential Energy Services Network’s (RESNET) annual conference in Florida. The main topic of conversation for many of the attending energy raters was the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which manages the ENERGY STAR program, is making changes to the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program in the United States. The Americans are moving to version 3 of this national program, and that’s causing upheaval amongst American builders and raters. American builders have had two official ENERGY STAR versions in 12 years. I didn’t show much sympathy. If American builders only knew that Canadians have been exposed to five versions in approximately six years, they might change their tune. What’s really interesting is that Natural


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Resources Canada (NRCan), which manages the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program here in Canada, is using the American ENERGY STAR version change as rationale for changing the Canadian standard once again. This begs the obvious question: Has anyone ever made a cross-border comparison between the two specs? And, how do they compare in head-to-head competition using a single metric? To answer these questions I enlisted the support of the Sustainable Housing Foundation, in order to complete a comparison between the Canadian EnerGuide Scale and the American HERS scale. As background, the HERS Scale is used as the national rating system for new homes in the United States, and it is based on normalized heat loss (NHL). A key benefit of the HERS scale is that it takes into consideration how the energy is generated that’s used within a home. Further, it measures total household energy use, which includes air conditioning, plug loads, and renewables.

Conference in Florida. The main topic of conversation for many of the attending energy raters was the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who manages the ENERGY STAR program, is making changes to the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program in the US. The Americans are moving to a version 3 of this national program which is causing upheaval amongst U.S. Builders and Raters. American builders have had two official ENERGY STAR versions in 12 years. I didn’t show much sympathy. If American Builders only knew that Canadians have been exposed to five versions changes in approximately six years, they might change their tune.

Our analysis uncovered some interesting anomalies between the two scales. It also helped us understand how the Canadian ENERGY STAR standard stacks up against the American program. A high-level summary of the analysis is shared below:

the current building code. It was a resounding success, with more than 75 homes meeting the challenge. After having completed the analysis shared above, I recognized an opportunity to extend the challenge by creating a little international

Prescriptive Path Detached House Components


OBC 2012



V.3 United States

Package F

V.5 Common Spec Canada 2011

V.6 Next Gen


OBC 2012

Performance Path















Performance Example based on 3300 SF Detached House in Toronto competition. In fact, while in Florida I challenged the president of RESNET, Steve Baden, to see how many builders on either side of the boarder could get to HERS 50 or lower this year. In the months following, team Canada consisted of builders like Brookfield, Empire Communities, Garden Homes, Green Park, Kaneff, Rodeo Fine Homes, Royal Park, Royal Pine, Starlane, and Townwood. On June 14, Paul Golini, chairman of BILD, welcomed a delegation of US-bases Native American builders to join in the challenge. So what does all this mean? In a nutshell, the current In October of this year Toronto will be hosting USGBC’s So what does all thisofmean? In a nutshell, current US to version ENERGY STAR is American version ENERGY STAR the is equivalent the ofGreenBuild Conference. There will be many tours to Caequivalent to the OBC 2009. Further, the new US ENERGY STAR version 3, which is meant to OBC 2009. Further, the new American ENERGY STAR nadian projects. My intent is to have Canadian builders be be 30% better than code, will be roughly equivalent to our OBC 2012. The Canadian ENERGY version 3, which is meant to be 30 per cent better than code, compared with their American counterparts on the same scale STAR Version 6 is a HERS 44, where the American ENERGY STAR Version 3 is a HERS 63. will roughly to our OBC 2012. Canadian onetobased on higher NHL. Keep in mind, when we reduce greenThe be bottom line equivalent is that Ontario ENERGY STAR The Builders are being -held a much ENERGY STAR 6 is a HERS 44, the where the Amerigashomes emissions, all win “the game.” standard than theirversion US counterparts. In fact, Canadian ENERGYhouse STAR will bewe 30% can STAR versionENERGY 3 is a HERS The bottom If you are up to the challenge, we’d like you to join Team moreENERGY efficient than American STAR63. homes. line is thatth Ontario ENERGY STAR builders are being held Canada by contacting me at Clearsphere (see the ad in this On my 50 birthday I created a challenge for GTA builders called the Green is 50 Builders to a much higher standard than their American counterparts. issue). Challenge. The idea was to get 50 houses built to 50% better than the current Building Code. It In fact, the Canadian ENERGY STAR homes will be 30 per was a resounding success with over 75 homes meeting the challenge. After having completed cent more energy than American ENERGY STAR theJohn Godden is a veteran new home rater, builder, and green the analysis shared efficient above, I recognized an opportunity to extend challenge by creating a little homes. building consultant, in his role as the President of Clearsphere. international competition. In fact, while in Florida, I made a challenge to the president of On my 50th birthday I created a challenge for GTA buildHe also serves as the Industry Liaison for Sustainable Builder RESNET, Steve Baden, to see how many builders on either side for the boarder could get to HERS 50 the or lower this In the months following, now consists Builders ers called Green is year. 50 Builders’ Challenge. The team idea Canada was Magazine andofwas recently named Green Building Champion of likeget Brookfield, Green Park, the Kaneff, Fine Homes, to 50 housesEmpire built Communities, to 50 per centGarden betterHomes, standards than Year Rodeo by the Canada Green Building Council. Royal Park, Royal Pine, Starlane, Townwood. On June 14, Paul Golini, Chairman of BILD, welcomed a delegation of US-based Native American Builders to join in the challenge. In October of this year Toronto will be hosting USGBC’s GreenBuild Conference. There will be

