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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 25 / Spring 2018


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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.

Published in: Real Estate
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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 25 / Spring 2018

  1. 1. ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 River City’s Mid-rise Possibilities Do We Have to Over-regulate? The Good Builder Score LEED v4 – The Next Evolution Going for Silver Lessons from San Lorenzo INSIDE Sustainability ISSUE
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  3. 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Rethinking the Experience of Sustainability by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Sustainable Homes Do We Have to Over-regulate to Get This Right? by Lou Bada INDUSTRY NEWS 7 The Good Builder Score Proposing a New Approach to Rating Home Builders by Paul De Berardis BUILDER NEWS 10 LEED v4 The Next Evolution for Sustainable Residential Projects in Canada by Thomas Green BUILDER NEWS 13 Going for Silver by Alex Newman INDUSTRY EXPERT 14 The Green Side of the Cottage by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY EXPERT 24 A Green Rater by Better Builder Staff SITE SPECIFIC 26 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Renovate by Alex Newman FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Climate Change and More Durable Housing Lessons from San Lorenzo, Part 1 by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 On the Waterfront River City is a prime example of what’s possible in a mid-rise by Rob Blackstien 20 Rookie of the Year by Rob Blackstien 30 ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 On our cover: River City Phase 1 & 2 by Jose Uribe Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 20
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 20182 T his is the 25th issue of Better Builder. In the spring of 2012, this magazine was called Sustainable Builder. To us, sustainability is really a common-sense approach to managing resources in any process. But the word “sustainable” became a buzzword over time and lost its original punch. Sustainability is more than the process – it is about relationships between people and things. It is about how we value our connection with resources to achieve less waste and better outcomes for the future. It is dynamic, flexible and based on the experience of what works and what does not. We eventually renamed the magazine to reflect the fact that better builders build sustainability. Our Building Code is among the most energy efficient in the world. However, the last issue demonstrated we are at the point of diminishing returns through simply adding more insulation or employing more efficient HVAC systems. Looking ahead, our attention should be directed towards durability, water efficiency and reducing occupant loads and behaviour. This issue showcases three LEED projects recognized in the recent Canada Green Building Council Greater Toronto Chapter Awards. Each project represents an important housing form: a mid-rise multi-unit (page 16), a near zero retirement cottage (page 14) and a LEED Platinum renovation in Toronto (page 20). The latter may be the most crucial, because it demonstrates how to improve the existing housing stock. The LEED rating system will play an important role going forward, as Thomas Green explains on page 10. LEED currently exists as v4 for both low- and mid-rise projects. LEED v4.1, under construction, will be streamlined for wider appeal and ease of use. We also need to recognize when builders do things right. Lou Bada from Starlane Homes (winner of the 2017 RESNET Cross Border Home Builder Challenge President’s Award) argues why over-regulation hinders sustainability on page 3. Paul De Berardis from RESCON proposes a Good Builder Score that rewards sustainable practices (page 7). We also feature renovator Sam Lapidus, who has been taking aim at minimizing waste in the building industry (page 26). Finally, we are proud to share Doug Tarry’s “Lessons from San Lorenzo” on page 30. Doug is not only an innovator, but a humanitarian too. His current work in Puerto Rico is inspiring, and his common- sense approach to building with resiliency is anything but common. I’m very proud of this 25th issue and am grateful to everyone who has contributed to its success. Better Builder strives to promote the triple bottom line: outcomes that are good for people, good for the environment and good for business. We hope to continue pushing all of us to rethink our experience of sustainability. BB Rethinking the Experience of Sustainability 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 EDITOR 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. publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN John Godden Alex Newman Gord Cooke Rob Blackstien Lou Bada Doug Tarry CONTRIBUTORS
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 Sustainable Homes Do We Have to Over-regulate to Get This Right? 3 H istorically, “sustainability” was often seen as being tied to energy efficiency, and to a large degree it still is. Quantifiable and relatively easy to ascribe a cost to, energy efficiency and energy conservation were the low-hanging fruit for sustainability. Instead of (blindly) marching towards net zero carbon nirvana, we should at some point re-examine our goals and our progress. If our goal is to walk on this planet leaving the smallest footprint possible, we should review our assumptions as well. I believe we have nearly exhausted the energy efficiency component of sustainability in new construction in any reasonable way. Lowering air changes and thickening walls is yielding fewer and fewer environ­ mental returns. Other pillars of sustainable housing are: indoor air quality, resource management, water efficiency and building resiliency (durability). I’d like to explore some of these a little more. I’ve come to believe that over- regulation does not usually inspire much. “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not” can only inspire compliance or, in some cases, avoidance and non-compliance (cheating) with unintended consequences and questionable results. I admit that, to some degree, regulation has been effective – for instance, it has forced mechanical equipment to become more energy efficient. This could be considered innovation or continuous improvement. Nevertheless, greater regulation does not always bring thebadatest / LOU BADA greater innovation, nor does it bring forth something entirely new (invention) or something better suited for use in its environment (adaptation). When builders are forced into compliance with something they don’t believe is of value, they are less likely to voluntarily take on things they believe may be of environmental benefit. As an example, water conservation could be greatly improved by installing a greywater recycling system, or a rough-in for future use. Once a home is built, the cost of installing a greywater system without a rough-in is prohibitive. Now just imagine a municipality forcing a builder to install a hot water recirculation system (a system that runs on a pump and delivers hot water to a tap promptly): how likely is it that the builder will voluntarily install a greywater rough-in? Not likely. For the sake of argument, let’s believe (as I do) that the potential for energy savings is greater with greywater recycling than with a hot water recirculation pump. What have we accomplished? What happens when builders are given little choice because of misguided regulation to lower air changes per hour from 2.5 to 2.0, or mandated into building a high-pitched roof and Disneyland-type architectural details? Builders must comply with an ever-increasing number of rules if they want to obtain a permit and to build, but will they go above and beyond the Ontario Building Code when it comes to choosing materials or methods that will improve the durability of a home? There are numerous things that we could do to improve the durability of a home to adapt to a changing climate and extend its life span. Here’s my opinion: in a regulatory environment where builders have less and less discretion, they are less likely to voluntarily do much. Another example may be that Other pillars of sustainable housing are: indoor air quality, resource management, water efficiency and building resiliency.
