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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 27 / Fall 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.

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 27 / Fall 2018

  1. 1. ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 INSIDE Tribute TIPS the Scales Tackling the GHG Enigma Holistic Water Conservation Strategies for Comfort Dual-fired Appliances New Uniform Energy Factor The Mechanical IssueCOMBINATION HYBRID HE AT AND LOGIC PLUMBING
  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 94%.These units are fully modulating at 10 to 1 and 2 inch PVC venting up to 100 feet. Canadian Made 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 94%.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 27 | AUTUMN 2018 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Taking a Closer Look at Mechanicals by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 New Plumbing Requirements are Putting Builders Under Water by Lou Bada INDUSTRY NEWS 7 Gas Hybrid Compromise Tackles GHG Enigma by Paul De Berardis BUILDER NEWS 11 The Smarter Approach to Holistic Water Conservation with Logic Plumbing by Kim Bliss INDUSTRY NEWS 14 Boiling Over the Competition A Canadian manufacturer is making history with its combination boilers. by Rob Blackstien INDUSTRY EXPERT 22 Strategies for Comfort by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 26 Dual-fired Appliances Two independent heaters in one wall-mounted cabinet. by Michael Lio and Dave Henderson SITE SPECIFIC 28 In Hot Water Geoffrey Holloway explains the new Uniform Energy Factor by Alex Newman FROM THE GROUND UP 31 The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 Tribute TIPS the Scales By listening to its customers, Tribute Communities carved out a value differentiator. by Rob Blackstien 22 ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 11
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 20182 W e know that hindsight is 20/20, and clarity comes from trying new things and discovering what works. I didn’t wear glasses until my mid-fifties. On my second prescription I’m amazed at the clarity and detail with which I see things. The same applies to our experience with mechanical systems, which are the focus of this issue. Clarity comes from trying new things and discovering what works. Thirty years ago, I was designing and installing combination heating systems in R-2000 houses. A combination system uses the same heating source for space and domestic hot water heating, and it seems logical to integrate these into one system. The irony is that water heating, like space heating, is one of the largest loads (see the chart below). As Michael Lio and Dave Henderson explain on page 26, the highest efficiency combination unit is the best choice. We also provide some perspective from leading Canadian manufacturer AirMax on page 14. On page 7, Paul De Berardis explains NRCan and Canmet- ENERGY’s recent research, testing and cost-benefit analysis of hybrid heating systems. They report that an integrated combination gas hybrid system – which uses off-peak electricity for supplemental space heating from a heat pump – may be the best way forward for Ontario’s energy challenges. Choices can be confusing with gas hot water heaters, with different efficiency requirements used based on the type of heater installed. But soon, a new test standard – the uniform energy factor (UEF) – will be adopted in Canada, which will make choices much clearer. A.O. Smith has created an app which helps contractors, builders and home owners make right-sized equipment choices (page 28). Equipment size is very important for HVAC, too: over-sized heating and cooling systems don’t run long enough and can create discomfort. On page 22, Gord Cooke reviews ASHRAE 55 and cites strategies for maintaining comfort with respect to window selection, moisture management and controls. New homes have more bathrooms. On page 3, Lou Bada reports on how home owner complaints about hot water performance are leading the local permit requirements for plumbing supply layouts. A structured approach to hot water distribution layout by Logic Plumbing provides faster delivery, more water savings and fewer complaints (page 11). It’s no surprise that builders may need help navigating all the variables in mechanical systems – but imagine a home buyer requesting better-than-Code energy performance at the decor centre. Few production builders would respond to this type of request. This issue features Tribute Homes, who are the exception to the rule. Read about Tribute’s Innovative Performance Standard (TIPS) program on page 16. Lastly, Doug Tarry brings clarity to the discussion about future Code changes amidst Ontario’s political roller coaster ride. Fasten your seat belts adjust your goggles and look forward to the curves and bumps the future is bringing our way. Keep your focus on mechanical systems that promote low energy and affordable housing. BB Taking a Closer Look at Mechanicals publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN  Domestic hot water Hot water is a fairly large load  Air conditioning, lighting, appliances  Envelope heat losses  Ventilation losses 32% 31% 18% 19% 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. Household Energy Use
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 New Plumbing Requirements are Putting Builders Under Water 3 T he Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) recently released the highly anticipated report “Streamlining the Development and Building Approvals Process in Ontario – Good practice concepts and a guide to action.” It can be found at This new report provides industry stakeholders with a set of recommen­ dations to facilitate the more timely delivery and supply of housing and to address the levels of availability and affordability in Ontario and the GTA. It was a collaborative effort between the residential industry and an impressive list of experts from many disciplines. Most notably, it was headed by Michael de Lint (RESCON’s director of building regulatory reform and technical standards and chair of the technical council), whose previous experience in government, professionalism and insight really brought the report together in a way that leaves little room for argument. Without sensationalizing it too much, it’s fantastic. As the final touches on the report were being made, we received a Builder Bulletin from a GTA municipality requiring builders of low-rise housing to prepare a water distribution plan, together with a water service sizing chart, for every building permit application in the municipality. This will all have to be prepared by a qualified person or professional. The new requirements will add time and money to the process – the very things the report strongly recommends reducing. The city will have to take more thebadatest / LOU BADA time, need more examiners and raise permit fees. Builders will also bear the cost of preparing and administering the plans. The time to prepare an application and acquire a building permit will be extended. Costs for construction will increase. “Why these new requirements?” you may ask. We reached out to the municipality and received a less than satisfactory answer (verbally, and not in writing). Paraphrasing, we were told that plumbing work was being carried out incorrectly; it was a problem for the city’s inspectors. This new policy would help plumbers and inspectors get it right. As far as I know, builders and contractors were never consulted. As well, there was no cost-benefit analysis or checking whether there is the capacity in the design industry to do this work (there isn’t). It was a proposal to be evaluated for inclusion in the Ontario Building Code – but it’s only one proposal of hundreds, and it has not seen the light of day (and hopefully never will). This was a local policy set under the authority of the local chief building official. Water distribution plumbing work is currently being done following the Code, manufacturers’ robust design guidelines and a pre-consultation on site with the local inspector to address anything they are particularly concerned with. I asked three large plumbing contractors working in the field if they were getting inspector call-backs on water piping problems in homes they work on. All three said “no.” I also asked the contractors and our own service department if we were getting customer complaints and the answer was “yes.” Interesting. A little background for you: water pipe diameter sizing addresses having an adequate volume of water getting to a fixture(s). This is not to be confused with water pressure, which is a different matter and is not directly affected by the size of a water pipe going to that fixture. The pipe should be the correct size, but you don’t need a degree in physics to understand the following: even if you have a properly sized pipe and volume, it doesn’t make much difference if the flow coming out of a faucet is restricted. Try plugging your garden hose with your thumb and leaving a small, quarter-inch hole – you’ll find you don’t get much water, irrespective of the diameter of the hose. All new homes today have water restrictors on the showerheads, lavatory faucets and kitchen faucets; not to mention that low-flow toilets are now mandated to be only 4.8 litres RONJOE/DEPOSITPHOTOS