SBM summer 2011



Michael Lio Speaking in Code

Radon: Informing Canadians

Guest written by Ceara Allen


adon is a colourless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is a proven carcinogen. It’s estimated that radon-induced lung cancers claimed more than 2,000 Canadian lives last year – that’s more than eight times the number of deaths that result from residential house fires every year. Radon is found in soil, rocks, and water, and diffuses through the air. It is all around us. Outdoor radon levels are so low that they aren’t a concern. However, when radon leaks into homes from the surrounding soil it can accumulate, reaching hazardous levels. As an unstable radioactive gas, radon becomes harmful when it decays and releases alpha particles. The alpha particles can damage lung tissue when breathed in. Over time, this damage can induce lung cancer. Health Canada’s recommended guideline for the acceptable amount of radon in homes was significantly lowered by 75% in 2007 to 200 Bq/m3 from 800 Bq/m3. Based on these new levels, Health Canada is undertaking a multi-year mapping study entitled Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes, to determine where the radon “hot spots” are located across the country. The hope is to identify which homes may be more at risk. Radon enters the home through cracks and unsealed pathways in the basement. Building an airtight superstructure without paying the same attention to the leaky basement can allow radon to accumulate to potentially harmful levels. (See Figure 1) Health Canada, along with the Canadian Lung Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Canadian Medical Association, issued a press release on November 30, 2010, encouraging Canadians to test 48 SBM summer 2011

their homes for radon. They surveyed Canadian households and noted that approximately 7 per cent of Canadian homes have elevated radon levels. Radon testing is done in a variety of ways; the easiest (and cheapest) is by purchasing a testing kit at your local hardware store. It is recommended that tests are done for at least three months during the cold season in order to produce the most accurate results. Sealing the radon’s entryways and increasing ventilation, as well as opening windows and doors during the warmer weather, are simple ways to mitigate radon accumulation. There are other, more expensive solutions, as well, such as depressurizing the soil under the foundation, to deal with high radon levels. The 2012 building code changes in Ontario regarding radon look like they have been set aside, as of the time of publication. While we don’t know what the new code will look like, it seems that the proposal to revise the radon provisions in Ontario’s building code will be considered after Health Canada’s mapping exercise is completed. The World Health Organization (WHO) published a report in 1996, providing conclusions and recommendations on radon risk. Since 2005, the WHO has