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 20184 a builder wants to opt for a more expensive energy recovery ventilator (in lieu of a heat recovery ventilator) to make a home more comfortable and better control indoor humidity. How do we encourage this? How do we set the industry up for success? You may say “more regulation”; I would propose less. We seem to continuously add regulation to correct previous poorly thought out regulation. As you may have guessed by reading my previous articles, I haven’t strayed much from my deeply held convictions that over- regulation – or poorly thought out regulation – is detrimental to the industry and, ultimately, to new- home buyers and an important part of the economy that sustains our ability to have a fair and just society. Sustainable building is multi-faceted and, at times, complex. Builders need flexibility to reach their targets. The targets must be reasonable, and they must be based on a value proposition and professionalism, not on ideology or a political agenda. Our industry has become a convenient target for regulation. We need rational and achievable targets, not programs and prescriptions that don’t make sense and are not sustainable. 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). The targets must be reasonable, and they must be based on a value proposition and professionalism, not on ideology or a political agenda.
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  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 7 industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS Tarion’s role is anticipated to shift by 2020, due to the province deciding to enforce some recommendations from the Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham’s report. There is a possible window of opportunity to change the rating system from hereon. Rather than just a negative rating based on cosmetic deficiencies, there should be a positive one based on things done right – especially major systems and structural elements. Here’s why: people care about esthetics – the most obvious defects and deficiencies. That makes sense, as these are right in front of home owners and top of mind. While Tarion deals with home owner-driven complaints, those problems usually are about minor cosmetic issues rather than the construction practices that may affect the durability and performance of your home. So instead of buyers complaining that their tiles are off by a few millimetres, why not consider all of the important things that you can’t see? Home owners, generally, are not concerned with what’s behind the walls, in the ceilings or below the floors, simply because either they don’t understand, they can’t see or they don’t care what’s there (or all three). Let’s look at Tarion’s list of top five claims: 1. Paint: streaks and brush marks, drips and splatters, poor coverage, poor quality paint. 2. Doors: finishing, surface damage, sticking or warping doors, poor installation. 3. Floors: gaps between boards, scratches, cupping, uneven finishing. 4. Drywall: cracking, visible seams, blemishes, rough patches, corners that aren’t square. 5. Stairs and steps: squeaking, mismatched finishes, scratched surface finish. Are all five of these important? Of course they are. What’s in front of the buyer’s eyes and ears will always get first priority in a new home. But these 7 The Good Builder Score Proposing a New Approach to Rating Home Builders P erhaps the biggest myth in new-home construction is that a home builder’s reputation rests with the Tarion warranty program. Any builder can run into a string of chargeable conciliations against them by a few buyers (sometimes unreasonable customers), putting a stain on their record that can stick for a long time. And that’s a problem.
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 20188 are not the critical components of a home that come to mind for a builder when it comes to the durability and performance of a new home. Ideally, home owners should be aware and ask questions regarding certain critical systems in their home and be less concerned with cosmetic upgrades and finishes. But that’s difficult to achieve. Not everyone is that interested in how their home really functions. Most home owners should know their home is constructed according to code. The responsibility of regulating and enforcing building construction standards falls onto designers and municipal building inspectors. Here’s a crazy idea for the war­ ranty program (whether it is Tarion or another agency): why not create a checklist or point system for builders that rewards them for including quality construction improvements or components that ensure the quality of your new home for decades? Is this a pie in the sky? We don’t think so. We strongly believe that a point system should consider the positive qualities of the individual home builder. Instead of weighing all of the less important, esthetic niggles of a new home against the reputation of a builder, why not use a system of positivity to build up those reputations? The point system – let’s call it “The Good Builder Score” – would lead to more healthy competition between builders, encourage them to use the most modern techniques of construction, create a higher level of understanding between builders and buyers through education, and improve the overall home buying process. But the focus not only needs to shift from a negative rating system to a positive one. It is also critical that we change the focus from the purely cosmetic changes (which is what most claims are about) to giving credit to builders where credit is due – that is, for including modern features that improve the overall durability of the home. Here’s the kicker: these important components of durability are the parts of the house that you don’t see. Here are five potential checklist examples that would give a builder points towards their Good Builder Score: 1. Effective installation of an air- barrier system to ensure airtight­ ness for energy efficiency and to prevent condensation in wall assemblies. 2. Proper installation, commissioning and balancing of the heating and cooling system, including components such as the furnace, air conditioner, ERV/HRV, humidifier and distribution ducting to provide desired indoor air quality. 3. Precision wood-framed structures comprised of panelized wall and floor sections built off-site in a controlled manufacturing environment, providing quality control of a home’s structure. 4. Proper flashing of windows, doors and mechanical penetrations in the exterior building envelope to protect against possible water entry and air leakage. 5. Use of new and advanced building materials, such as engineered floor joists, which can offer increased spatial design flexibility as well as provide greater building material uniformity. The Good Builder Score is just a starting point for a system that would encourage builder participation. It could lead to offering rebates and incentives for the builders who build a cut above the bare minimum requirements. Meanwhile, we also strongly believe that Tarion should be more open with regards to their claims database, so home owners can be more knowledgeable about things to look for, and builders can increase their education outreach to consumers. Tarion is in the business of warranty and home construction, yet they are not applying the lessons learned from their warranty claim database to address any shortfalls in construction practices. So, let’s do this. A Good Builder Score would involve a steep learning curve. There’s an oppor­ tunity to improve the industry for the benefit of all home buyers and home builders, and we should take it. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at 8 Why not create a checklist or point system that rewards builders for including quality construction improvements or components that ensure the quality of your new home for decades?