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 20184 per flush. The requirements for water conservation in new construction have increased significantly over the years, as they should. Back to the problem. We are often called by our customers to address a few common issues: pots of water take too long to fill in the kitchen, people with long hair take too long to rinse their shampoo out in a shower, and sometimes it takes two flushes to clear a toilet. We try to educate our customers and explain that these are normal due to the water-saving features of their home. Customers believe we are incorrect and that there is a problem because their old home was better than their new one. They then call the local plumbing inspector and post a scathing report on Twitter, Facebook or some other form of social media: “Do you know how much I paid for this home, in property taxes and in water charges? And I can’t fill a pot of water or take a shower properly!” Inspectors, municipal staff and local councillors hate dealing with irate ratepayers (so do I). I believe what this municipality has decided to do is create another set of documents to “paper over” the issue and deflect criticism to someone or something else. I also believe home owners will still be unconvinced. What does this do to solve the problem? Nothing. What does it do to costs? It makes houses less affordable. All cost, no benefit to the end-user. It exacerbates the problem. As I’ve stated many times in the past, imprudent and uninformed regulation of this sort not only costs more but actually makes a builder less likely to voluntarily do things that may truly be of benefit to the environment. Regulations need to be put through a sieve and then a cost- benefit microscope. Bureaucratic opportunism has no place in a world where we are trying to achieve the best outcomes for people and the environment. Both consumers and the environment have lost here – fewer incentives for builders to build sustainably, less housing supply and less affordability. 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). 4
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 5 OneSolutionFOR CONTINUOUS INSULATION ®™ The DOW Diamond Logo is a trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company © 2018 STYROFOAM™ CLADMATE™ CM20 insulation is designed with the builder and contractor in mind. Changes to many Building Codes include requirements for increased R-values and improved air sealing control measures. With these new requirements come many options, which sometimes leads to confusion over howto meet code and which products to use. One of the biggest changes to complying with the Code, is the requirement of continuous insulation (ci). Continuous Insulation (ci): An uninterrupted layer of insulation that spans over structural members without thermal bridging, otherthan fasteners and services. A continuous layer of insulation helps reduce the potential for condensation within the wall where mold and mildew can accumulate undetected. DOW BUILDING SOLUTIONS 1-866-583-BLUE (2583)
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 O ntario’s cap-and-trade carbon tax regime is dead, and so are several affiliated programs that it funded. And with it, we hope, comes the extinction of a flawed pursuit to regulate net zero houses. If you have been following this space in past issues, you will have read that the previous Ontario government’s goal – through the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, guided by the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) – was to “adopt low- and net zero carbon energy solutions in homes.” Although fighting climate change is an important issue for us all, there must be a balance between housing affordability, home owner operating costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The previous ministry’s directive and the CCAP sought to shift the home building industry away from natural gas-sourced heating to electricity when constructing new homes. This was an attempt to eliminate the reliance of greenhouse gas-emitting energy sources. That would have meant the demise of economical, natural gas-fired heating systems. Luckily, we think there is a more balanced and affordable approach through a hybrid heating system, and research released earlier this year by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and CanmetENERGY have supported this concept. Let’s start off with the goal: we all want to have a better, cleaner environment. There is no question about that, whether you are a devoted treehugger or a climate change denier – greener construction and producing a smaller carbon footprint means a healthier planet and population. And those values are reflected (some might argue) in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change agreed upon by the federal, provincial and territorial governments – a range of actions to meet 2030 emissions targets across all Canadian sectors, including housing and buildings. So let’s look at the low-hanging fruit: is there a way we can build new homes to emit fewer GHGs, while still being cost-conscious for the home owner? The short answer is yes. There is a tremendous amount of energy end use in Canada, considering the temperature swings from summer to winter, for space heating and cooling loads. This is especially true for space heating, as this represents the single largest energy end use in Canada. This creates enormous potential to reduce GHGs from natural gas-burning heating sources. And that’s where the electric- powered air source heat pump comes in. It is similar to a traditional air conditioning unit as it sits outside of your home. However, it has a dual function: it can draw heat from outside air during the heating season, and remove interior heat during the summer cooling season. About 700,000 homes in Canada already use electric heat pumps. But let’s not forget that energy prices have a big impact on decision making when considering the use of natural gas or electric space heating equipment across Canada. Here in Ontario, with relatively high electricity prices and low natural gas prices, there is no payback period in the economic analysis to justify complete reliance on an electric heat pump system over 7 Gas Hybrid Compromise Tackles GHG Enigma industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS COMBINATION HYBRID HEAT WITH ERV ENERGY RECOVERY VENTILATOR AIR CONDITIONER HEAT PUMP VENT TERMINATION GAS LINE AIR HANDLER A/C COIL
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 20188 the current use of a natural gas furnace. An all-electric heating system will remain more expensive to own and operate than a natural gas furnace for the foreseeable future, even when considering utility rate escalation and potentially a government-imposed carbon tax. Although this switch would reduce GHGs, it would lead to higher upfront equipment costs and overall utility expenses. This presents an opportunity for hybrid systems. In the Ontario marketplace, emission reduction strat- egies will likely continue to rely on highly efficient natural gas furnaces with electric heat pumps as a secondary heating source. This concept is known as a gas hybrid system, where a furnace and heat pump can alternate. With this setup, natural gas can be used when it’s coldest outside and the heat pump has a lower coefficient of performance (COP); on the contrary, the heat pump can be used when it’s moderate outside and the heat pump has a higher COP. This allows home owners to switch between energy sources depending on which one is cheaper to operate. It also offers flexibility to switch between energy sources as prices change in the future. There was a parallel research report with supporting results titled “Future of Home Heating” through a colla­ boration of Advanced Energy Centre/MaRS Cleantech and Enbridge Gas Distribution. Among its findings, the report says: “Although the hybrid scenarios utilize natural gas, with smart controls and operating strategies, deep GHG emission reductions are achievable.” With heat pump technology rapidly evolving, the incremental cost to substitute a traditional central air conditioning unit with a heat pump is drawing closer. Using the gas hybrid system in Ontario is a compromise toward lowering GHGs while still being mindful of home owners’ utility costs. Our industry needs to move together with governments and climate change policy in incremental, cost-conscious stages in order to achieve lower GHGs. Implementing a gas hybrid system for Ontario and Canada is a fantastic idea, and we’re proud to support the innovative research, testing and cost-benefit analysis undertaken by NRCan and CanmetENERGY. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at 888 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
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 9 • 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:
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  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 While trunk-and-branch and home-run systems have been the staple for plumbing designs in the past, the new (and smarter) way to plumb a home is with an engineered Logic layout. The Logic approach leverages the flexibility of PEX pipe to minimize connections and reduce potential leak points, while also incorporating multiport tees located near fixture groupings to improve system efficien­ cies with reduced wait times for hot water and better water pressure. The innovative multiport tee Right now I’m sure you're wondering: “What’s a multiport tee?” It’s essen­ tially a bunch of tees all moulded together to create one long tee with multiple outlets. This intelligent design minimizes the required pipe and connections in a home’s plumbing system and is the heart and soul of a Logic layout. For example, six regular tees will have 18 connections, but a flow- through multiport tee with six outlets will only have eight connections (six connections for the ports with a main flow-through inlet and outlet). And while multiport tees may resemble a manifold, they have the benefit of being hidden behind walls without the need for an access panel. Multiport tees are made of engineered polymer (EP), a thermoplastic material that has superior mechanical, chemical and thermal properties that provide dimensional stability in demanding applications, including areas of high stress, heat and moisture. And, like PEX, the EP material in multiport tees resists corrosion, pitting and scaling, so it creates a highly durable system that’s designed to last. Best of all, multiport tees (as well as 11 The Smarter Approach to Holistic Water Conservation with Logic Plumbing buildernews / KIM BLISS I f you’ve been in the home building business for the past decade, you most likely know about PEX pipe. It’s a flexible, durable, plastic piping material that’s now used in virtually all new-home construction. However, you may not know there’s a smarter way to design and install a resi- dential PEX plumbing system that uses less material, improves water conservation efforts, minimizes leak liability and operates more efficiently for the end user. A multiport tee installation.
