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Better Builder, Issue 33 / Spring 2020

Better Builder Magazine brings together premium product manufactures and leading builders to create better differentiated homes and buildings that use less energy, save water and reduce our impact on the environment. The magazine is published four times a year.

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Better Builder, Issue 33 / Spring 2020

  1. 1. PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 INSIDE Greyter Water Systems Water as Energy Optimizing Winter Humidity Drainage Layers and Durability RESNET’s New HERSH2O Scale Saving Water Makes Sense ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 TheWaterIssueWASTE NOT, WANT NOT
  2. 2. 209 Citation Dr. Unit 3 & 4 Concord, ON L4K 2Y8 905-669-7373 · Models C95 & C140 Condensing Combination Boiler Glow Brand C95 and C140 instantaneous combination ASME boilers for heating and on-demand hot water supply. The ultra-efficient compact design combination boiler has an AFUE rating of 95%. These units are fully modulating at 10 to 1 and 2 inch PVC venting up to 100 feet. Canadian Made
  3. 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Does the Well Run Deep? by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Water as Energy We need to respect this valuable resource now more than ever by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 Optimizing Winter Humidity and Water Use by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 8 Building Codes Are the Building Blocks for Healthy Communities by Paul De Berardis BUILDER NEWS 13 It’s ‘Plane’ to See Drainage layers add to durability by Better Builder Staff SITE SPECIFIC 24 Greyter Gets Even Better Bringing water management solutions to new homes by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 28 Hell or High Water RESNET’s new HERSH2O scale has come to Canada by Rob Blackstien FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Go With the Flow, Saving Water Makes Sense by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 Shades of Grey With water conservation becoming a growing concern, Greyter’s residential recycling solution is poised for prime time. by Rob Blackstien 21 ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 On our cover Shutterstock 107191976 © V. Burdiak Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 5 13
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 Does the Well Run Deep? 2 PUBLISHER Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695 Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of PUBLISHING EDITOR John B. Godden MANAGING EDITORS Crystal Clement Wendy Shami To advertise, contribute a story, or join our distribution list, please contact FEATURE WRITERS Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman PROOFREADING Carmen Siu CREATIVE Wallflower Design This magazine brings together premium product manufacturers and leading builders to create better, differentiated homes and buildings that use less energy, save water and reduce our impact on the environment. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 Copyright by Better Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the authors and assumed to be original work. Better Builder Magazine cannot be held liable for any damage as a result of publishing such works. TRADEMARK DISCLAIMER All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. UNDELIVERABLE MAIL Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 Better Builder Magazine is published four times a year. W e all know that a warming global atmosphere causes more evaporation and makes more water available for precipitation. This can lead to heavier rains and risks of flooding in some areas and drought in others. Recently, Australia saw the worst of those extremes: a fire-ravaged landscape was immediately hit by heavy rainstorms and flooding. Water is the basis of all life. The big question is: will we have enough when we need it or too much when we don’t? And, in order to maintain that balance, how much is water management costing us? Treating freshwater and sanitary outflows is becoming more expensive as infrastructure and operating costs continue to increase. For example, water- related fees make up about 20% of development charges in Toronto, where moving water from treatment plants to end-use consumers accounts for 35% of the city’s electricity bill. And of course, these costs are passed down to the consumer: the Fraser Institute released a report on water costs across 33 Ontario cities where the average fees were $800 annually. The average rate increase was 3.8% from 2005 to 2015. In Toronto, the average water bill climbed to $989 for most people in 2018. This issue’s feature is a North American first. Geranium Homes, with the help of Greyter Water Systems, is building the first subdivision with greywater recycling, standard in 22 homes (page 21). Water savings will be verified and labelled with the HERSH2O water scale under a pilot program (read more about the HERSH2O scale on page 28). Almost all municipal overreach has demanded some form of water efficiency, but Paul De Berardis stresses that local programs and policies must be “in sync” with federal ones (page 8). Meanwhile, Lou Bada underscores that codes and standards – not government programs – are the way to approach any conservation initiative (page 3). In evaluating water efficiency measures, Gord Cooke, an expert on ventilation, outlines a process for using a home’s airtightness and mechanical system choices to optimize comfort by maintaining relative humidity in the winter (page 5). Meanwhile, Doug Tarry outlines his experience with water- saving strategies (page 30). Following Doug’s advice can reduce household consumption by up to 30% and help to accommodate increased demand for water when we need it. The old saying “All’s well that ends well,” popularized by William Shakespeare around 1601, suggests that we can relax as tension has been resolved. But we can also think of a “well” in terms of our water supply. Water scarcity may be a growing concern – both for cost and supply – if we don’t save it now for later use. We need to take steps now to ensure that all’s well that ends well. BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 I ’ve always viewed the subject of water as one of the greatest and most interesting paradoxes (maybe because I’m a Pisces). For instance, while water is essential and sustains life, floods are dangerous and can end life. Water extinguishes fire, which is made up of forms of energy (light and heat) – but water can create hydroelectric energy. Water can also store energy and release it in the form of heat. Water and energy are inexorably linked. In a sustainable future, water must be revered and respected. Energy is required to treat clean water, move it and re-treat it. As such, the energy consumed must also be used efficiently. Water must also be restrained where it can cause damage inside and outside our homes. I am often baffled by the building regulations and programs put in place to close up every little gap in a building envelope to conserve energy while whistling past the obvious holes in the leaky water buckets we call our homes. We boast about the building details that allowed us to achieve 0.2 air changes per hour, yet we unneces­ sarily flush thousands of litres of clean drinking water down our toilets every year in every home in Canada. We want water in our homes to be plentiful, continuous and hot on demand, but we don’t give it a second thought when we waste it. It must just fall from the sky. Oh yes, it does – just too much or too little or at the wrong times. If you’ve read any of my previous articles, it should come as no surprise that I’ve mentioned government regulations and programs before. Although regulations are necessary to a degree and programs can be made to work, both all too often fail or have unintended consequences. The model National Building Code of Canada (NBC) has regulatory proposals it is considering to further ratchet up the regulations for airtightness in new homes. In my opinion, we are reaching the point of diminishing returns on this matter. Insofar as programs are concerned, there was, and to some degree still is, a program in York Region called the Servicing Incentive Program (SIP). By following a checklist of more or less usefulness, developers can aim for reductions in energy, water usage and stormwater runoff, which can result in increased water and sewage allocation being awarded to a low-rise development. (And in case you didn’t know, water and sewage allocation are scarce and of the utmost value for developers.) One major shortcoming of the SIP is that it relies on another ever-changing program: ENERGY STAR for New Homes (ESNH), within an outdated and poorly thought-out checklist. Without delving into the diminishing returns of ESNH (which is driving the above-mentioned air-barrier regulation changes for the NBC), the checklist became outdated by the time its ink was dry. For example, amongst other measures, dual-flush toilets were supplanted by low-flush toilets, and low-flow faucets became standard in the industry. The SIP had a rational thought behind it, though: reduce water usage and get more water and sewage allocation. The problem lay in the manner in which the program was developed – or, more precisely, the nature of some programs. To be successful, programs need to be rational, predictable, stable and implementable, and they need to have a value proposition. This can be better accomplished if we were to rely upon recognized standards (e.g., ANSI or ASHRAE) rather than relying on compounding programs and static checklists to assess the program and measure the results. The costs and benefits can be better understood and trade-offs better calibrated. Results are what matter most. It is my understanding that there are more rational standards being developed for measuring water consumption in homes that will hopefully enable us to address water and energy consumption in a more holistic way. Only then can we begin to take measures that are actually meaningful and take care of the very precious resource we’ve taken for granted for far too long. BB Lou Bada is vice- president of low-rise construction at Starlane Home Corporation and on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA Water as Energy We Need to Respect This Valuable Resource Now More than Ever 35789485/DEPOSITPHOTOS