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 • 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:
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 COMPARISON OF LEED CANADA VERSION 2009 TO THE NEW V4 WALLACE RESIDENCE CATEGORIES LEED VERSION 2009 LEED V4 Innovation & Design Process (ID) 5.5 2 Location and Linkages (LL) 10 10 Sustainable Sites (SS) 5 2.5 Water Efficiency (WE) 3 3 Energy & Atmosphere (EA) 22.5 12 Materials & Resources (MR) 2.5 5 Indoor Environment Quality (EQ) 19 10.5 Awareness & Education (AE) 3 1 Points Accredited 70.5 46 Total Possible Points Certified Silver Gold Platinum 54 69 84 99 Certified Silver Gold Platinum 40–49 50–59 60–79 80–110 10 buildernews / TOM GREEN I t is an exciting and important time to be involved in green housing in Canada. People are talking about sustainable housing issues well beyond energy efficiency – and it’s not just individuals from academia or the green building industry sector, but also policy-makers, economists, building code developers, and governments at all levels. With LEED v4 now in force and a LEED v4.1 update on the way, the LEED green building rating system’s integrated and holistic range of sustainability criteria continues to evolve to push the market with new and more stringent sustainability parameters, add emphasis on quality assurance and encourage real-world performance reporting. In the 15 years since being introduced to the market, LEED has become well-established as a voluntary, consensus-driven, internationally recognized certification system providing third- party verification that a building or community is designed and built as planned to rigorous sustainability standards. Delivered throughout the country by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), LEED provides a framework to develop leading-edge green housing, from single-family homes to high-rise projects, and drives continual improvements to building design, construction and operation. To date, there are more than 7,500 LEED homes registered in Canada, of which over 3,500 are certified. Raising the sustainability bar with LEED v4 LEED v4 focuses on advancing an even more sustainable paradigm and aims to balance the necessary technical rigour with a market focus to provide a flexible and effective environmental assessment methodology that will facilitate widespread adoption. Rather than aiming at “less bad” design, the LEED v4 system asks a critical question: “What should a LEED project accomplish?” LEED v4 was LEED v4 The Next Evolution for Sustainable Residential Projects in Canada
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 developed with a set of seven impact categories that focus on specific social, environmental and economic goals, tailored to the built environment and targeting positive outcomes involving: 1. Climate change – reverse contribution to climate change 2. Human health – enhance human health and well- being 3. Water resources – protect and restore water resources 4. Biodiversity – protect biodiversity and ecosystem services 5. Material resources – promote sustainable and regenerative resource cycles 6. Green economy – build a greener economy 7. Community – enhance community, social equality, environmental justice and quality of life LEED v4 raises the bar for the environmental performance of housing through adjustments to the credits and prerequisites and a comprehensive technical update. Fundamental LEED v4 revisions include: • Greater emphasis on a performance-based approach, including increased stringency thresholds for energy, water, waste and indoor environmental air quality. • A more holistic evaluation of materials using multiple attributes and approaches such as Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental Product Declarations, promoting key next steps to address the environmental impacts of materials. • Increased focus on human health, integrative design, envelope commissioning, biodiversity, the green economy and community. To support local delivery of the LEED v4 global platform of tools and resources, CaGBC develops Alternative Compliance Paths (ACPs) to provide Canadian residential project teams with the flexibility to use locally relevant, equivalent means of demonstrating compliance to LEED credit requirements. LEED v4 also provides increased 11
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 201812 alignment between the rating system structures and enables Canadian projects to access all 21 of the LEED v4 rating systems. Introducing LEED v4.1 LEED v4.1 is a recently announced improvement focused on the implementation, applicability and agility of LEED – a next evolution of the rating system built on lessons learned in the four years since LEED v4 was released. In the first quarter of 2018, USGBC will release a draft for LEED v4.1 O+M for review, followed by BD+C, ID+C, Residential and ND, with plans to offer a test period for the proposed changes. During this time, LEED v4 will remain open for use by all projects. The goals of the LEED v4.1 update are to: • Address market barriers and lessons learned from LEED v4 project teams • Update performance thresholds and reference standards • Expand the marketplace for LEED • Incorporate performance reporting to improve the life cycle performance of buildings With increasing attention on a cleaner environment, health and well-being, the continually evolving LEED v4 green building rating system offers leading-edge value and confidence for clients wanting the health benefits and cost savings a LEED-certified home can bring, in a comprehensive sustainability framework with third-party quality assurance. Contact us Learn more about how LEED v4 can strengthen the business case for your project. CaGBC has developed a number of education resources to support the LEED v4 rating systems, as well as a CaGBC LEED v4 webpage. You can also email CaGBC at info@cagbc. org or contact your local chapter at any time. BB Thomas Green is Residential Programs Manager at the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). Roof truss and wood sill connection. Simpson Strong Tie MGT system shown Drywall screwed into amvic polypropylene webs as per building code Electrical outlet Wood sub-floor installed as per local building Simpson strong tie ICFLC and wood floor joists connection Amvic insulating concrete forms Amdeck floor & roof system Exterior wood siding installed as per local building code Amvic high impact polypropylene webs Acrylic, standard ptucco or eifs applied to exterior face of Amvic ICF Brick veneer Parge face of exposed brick ledge Grade Peel-and-stick waterproofing membrane (or equivalent) as per local building code Perforated weeping tile INSULATED CONCRETEFORMS FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: AMVIC.COM
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 “Just because I was interested didn’t mean I had the skills to do it myself,” Wallace says. “The Canada Green Building Council requires you to work with someone who is registered to audit, and that led me to Clearsphere, where I was connected with a LEED specialist.” At Clearsphere, the coordinator walked him through the various ways to garner LEED points, from greywater recycling systems and zeroscaping, to heavy duty insulation and vapour barriers. Together, they were able to sketch the project out as LEED silver. There were some items that Wallace was interested in including, but was ultimately unable to do. For example, with a city lot, it’s not possible to alter the orientation of the house or to plant a row of trees along the south edge. Even installing an electric charging station is challenging, since each car manufacturer uses a different receptacle. And though he initially looked into greywater systems, it was a struggle to find plumbers who could install and maintain one. Ultimately, he went with “real­ izable” goals: upping the house envelope and installing an ERV system. One expectation he had going in was the prospect of too much humidity, since moisture can’t escape due to airtight design. When Wallace and his family moved in, things started to crack and shrink, so he called Clearsphere for advice on how to manage the home’s relative humidity. On the insulation, they went “substantially above code” with high values in the roof, walls, and windows. “Insulation is a straightforward and fairly easy add-in for LEED,” Wallace says. “It’s a little more expensive than code levels of insulation, but the payback was pretty easy to calculate.” Wallace used Roxul on Clear­ sphere’s recommendation, as well as an exterior sheathing product by BP, called R4 Structural Insulated Sheathing. “It made a lot of sense rather than the usual tieback and second vapour barrier which serves to create a cavity that collects moisture,” he says. “This sheathing has a high vapour permeance which allows the wall to dry to the outside and ended up being a great product.” The HVAC system was more complicated, Wallace says. The hot water boiler heats the house with forced air and a radiant basement floor, required a whole “wall of plumbing with miniature pumps all around,” he recalls. It confounded his very experienced general contractor, who had never worked with such a system. “The upside was being able to get away from bulkheads, thanks to smaller ducts required by the system.” Ultimately, Wallace is satisfied with the silver certification. He feels that anything higher, like gold or platinum, would have been more difficult because of its “much more aggressive design standard. I think silver is attainable – you tweak and focus on certain things, like increasing efficiency, without getting into something far out or hard to maintain.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at 13 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN A s a mechanical engineer involved in sustainable decommissioning (think power plants), Kevin Wallace was no stranger to LEED certification. But when he and his wife purchased her parents’ home in Toronto’s Leaside area with an eye to razing and building new, he encountered a different side of green. Going for Silver 46 THIS HOME IS 23% BETTER THAN CODE 61BessboroughDrive,Toronto RatingDateOctober2,2017 Ultimately, Wallace went with “realizable” goals: installing an ERV system and upping the house envelope with high insulation values.