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201812 all EP fittings) are approved for direct burial in the soil or concrete slab, so they are ideal for in-slab plumbing applications. How a Logic design conserves water In a Logic layout, you have what is called a spine and ribs. The spine is the main line and the ribs are the distribution lines going out from the multiport tee. These individual lines extending from the single multiport tee provide water to all fixtures in a single or adjacent grouping. This design offers significant advantages for clustered or consecutive uses of hot water to help improve wait times at the fixture by up to 35%. Once hot water arrives at a multiport tee, it is readily available to all fixtures connected to that tee. Essentially, that multiport tee's fixture grouping is “charged” with hot water. This design not only reduces the wait time for hot water, it also limits the energy required to reheat the water, making the system much more energy efficient. In a home-run configuration, however, hot water is not necessarily readily available for clustered uses that occur at faucets other than the original (first-use) fixture. Hot water is available only at the central manifold. The system must still deliver hot water all the way from the manifold to the faucets where subsequent clustered uses are taking place. Using multiport tees is also advantageous for hot water recirculation systems because it’s easy to install recirculation “loops” that return water to the heater. This is not as easy with a home-run configuration where recirculation can typically only be done between the central manifold and the water heater, but not between the fixtures and the water heater (because it would be necessary to recirculate from each fixture). Less pipe, fewer connections, better performance A Logic design also uses significantly less pipe than a home-run layout. For example, a 2,300-square-foot, two-storey home using a Logic design requires only 637 feet of pipe while a home-run system uses 1,515 feet of pipe. That’s more than twice the amount of piping necessary. Why is this a problem? In addition to the added costs required for more product and the labour it takes to install that additional product, all the extra pipe means there’s a lot of stagnant water sitting in a home’s plumbing system – stagnant water that goes right down the drain when a home owner is waiting for hot water to arrive at the fixture. Plus, there’s more water to heat when it comes time to run a hot water line, reducing the energy efficiency of the system. The extra pipe also means reduced water pressure, which can lead to water waste when it takes longer to wash dishes or rinse shampoo out of the hair. Additionally, all that extra pipe can lead to issues isolating hot and cold water lines. When hot and cold water lines are too close to each other, it increases heat transfer from hot to cold and reduces the energy efficiency of the system. On the flip side, a Logic layout UPONOR LOGIC Over 65% fewer fittings and connections than trunk-and- branch 40% less tubing than home-run Delivers hot water 45% faster than trunk-and-branch M Typical trunk-and-branch M Home-run M Uponor Logic 40 30 20 10 0 100 80 60 40 20 0 FITTINGS CONNECTIONS FEET OF PIPE 600 500 400 300 200 100 0
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 greatly reduces the number of required connections in a home compared to trunk-and-branch systems. In the same 2,300-square-foot, two-storey home, a Logic design uses a mere 16 fittings and 59 connections compared to a whopping 96 fittings and 165 connections for trunk and branch. That’s six times the number of fittings and nearly three times the amount of connections. Those added connections greatly limit system performance with increased pressure loss, not to mention the issues that can come with all those extra connections behind a wall (fewer connections always mean fewer potential leak points). And extra pipe and fittings add extra length to the piping system as a whole, requiring more stagnant water in the system that must be heated when it comes time to run a hot water fixture. This, of course, reduces the system’s energy efficiency and also results in more wasted water down the drain. So, it’s easy to see there’s a logical (and smarter) way to plumb homes that provides faster hot water delivery, reduced pressure loss and less water waste for greater system performance and improved water – and energy! – conservation. If you would like to learn more about Logic plumbing, visit and select “Plumbing” in the “Residential” section of the website. Kim Bliss is the content development manager at Uponor, a provider of plumbing and indoor climate solutions for homes and business around the globe. She can be reached at 13 Using multiport tees is also advantageous for hot water recirculation systems because it’s easy to install recirculation “loops” that return water to the heater – not as easy with a home-run configuration.