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202044 • PROVIDES A CONTINUOUS THERMAL RESISTANCE OF R-5; perfect for meeting the requirements of the Quebec & Ontario Building Code. • DOES NOT REQUIRE ADDITIONAL BRACING; one-step installation saving time and cost. • INTEGRATED AIR-BARRIER; no additional housewrap required saving material costs. • LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO INSTALL; allows for fast installation saving time and cost. R-5 XP C O M B I N E S T H E W I N D B R A C I N G P R O P E R T I E S O F W O O D F I B R E W I T H T H E T H E R M A L R E S I S T A N C E O F E X T R U D E D P O L Y S T Y R E N E F O R O V E R 1 0 0 Y E A R S INSULSHEATHING Panel Introducing a Unique Innovation:
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 There are a number of concerns with this approach, not the least of which is the inadequacy of many humidity sensors to provide consis­ tent, repeatable indications of RH levels. However, for the purposes of this article, let’s focus on minimizing the use and waste of precious water to provide comfortable levels of indoor humidity throughout the cold winter weather. Let’s quickly recall that there is lots of literature available to you and your customers about appropriate humidity levels. Levels that are too low result in dry skin, sore throats, increased thirst and static electricity. In addition, some building materials, such as hardwood floors, are susceptible to low humidity levels and require careful humidity control so as to avoid damage. Levels that are too high may lead to excessive window condensation, swelling of hardwood and even mould. Most experts would say a healthy, comfortable humidity range is 40% to 60% – but that range is too simplistic for Canadian homes. A more accurate and helpful approach would be 35% to 45% in winter and 50% to 60% in summer. Indeed, better yet, state it as 40% (+/- 5%) in winter and 55% (+/- 5%) in summer to reflect the accuracy range of most humidity meters (hygrometers). Then, it is important to remember that moisture in houses is generated by the occupants and their activities and by moisture released from the building materials. Moisture is removed from a house by mechanical ventilation and natural air infiltration (air leakage). Stated another way, raising moisture levels in an otherwise dry house could be accomplished by tightening up the house to reduce air leakage, reducing the drying impact of ventilation rates or increasing moisture production inside the house (e.g., adding a humidifier). From a building science and overall air quality perspective, tighter envelopes with controlled ventilation would be preferable to requiring large humidifi­ cation capacity and uncontrolled air leakage. That said, the lifestyles of some occupants is such that they do not generate enough moisture to sustain comfort levels – small families in very large homes, occupants who are home infrequently or occupants whose lifestyles include limited cooking or other moisture production at home. In cases where supplemental humidification is required, mechanical contractors have the responsibility to ensure systems are properly sized and installed to eliminate potential 5 industryexpert / GORD COOKE Optimizing Winter Humidity and Water Use Remember that moisture in houses is generated by the occupants and their activities and by moisture released from the building materials. 195054533/SHUTTERSTOCK I was recently asked to resolve a humidity issue in a brand new, three-storey Toronto townhome. The home owner was trying to achieve an indoor relative humidity (RH) level of 45% in the winter. In order to do so, they had overridden the water control valve on their flow- through humidifier to crank up the water flow. The drain pan would overflow, the plumber would be asked to fix the “leak,” they would turn down the valve, the customer would complain that the RH level on their “smart” thermostat was less than 45% and the cycle would continue.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 20206 issues related to the task of adding moisture to air. The amount of humidification required is always a function of the air change rate – the combination of both natural leakage and mechanical ventilation at design conditions minus the amount of moisture generated by the occupants and the building. Unfortunately, the only known quantity of these four variables is the mechanical ventilation. Calculating the moisture required to replace that which is lost via mechanical ventilation is quite straightforward using a psychrometric chart. At right (Table 1) are examples of calculation results for two different outside conditions, to replace the moisture loss per 75 CFM of mechanical ventilation from indoor air conditions at 20°C and 40% RH. It should be obvious to regular readers that if the 75 CFM of mechanical ventilation noted above was provided by an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) rather than a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), the humidification capacity required would be cut by the latent moisture recovery rate of the ERV core. For example, the commonly available vänEE 65E ERV has a moisture transfer effectiveness of 0.51 at –25°C. Thus in the example above, the 4.7 gallons per day could be cut to roughly 2.3 gallons per day – a simple, effective way to reduce water use. Predicting natural ventilation rates or infiltration at design conditions is more difficult. Air leakage in buildings is a function of the size and location of holes in the All these products meet ENERGY STAR’s higher standards For more information or to order, contact your local distributor. vänEE 100H vänEE 200HvänEE 60H vänEE 60H-V+ vänEE 90H-V ECMvänEE 40H+vänEE 90H-V+ vänEE 60H+ vänEE 50H1001 HRV vänEE Gold Series 2001 HRV vänEE Gold Series vänEE air exchangers: improved line-up meets ENERGY STAR® standards Superior Energy Efficiency Ideal for LEED homes and new building codes 5-year warranty* FRESH AIR JUST GOT GREENER *ON MOST MODELS. TABLE 1 OUTSIDE CONDITIONS HUMIDIFICATION CAPACITY REQUIRED 0°C, 100% RH (raining or snowing) 0.68 lbs per hour or 1.95 gallons per day –20°C, 50% RH 1.65 lbs per hour or 4.7 gallons per day
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 that 35% to 45% is an appropriate comfort range. 2 Next, ensure the ventilation system is balanced at the required ventilation rate and switch to an ERV to cut water needs due to ventilation in half or more. 3 Always build tighter homes. 4 If you do choose to install a humidifier, use the actual airtightness and ventilation rates to properly size it. This is especially important in large homes, where the cost of large steam humidifiers and associated electrical capacity is significant. 5 Finally, choose systems that have good water flow controls that adjust humidity settings based on outside temperature, thereby reducing window condensation potential. This technology is now built into many new high-end thermostats that use an outdoor temperature sensor for many of their control functions. Implementing these strategies will simultaneously provide tighter control of RH levels, reduce the required capacity of humidification equipment and minimize the waste of water. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. building envelope as well as wind and “stack” pressures affected by the size and height of the building. There is lots of data on the average airtightness or blower door results of Canadian houses of different styles and ages, and most professional builders reading this article will be or should be blower door testing their homes. However, determining the actual air exchange rates of an individual house on a specific winter day would require impractical testing. Instead, the humidifier industry tends to use old, simplistic assumptions by creating categories of house tightness (for example, new and tight, average house, old and loose). They take little or no notice of the moisture occupants might create, and they do not recognize mechanical ventilation rates or the use of ERVs. Thus, they are inevitably oversized. However, the incremental cost of supplying larger humidifi­ cation equipment has been quite low, so perhaps they can’t be blamed for being safe rather than sorry. If you are doing energy modelling and blower door testing on your houses (and you should be), then you could ask your energy modeller to tell you the estimated natural infiltration rates for your houses. The most common energy simulation software programs, such as HOT2000 and REM/ Rate, each have their own assumptions and formulas that turn blower door airtightness test numbers into average winter air leakage rates and, while they give different numbers, they are more accurate than the formulas used by most humidifier suppliers. Above is an example (Table 2) for a 2,400 square foot, two-storey home in the Greater Toronto Area that is ventilated with an HRV at 75 CFM and has a blower door test value of 2.5 ACH at 50 Pa. Switching to an ERV would achieve an airtightness of 1.0 ACH at 50 Pa. Indeed, when you calculate these numbers and consider that the average family of four puts between eight and 12 litres a day into a home simply by respiration, perspiration and basic activities like showering and baths, you can imagine that in a tight house ventilated with an ERV, there may be no need for supplemental humidification. As a final note, to minimize waste of water related to humidification, there are at least five steps. 1 Start by carrying a reliable, calibrated hygrometer to ensure measured RH levels are accurate, and help your clients understand 7 TABLE 2 TYPICAL INDUSTRY HUMIDIFIER USING HOT2000 AIR LEAKAGE METRICS 2.5 ACH@50, HRV 13 gallons per day or 50 litres per day 9 gallons per day or 35 litres per day 1.0 ACH@50, ERV 13 gallons per day or 50 litres per day 4.2 gallons per day or 16 litres per day While common energy simulation software programs give different numbers, they are more accurate than the formulas used by most humidifier suppliers.
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 20208 industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS We all want a greener planet and try to do what we think is right within our own abilities to safeguard the environment for future generations. The Ontario Building Code (OBC) should ultimately provide the key technical requirements that govern building regulations in the province. However, I’m sure nearly all residential builders have encountered a municipal jurisdiction which seeks to prescribe building practices that: • go above and beyond what’s in the OBC; • push builders to meet mandates or programs that are technically onerous; • add to construction costs; or • simply don’t offer much benefit to the home owner. Since climate change is a global problem which does not stop at municipal, regional or even provincial boundaries within our Canadian context, why are local governments trying to independently lead the charge with their own unique mandates? Factor in the ongoing national undertaking to focus on increasing the harmonization of technical requirements across Canada to bring the provinces more in line with Canadian standards, and the current patchwork of municipal green requirements seems counterintuitive. Fragmented municipal requirements affecting residential construction add another layer to an already challenging development and building process, making it very complex for a home builder who operates in multiple jurisdictions to navigate. It is illogical for construction standards to differ from town to neighbouring town, especially since climate change does not stop at municipal boundaries. As an example, the City of Toronto would be at the extreme level of this spectrum for developing and implementing its own green standard which goes above and beyond the Code’s requirements. Originating as a voluntary standard first introduced in 2006, the Toronto Green Standard is now mandatory and on Version 3, which includes four tiers of performance. Here’s the hitch: municipal-level governments who develop their own construction requirements operate under a decentralized framework of regulation, have the least amount of funding and resources to develop and administer these “standards,” and can’t truly prove they have established a successful precedent for building practices. Simply put, they can’t afford the necessary research and development to prove their practices are effective. Even Toronto, representing the largest municipality in Ontario and which pioneered the development of its own green standard, has reported there is no Building Codes (Not Municipal Standards) Are the Building Blocks for Healthy Communities M any municipalities across Ontario are trying to make a difference for climate change. After all, it’s a very noble cause – let’s save the planet! Unfortunately, while individual municipalities may be trying to do their best to help the Earth, they are often attempting to do so without using proven or proper evidence-based policies. 970064034/ISTOCKPHOTO
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 9 transparency into how the programs they developed are actually working. At the federal level, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the National Research Council have funding for research, development and testing as well as demonstration projects to inform future code and policy development. It makes more sense to adopt the practices developed at this level. For example, the NRCan ecoEII Net-Zero Demonstration and R-2000 Net- Zero Energy Pilot saw the design, construction and monitoring of multiple test home archetypes across Canada. It is important to note that even these leadership programs are not standards and should not be directly grafted into provincial or federal codes. In comparison, municipalities are simply not equally equipped to establish building standards or practices, which is exactly why national and provincial building codes exist. My concern is that all the efforts that these municipalities undergo could not be the most effective use of resources. There’s no robust mechanism to test and vet how municipal programs or mandates stack up against performance metrics. The Toronto Green Standard, as an example, was not established through practice and proof – over time, it morphed from a voluntary standard originating out of the planning and development approvals process into the now mandatory standard applicable to all building types, likely at the behest of local councillors who often know little about the technical nature of construction. There are more pragmatic ways to go about pursuing green initiatives rather than each municipality going down a rabbit hole of developing green standards. Although these municipal programs and standards start with good intentions, they may not always have the desired outcome. Unintended consequences ultimately cost home owners money and often add to construction complexity for builders. Because the municipalities don’t have the in-house expertise or resources, developing and implementing these green policies is burdensome. Technology, new product offerings and construction methodologies change quickly – municipal programs cannot keep pace with the speed of the building industry, so their policies often become stagnant and outdated soon after they come into effect. Let’s admit that this is not a black- or-white situation: a municipality may not realize their green standard could result in lacklustre cost-benefit performance or be restrictive to builders who ultimately need to market and sell their product to prospective home buyers. Municipal green standards or even municipal requirements for branded programs can also be challenging for builders who seek to differentiate their product offerings from other builders. Municipalities need to realize that green programs can be rigid and force restrictions on a builder which, in turn, can affect their ability to cater to the needs and financial situations of potential home buyers. Mandating a single program not only limits choice but innovation. Outside of Toronto, various municipal green initiatives exist throughout the Greater Toronto Area. York Region has several municipal sustainability initiatives that are mandated through the development approvals process, particularly in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, East Gwillimbury and King Township, which each have their own Green Development Standards Program. That seems like a significant duplication of efforts being repeated across neighbouring municipalities to develop and maintain their own green standards. It also seems counterintuitive that planning departments are overseeing the implementation of green standards which affect construction practices, yet the permit process and construction is overseen by the building departments. With the National Building Code (NBC) currently consulting on proposed tiered code metrics, which will A municipality may not realize their green standard could result in lacklustre cost-benefit performance or be restrictive to builders who ultimately need to market and sell their product to prospective home buyers.