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 201814 industryexpert / GORD COOKE A few years ago I, and two other building science educators, helped facilitate a series of builder design charrettes. Each time, about 40 builders were given three days of comprehensive building science training that included on-site investigations, testing, case studies, building material presentations and evaluations. The builders, working in groups of five, were then asked to apply what they had learned and experienced to a single-family design project. They were asked to “build a house that you would feel good about building for your favoured clientele.” Upon completion, while we evaluated the energy performance improvements they had made using HERS software, the builders were asked to cost out the incremental costs of their chosen advancements. It was a surprise, even to us, that in each group in each of the seven sessions, the annual energy savings of their chosen advancements provided a positive return on investment against the incremental estimated construction costs applied to the mortgage of the house. In other words, the total annual cost of ownership for the improved design was always projected lower than the costs for the standard, reference design. Then came an intriguing exercise. Each team was asked to evaluate or score their project against a few of the most common green building programs, such as LEED for Homes and the U.S. National Green Building Standard. In each case, the eight teams in each of the seven sessions found that the design elements they had chosen helped them achieve at least the middle range, Silver or Gold, in the program they chose. The builders, initially skeptical about the need for green, learned that most of the common-sense decisions they felt compelled to make to ensure a high-performance home were simultaneously recognized as being green. Looking at this more closely, most green programs, in addition to boosting energy conservation, reward decisions that improve indoor air quality, water conservation, material conservation and sustainability and overall building durability. The following are some examples of elements I learned from these builder charrettes. We were able to incorporate many of them in the LEED Platinum cottage we completed recently. Start with an obvious win-win: advanced framing. This means lower construction costs, improved energy performance and points within green building programs. Certainly it requires design considerations, process changes and training of framers and other contractors; however, with the move in codes to “effective R-value” recognition, advanced framing is something that should be on all builders’ agendas for 2018. In the cottage construction, the framers admitted we went a little overboard in striving for minimized wood use. They ended up adding back a few elements around windows and doors for trim and backing, but overall the walls were lighter and quicker to build. Next, the most important to me as I travel and see the impacts of improper water management details, is the recognition in LEED and other programs for durability measures – specifically, fully drainable, dryable building enclosures that include shingled, lapped house wrap details, window flashing, sill pan flashing, head flashings and drip caps over all windows and doors. In my case, I am a big fan of a systems approach, The Green Side of the Cottage A few years ago I, and two other building science educators, helped facilitate a series of builder design charrettes. Each time, about 40 builders were given three days of comprehensive building science training that included on-site investigations, testing, case studies, building material presentations and evaluations. The builders, working in groups of five, were then asked to apply what they had learned and experienced to a single-family design project. They were asked to “build a house that you would feel good about building for your favoured clientele.” We are on a great path to minimize energy resources over the next 10 to 12 years. In that same time frame, there will be increased pressure to optimize water use.
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 such as provided by the DuPont Tyvek weatherization system. The builders in the charrettes chose it after having seen in the site walks the potential risks associated with ever more complicated building enclosure details, combined with the lowered drying potential of buildings due to increased insulation levels. I like the warranty protection offered by one of the world’s leading building materials manufacturers. Another really simple, cost- effective decision is to choose materials that have lower off-gassing potential to enhance air quality. One great example is the availability of high-quality sealants and adhesives, such as the relatively new LePage Quad Max window sealant, which has less than 3% volatile organic compound content and yet can be applied down to -18°C in any moisture condition and provides better flexibility than any other currently available. There are similar low- cost opportunities in paints, sealers and building materials. It’s time to re-evaluate your material choices and add indoor air quality parameters to your decision matrix. We are on a great path to minimize precious energy resources over the next 10 to 12 years. In that same time frame, there will be increased pressure to optimize water use. The easiest way to start here is by using reliable and effective ultra low flow shower heads and dual flush toilets. I really like the experience of the Delta H2Okinetic shower heads at water flow rates of under two gallons per minute. Then, in the cottage, we installed a 4,000 litre rain water cistern to flush toilets and water the grass. While the cistern itself was less than $1,000, the pump and controls needed to satisfy the municipal water works needs for pressure control and backflow potential cost us many thousands more – a decision I wouldn’t recommend for mainstream housing. In my opinion, the newly available packaged greywater systems will be a much more cost-effective way to minimize the single largest use of water in most homes by using waste water to flush the toilets. These were but a few of the 30 or so decisions we considered in designing and building the cottage. In that effort, we used the same philosophy that the builders in the design charrettes used. Rather than “chasing” green points, stars, bars or colours, we used the helpful, well-researched resources and checklists available from programs such as LEED for Homes to help make informed, cost-effective decisions. Those resources, combined with now over 40 years of building science research found in programs such as R-2000 and ENERGY STAR, can help you build healthier, safer, more comfortable, more durable and indeed more cost-effective homes for your buyers. Then go ahead and score your homes against the green building program of your choice, and you will find they will reward you with useful recognition of your decisions. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 15 Left: Advanced framing with studs on a 24" centre yields a higher effective R-value. Right: When flashing windows, house wrap improves airtightness and durability.
