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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 1 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 2 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 3 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 4 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 5 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 6 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 7 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 8 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 9 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 10 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 11 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 12 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 13 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 14 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 15 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 16 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 17 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 18 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 19 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 20 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 21 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 22 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 23 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 24 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 25 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 26 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 27 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 28 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 29 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 30 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 31 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 32 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 33 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 34 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 35 Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021 Slide 36
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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 39 / Autumn 2021

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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 39 / Autumn 2021

  1. 1. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 INSIDE Alair Homes’ Unique Model Greener Homes Opportunity Low-Carbon Homes – Are They Worth It? The Renovation Conundrum Future Code Changes the RenovationIssue MAKING THE OLD READY FOR THE FUTURE
  2. 2. 209 Citation Dr. Unit 3 & 4 Concord, ON L4K 2Y8 905-669-7373 · glowbrand.ca Models C95 & C140 Condensing Combination Boiler Glow Brand C95 and C140 instantaneous combination ASME boilers for heating and on-demand hot water supply. The ultra-efficient compact design combination boiler has an AFUE rating of 95%. These units are fully modulating at 10 to 1 and 2 inch PVC venting up to 100 feet. Canadian Made
  3. 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 16 1 FEATURE STORY 16 Power to the People By employing a unique model that empowers its customers, Alair Homes has earned plenty of recognition. by Rob Blackstien 6 ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 On our cover: Alair Homes’ Menin project exterior photographed by Jules Lee. Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 13 28 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Keep the Power with the People by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 When is “Good Enough” Good Enough? by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 6 The Greener Homes Opportunity by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 The Renovation Conundrum Can the government have their cake and eat it too? by Paul De Berardis SITE SPECIFIC 13 Renovations from a Home Owner’s Perspective by Alex Newman INDUSTRY NEWS 24 Low-Carbon Homes Are they worth it? by Marc Huminilowycz BUILDER NEWS 28 Green Builder Challenge Golf Tournament FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Future Code Changes and Renovations by Doug Tarry
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 Keep the Power with the People 2 PUBLISHER Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695 sales@betterbuilder.ca Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of PUBLISHING EDITOR John B. Godden MANAGING EDITORS Crystal Clement Wendy Shami editorial@betterbuilder.ca To advertise, contribute a story, or join our distribution list, please contact editorial@betterbuilder.ca FEATURE WRITERS Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman, Marc Huminilowycz 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. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” — Albert Einstein T he federal government is recycling its ecoENERGY for Energy Retrofit program (originally offered in 2007, then 2013). In 2021, it’s become the Greener Homes Grant. 