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201814 industrynews / ROB BLACKSTIEN Hydronic air handler manufac­ turer AirMax was founded in 2008 with three products, growing to around 28 to 30 SKUs today. It started with a high-velocity product before launching a low-velocity product, then moved into zone units and through- the-wall cooling units. “We’re contin­ ually developing more products for the future for the new construction and retrofit markets,” he says. In 2010, sister company FlowMax was born, selling tankless combi water heaters that were OEMed in Italy. Van Beurden says the company is still selling off its remaining stock but has pretty much run its course, hence the decision to create Glow Brand last summer. Glow Brand, originally launched as a tankless water heater line, is where the company is breaking new ground with its new line of combi American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard boilers. Highly efficient design Released in July, the C95 and C140 condensing combination boilers provide both heating and on-demand hot water supply. Thanks to a highly efficient, compact design, the boilers have an annual fuel utilization effi­ ciency (AFUE) rating of 94%. Two-inch PVC provides for venting up to 100 feet. “Precedence is given to domestic hot water,” says Brian Jackson, the company’s P. Eng. “Once that load is satisfied, then you have an appliance that can heat hot water for space heating.” Van Beurden says these boilers can easily generate enough heat to replace a furnace, once the air handler component is installed. The advantages of this dual- function system are plentiful. For starters, he says, it has a lot more flexibility as it can meet many different loads, whether small or large. Jackson says the days of simply building a house, slapping in a furnace and a hot water tank and “not really paying too much attention to comfort or efficiency” are gone. Creating better solutions With regulations changing and efficiency levels moving so quickly now, better solutions are needed. “Furnaces have gotten more efficient, but hot water tanks really haven’t,” Jackson says. With their hydronic-based system, you can burn fuel and make hot water that can either be provided to domestic fixtures or used to heat the home through a range of devices, such as an AirMax fan coil, hydronic in-floor heating or a hydronic radiator. It’s a system that allows users to introduce ancillary items like in-floor heating in the basement, Jackson adds. Hydronic heating is prevalent in Europe, but is now “a growing market here,” says Van Beurden. Besides the flexibility of such a system, Jackson says it offers a greater degree of control of your space, as each floor or zone can be run independent of another using individual thermostats when a zoned air handler is installed. “So you can put the heat or the cool air where it needs to be.” Greater comfort The upshot is a greater control of comfort levels for customers. Jackson points out that there’s also a greater degree of modulation with their system, so it can be a 95,000 BTU unit or just 9,000, if that’s all that’s required. “That modulation leads to more con­ servation, a more energy-efficient appliance.” You can simply tailor the load to the heat source, he adds. Before reuniting with the sister companies, Van Beurden and Jackson worked together for a decade at HVAC manufacturer Don Park. Now, they’ve built AirMax/FlowMax/Glow Brand into a 20-plus employee firm, with Jackson overseeing the design and technical sides of AirMax and Glow Boiling Over the Competition A small Canadian manufacturer is making history with its new line of combination boilers. I f your suppliers aren’t providing you with what you need, why not make it yourself? That’s the situation AirMax/FlowMax found itself in when trying to get its Italian original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to engineer boilers to higher North American standards. The solution was to launch a sister company – Glow Brand – to manufacture combination boilers in Canada. Now, says Jack Van Beurden, general manager of Concord, Ontario-based AirMax/FlowMax/Glow Brand, “we’re probably one of a few true combi manufacturers in Canada [that’s Canadian owned].”
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 Brand while Van Beurden handles the day-to-day operations for all three companies. When AirMax was originally launched, Van Beurden says there was only one company in the field and “the market needed competition and a better built product.” He says the companies are built on three pillars: service, quality and efficiency. They stock a lot of products and carry a great deal of inventory, so “we can service our customers that same day.” Ahead of the stream In terms of energy efficiency, they are “trying to be ahead of the stream because codes continue to change.” Clearly, it’s working. Jackson says that for the first eight months when ENERGY STAR released its ratings for instantaneous water heaters, they were the most efficient manufacturer – in all of North America. Not bad “for a small, little Canadian company,” he says. “So we’re ahead of the curve there,” Van Beurden adds. “We actually had our products tested to a new standard before anyone else in North America.” Down the road, Van Beurden says, more boilers and tankless water heaters will be developed under the Glow Brand umbrella. Where the company offers a big advantage is that everyone they compete against either makes air handling units or water heaters, Jackson says. But by using those components together, the way in which they are matched determines the overall system efficiency. Being able to offer that integration as a single vendor is hugely advantageous. “We’re the only entity that has an air side and a water side manufacturing, so there’s synergies between our water heating units and our air handling units. We made them to basically operate efficiently together,” he explains. Jackson says that the company took a big step forward when it brought the manufacturing of the water heater in-house. “We gained a lot more intelligence and a lot more flexibility to be able to advance the product.” The challenge they had in buying from an OEM is that you can’t tell them “this is what we want,” because they reply “this is what we have,” Jackson says. Making the product themselves gave the company the agility to move to market much quicker. It’s a great success story of a company that took matters into its own hands when the market couldn’t provide what it needed. As Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 1515 Glow combination boiler at 94% AFUE with AirMax low velocity air handler.
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN Tribute 40
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 TIPS the Scales By listening to its customers, Tribute Communities carved out a value differentiator. I f we had a dime for every time we heard about a company that claimed to listen to its customers’ needs, we wouldn’t be writing this article...we’d be lying on a beach, binging on all-you-can-eat Twinkies. But by doing exactly that (listening to its customers, not eating Twinkies), builder/ developer Tribute Communities managed to create a program that differentiates itself from the pack. Of course, Tim Clarke wasn’t just any customer. As a software engineering consultant who had done work for Greyter Water Systems, he likely knew more about energy efficiency than the average home buyer. So after buying a home in Tribute’s Grandview development in Oshawa, he was interested in finding out what kind of upgrade package he could get that would make the home more energy efficient. This was not a typical home buyer request. Oh sure, the décor studio will field demands for hardwood flooring, marble countertops and even the odd energy-efficient feature, such as a two-stage furnace, higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) air conditioners and water-efficient appliances. But to be faced with an upgrade package as sophisticated as Clarke wanted was new territory for Tribute. Tim’s wife Candice and their two children.
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201818 “We often have requests for upgrades to the furnace or other things, but not to the extent that he wanted a better than Code home,” says Wally Kunz, options manager at Tribute’s Décor Studio, who was the first point of contact for Clarke. In fact, trying to figure out how to price what was expected to be a one- time deal and still make its margins proved to be a challenge for Tribute. Making the numbers work That’s where John Godden, whom Clarke had met at an event, came in. When they met, Clarke explained his situation to Godden, who provided him with some suggestions of what to ask for. But when Tribute had issues making the numbers work, Godden came in and helped them understand what could be done on a production level to make the package feasible. “When he talked about this comfort package, my mind started to think, ‘how can I sell this?’” recalls Frank MacPhee, Tribute’s contract manager and the person ultimately responsible for green lighting this program. (More about the comfort package later.) MacPhee had sensed this was coming down the pike for quite some time, so when Clarke made his request and the company finally determined it could work, it acted as the catalyst for something he had long hoped to employ within the company. “I just kept hearing on the news [about] the $4.5 billion Hydro One debt that our children are going to have to absorb. I just thought […] what happens when one day someone comes in and says, ‘you know what, forget about the countertops, forget about the tile, forget about the hardwood – what can we do to make my house more energy efficient?’” MacPhee says. Clarke’s request “just pushed it quicker to the forefront of our mandate,” he adds. Seeing the potential in this initia­ tive, MacPhee worked with Godden to integrate this package into Tribute’s offerings. A differentiator “It sort of differentiates what we typically sold and creates something new,” MacPhee explains. Clarke received the “comfort package,” consisting of: a Lennox two-stage, 96 AFUE furnace; a Lifebreath energy recovery ventilator (ERV); HVAC balancing; a drainwater recovery unit; greywater rough-in; a WhisperGreen Select bath fan; and Excel sheathing (which included a sponsor discount of material). Ultimately, the upgrades Clarke received morphed into TIPS (Tribute’s Innovative Performance Standard), a package available to all of Tribute’s home buyers. Not only does the advent of TIPS give Tribute a value differentiator over its competitors, but it may actually be unique in that no one seems to know of another energy- efficient upgrade package being offered on a production level within the province. Among its extensive features, TIPS includes: M A high-performance envelope: the home’s performance-based energy rating is tested by a third party; Excel sheathing is employed as an exterior air barrier, with all penetrations sealed; and an air barrier surrounds the insulation on all six sides. M High-performance HVAC: the furnace has a two-stage burner (96% efficiency) with an electronically commutated motor (ECM) blower (offering 80% savings in electrical consumption) to ensure maximum air distribution and comfort and comes with a web- based programmable thermostat. M Indoor air quality: the HEAT recovery ventilator has a minimum Wally Kunz at Tribute’s Décor Studio. “Home owners are great when they understand they are paying for something that will bring back some money to them.”