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 17 River City is a prime example of what’s possible in a mid-rise rfront R iver City was a long time in the coming – but based on the reaction, it was well worth the wait. Part of the West Don Lands neighbourhood in Toronto – an 80-acre site bordered by the Don River, King Street, Parliament Street and the rail line beside the Gardiner Expressway – River City was developed by Urban Capital under some very unique circumstances.
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 The former industrial site was originally slated for redevelopment in 1987, but the issues piled up and the site was never developed. Revitalized in 2006 by Waterfront Toronto, West Don Lands was envisioned as a family-friendly, sustainable and well- designed community. Ultimately, River City will be a four-phase project, consisting of almost 1,100 loft-style condominiums and townhouse units, and will include street-level boutiques, stores and restaurants. Urban Capital development director Taya Cook explains that the RFP process through Waterfront Toronto was quite involved, one “which we won in 2008 after an extensive competition involving 18 national and international developers.” “The project was subject to a devel­ opment agreement with Waterfront Toronto, and required extensive co-ordination with Waterfront Toronto and the adjacent properties to maintain a seamless connection/ experience in the area,” explains 18 Anna Kazmierska of WSP, who acted as the LEED consultant for River City. All projects within West Don Lands had to meet LEED Gold specs – a big part of the development’s overall plan for urban sustainability. Kazmierska adds that River City was subject to Waterfront Toronto mandatory green building requirements, LEED Gold requirements and Toronto Green Standard Tier 1/Tier 2 requirements. The fact that this is a mid-rise was applauded, given that so many believe that this housing form makes the most sense for Toronto from a livability perspective. “Mid-rise offers many of the same benefits of a high-rise, multi-unit residential building – mix of uses, shared building amenities, central plant equipment, high density to support transit nodes – at a more digestible and community-based scale,” Kazmierska explains. One of the unique challenges of this project, Kazmierska says, is that they couldn’t build any below-grade parking because of a flood plain, so River City “required creative parking solutions.” For example, the development team successfully argued to lower the available parking by 50% from the zoning by-law requirements, putting all the parking within an above-grade structure between the two buildings. To compensate for the reduced parking, all new residents of River City were given a free one-year membership in a low-emitting car sharing program available on-site – a move that has helped reduce greenhouse gas emis­ sions. Cook mentions that another fascinating element of this project was its relationship to the Don Valley Parkway on-ramp, one “which the architecture embraced.” Kazmierska says that River City employed a range of energy-efficient features, such as: • airtight building and suite design to reduce air movement between suites and to reduce energy consumption; • the reuse of waste heat to pre-heat incoming ventilation air; • an accessible green roof (populated with native and adaptive flora designed to mitigate the urban heat Mid-rise housing becomes a role model for sustainable design and development.
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 19 island effect and the quantity of stormwater runoff); • exceptional indoor air quality from in-suite ventilation systems; • a rainwater harvesting system that reuses rainwater for irrigation purposes; • low-flow plumbing fixtures that will save over 17 million litres of water per year; • careful selection of materials and paints to avoid contaminating indoor air; and • in-suite metering of electricity, water, heating and cooling. River City marks the first private sector development in the area, with the first two phases recently being recognized as the LEED Gold finalist in the residential awards by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Greater Toronto Chapter. When assessing River City, the CaGBC gave the project 44 of a possible 70 LEED Gold points. The points breakdown consisted of: • 11 of 14 as a sustainable site; • 3 of 5 for water efficiency; • 10 of 17 for energy and atmosphere; • 6 of 14 in materials and resources; • 10 of 15 for indoor environmental quality; and • 4 of 5 for innovation and design process. Brian Tysoe, a principal at MCW Consultants Ltd., and one of the judges that assessed this project, was impressed with what was accomplished. “Urban Capital has done a commendable job at River City of integrating architecture and sustainability into a highly livable, highly energy-efficient development,” he says. “With elements such as in-suite master lighting kill switches, the design team has placed a high emphasis on sustainability for this project.” Urban Capital got its start in 1996 by developing the 48-unit Camden Lofts project in Toronto’s Fashion District. The company’s philosophy is that de-industrialized parts of cities can come alive again as vibrant urban centres. Since that debut project, Urban Capital has expanded into Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Halifax, and overall has built over 3,500 urban condominiums, with another 1,000 under construction and several thousand more in the pipeline. All told, it accounts for over $2 billion in development. The company believes in pushing the envelope and pioneering high- end, yet functional, design or green living. “We try to be on the forefront of green building, being the first to introduce residential tri-sorters in our first project, to developing the three- phased LEED Gold Central project in Ottawa, and LEED Gold at River City,” says Cook. River City could very well be a template for how Toronto deals with sustainable living at a time when density laws are becoming more stringent. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. River City’s medium-density, multi-unit residential design successfully maximizes human scale compared to the city’s high-density, high-rise core.