partnered with a number of agencies for its International Radon Project, to address the public health implications of radon and its health effects. The risks of radon have been known for many years, but there has not been any study measuring whether consumers have received sufficient education or that communication by government departments and organizations have been effective. The Homeowner Protection Centre (HPC), a not-for-profit organization established to advocate for homeowners’ and their issues, has recently received funding from Industry Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The funding is to undertake a research project entitled Radon: A Cause for Concern for Homeowners? This project seeks to assess and measure whether Canadians are aware of radon and its health effects. The resulting report will identify the type of information and education Canadians need to build awareness, to assess exposure, and to take appropriate remedial steps. Health Canada has indicated that all data from its study will be used to promote awareness of radon in areas identified at most risk. The results from the HPC’s radon study should be available when Health Canada’s two-year project is complete. The HPC’s study is intended to inform future government communication plans. If you have any information regarding radon or public outreach, please contact us Ceara Allen, Radon Project Co-0rdinator, Homeowner Protection Centre of Canada. 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

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The Sustainable Choice For Quality Builders

Thank You Homebuilders for your participation in our FREE Drain Water Heat Recovery Program. The list just keeps on growing. The following homebuilders have helped their new homeowners save on their energy costs: Abbotsford Group | Alba Homes | All Angels Renovations | All Pro Plumbing | Arista Homes Aspen Ridge Homes | Ballantry Homes | Ballymore Building Corp. | Bremont Homes Beaverbrook Homes | Brookfield Homes | Capoferro Inc. | Carandale Homes | Cardel Homes Castle Manor Homes | Cedarstone | Century Grove | Cildara Contracting | Chase Custom Homes Cherry Hill | CKC Group Ltd. | Corvinelli Homes | Country Wide Homes | Dalerose Country Daycore Homes | DCR Phoenix Homes | Dehaan Homes | Delta Rae Homes | Don MacDoo Durham Custom Homes | Emburn Plumbing | Emerald Homes | Empire Homes | Engel Construction Equenelle Developments | Eurodale Developments | Faymark Homes | Fernando Homess | Fieldgate Homes Finefield Homes Ltd. | First View Properties | Fiume Brothers | Garden Homes | Gateway Home Builders Gatta Homes | Geranium Homes | Grajen Homes | Gregor Homes | Habitat for Humanity Halminen Homes | Heathwood Homes | Helicon Properties | Hemlock Carpentry Inc. | Homes by MB Hybrid Green | Integral Custom Builders | Jaytee Homes | JDC Custom Homes Inc. Jeff Walpole | John Boldt Builders | Kaitlin Group Ltd. | Kaneff Homes | Kenmore Homes | Kenneth Homes Kenwood Homes Inc | Lancaster Homes Inc. | Laurier Homes Ltd. | Lockwood Bros Construction Luchetta Homes | Lucyk Renovations | Mark To | Marshall Homes Corp. | Matanda Homes | Mattamy Homes Mattamy Homes Ottawa | Metz Homes Ltd. | Minto Developments | Mountainview Homes | National Homes North Star Homes | Nostalgic Homes | Oakridges Homes | Oaktrail Developments | Olico Homes Phelps Homes | Phoenix Homes | Pratt Homes | Previn Court | Prycon Custom Builders | Rajan Homes Redwood Homes | Reidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Collingwood | Reidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Heritage Homes | Remington Homes | RND Construction RK Porter | Rosehaven Homes | Royal Park Homes | Royal Pine Homes | Saca Investments Salerno Construction | Mvintem HG Design | Sherwood Homes | Shoalts Bros. Cons. S.L. Witty Construction Ltd. | Starlane Homes | StarCrest Homes | Storybook Homes | Sundial Homes Sunvale Homes | Tartan Homes | Terrabrook Homes | Terra Nova Homes | The Renovators Town Square Developments Inc. | Townwood Homes Inc. | Urbandale Homes | Wells of Hope Westerra Homes | Zancor Homes

If you are interested in having Drain Water Heat Recovery in your new home builds, contact your local Channel Consultant. Call: 1-877-736-1503 E-mail:

Summer 2011 Vol 2 Issue 3  
Summer 2011 Vol 2 Issue 3  

Summer 2011 issue of Sustainable Builder Magazine