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 75% sensible heat-recovery efficiency (SRE); the flow rate is third-party verified; there are eco- vent bathroom fans; and the home includes a four-inch pleated MERV 12 filter for maximum air filtration. M Reduced water usage: toilets use a maximum 4.85 litres per flush. M Efficient lighting and material management: 90% of the home uses compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or LED lighting; the attic insulation features 40% recycled content; and the thermal insulated sheathing is 90% recycled content. Any concerns over how TIPS (launched in February) will sell have now disappeared, and it’s now providing Tribute with a value differentiator – especially since the market has softened in recent months. “Eight months ago, when the real estate market was sky high, it didn’t matter what we were putting in the houses; they were selling them for whatever they wanted,” MacPhee says. “When the market died, we had to differentiate this company from the guy across the street. And I believe if we can get the value of this package or this better than Code to a sustainable number that we can use, that we are building a better house from the guy across the road.” Building a better house Given the nice margins builders typically make in a home decor centre, adding energy-efficient features to the mix came with some risk in terms of cannibalizing its own offerings. Kunz says there are still issues when customers have a specific budget and are torn between granite tops and hardwood or upgrading the energy efficiency. However, while there’s room for improvement, MacPhee says he’s satisfied with the results so far. He says that the return-on- investment case Tribute can present makes selling this much easier. “Home owners are great when they understand they are paying for something that will bring back some money to them, [through] cost savings. I think it makes it easy for them to jump into.” Adds Kunz: “It’s a wonderful option for us to be able to offer. It shows that we are pushing the envelope, that we are listening to the public who are concerned with hydro rates and where they could possibly go 10 years from now, and this is one way of being able to say to them, ‘look, we’re offering this option and it will save you 18% energy annually. You can add up the numbers, you can add it to your mortgage.’” TIPS now standard fare In fact, TIPS has been so well received as an upgrade package that Tribute is now offering it as standard fare in its new Ajax community, Quantum Falls. Kunz says this move dovetails nicely with one of Tribute’s key philosophies. “This whole process is linked very closely to one of our core values, which is continuous improvement.” In MacPhee’s mind, the fact that the decor centre originally wasn’t prepared to answer Clarke’s questions was a red flag that needed addressing. “Our position at Tribute is – for instance, when Tim came in here – even if one person asks and we never had that information available for Wally at the decor centre, I felt that we were behind. We weren’t the leaders.” Thanks to this initiative, the com­ pany is well positioned for the coming changes to the Building Code. “Most of the stuff that we’re doing with TIPS is going to have us segue right into that new Building Code,” MacPhee says. 19 Tribute site staff from left to right: Jacob Tough (Site Supervisor), Russ Anderson (Customer Care Manager) and Simon Rego (Finishing Supervisor).
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201820 Feather in the cap It’s another feather in the cap for Tribute, which, in its 35-plus year history, has built over 30,000 homes across southern Ontario. The 2016 Tarion Ontario Homebuilder of the Year creates both high-rise and low- rise developments. According to MacPhee – who got his start with Tribute as a labourer in 1989 – a cornerstone of the 240-employee company’s philosophy is “respect for our customers... and to this end, we have created a comprehensive Total Service policy to look after customer needs.” Tribute’s initiatives at the 25-house Quantum Falls development “drew the attention of the energy suppliers like Enbridge,” MacPhee says. He says Enbridge approached Tribute to join Savings by Design, a program that provides builders with a $2,000 rebate for every home (up to a maximum of 50 houses per community) that is rated 15% better than the 2017 Ontario Building Code. (For more on Savings by Design, please see pages 3 and 11 of the Summer 2018 issue.) MacPhee was driven to use that rebate to make further improvements to the homes. “My thought was not putting that money back in our pockets; I wanted to throw that into the energy efficiency of the home to get us a better number.” Tribute sure won Clarke over. Con­ sidering he had a room in his previous home that always seemed to have a different temperature than the rest of the house, and his home now is “pretty consistent throughout,” he’s thrilled. Major utility savings Clarke’s satisfaction in his new home goes beyond how comfortable it is – there’s also a sweet financial benefit when comparing the bills. For perspective, his old house was 2,500 square feet – 1,000 square feet smaller than this one. In the new home, which has a HERS score of 40 and is 21% better than Code, monthly hydro bills have dropped from $150 to $100, while gas is down from around $170 to just over $100. To recap, that’s about 37.5% savings in utility costs for a home that’s 40% larger. “That’s the major benefit right there,” Clarke says. The fact that his request prompted Tribute to offer similar things to other customers has become a source of pride. “That’s a great thing if everybody can benefit from something that my wife and I started, because it’s definitely a nice thing to have when you know that your home is very efficient and we don’t have to worry about the bills being excruciatingly high,” he says. For Tribute, that’s simply business as usual, given what MacPhee says the company’s philosophy is: “Build every house as if you were the one moving into it.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Tim Clarke’s heating system balanced with less than 15% duct leakage. Homeowner and software engineer Tim Clarke beside his new Greyter greywater recycling system. Clarke’s satisfaction in his new home goes beyond comfort – there’s also a sweet financial benefit when comparing the bills.