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 201820 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN A ndrew James’ dream to make an environmental difference took many twists and turns over the years, but it wasn’t until he got a lecture from a grumpy old man at a bar that he finally realized what he needed to do. A lawyer turned legal writer, James’ interest in the environment led him to run as a Green Party candidate, and it was at a party pub night that a stranger delivered him a message that still rings true. “You’re not doing anything, you’re never going to get elected, you’re wasting your time,” an old man that had wandered into the pub scolded James. “You want to go out and do something for the environment? Then do something! Just don’t talk about it or get your name on an all-candidates ballot; that’s not accomplishing a damn thing.” The words really hit home for James. He felt it was hard for him to be a credible voice for the environment when he didn’t have hands-on exper­ ience in doing something to help it. The answer, he believed, was to prove that an existing home in Toronto could be renovated affordably, yet still become a model of energy efficiency. His efforts in renovating a one- and-a-half storey wood frame house built in 1913 on Carlaw Avenue into a LEED Platinum home – the first such project in Toronto – earned James a nod as a finalist for a 2017 Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Greater Toronto Chapter award in the residential category. Not bad for a guy whose previous building experience came from being a client of three renovations on his old homes. Realizing the best way to keep costs down was to simply act as the general contractor himself, James did exhaustive research. And to help guide him through the process, he partnered with some experts, including Paul Caverly (MyHaven GreenVision Homes) and Clearsphere, which performs LEED certifications. In assessing the nominations, the CaGBC considered several items, most importantly the following: • Impact to performance: the sys- tems used that led to performance improvements; • Impact to community: using systems/approaches that enhance the local community; • Impact to occupants: using systems/ approaches that enhance the well- being of the home owners; and • Responsible products and materials: green building approaches that incorporate methods and materials that factor in the local climate conditions. Rookie of the Year Lawyer-turned-contractor’s debut project was the The rear addition’s high performance windows, in concert with shade from overhangs, reduce demand on air conditioning.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 Brian Tysoe, a principal at MCW Consultants Ltd. and an award judge, explained what impressed him about the project. “While the pace of new construction in Toronto is extremely high, at the root of it, Toronto is a city of existing buildings,” he says. “Achieving a HERS rating of 9 on an existing building is a very impressive accomplishment. Other home owners in the neighbourhood, and in the city at large, should be encouraged and motivated by what has been done at 887 Carlaw.” Given the ultimate results – a HERS rating 85% better than Code and an EnerGuide rating of 88 – an argument could be made that this project deserved to win. It was certainly the most novel, given that it broke new ground as the city’s first residential LEED Platinum project. James had a goal to create a prototype, from an energy efficiency perspective, of what we need to do with the housing stock in Toronto, and he successfully proved it is possible to take an existing home and make it highly energy efficient – in a relatively affordable manner to boot. This house could very well be a blueprint for what we have to do to make housing sustainable in the long term. “Building a green house wasn’t going to save the planet all by itself,” James says. “The house had to be a model for how other middle-class home owners could renovate their own houses.” Needless to say, achieving this proved a challenge. For instance, James says “air sealing tightness and making cavities for standard size insulation batts is complicated by the fact that you’re constantly trying to match old and new construction material sizes. In 1913, 2x4s really were 2x4s.” As a result, he says, much more extensive laser light testing of the stud alignment and batt cutting was required to ensure the energy performance objectives were met. Another big challenge was trying to maximize the amount of roof area for solar panels while minimizing the shade on them. James says they spent hours planning around the many plumbing and radon vents and two sun tunnels. He says that stacking all the “water rooms” (bathrooms, kitchen and second floor laundry) to minimize hot water pipe run was also more complicated in a renovation. The solution was to shift all this piping to the three-storey addition at the back of the house. While he had to fire a few people along the way in his quest to ensure things were done exactly up to snuff, James is also quick to give credit to some of his key partners that stayed the course. “I wasn’t working in a vacuum. Let me make that clear – I could not have done it without Paul,” he says. “He’s a legend. He’s one of the original green builders in Toronto, going back 10 to 20 years ago.” For his part, Caverly is equally complimentary of James. “We knew it was going to be challenging, but having the owner so invested in the process made it easier.” Caverly says the process of making this home so energy efficient was highly involved, including: furring out the existing 2x4 walls to accept 5.5 inches of Roxul R-24 batt insulation; installing plywood sheathing over existing one-inch lumber so a liquid air barrier could be installed before doing the outsulation and stucco (a system, he says, that enhanced the effective insulation values by providing a thermal break outside the structure); installing Certainteed’s breathable vapour/air barrier on the interior; installing a Tyvec air barrier over the new part of the roof insulation before installing the vented purlins; extending a liquid-applied air barrier on the exterior to meet the Tyvek air barrier at the roof and to meet the 21 first LEED Platinum residential renovation in Toronto 09 THIS HOME IS 85% BETTER THAN CODE 887CarlawAve.,Toronto,ON RatingDateAugust10,2017 An impressive outcome — near net zero on a renovation with a HERS rating of 9.
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 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. 22 two-pound spray foam they used in the existing vaulted roof area; giving special attention to air sealing of outside walls before they installed any bulkheads and chases; and using R-10 insulation under slab on grade. James says he’d like to build another house in the future, but it’s not a fait accompli that this will happen. Nevertheless, he admits “that would be really sad if I took all this knowledge I gained and I never built another house.” If nothing else, he certainly learned a lot about what is realistic given the costs involved, and he doesn’t mince his words when describing the situation. “I believe there’s a crisis of costs in renovations in this city, and if we’re trying to green the existing Toronto housing stock, that’s a big [freaking] issue,” he says. Other energy-efficient features of the project include: • To recover heat and moisture for all the bathrooms, an exhaust-ducted ERV with local timers and smart controls was installed; • To provide natural light during the day, a skylight and two sun tunnels were installed; and • All appliances in the home are ENERGY STAR certified. Whether we should pay heed to grumpy old men in bars remains in doubt, but to his credit, James certainly put his money where his mouth is. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. The house’s renovation design maximized the south roof area for PV solar arrays.