700,000 households are eligible to participate over seven years at a cost of $2.6 billion. The problem with programs like these, according to Dr. Nicholas Rivers from the University of Ottawa, is free ridership and shallow retrofits. He contends that 50% of the subsidies are going to households who are making these “investments” regardless of the program assistance. Secondly and most importantly, the $5,000 incentive is not large enough to encourage deep retrofits like insulating the exterior of building envelopes, which would have the largest impact. But if a house is treated as an asset, then retrofits become an investment against green­ house gas emissions, and handouts are not necessary. For example, the Harper government’s 2009 home renovation tax credit supported the Canadian economy during the financial crisis in the U.S. Generally, tax credits with bank financing can keep spending power in the hands of consumers and better support the deep retrofits required to reduce CO2. The most powerful means of change is consumer awareness and education. Our fea­ ture article, “Power to the People” (page 17), describes how award-winning Alair Homes puts the client in control of the construction process by streamlining cost, communica­ tion and education. Gord Cooke reviews the current Greener Homes Grant program (including its strengths) on page 6. An energy audit provided by a third party is a powerful tool for educating home owners, renovators and designers about their choices. Meanwhile, on page 3, Lou Bada uses energy modelling information to access any retrofit opportunities offered by the Greener Homes Grant program. (Spoiler: regretfully, the best scenario – installing an air source heat pump – is not recognized by the program because it promotes getting houses entirely off natural gas and onto electricity. That’s a problem for Ontario, which has 40% of the population of Canada with an equal proportion of existing houses in Canada that use natural gas.) Any attempt to reduce carbon emissions must also be aligned with changes in building codes. Doug Tarry helps us understand the current attempts to harmonize provincial codes with the National Building Code (page 31). Like everything else, this process is in flux, but Doug is a great guide to show us the way. And last but not least, our interview with builder Tim Campanale (page 24) gets to the heart of the issue. Treating the home as an asset with retrofitting as an investment can create a market-driven strategy with financial institutions to reduce CO2 emissions. This hybrid approach is very successful in the U.S. It means builders and government are empowering home owners with processes and information, and banks are providing loans for investments in assets like deep-retrofitted houses. It’s important that we keep the power with the people, that we give them the tools they actually need to make meaningful change. I’m closing this note the way I started – by quoting the foremost authority on the workings of the known universe, Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 R-value as before but better perfor­ mance), replaced my water heater to a condensing type (Envirosense), added a drain water heat recovery pipe, replaced the furnace with a 97% effi­ cient furnace with a variable gas valve and ECM, and replaced my air condi­ tioning condenser/coil to a two-stage, 16 SEER unit. I achieved a HERS rating of 48. My 20-year-old home today is 52% more efficient than a home built to the 1997 OBC and 16.7% more efficient than package A1 in the current (2017) OBC (see diagram below). Great, right? Not so fast. Is it good enough? Let’s see. Howard Chau, of Clearsphere did some valuable computer modelling and analysis for me. Let me preface According to the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), 75% of the buildings that will be in use in 2030 are already built and 30% of global emissions come from heating, cooling and lighting our buildings. Energy retrofits of existing buildings must become common if we want to greatly reduce our GHG emissions. Let’s park the notion of a net zero carbon target by 2050 for the moment. My personal experience: When I built my current home in 2001 (based on the 1997 Ontario Building Code [OBC]), I believed I was well ahead of the curve by installing a two-stage furnace with electrically commutated motor (ECM), an energy recovery ventilator (ERV), low-E/argon gas-filled glazing, increasing insulation values and trying for a tighter building envelope. (Note: I hadn’t met John Godden yet or I would’ve sealed my ductwork better…live and learn.) Also, like most people, I didn’t know how long I’d live there (which is a common consumer sentiment we may need to address in some manner in the future). By 2014 I was still in the home and decided it was time to make some improvements (keep in mind, I am in the homebuilding industry and have some pricing advantages compared to the average consumer). I airsealed and sprayed polyurethane foam insulation in my attic to R-40 (same the discussion by reiterating that although I am in the homebuilding industry and personally have some cost-saving advantages, not everyone else is (and I don’t have a money tree in the backyard). Thus, anything that we consider must be through the lens of what would make sense for me as an average consumer. The options included for discussion are summarized in the chart on the next page. They are as follows: 1) Adding cellulose blow-in insulation in the attic to achieve R-60 from R-40, which would cost about $600 to $800 for the average consumer. 2) An air source heat pump (ASHP) in place of the air conditioner, which would cost approximately $4,000 for the average consumer. An ASHP costs about $1,500 more than replacing a conventional air conditioner. (Remember that a heat pump can not only cool your home in the summer months but also heat your home in the shoulder seasons without the use of natural gas in our climate zone.) 