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202010 eventually filter down to the OBC under the ongoing harmonization efforts, this further justifies the fact that municipalities don’t need to invent their own programs because the national and provincial codes will likely incorporate tiered code provisions in the next editions. The NBC consultation on tiered code provisions states “in order to prepare industry for increasingly stringent energy efficiency codes in the future, and acclimate industry to the use of performance modeling solutions as a comprehensive compliance methodology, introducing tiered code metrics to the code will offer increased flexibility to authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ)… Adopting a tiered energy code will ensure that some national consistency in stretch targets may be instituted, as well as offering a common metric for measuring performance increases within buildings beyond minimal compliance … Inclusion of tiered energy codes will reduce the burden on individual AHJ in establishing reach targets and provide common metrics for national programs and targets … The publication of these voluntary tiers in the code should help industry and the public prepare for potential upcoming code changes, essentially ‘priming’ the market for upcoming code cycles.” A tiered code is going to make these municipal programs even less relevant. If the tiered code offers progressive compliance packages that are vetted by experts across Canada, wouldn’t you rather see municipalities adopt these practices instead of putting forward their own untested policies? With a standardized Code-approved process to accurately model and measure greenhouse gas emissions reductions, builders and/ or municipalities could be eligible for carbon credits. Codes are based on standards – a true standards development process combines technical rigour with a transparent, consensus- based approach that is supported by technical research. Extensive research, development and consultation go into developing building codes and standards referenced within, as opposed to municipal programs, which are not mandated to go through any validation outside of council approval. Because this is the water issue, a good municipal example is East Gwillimbury, which has a water reduction prescriptive checklist that references a standard like HERSH2O that can offer choice through performance for builders. Codes and standards are updated in a fairly routine, consistent and expected pattern; the provincial and federal governments consult with the necessary experts as well as industry and stakeholders. This allows industry to plan and prepare for these changes in their business operations along with construction and budget forecasting – whereas municipally driven programs are not updated or maintained in a predictable and consistent fashion. Here’s what I think: all levels of government and the construction industry need to better engage so that we can avoid duplication of efforts and ensure that the right standards are in place. A clear delineation needs to be recognized between standards in comparison to branded programs, especially when municipalities are mandating measures beyond code requirements. If we can do that, we can streamline approvals and increase much-needed housing supply, and home buyers will benefit through costs savings and, more importantly, time. The sooner we can get them into their new homes, the sooner we can chip away at the Canadian dream of home ownership. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at Extensive research, development and consultation go into developing building codes and standards referenced within, as opposed to municipal programs, which are not mandated to go through any validation outside of council approval.
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  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 13 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF E xtreme weather and wind have led to more driving rain, but many builders and inspectors are not aware that the Ontario Building Code (OBC) requires a second plane of protection. Exterior finishes such as siding and brick are essentially decorative layers. If bulk water infiltrates from the outside, we need to provide a drainage system underneath those exterior finishes to allow the water to shed back out to the exterior via gravity. The following are the OBC references for the mandatory requirement for window flashing: Elements of the Second Plane of Protection 1) The second plane of protection shall consist of a drainage plane with appropriate inner boundary and flashing to dissipate rainwater to the exterior. … 3) The protection provided by the second plane of protection shall be maintained, a) at wall penetrations created by the installation of components and services such as windows, doors, … Traditionally, a drainage layer has been provided by building paper with head flashing over windows. Newer sheathing systems include exterior air barriers that are taped to produce both a drainage plane and a weatherproof layer. Section 1 (on the following page) shows the detail for a complete system using a structural insulated It’s ‘Plane’ to See Drainage Layers Add to Durability sheathing that is an exterior air and weather barrier. The base flashing on the windowsill must be installed before the windows and left open to the outside so that drainage can occur. Frequently with foam sheathings, installers use sheathing tape to air seal the window jam to the sheathing (as shown in the image below). The issue is that taping the bottom portion traps water from draining to the outside. This is not a recommended practice – ask any builder who has had to go back to fix a window leak with a brick veneer about how expensive it is after the fact. For more information on these systems, visit, and Best practice includes the complete window being flashed – top, base and sides. However, the bottom portion should be left open for drainage of the base sill area.
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202014 Window detail without building paper 1 EXCEL includes an adhered air barrier membrane (see CCMC 13565-R). 2 Compatible: acts as air/ weather barrier and seals to Air-Lock and EXCEL. EXCEL1 CCMC APPROVED TAPED-ON FLASHING AS PER MANUFACTURER INSTRUCTIONS POLY VAPOUR BARRIER2 FOAM INSULATION CAULKING: SILL PAN TO WINDOW FRAME DO NOT SEAL DRAINAGE PATH AND LEAVE OPEN FOAM INSULATION POLY VAPOUR BARRIER2 SECTION 1 — SECOND PLANE OF PROTECTION USING EXTERIOR AIR BARRIER SYSTEM AS DRAINAGE PLANE Above: Window seal dressed with base flashing. Second Plane of Protection using exterior air barrier system as drainage plane.
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  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202016 With water conservation a growing concern, Greyter’s residential recycling solution is poised for prime time. Shades of Grey
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 17 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN Greyter Water Systems CEO Mark Sales (second left) with Greyter team. I n recent years, home energy techniques have progressed in leaps and bounds to the point where most experts believe there’s only so much more efficiency we can currently squeeze out of a house. Attention has now shifted to a subset of home energy that, until recently, has not undergone the same kind of advancement – namely, water conservation. While everyone has been focused on energy efficiency, water efficiency has been bubbling under the surface. And even though it has not been perceived with the same sense of urgency as carbon reduction, water usage is a huge – and growing – concern. The fact that water prices are increasing an average of 10% to 12% annually in North America further highlights the issue. PHOTOSCOURTESYGREYTERWATERSYSTEMSINC.