  23. 23. 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)
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 Strategies for Comfort industryexpert / GORD COOKE 22 In my world, those expectations are for dramatically increased thermal comfort – so much so that in our Construction Instruction (Ci) Live Training Center in Phoenix, builders have become very interested in the instrumented total HVAC system we have installed, which is able to demonstrate strategies for better comfort control. Fortunately, at least in the opinion of this engineer, there are science-based resources and a variety of products, new and old, that are available to help you achieve the expectations of your home buyers. Let’s explore a few of these. First, I would ask you to become familiar with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air- Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 55, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, or at least be aware of its existence and the value it can offer you as we implement better HVAC solutions. I found Standard 55 very valuable as it outlines the six factors that affect thermal comfort. Two of these are characteristics of your home buyers – clothing and metabolic rate – but four are characteristics of the environments you build. These are air temperature, humidity, air speed and radiant temperatures. That last one probably needs a little explanation. Our bodies transfer approximately 50% to 60% of their sensible heat via radiation to surfaces around us. Realizing that modern home designs include dramatically more windows, you can imagine the impact this can have on the comfort of your home buyers. Fortunately, there are some strategies I am sure the regular readers of this magazine have recognized the fact that, the more you promote the high-performance features of your homes, the higher the expectations your customers have.
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 available to address the radiant temperature factor. Start with a conversation with your window supplier. They should have at least three or four glazing options available for you that can meet the Code requirements for window performance while minimizing the impact of cold glass surfaces in winter and hot glass surfaces in summer. For comfort reasons alone, triple- glazed windows will be on your list of technologies to include in your high-performance homes. The costs of these have been coming down nicely and they perform very well in energy performance modelling to offset other more expensive energy upgrades. Even with double-glazed windows, investigate the impact between high solar gain and low solar gain low-e coatings. Some window manufacturers use high solar gain coatings to optimize winter energy gains at the risk of creating comfort concerns in the summer. Have your energy evaluator work with your window supplier to find a better balance between energy and comfort performance. Recognize as well that the solar gain from windows is a highly variable or intermittent load. It’s no longer good enough to measure and try to control temperatures from one thermostat located in a hallway. Great new, cost-effective technology, such as the ecobee4 thermostat, offers specific remote room sensors for the main thermostat to allow quicker response in occupied spaces. Ultimately, you will be offering zoned heating and cooling solutions, but start offering these multi-sensor approaches immediately to help offset the comfort implications of intermittent window loads. We have covered one strategy for the radiant temperature comfort factor and one for the air temperature comfort factor, so allow me to remind you of a simple change to impact the humidity comfort factor. You have undoubtedly seen the literature that says a healthy, comfortable indoor relative humidity level is 30% to 50%. We need to fine tune that a bit to read 30% to 40% in winter, recognizing that at over 40%, window condensation would be an issue on cold winter days (another great reason for triple- glazed windows). And it should be 45% to 50% in summer, recognizing that getting lower than even 50% is difficult in most parts of Ontario with our high outdoor humidity levels. In fact, through much of the spring and early summer, dehumidification is at least as important as cooling – so much so that credible information sources such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggest strongly that dehumidifiers or air conditioners be used to control moisture during non-heating seasons in most Canadian houses. In addition, you will find that energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) are very useful in helping to manage moisture loads. Let’s start with a comfortable indoor condition of 23°C and a relative humidity (RH) of 50%. The dew point at this condition is 12°C (the higher the dew point, the higher the moisture content). Compare this to the outdoor design conditions for Toronto. When considering humidity factors, we won’t use the hottest day design condition, but rather the most humid design condition. In Toronto on that day, the dew point temperature of the air is a whopping 22°C and yet the simple dry bulb temperature (what the thermometer would read) would be just 27°C. These are days when an air conditioner wouldn’t be running very much and yet there would be a need for dehumidification as a separate function to control indoor RH levels. As you ventilate at, say, 60 cubic feet per minute (CFM) (the typical Code requirement for a three-bedroom house) with a principal fan or HRV, the ventilation system will introduce an additional 24 litres of water vapour into the home per day. Using an ERV rather 23 An energy recovery ventilator manages the moisture in both summer and winter. OLLY18/DEPOSITPHOTOS VENMARVENTILATION
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201824 than an HRV would cut this design day moisture load in half. This can be very important given that, in a typical 2,400 square foot home, the difference between a comfortable and healthy 50% at 23°C and a sticky, risky 65% RH condition is just an extra three or four litres of water dispersed throughout the air in a home. While you should be reminding home owners to run a dehumidifier, the standard portable dehumidifiers only have a moisture removal capacity of 15 to 30 litres per day, and even the whole-house dehumidifiers that professional HVAC contractors promote have capacities of about 30 to 60 litres per day. It should be obvious that a simple, cost- effective change to an ERV from an HRV is an important comfort strategy. ERVs help manage dehumidification loads in non-heating seasons and avoid over-drying houses in winter. These three simple, cost-effective strategies – appropriate window coatings, remote room sensors for your thermostats and a switch to ERVs – will get you started on the path to providing better comfort control for your home buyers. For more information on the Ci Live Learning Center in Phoenix, go to: BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 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. ERVs help manage dehumidification loads in non-heating seasons and avoid over-drying houses in winter.
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201826 industrynews / MICHAEL LIO AND DAVE HENDERSON A s houses become more efficient and use less and less energy, the big heating plants of the past are giving way to small, multi-functional heating appliances – appliances that can heat your house and your water at the same time. Navigating the range of new heating appliances can be a challenge. Figuring out the difference between “combo” and “combi” heating systems is the first step. Now, you should understand the newest appliance to emerge: the “dual-fired” appliance. It’s not to be confused with a dual-fuel appliance – an appliance that uses more than one fuel source, like a heat pump with propane supplementary heat. That’s not what a dual-fired appliance is at all. According to IBC Technologies Inc., a dual-fired appliance is a very distinctive piece of equipment that’s used in many parts of Europe. Their line of wall-mounted boilers, as they explain, are unique in the heating industry. The IBC boiler combines space heating and domestic hot water heating in one unit. Now, before you say there are plenty of other systems like this on the market, the IBC boiler is very different. It has incorporated the space and water heating functions independently within the one wall- mounted cabinet. Realizing that there are two independent appliances in the one wall-mounted cabinet is key to understanding how it works. The unit is not a combi or a combo system. Water is drawn into the boiler section completely isolated from the domestic hot water side. “This gives the IBC boiler the ability to heat water (and fire) at two different rates, improving overall fuel efficiency, comfort and convenience,” explains Peter Kinsey, eastern Canada sales manager for IBC Technologies Inc. Because the two internal systems are completely independent, this also allows one half to use other heat distribution fluids – like glycol – without fear of contamination or the need to have a separate unit altogether. Innovative, yet simple. Because the appliance performs the two heating functions independently, it required applying different testing methods to test each efficiency. The appliance was tested for annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for the space heating component and was tested for energy factor (EF) for the water heating component. The space heater has an AFUE of 96% while the water heater has an EF of 0.87 (in accordance with CAN/CSA P.2). With a 96% AFUE and 0.87 EF, the IBC units can be used as part of Ontario Building Code compliance packages A1, A2, A4, A5 and A6 from SB-12 Table and all of the compliance packages from Table With convenience and simplicity all packed into one box, more builders and HVAC contractors will likely begin Dual-fired Appliances Two independent heaters in one wall-mounted cabinet. Water is drawn into the boiler section completely isolated from the domestic hot water… giving the IBC boiler the ability to heat water at two different rates, improving overall fuel efficiency, comfort and convenience. Unique and innovative single pass Copper / Aluminum Heat Exchanger with 96% AFUE.