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 Barrie, GTA West, GTA North Eric Byle | 416-937-8793 Toronto East Al Crost | 416-676-0168 Available to water heater customers whose equipment is not operational (i.e. no hot water)
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 201824 A Green Rater A valuable resource in making a project successful COMPARISON CHART FOR HOME LABELLING ENERGY PATHS ENERGY RATING SOFTWARE RENEW- ABLES WATER THIRD PARTY TESTED IDP EASE OF USE LABEL AT CLOSING COSTS Performance RemRate (HERS) Y HERS H2O Y Y Y Y No Reg Rate = 400-500 Performance Hot2000 (EnerGuide) Y N Y N Y Y Reg = 125 Rate = 300 Total = 425 Prescriptive performance Hot2000 (EnerGuide) N N Y N Y Y Reg = 125 Rate = 500 Total = 625 Prescriptive performance Hot2000 (EnerGuide) RemRate (HERS) Y Y Y Y N N Version 4.1 reduces fees Performance Hot2000 (EnerGuide) Y (not verified) Y (not verified) N N N N Reg = 250 Rate = 300 Total = 550 Performance Hot2000 (EnerGuide) N N Y Y N N Reg = 225 Rate = 750 Total = 925 2017 OBC Prescriptive performance Approved software (A. — — Required for some compliance options Y — — Labeling is NOT required • Helps projects navigate the LEED process and requirements, offering clarification and additional information (for example, offering advice on proper features for good Radon sealing when protecting foundations from sub-soil gasses) • Completes visual inspections and reviews support documentation to ensure all credits are verified (for example, completing required inspections for insulation during construction and final inspections upon completion), • Collects documentation and required signatures from the project team, often the builder or architect, and compiles them into a package for submission which is submitted to CaGBC at time of final Certification. • Signs off on the LEED project as compliant with the standard before quality assurance and auditing by the Provider and CaGBC (for example, Green Raters must approve a project as compliant and meeting the certification levels before a project is submitted for certification). A good Green Rater will not act as the “Green Police” on a LEED Canada for Homes job site but as an educator and resource for project teams to use as they move through construction and certification. Current Green Raters come from a variety of backgrounds but they will have experience in residential construction and high-performance, sustainable building practices. Some are technologists or engineers, often with a background in EnerGuide, HERS or other rating systems. Often Green Raters have additional credentials as Certified Energy Advisors, certified HERS raters with EnerGuide, ventilation training through HRAI and additional building science or building investigation training. They have valuable experi­ ence with LEED and energy-efficient building techniques and they can be of considerable help to project teams working toward LEED certification. BB industryexpert / BETTER BUILDER STAFF
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 25
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 After returning to Canada, Lapidus started a renovating business, focused on green construction, but also “flipping” – buying, fixing and selling a house – “until it didn’t make sense financially to do so,” he says. Not interested in quick cosmetic updating, and preferring instead to thoroughly renovate for full functioning and energy efficiency, he found it hard to make a profit in today’s hot market. Lapidus turned his full attention to green renovating of single-family detached homes and semis, but also condos. He’s found that home owners of both old and new condos are looking to incorporate upgrades that weren’t available at the time from the builder, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle … and Renovate sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN Sam Lapidus 26 and to reconfigure the space to suit their individual needs better. There are increasingly more clients interested in going the sustainable route, even when they have to pay more for it. And among these clients, there are two distinct groups: the first group is keen to reduce their construction waste and the second is willing to recycle as much as possible. “They want to reduce their footprint, so we discuss how to get less of this disposal into the waste pile and more into the recycling pile, and we look at alternative ways to dissemble this house – or interior of a condo – in order to divert some waste to recycling.” There’s Habitat for Humanity and Restore, which takes kitchen cabinets and building materials, but there’s also furniture banks for those items that won’t fit with the new look and would otherwise go into the dumpster, Lapidus says. Next is making a concentrated effort to reduce construction waste, which Lapidus says is entirely possible through planning – for example, tile can be cut to waste little if it’s stepped S am Lapidus hadn’t meant to get into construction. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in analytical marketing at Florida International University (Miami), he worked in pharmaceutical financial model building, then returned to school to do an MBA with a focus on retail and commercial development. One of the MBA requirements was to take a class unrelated to his main degree focus of Far East trade. From that came a final research paper, “Environmental Sustainability in Canada’s Real Estate Development Industry.” “For the research, I had to take real estate law as well, got hooked and changed direction,” says the 39-year- old Toronto renovator, who currently chairs the renovator and custom home builder council for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). At the time he was doing his master’s degree, in 2007 and 2008, green was a “hot item,” he says. “I learned [while writing the paper on the Canadian construction industry] what was coming down the pipe. On the government side, there would be controls such as carbon tax. I saw this as an opportunity in terms of employment, that returning home to Canada I would have this research paper to support my understanding.” The paper, he says, used German and Austrian building practices as a co-operative model, and then compared the Canadian Green Building Council’s LEED programs with that of the European ASHRAE metrics program. Lapidus has found that home owners of both old and new condos are looking to incorporate upgrades that weren’t available at the time from the builder.
  29. 29. Save more. Worry less. Professionals who install Uponor PEX plumbing, radiant floor heating, and fire sprinkler systems report faster installation times, fewer callbacks and greater peace of mind. Exceptional products, tools and support. Uponor. Tested in the lab. Proven in the field. Connect with Uponor. Connect with confidence. PEX PLUMBING FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS RADIANT HEATING & COOLING PRE-INSULATED PIPEFind your solution at
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 201828 out in advance. When it comes to building materials themselves, there are more and more products available thanks to technological advances in producing them – some are recycled materials and others, like forest sustainable wood product, are a given, he says. He also uses materials like glues and caulking that are not only lower in VOCs, but can also be post-consumer recycled. Most home owners are willing to pay up to 1% more to reduce waste and to upgrade to sustainable brands, but if you’re doing the entire house in a sustainable way, the cost is closer to 20%, Lapidus says. “That’s hard no matter how committed the home owner is to the concept. This is when I pull out the calculator to see the expense and the payback period, and we weigh the pros and cons. They may not be ready for greywater, but can we put the pipes in the wall for when you are? The same for solar panels, electric car charging, and anything else. It will always sell as a feature down the road.” Lapidus finds that many younger clients, especially if they have kids or are planning on having them, “want to touch sustainability, and are willing to add a few percentage points.” For the 20% upsell commitment, the demographic is a little older – 60-plus, environmentally aware, with more money to support their convic­ tions. He has one client, a couple who want to share the home with their son and his family, but “mom and dad are driving the changes: a cistern in back, greywater, automation to reduce elec- trical load and gas usage.” Clients like these are educated and well rounded, and they’re “looking to give back and be careful in a meaningful way.” Lapidus doesn’t want to give the impression that the sustainable way forward is only up to home owners. “It’s not just the responsibility of home owners to reduce waste. Builders and developers need to start thinking this way too, because at the end of the day, our industry has to deal with waste. 40% of what’s in the landfill comes from construction waste.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at Services Green Building Consultants LEED Canada, ENERGY STAR® and R-2000 for Homes GreenHouse™ Certified Construction Building System Design Optimization & Performance Testing On-Site Training Renewable Energy Integration Building Code Compliance Using HERS John B Godden B.E.S. Recipient of CaGBC Green Building Champion Award 2010 Clearsphere is a division of Alpha-Tec Consulting & Construction Proud sponsor of the Best Wall Study www.clearsphere.ca416 481 4218