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 That’s what makes the technology from Ontario-based Greyter Water Systems Inc. so appealing – particu­ larly in the United States, where water conservation tends to be a larger concern, but also increasingly so here, north of the border. After many years of development, Greyter reached a huge milestone last March, when the Greyter HOME water reuse solution received certification to the NSF/ANSI 350 standard, which is a rigorous test that establishes material, design, construction and performance requirements for on-site residential and commercial water reuse treatment systems. During the six-month test, the Greyter HOME was dosed with a greywater cocktail that included secondary effluent from a wastewater treatment plant. All the while, the system delivered 30 gallons of near- potable water each day and did not require any user maintenance. Greyter is currently the only cost effective, small footprint residential greywater solution that meets the NSF 350 standard for recycling shower and bath water for toilet flushing. John Bell, Greyter’s vice president of business development for residential homes, explains that many U.S. jurisdictions require NSF 350, as it is the emerging water quality standard for residential greywater reuse. Hence, the importance of Greyter’s certification: “There is simply no other solution on the market like the Greyter HOME,” says Bell. “It is the only practical, cost- effective solution currently certified to NSF 350,” he continues. 18 With water taking centre stage as a valuable resource, many municipalities facing such challenges – and the associated high costs of infrastructure – are working with builders and developers to find innovative solutions to help create water-efficient communities (see issue 12 for more on this dynamic). In fact, in many instances, managing water efficiently is the key to being able to build homes at all – so the Greyter HOME solution is a very welcome product in many regions. It’s also a rather unique product. Greyter’s CEO, Mark Sales, says that there is currently no comparable solution in North America. The system uses a non-biological self-cleaning membrane and a self-cleaning pre-filter in order to provide a safe, reliable, high-performing and low- maintenance solution. Many water treatment systems use filters to treat water, which can clog and can require frequent maintenance. Others utilize a biological approach (requiring biomass), which can pose a risk in providing reliable operation. “We developed the Greyter HOME with the home owner’s safety and comfort in mind and so that it was bio-free,” says Sales. Not only does the quality of water meet the NSF 350 standard for toilet flushing, but the risk of bacteria passing through is eliminated by the self-cleaning membrane. In addition to Greyter’s proprietary membrane, the company has two Co-founder John Bell with the Greyter HOME system. Greyter reached a huge milestone last March, when the Greyter HOME water reuse solution received certification to the NSF/ ANSI 350 standard, which is a rigorous test that establishes material, design, construction and performance requirements.
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 19 1 2 3 4 5 THE GREYTER HOME™ AT A GLANCE 1 VENT 2 SHOWER/BATH WATER IN ~2 SHOWERS = ~30 FLUSHES 3 DRAIN OUT 4 GREYWATER TO TOILETS 5 FRESH WATER MAKE-UP For more information and to watch a video about the Greyter HOME greywater recycling system, go to and click on “How it Works” CONTROLLER TOUCHSCREEN INTERFACE CHLORINE SELF CLEANING PRE-FILTER
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202020 patents pending: one to the overall process and a second relating to the company’s innovative self-cleaning pre-filter, which remediates large solids and hair before entering the system. Small wonder Greyter’s technology is drawing interest from some large players in the industry. In fact, Greyter and Lennar, one of the leading home builders in the U.S., just recently announced that they have joined forces with the city of Tucson, Arizona’s water department to bring the revolution­ ary residential greywater recycling solution to home owners in Lennar’s Santa Rita Ranch and La Estancia communities. This project marks an important milestone in Greyter Water System’s efforts to bring the revolutionary residential greywater recycling solution to home owners nationwide, while also providing builders and municipalities with the technology to help create water- efficient communities. The pilot project launched in August 2019 and the final Greywater recycling systems were installed in November 2019. A total of nine new Lennar single-family homes received a Greyter HOME solution. This marks the Greyter HOME’s first deployment for a large-scale U.S. home builder. And “next year, we’ll have an incredible amount of data,” Bell says. In a nutshell, instead of sending shower and bath water directly to the sewer, the Greyter HOME treats it so that it can be used one more time to offset toilet flushing needs. Typically, just two showers a day (approximately 150 litres of water) can meet the demand for toilet flushing for a family of four. This can result in a reduction of water use of approximately 20% to 25%. Less water supplied to the house also means less sanitary outflow to water treatment plants. This can mean reduced costs for municipalities. Although the Greyter HOME has gone through considerable testing since 2016, that data from the Tucson pilot and larger 2020 projects will allow Greyter to fine-tune its solution even further. Bell says that certain revelations from the pilot have already been adopted within the Greyter HOME to provide for an even more resilient water- and energy-efficient recycling system. Greyter’s Anatomy As Greyter sits on the precipice of breaking through, let’s retrace the company’s steps to get to this stage. 2012 The company launches, starting from scratch, says CEO Mark Sales. Its focus at the time was on-site water reuse solutions for commercial and multi-unit construction, featuring a system much larger than the residential unit currently being rolled out. The goal is to develop a product for single-family home construction. 2013 The company begins R&D relating to what eventually becomes the Greyter HOME product. 2016 The first several field and beta test solutions are installed with the understanding, Sales says, that it would take about two years to optimize (that is, to work out the processing and operation kinks from an automation and energy- and water-efficiency standpoint). 2017 Greyter begins its soft launch of about 30 systems within the Greater Toronto Area. Concurrently, the company sets out to certify to the NSF 350 standard. 2019 March. The latest version is completed as NSF 350 certification is achieved. 2019 Summer. The Lennar pilot in Tucson begins. 2020 Sales indicates that Greyter will move forward with various builders on larger projects. 2022 Greyter’s projected major breakout, as per Sales. Greyter and Lennar, one of the leading home builders in the U.S., just recently announced that they have joined forces with the city of Tucson, Arizona’s water department to bring a revolutionary residential greywater recycling solution to home owners.