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 specifying dual-fired appliances. Indeed, the appliance recently won EnerQuality’s Innovation Gauntlet, competing against other innovative products at this spring’s Housing Innovation Forum in Toronto. Simply put, the appliance reduces costs immediately for new home buyers. For most builders, there is nothing more comforting than the tried and true. Builders wrestle with questions of performance and efficiency, the risk of call backs and the dreaded comfort complaints from home owners. Often it is the concern about Tarion warranty obligations that causes the most worry. While builders may be nervous about new or innovative products, cost is a key driver and factors prominently in the decision to try a new technology. Avoiding the water heater rental can be a big marketing incentive in a tightening marketplace where builders are starting to look for an edge. For trades, there are similar, yet different, concerns. Jeff Martino, vice president of business development with Martino HVAC, notes that innovative products are great provided they meet several key tests: are quantities of the units readily available?; are they serviceable?; are parts easy to get?; are units complicated to install?; and, of course, are they reliable? Fortunately, IBC has a great track record, a solid warranty and a long company history. Its vast installation history in Europe should also allay the fear of the new. In fact, IBC appliances command 40% of the market in the Netherlands. There have been over two million appliances installed worldwide over the past 20 years with not a single heat exchanger failure to date. As the Building Code continues to evolve, more energy-efficient, right-sized equipment options will be necessary for the industry. Dual-fired appliances will likely raise eyebrows – perhaps if only for their name – but now you know. BB Michael Lio is President of buildABILITY Corporation. Dave Henderson is Director of Builder Services at buildABILITY Corporation. 27 Email or call 416-481-7517 This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Building Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change happened in 2017 which is causing some confusion. The new code will be notionally 15% better than 2017. How are you getting there in 2020? 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. LowCostCodeCompliancewith theBetterThanCodePlatform 45 BetterThanCodeUsestheHERSIndextoMeasureEnergyEfficiency TheLowertheScoretheBetter–MeasureableandMarketable OBC 2012 OBC 2017 NEAR ZERO 80 60 40 20 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. BetterThanCode
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201828 sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN That led to work as a management consultant, and then to a contract assignment with Direct Energy (now known as EnerCare). Soon, he was asked to join their team. As manager of new business development, Holloway was overseeing residential water heating operations at new construction sites. After four years with Direct Energy, he was headhunted by A.O. Smith, the largest manufacturer of water heaters in North America. Starting in 2005 as Director of Canadian Sales, Holloway managed the commercial water heating side of the business – but by 2011, that role had expanded to include all residential and commercial business in Canada. In 2013, he became Vice President of Canadian Sales for A.O. Smith. As a regular attendee at industry events, Holloway became aware of Clearsphere’s work in energy efficiency – particularly the Savings by Design workshops – and he has been invited to give builder talks about industry changes and efficient new products. “These are things builders really need to be aware of,” Holloway says. “Especially as changes become mandatory.” A prime example, he says, is the new uniform energy factor (UEF) rating for hot water heaters. Implemented in the U.S. in 2017, it will become mandatory in Canada this fall. But as Holloway explains, “hot water heaters themselves aren’t changing – just the way they’re being tested and then marketed to consumers.” However, the label change does reflect a necessary product and industry change, since previous testing did not accurately reflect or assess the relative efficiency of each different hot water heater. Previously, the old energy factor (EF) testing rated all the products the same. It was unable to accurately reflect energy efficiency across a wide range of different technologies, especially between tank and tankless water heaters. The UEF gets its new name – “uniform” – because it compares efficiencies within one category of residential use. This is what the industry also calls “usage bins,” which allow one to compare “apples to apples,” says Holloway. For example, a family of six will likely take a high number of daily showers, putting them into a higher bin usage group than an empty-nester couple who will probably require a low bin usage water heater. The new UEF rating is determined by comparing similar heaters with similar hot water output. However, this rating only applies to residential water heaters. (In other words, it doesn’t apply to commercial water heaters such as those you’d find in a high-rise condo building.) Water heaters are separated into bins determined by first hour of usage for tank water heaters and gallons per minute for tankless heaters. The heaters, once gathered into their own categories, undergo simulated tests and are compared to heaters in the same usage bin. Tests differ for each In Hot Water Geoffrey Holloway explains the new Uniform Energy Factor A lthough Geoffrey Holloway had a degree in civil engineering, he’d always wanted to do his MBA. So in the late 1990s, after working in heavy civil construction as a design engineer, he headed to Wilfrid Laurier University and graduated from their MBA program in 2000. Further to this he completed his Certified Management Accounting (CMA) designation in 2004. Implemented in the U.S. in 2017, the new uniform energy factor will become mandatory in Canada this fall. Geoffrey Holloway.