  31. 31. 29BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 LowCostCodeCompliancewiththeBetterThanCodePlatform This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Build- ing Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change is coming in 2017 which will cause more confusion. The new code will be notionally 15% better than 2012 (HERS 51). How are you getting there? Let the BTC Platform including the HERS Index help you secure Municipal Subdivision Approvals and Building Permits and enhance your marketing by selling your homes’ energy efficiency. Seeournewwebsiteat BetterThanCodeusestheHERSIndextomeasureenergyefficiency–thelowerthescorethebetter–MeasureableandMarketable. OBC2012 OBC2017 100 80 60 40 20 0 For more information email or call us at 416-481-7517 Better ThanCode This rating is available for homes built by leading edge builders who have chosen to advance beyond current energy efficiency programs and have taken the next step on the path to full sustainability. 45 HOMEADDRESS 123 Stone Street, Toronto, ON M6K 2T0 RATINGDATE July 23, 2015
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 201830 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY After our Project HOPE last June, I was asked many times if we were planning a follow-up build. To be honest, I just wanted to catch my breath after a long year of working on HOPE. But after Maria hit, I was asked by my friend Juan Pablo Hernandez about coming to Puerto Rico to help the victims. I felt compelled to go and bring them HOPE! Our mission was planned for late November to assess the damage and get a better understanding of what we needed to know to plan a relief mission. My buddy Scott Davis joined the mission a week before we left. As a restoration specialist, Scott brought a great deal of experience in restoring homes after disasters hit. Our team was set and it was time to begin our mission of HOPE AGUA VITA. The first thing we noticed flying into San Juan was the contrast between the lush green of the nearby mountains and the blue tarps on so many roofs. As a builder that understands building science, I had a very good idea of the damage these tarps represented – both to the crippled structure and to the shattered lives of the people who called these buildings home. I was wrong – it was far worse than I imagined. From driving through large city intersections with no working lights, to the darkness as we drove along the highway, the island was eerily dark, as if we had stepped back in time. Arriving in Morovis, we explored the centre of town. Again the contrast between beauty and damage was abundant. Finding a community garden on an abandoned lot, we Climate Change and More Durable F or anyone out there in the climate change denial camp, let me offer you an open invitation to join us on a rebuild mission in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Three major hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean last September, including Hurricane Maria, a Category Five monster which hit this area directly and caused catastrophic damage. Lessons from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico (Part 1)
  33. 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 came across monarch butterflies and caterpillars – such a symbol of renewal. In the background, there was the sound of generators. At lunch I realized what was wrong with the scene: there was no music. None! The sounds of the Caribbean had been replaced by the sounds of generators. As we studied the faces of the residents, it became very clear that Puerto Ricans are a proud people, but they are sad, and they are worried for their future. Our mission is one of HOPE. To help people to stand proud and regain a sense of security. To give them HOPE for their future and their children. To bring back the music. And that meant it was time to head for our ground zero: San Lorenzo. Arriving at San Lorenzo was literally a leap of faith. The bridge across the river was gone, so the only way in was to drive through the river. The back way was a three-hour drive through the mountains. As the people of San Lorenzo had to do this daily, there was nothing to do but put aside our fear and cross the river. Once you’ve done it, it’s not that bad. During our time in San Lorenzo, we constantly had one eye on the mountains, watching for rain. We had been very clearly briefed that if it started to rain, we would have 15 minutes to get back across or stay until the river was passable again. Norma, a retired school teacher, was our contact for the village. She had arranged for many of the residents to meet us at the school. It took a while for us to explain our mission of HOPE. Once I stepped to the white board and drew for them what had happened to their roofs, and how we could rebuild their homes to make them stronger and more durable, their guard came down and they engaged passionately in our conversation. We asked for a 31 Housing Far left: Widespread damage from hurricane Maria. Above: When a roof is compromised, any interior surface grows mold — often toxic.
  34. 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 25 | SPRING 2018 On the final day, we had a review meeting with the community. We taught them about mould and reme­ diation, malaria and standing water, cholera and the need to compost their organics. Since there was no garbage pickup, we explained why they needed to split their garbage into wood, metal, junk, organic and plastics. We asked that they begin this immediately before disease begins to kill people. We must go back to help give them HOPE: water, energy, health and safe buildings that will withstand the next hurricane. The list is very long and time is so short. We need volunteers and we need funding. For more information, go to www. or HOPEAGUAVITA. Our fundraising efforts can be supported at HOPEAGUAVITA. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. 32 few residents to volunteer to help us assess the damage to the town. The next morning, we met our volunteers. We asked why there were no street names. They said the streets have no names, but they wished to name them after Canada, as we had come from Canada to help. We began at the school. One build­ ing had the roof completely destroyed. It had contained the classrooms for music, science, English and IT. The school, like the village, did not have electricity. The greenhouse was damaged and there was no money for a new mesh cover or even seeds. We learned that the science class had never even had a microscope or chemistry set. The students were let go early each day as there was no drinking water for them. We adopted the school and are going back to help save it. After the school, we began a house- by-house assessment. The very first home was fully contaminated with deadly toxic mould – some of the worst I’ve ever seen! The home owner was still living there. The second home had lost its roof and was also fully contaminated. We showed our team how to flag each home with a number in chalk on the front of the home and take a photo for reference. The symbolism of chalking homes was deeply disheartening, especially when we would come across a home that could not be saved. That was the saddest of all. Only the more well off had generators; the majority lived in total darkness until sunrise. Mothers would begin crying when the sun goes down, fearful for their babies in the darkness. I can’t even imagine. We came to understand that they were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Arriving at San Lorenzo was literally a leap of faith. The bridge across the river was gone, so the only way in was to drive through the river. A typical scene, damaged bridges hampered aid and rebuilding efforts in remote areas.
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  36. 36. Together,wemakebetter energyperformancepossible. Building energy efficient buildings doesn’t need to be costly and complicated. Savings by Design can help, whether you’re a residential or commercial builder. This comprehensive program gives you free access to industry experts and performance incentives for constructing energy efficient, sustainable buildings beyond code requirements. Learn more at