  22. 22. 21BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 W hile the U.S. currently remains Greyter’s main market, the company is beginning to see more deployment of its technology in Canada. Municipalities further away from water sources, like East Gwillimbury and Tottenham, have already begun to adopt water conservation practices. Bell says Guelph is offering a $1,000 rebate to home owners who install a greywater recycling system. An even better example of this is happening in Pickering. As part of John Godden’s HERSH2O pilot (“Hell or High Water,” page 28), a forward-thinking builder of Geranium Homes has combined with Pickering – a municipality that’s shown it’s serious about sustainability (see issue 30) – to create a North American first. This is the first time in Canada that an entire subdivision, 22 homes, will include actual water recycling solutions. Clearly, Geranium recognized long ago that this was the direction of the future home. “When we first introduced greywater rough-ins at our Copperstone neighbourhood in Ballantrae [in 2013], a residential system wasn’t approved for installation in Canada,” says president Boaz Feiner. “However, we knew water conservation was becoming more important to every­ one and we committed to providing this rough-in in all our future detached home communities.” Installing the Greyter HOME system as a standard feature at Geranium’s Edgewood community “is a progression of our dedication to water conservation,” he says. AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET This is the first time in Canada that an entire subdivision, 22 homes, will include actual water recycling solutions.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202022 EcoVent™ —The fan that meets designed airflow requirements. For true performance under the hood, install Panasonic EcoVent™ with Veri-Boost.™ Ideal for new residential construction, EcoVent is the perfect solution for home builders looking to meet designed airflow requirements the first time and avoid the hassle of replacing underperforming fans. EcoVent is a cost effective ENERGY STAR® rated solution that delivers strong performance. If you need to bump up the CFM output to achieve airflow design, simply flip the Veri-Boost switch and increase the flow from 70 to 90 CFM and you’re good to go! Learn more at
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 As mentioned, Pickering is making sustainability a priority, and Feiner says his company sees eye to eye with that initiative. “Geranium is aligned with Pickering in our desire to offer our home owners – Pickering residents – a way to participate in water conservation.” Among the other energy-efficient features at Edgewood are: • Drain water heat recovery unit integrated with the Greyter HOME; • 96% two-stage furnace with ECM blower; • Efficient radiant floor heating in ground floor slab-on-grade; • ENERGY STAR–qualified high- performance windows; • High-efficiency tankless water heater at UEF -.97; • Rough-in for future power for electric vehicles; • R-31 expandable spray foam insul­ ation in garage ceiling and exterior overhangs below living areas; • R-22 plus 1.5 Excel board in exterior walls and R-60 cellulose insulation in attic above living areas; • Programmable thermostat; • Energy recovery ventilator (ERV); • Water-efficient showerhead and toilet tanks; • ENERGY STAR-qualified exhaust fans in bathrooms; and • Third-party ratings, including Better Than Code and HERSH2O. Bell says Greyter’s current focus is to continue to make inroads in the U.S. while completing the Geranium project. While Greyter’s technology is currently focused on the builder market, a day may come when consumers will begin to embrace it. Sales says that, with today’s builder mindset coupled with a new generation of home owners who have more of an inclination to energy and water efficiency, he anticipates the Greyter HOME will become standard within the home 10 years down the road. And that aligns perfectly with his ultimate dream. “My goal since 2012 has been to bring a new appli­ance into new homes that drastically reduces water consumption so that everyone wins – the munici­pality, the builder and home owners,” he says. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 23 Jim Couperthwaite of Geranium Homes with newly installed Greyter HOME system. Upper right: Typical Model slab on grade design due to high water table. Right: Two- stage furnace with tankless hot water heater for radiant floor and domestic hot water.
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202024 sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN After completing his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering in 2016, Morgoch earned his master’s degree by conducting a major research project on computer modelling to simulate how canoe paddles move through water. That computer modelling would later prove helpful for his work as manager of technical sales at Greyter Water Systems. At Greyter, Morgoch joined Michael Caldeira, another young mechanical engineer with a passion for sustainability and energy conservation. Caldeira says he’s “always been sensibly green,” but he didn’t really think about water very much before joining the Ontario- based greywater recycling company: “I thought I’d work on the energy side, but once you get involved on the water side, the more you realize just how precious this resource is. Look at California’s water pressures. And here in Canada, we take our easy access to clean water for granted. There’s a sense of pride in working for a company working on water conservation.” He’s now the manager of technical services. Neither one has looked back, as they’ve watched the company grow from working out of a basement to a much larger production facility. Greyter had its beginnings in commercial greywater technology, but the company set out to develop a product for residential homes because its founders noticed an enormous market developing as a result of builders and municipalities striving to create water-efficient communities. Greyter faced a considerable learning curve. “We had to meet strict residential standards, or risk losing market share,” Caldeira says. With a push to develop more sophisticated residential-use technology than was available in commercial at the time, “we had to get our heads around the efforts to miniaturize that technology,” he says. One requirement was to obtain NSF 350 certification, a stringent water certification standard enforced primarily in California but also in other water-stressed regions. The company spent considerable time, effort and money on creating prototypes, Caldeira says. “We’re trying to adapt the technology and develop it further for the residential side of things. It needed to meet several important characteristics demanded by [co-founders] Mark Greyter Gets Even Better Bringing Water Management Solutions to New Homes Michael Caldeira (left) and Dana Morgoch assemble a Greyter HOME system. W ater has always been important to Dana Morgoch. Growing up near the Credit River in Mississauga, he picked up sprint canoeing (doing 1,000- metre races!) and competed for Canada at the world championships. PHOTOCOURTESYGREYTERWATERSYSTEMSINC.
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202026 Sales and John Bell so that it would be embraced by municipalities, builders and the home owner.” There’s a reason why Greyter’s primary target market isn’t just individual home owners, but builders too. “It came down to money savings,” Caldeira says. “Municipalities charge connection fees, which home builders pay when developing a new tract. That can get pretty pricy – in certain counties in Colorado and California, water tap fees are in the tens of thousands of dollars per house.” Morgoch says that, in some regions of the U.S., water shortages are so severe that his friend from San Diego confessed he would plug the bathtub during showers so they could use that water to flush the toilet. And California isn’t the only place experiencing severe water pressures – Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Florida and other states are also grappling with various pressures on their water resources. To address these water shortages, Greyter, Tucson Water and Lennar (America’s largest home builder) are several months into their pilot project showcasing the impact of the Greyter HOME within two of Lennar’s developments in Tucson, Arizona. “The Tucson pilot allows us to demon­strate what the Greyter HOME can do, and is allowing us to move the technology forward,” Morgoch says. “In Tucson, the building code requires that houses need to be plumbed in to allow for greywater conservation, as well as rainwater capture.” Even so, you’re not finding whole tracts being outfitted with greywater systems. These rough-ins allow houses to be future proofed to ensure water conservation down the road. The first step is to “Greyter water- ready” the home (a phrase coined by Sales). This is where the home’s plumbing is installed to accept greywater recycling, to capture shower and bath water, and to deliver treated, near-potable water to the toilets. It requires piping to be installed in a certain way. Morgoch says plumbers need to be involved from the beginning to make sure everything is done correctly. “Then we inspect after the install, commis­sion the system, and go through an orientation with the home owner, so they know how the system works.” Greywater recycling is definitely “starting to garner more interest,” Caldeira says. “We have had a lot of conversations with builders. John Bell is a key liaison with builders. He ensures the equipment development meets their needs for a compact footprint, noise reduction and serviceability.” He adds that “one of the biggest requirements was that the Greyter HOME be user friendly and provide reliable performance.” To that end, “it was designed to require as little maintenance as possible. The system merely requires the filling of the disinfection tank and exchanging of absorption media, typically once per year.” Caldeira says, “It was designed realizing that some people won’t really care how it works; only that it does work. We had to make it easy enough so that home owners could service the system themselves or rely on an annual service visit from a qualified professional.” Morgoch and Caldeira are optimistic that the pilot results will show that Greyter HOME is a reliable water reduction appliance that saves water and minimizes servicing requirements for the residential market. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at Caldeira adds that “one of the biggest requirements was that the Greyter HOME be user friendly and provide reliable performance.” To that end, “it was designed to require as little maintenance as possible.” “The Tucson pilot allows us to demon­strate what the Greyter HOME can do, and is allowing us to move the technology forward,” Morgoch says.