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 bin, and the energy use is determined during a typical 24-hour period. For heaters in the same bin, a higher UEF means a more efficient water heater that costs less to operate. This way, consumers can choose a water heater based on needs and ease of operation, and not based on what they’ve heard is more efficient. “A condensing storage hot water heater is comparable to tankless; its thermal efficiencies are comparable,” Holloway says. “The tankless has a slightly higher UEF factor than [the] condensing tank but [it] is more confusing for builders and consumers, and a lot of education is required. I have included a chart (above) to avoid further confusion. There’s been a lot of marketing around the tankless product for the past 15 years or so, and consumers now believe it’s the only one, or at least the best one. But that’s just not the case. Start with a condensing technology first and then match with the application.” The real challenge for builders is helping new home owners understand that, in order to get the right water heater with the highest UEF rating, they must first determine their hot water needs. But A.O. Smith has come up with a mobile app that is currently available in the US and will be introduced in Canada in the near future, that makes it easy to do this, Holloway says. More accurate than energy guide labels, the app comes up with the right product based on the individual’s hot water needs. The app also helps contractors to correctly size a water heater. New home construction has a host of hot water options and different provincial codes and standards. This can lead to confusion. Choosing a high-efficiency water heater will help builders achieve a higher rating, as well as real monthly utility savings for the home owner. BB   Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at 29 M Usage patterns/consumer behaviour M Installation design constraints The real challenge for builders is helping new home owners understand that, in order to get the right water heater with the highest UEF rating, they must first determine their hot water needs. UNIFORM ENERGY FACTOR (UEF) BIN BIN Daily Usage gallons First Hour Rating tank-type water heaters Max GPM tankless water heaters water heater EF Energy Factor UEF Uniform Energy Factor TE Thermal Efficiency Very small 10 Less than 18 gallons Less than 1.7 A x x 94% Low 38 18 to 51 gallons 1.7 to 2.8 B 0.80 x x Medium 55 51 to 75 gallons 2.8 to 4 C x 0.88 x High 84 75 gallons or larger 4 or more Combo TPF Thermal Performance Factor TPF Thermal Performance Factor TPF Thermal Performance Factor WATER HEATER SELECTION FACTORS M Total installed costs (installation, capital, maintenance & operating costs etc) M Depending on building design configuration; will still need to understand equivalency M UEF – under 75,000 btu M TE – over 75,000 btu M May have different spec sheets for USA vs Canada
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201830 Check out our website at
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 2018 31 The Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) is looking forward to working with Premier Ford and the Ontario government on some outstanding issues related to the Climate Change Action Plan and its unintended consequences, as well as some of the Code creep we are seeing in local jurisdictions. There are two areas involving climate change that are especially relevant to home builders: M Fighting climate change by building more energy-efficient homes to reduce our carbon footprint, and M Accepting that climate change is happening and adapting to more frequent, and more severe, climate events by building more resilient housing. The previous Ontario government under Premier Wynne was intensely focused on reducing our collective carbon footprint throughout the overall economy. While the aspiration was commendable, the method was not. It became increasingly difficult to have meaningful conversations around the Ontario Building Code and what should be reasonably included within a Code change cycle, as the government’s philosophy shifted to being the greenest jurisdiction in North America. Even if what they were asking for made little sense, if the special interest groups got there first, then we became powerless to argue for alternatives or express concerns. We are now reaching out and requesting that these concerns be revisited. For example, we have consistently argued that the 200-amp service requirement for car charging was an extremely bad idea, as there would be unintended consequences. Recently, we became aware of a situation in Ottawa where the electric vehicle requirements from Ottawa Hydro were forcing the builder to reduce the number of units on the property from 12 units down to eight. That is a very significant impact on affordability and it goes against the provincial mandate of intensification. The OHBA, on behalf of its members and industry stakeholders, is now requesting that the provincial government put a hold on recent changes to the Ontario Building Code, including, but not limited to: drain water heat recovery, larger stair tread requirements, Part 11 inspection requirements and blower door testing requirements. We would prefer to see further technical consultation and examination on affordability impacts, labour impacts and technical impacts of these changes. To be clear, the OHBA is in favour of increased energy efficiency. But does it make sense to require new homes to be built to net zero-ready requirements if the industry is not ready and the existing housing stock (where a significantly greater problem exists) is not being addressed? The OHBA has long advocated for mandatory labelling of existing homes prior to resale, and, in general, the new Code requirements around renovation are a needed step – but not if it drives the underground economy, and not if there aren’t enough building inspectors to do the work. On the other hand, it also does not make sense to require homes to be built to net zero-ready standards if we are not going to look at more resiliency. What good does a net zero requirement do if your roof is damaged in a storm and you lose all your contents in the The Times They Are A-Changin’ fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY B ob Dylan was onto something with this song and his lyrics: “Come senators, congressmen / Please heed the call / … / There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’ / It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls / For the times they are a-changin’.” Whether it is the recent election in Ontario that signals a significant change in philosophy, or the recent weather events that are bringing the climate change issue closer to home, the times truly are a-changin’. So I thought I would explore the connection between the two. CHANGE AHEAD
  33. 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 27 | AUTUMN 201832 home? I’ve had first-hand experience in Puerto Rico of why we need to address resiliency, but many have asked if this applies in Ontario. May 5, 2018 was the day before our most recent rebuild mission to Puerto Rico. On the way to the airport, we endured a five-hour long wind event that was only five kilometres per hour less powerful than Hurricane Hazel, and there was a great deal of wind damage. Had this storm also been a rain event, it would have acted just like a hurricane (although it had not formed in the same manner) and would have caused immeasurable content damage for homes where the roofs were compromised. This is only one of countless examples that clearly show the climate is changing and we need to adapt. However, it would be concerning to mandate a certain type of hurricane strap, for example, when there are other options available. My company is currently testing a new six-inch screw from Simpson Strong-Tie that has the same hold- down strength as an H2.5A hurricane tie, and it takes about seven to eight seconds to screw in compared to the 50 to 60 seconds required for the 10 nails of the hurricane tie. We need to be at the table working on the Code process to ensure good decisions are made about what can and should be implemented in the field. That is why I’m working with the Western University engineering department on more resilient construction methods, and then road testing the details in Puerto Rico. If we are able to train an unskilled workforce on how to do so simply and cost effectively, then there is much greater opportunity to have success implementing it here in Ontario. This would be practical to do under voluntary programs where we can build critical mass and gain the knowledge needed to bring these details to the wider industry, just the same way that our industry had success on energy efficiency with the voluntary ENERGY STAR program. That leads me to my final point. I am a very strong advocate for one Code for Ontario. For one thing, it is illegal for municipalities to adopt increased energy efficiency and/ or resiliency requirements that are forced onto builders through subdivision agreements. Secondly, it is also dangerous as there will be unintended consequences, with an even greater risk if the work is being done by builders who are not trained on these new methods and details, or the methods and details have not been fully vetted. We may complain about the Code process – especially when there is something that urgently needs addressing – but there is a reason why it has its checks and balances in place, and we are urging the Ontario government, under Premier Ford’s leadership, to address this concern as urgently as possible. Municipalities have no business being involved in Code development, no matter how noble their goals, and especially when they do so without consultation with the industry experts that build these products every single day. Ontario home builders, trades, suppliers and building inspectors have consistently proven that if government shows us what the goal is, we can get there in faster, better and smarter ways if we are able to do so voluntarily within programs designed to keep our industry on the path of continual improvement. So yes, the times they are a-changin’ – but we’ve proven that we are very capable of getting there. The home building industry was the only industry in Canada to meet the Kyoto Protocol climate change targets. And we did it voluntarily. Let’s have that conversation about resiliency. Let’s work on some voluntary programs where the most proactive builders can work with industry experts and figure out the challenges so that we can continue to adapt to climate change. Postscript: I would like to dedicate this article to Shawn Good, our former technical code expert at the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. Shawn had the great ability to understand the subject and make it simple enough for others to understand as well. We worked on many files together over the last few years. Gone too soon. You are greatly missed. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. The home building industry was the only industry in Canada to meet the Kyoto Protocol climate change targets. And we did it voluntarily.
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