  27. 27. Check out our website at
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 20202828 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN T he impact of seeing baby kangaroos and koala bears being rescued is sure to be a lasting memory from the devastating fires in Australia that began last summer. But the disaster also underscored an important issue that faces all of humankind: climate change has exacerbated the growing scarcity of water and heightened our need to improve our efficiency with this vital resource. With this in mind, RESNET’s recently developed HERSH2O scale is coming to Canada, courtesy of John Godden, the person who first brought the HERS scale north of the border in 2005. HERSH2O is a rating system designed to determine how water efficient a home is. The system is based on a candidate-ANSI standard. Godden says one of his goals was to determine what the Canadian reference was. While the standard American home is 100, the Canadian baseline is 97 – slightly better because plumbing standards call for more efficient toilets and Canada has provincial requirements for drain water heat recovery, he says. Similar to HERS, HERSH2O allows builders to meet local standards while getting a third-party rating, rather than having the municipality force builders to do things they might not want to do. “If a municipality is having constraints on water and sewage, this is a way of giving builders a choice on the different water-saving features they can put in a house,” Godden says. It’s a situation we saw played out in East Gwillimbury a couple of years ago (see “Leading Edge” in Better Builder Magazine issue 28), when Rosehaven Homes wanted to use the HERS scale as opposed to locally prescribed ENERGY STAR. In the end, after allowing Rosehaven to build a test home, East Gwillimbury was convinced enough to alter the prescriptive language of its Sustainable Develop­ ment Incentive Program, thereby allowing builders more options. Rosehaven’s discovery home – the first in Canada to receive a rating on the HERSH2O scale – scored a 69, meaning it’s 31% better than the reference house that’s being used as a baseline. That very same Rosehaven home is part of a HERSH2O pilot program that Godden is performing as per a 2019 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) he signed with CRESNET. The pilot consists of Godden applying this new standard and ultimately providing labels for specific homes. Phase B of the pilot – which is being done in conjunction with a discovery home program in Enbridge’s Savings by Design program – involves several Hell or High Water With water conservation being the next frontier, RESNET’s new HERSH2O scale has come to Canada, providing builders with a valuable tool. HERSH2O® Water Efficiency Rating Certificate Property Address: 7 Forest Edge Crescent City: Holland Landing, ON Builder: Rosehaven Rating Organization Company: Better Than Code Rater: John B Godden Rater ID: 0001 Rating Information HERSH2O Index: 69 Rating Date:01/03/2020 Rating Provider: Project FutureProof HERSH2O Index This home, compared to the reference home: 28 % more water efficient 25,154 gallons annual water savings 131 $ estimated annual water cost savings Home Feature Summary Conditioned floor area: Number of bedrooms: Lot size: Irrigated area: Automatic irrigation?: Average toilet flush volume: Kitchen faucet flow rate: Bathroom faucet flow rate: Average shower flow rate: 5,249 ft2 4 5,000 ft2 0 ft2 No 0.0 gpm 1.5 gpm 1.5 gpm 1.8 gpm Daily water usage: Daily water savings compared to reference home: Daily water usage: Daily water savings compared to reference home: Estimated Indoor Water Usage and Savings Estimated Outdoor Water Usage and Savings 155 gallons 69 gallons gallons gallons HERSH2O certificate for Rosehaven’s discovery home in Holland Landing.
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 prominent Canadian developments, including Geranium Homes’ 21-home Edgewood community in Pickering (see “Shades of Grey” on page 16 for more on this project). Edgewood will be the first production development to use this new scale. Other discovery home builders that plan to participate in Phase B of the pilot include Empire Com­ munities, Brookfield Residential, Campanale Homes, Heathwood Homes, Regal Crest Homes and Tribute Communities – a veritable who’s who of the leading home builders in Canada. The introduction of HERSH2O marks another first for Canada. After bringing HERS to Canada, Godden signed an MOU with RESNET to apply the scale here in 2007 and, in 2018, he received permission to apply the HERSH2O scale. HERS or RESNET energy modelling is recognized by both the National Building Code and the Ontario Building Code SB-12. “This is the birth of another program,” Godden says. Stay tuned. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 29 Don’t just breathe, BREATHE BETTER. As the industry leader in Indoor Air Quality systems, Lifebreath offers effective, energy efficient and Ontario Building Code compliant solutions for residential and commercial applications. To learn more about our lineup of products contact us today. Visit tolearnmore! orcallusat 1-855-247-4200 “If a municipality is having constraints on water and sewage, this is a way of giving builders a choice on the different water-saving features they can put in a house,” Godden says.
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 202030 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY In many municipalities, a residential customer’s water bill will include both volumetric and fixed charges. For example, in St. Thomas, Ontario (where I live), residential customers pay $1.82 in water charges and $2.08 in wastewater charges for every cubic metre (m³) of water they use, plus a fixed monthly water meter charge of $24.55 (for a ¾" cubic meter) and a fixed monthly sewer charge of $10.11. So, a home in St. Thomas using 15 m³ of water per month would pay: 15 m³ x ($1.82 + $2.08) + $24.55 + $10.11 = $93.16 per month. Not all municipalities include fixed charges in their water bill. For example, in Toronto, the customer’s water bill is based only on the volume of water they use. Toronto’s 2020 volu­ metric rate is $4.07 per m³, so a home using 15 m³ of water per month would pay: 15 x $4.07 = $61.05 per month. Residential per capita water demands in North America have been declining for the last 30 years or so, primarily because of the improved efficiency of water-using fixtures and appliances. However, it is important to remember that aggregate water demand has increased, freshwater is a limited resource and we are building more homes. Data from Environment Canada and Statistics Canada show that residential demands have declined from 335 litres per capita per day (Lcd) in 2001 to only 220 Lcd in 2017 (Figure 1) – a decline of 34% in just 16 years! Because most of the costs associated with operating water and wastewater systems are fixed, when water demands decline, water rates must increase. But, as water rates continue to increase, there will be even more opportunities for customers to save money by installing efficient fixtures and appliances and adopting efficient water-using practices. What is the desired outcome? The desired outcome is to reduce energy and water consumption related to domestic water usage. Besides a number of existing technologies, such as low-flow faucets, showerheads and flush toilets, there are some emerging technologies that can help reduce water use, energy consumption and utility costs. What’s the benefit? Reducing water consumption will help reduce water utility costs or energy consumption costs. What are the solutions? Builders can help their home owners reduce their water bill by installing fixtures and appliances that go beyond the Code minimum for efficiency. For example, a three-person home in St. Thomas can save about $38 per year by installing toilets that flush with only three litres instead of the 4.8-litre standard. They can save another $46 per year in water costs by installing an ENERGY STAR-certified clothes washer that uses only 36 litres per load instead of a standard model that uses 76 litres or more per load. Home owners can also save water and money by only watering their lawns when needed. For example, in St. Thomas, home owners pay about $5 for every hour they run their garden hose. Home owners can save even more water, energy and money by adopting one or more beyond-Code technologies. For example: • Greywater reuse systems: Residential greywater reuse systems collect the drain water from showers and baths, clean it, store it, and then use this water to flush the toilets in the home. Theoretically, 100% of toilet flush water can be provided by a greywater reuse system. In St. Thomas, this potential savings equates to approximately $100 per year. These types of systems can cost about $5,000 to buy and install. • Hot water recirculation systems: These systems reduce the volume of water wasted down the drain while you wait for hot water to arrive at the faucet or shower. While there are systems that work on a timer or Go With the Flow, Saving Water Makes Sense I am working with Natural Resources Canada to develop the Guide to Net Zero Energy Homes by a Builder for Builders. The guide is designed to provide insights on the why and the how of building to net zero. This article is an excerpt from the water conservation section of this upcoming guide to net zero energy homes. In some ways, water conservation gets the short end of the stick in the overall energy conversation. However, it is interesting to note there are driving factors that indicate we are going to need to be much more conscious about water conservation. The good news is that using less water is not only good for the environment, it is also good for your pocketbook.
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 motion sensor to turn on the hot water circulation pump, the most efficient systems are on-demand ones that only operate when the home owner activates a push button to turn on the pump. When the pump is activated, it draws hot water from the water heater (either tank-type or tankless) and circulates it through the home’s hot water supply piping, sending the ambient temperature water in the piping back to the water heater to be reheated. Once hot water has reached the furthest fixture, the pump shuts off. Some hot water recirculation systems use the home’s existing cold water piping to return the ambient temperature water to the water heater; however, the systems use dedicated return piping to avoid having stale hot water entering the home’s cold water piping. These systems can typically cost between $800 and $1,000 to buy and install; home owners install them more for the convenience of eliminating waiting for hot water than for cost savings. • Looped water supply: Looped water supply piping works well with hot water recirculation systems because hot water can be circulated to every fixture in the home. While looped piping can also help reduce the length of stems off the main line, this type of plumbing layout is not always possible based upon the home design. The labour cost of installing a “looped” system is similar to the cost of installing a conventional piping system. • Leak detection: There are two main types of leak detection systems available to home owners: (1) systems that sense water on the floor, perhaps from a leaking water heater or from rain water entering through a cracked foundation and (2) systems that sense a continuous flow of water through the home’s water meter. Both types of systems have the ability to sound an alarm or to notify the home owner if a leak is detected, but some models of the second type also have the ability to shut off the water supply to the home to help avoid a major flood, especially if you happen to be away from home when the leak starts. Systems that sense water on the floor can cost as little as $20. Systems that can shut off the home’s water supply can cost $500 or more. • Drain water heat recovery: Most Ontario builders have had at least some experience with drain water heat recovery as it found its way into the 2012 Ontario Building Code. A coil of copper pipe is cut into the cold water supply to the water heater. Because this coil surrounds the drain pipe of one or more showers in the home, some of the waste heat from water draining from the shower is transferred to the cold water refilling the water heater. As such, these systems save energy rather than water. Note the shower drain water and the cold water supply to the water heater are in separate pipes and do not mix. These systems can cost about $800 to buy and install and will save about $30 per year in water heating costs (based on a volumetric natural gas price of $0.30 per m³). • Stacked/back-to-back/loop run plumbing layouts: The length of water supply piping should be minimized wherever possible. When wet rooms are constructed back-to-back or stacked floor-to-floor, they can share a common wet wall and plumbing stacks, and you can reduce your overall plumbing installation costs. Additional energy and water savings can be achieved by installing the water heater as close as possible to where most of the hot water will be used in the home. Reducing the distance between the water heater and the primary showers 31 FIGURE 1 — AVERAGE RESIDENTIAL PER CAPITA WATER DEMAND IN CANADA BETWEEN 2001 AND 2017 200 LITRES PER CAPITA PER DAY 250 LITRES PER CAPITA PER DAY 300 LITRES PER CAPITA PER DAY Between 2001 and 2017 residential demands have declined by 115 litres per capita per day. 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 292 335 333 331 329 328 327 309 274 263 251 237 222 229 235 228 220 Sources: Environment Canada, Municipal Water Use reports and statistics for 2001, 2004, 2006, 2009; Statistics Canada, Table 153-0127 Potable water use by sector and average daily use for Canada, provinces and territories for 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017. 350 LITRES PER CAPITA PER DAY
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 33 | SPRING 2020 ready to give them another try. (For example, read more about the Greyter HOME in “Shades of Grey” on page 16.) I’ve become so annoyed with high water bills and waiting for hot water to arrive at the fixture that I am currently trying a hot water recirculation system in my own home. Preliminary results are positive. I’ve installed hundreds of drain water heat recovery systems over the years and have no issue with recommending them to larger families. Because of the cost, however, I don’t agree that these systems should be considered a universal energy-saving technology. Several years ago, I tried a leak detection system out of concerns for water damage in my home. Unfortun­ ately, there were so many false alarms that I ended up shutting the system off. Now, I typically only activate the system when we are away on holiday. Shorter, more direct water supply trunks and branches means a lower volume of water held in hot water lines. Where possible, I try to guide my design team to consider efficient plumbing layouts. This works better for some home designs than others, and we ultimately need to consider if the overall home design will be compromised. We try to build homes to be as efficient as practical, not as efficient as possible. Hopefully this excerpt provides some insights on how we can, and why we should, look at water conservation. I look forward to sharing the Guide to Net Zero Energy Homes by a Builder for Builders once it’s published. A special thanks to Bill Gauley of Gauley Associates for providing a technical review of this section. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. can also help eliminate the need for a hot water recirculation system. • Pipe insulation on hot water lines: Water stays hotter longer in pipes and there is less wasted as occupants don’t have to wait. Thus, less warm water goes down the drain. 32 Personal experience Either through work or at home, I’ve tried them all: In my opinion, the early model greywater reuse systems I installed were not quite ready for prime time. The technology used by some current models, however, is far more sophisticated and advanced, and I am Contains Graphenstone technology Purifies the environment Breathable. Absorbs CO2 High performance Washable UNIQUE PROPERTIES The most advanced solution in ecological paints & coatings with Graphenstone technology. ® Contact: Graphenstone Canada 17-280 Edward Street E. St. Thomas Ontario N5P 4C2 Call us at: 1-519-488-5200 1-888-840-0153 Email: C M Y CM MY CY CMY K ADV-Canada-V2019.pdf 3 15/11/19 12:46
  33. 33. Trailblazer Matt Risinger Builder and building science expert COMFORTBOARD™ has received ICC-ES validated product acceptance as continuous insulation for multiple applications. For more information visit Continuous stone wool insulation that improves thermal performance Trailblazing requires confidence, expertise and a desire to do things right. Matt Risinger uses non-combustible, vapor-permeable and water-repellent COMFORTBOARD™ to help wall assemblies dry to the outside, keeping clients comfortable inside. It cuts down on heat loss and improves energy efficiency so that what you build today positively impacts your business tomorrow. 3773