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA When Is ‘Good Enough’ Good Enough? BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 I t’s a trick question. The answer depends on when you ask it. What may have been good enough in 2001 isn’t enough today when it comes to environmental policy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. What about in 2030 or 2050? Currently, overall targets in Canada are for a 30% reduction of 2005 GHG levels by 2030 and net zero carbon by 2050. So that’s the future (for now) – but what about the past? Modeled Total Household Energy Usage by Year of Construction for Lou Bada’s House 1997 Building Code HERS 101 268 GJ Package J 2012 HERS 64 170 GJ 36% Reduction Package A1 2017 HERS 57 149 GJ 44% Reduction Lou’s 2014 Retrofit HERS 48 128 GJ 52% Reduction Future Improve- ments: Heat Pump + R60 Attic HERS 48 105 GJ 61% Reduction
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 tion is $250. There would be no rebate for an ASHP, which is disappointing as (the less expensive) conventional air conditioners are being installed/ replaced every day. If we decide to use incentives, wouldn’t it be most useful if the government incentivized what made the most sense? With this improvement, my home would be almost 61% better than the 1997 OBC and almost 30% better than the current 2017 OBC, based on the modelling. So, when have we done enough? I don’t know, ask me tomorrow. Let’s just do what really makes sense today. 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). Based on the chart above, the winner is... Lou’s #1 choice: Additional attic insulation and an air source heat pump. For less than $5,000, I could achieve an almost 18% improvement in energy efficiency. It is also the least expensive package with the greatest improvement. It also doesn’t particu­ larly rely on a government program. As you can see, trendy triple-glazed windows and photovoltaic panels are not the most beneficial or cost-sensi­ ble choice for a retrofit. Currently, the rebate I could get for the attic insula­ 3) Airsealing the home with Aero­ barrier (a projected reduction in air changes per hour from 2.18 ACH to 1.18 ACH), which would cost approximately $3,000 (and a lot of clean up). 4) Adding a four-kilowatt photovol­ taic energy system, at a cost of about $10,000 to $12,000 without battery storage. Adding battery storage would be an additional cost of $18,000 to $20,000. 5) Replacing the existing windows with triple-glazed windows and door glazing, which would cost approximately $20,000 to $25,000 in total or $5,000 to $6,000 more than replacing windows with the best double-pane glazing available (triple-glazed windows are approximately 30% more expensive to purchase and install). Let’s remember that incentives/ rebates and government programs are always changing. In my opinion, though it is difficult to quantify, programs and incentives also have the tendency to raise prices in the market because suppliers and vendors know they exist and demand increases. Also, in my opinion, it is important to realize that rebates/incentives are often not rationally derived. So, what to do (if anything)? What makes the most common sense for a consumer? LOU BADA RESIDENCE: FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS COMPONENT OBC 2017 PACKAGE A1 AS-BUILT AND RETROFITTED LOU’S #1 CHOICE: R60 + SOURCE HEAT PUMP Ceiling with attic R60 R40 R60 Exposed floor R31 R31 R31 Walls above grade R22 R13 + R5ci R13 + R5ci Walls below grade R20 blanket R12 + 8ci R12 + 8ci Below grade slab (below frost line) Uninsulated R7.5 R7.5 Windows sliding glass doors 1.6 1.8 1.8 Space heating (AFUE) 96% AFUE 97% c/w ECM 97% c/w ECM Space cooling (SEER) 13 16 ASHP @9 HSPF, 16 SEER Minimum hrv efficiency 75% 74% c/w ECM 74% c/w ECM Domestic hot water heater (EF) 0.8 0.86 0.86 Lighting — 75% CFL 75% CFL Drain water heat recovery 42% 4-ft Power Pipe 4-ft Power Pipe PV NONE NONE NONE ACH 3 2.18 2.18 HERS rating 58 48 48 Energy use (GJ) 149.1 127.76 104.87 % Improvement over as-built –16.7% — 17.9% 4 OTHER IMPROVEMENTS CONSIDERED AS-BUILT FEATURE EXISTING FEATURE DESCRIPTION IMPROVED FEATURE PERCENTAGE IMPROVEMENT COST $ 1 Attic R40 R60 17.90% 4,600 ASHP 0 ASHP 9.5 HSPF Included above 2 Air Change@50 Pa 2.18 1.18 5.80% 3,000 3 Solar Photovoltaics N/A 4Kw 12.20% 12,000 4 Windows U=1.8 U=1.2 (Triple Glazed) 6.10% 20,000
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 Learn more at  PanasonicBreatheWell.com Create spaces for living, feeling and breathing well. Build with air in mind.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 6 industryexpert / GORD COOKE There have been very impres­ sive improvements in new housing efficiency due to voluntary programs such as the R-2000 program and the ENERGY STAR for New Homes pro­ gram, as well as aggressive Building Code changes over the last 40 years. A new home built to the current minimum Ontario Building Code uses roughly half the energy of a new home built as recently as 1990 and one-quarter as much as a house built in 1980, and that was largely without any financial incentives. Of course, it is more challenging to entice the own­ ers of existing homes to invest in sig­ nificant energy efficiency upgrades. There have been success stories. Programs like the very early Cana­ dian Home Insulation Program (CHIP) of the late 1970s and the two iterations of the ecoEnergy Efficiency Initiative (first started in 2007) certainly garnered interest and prompted insulation upgrades, window replacements and furnace system upgrades. In the ecoEnergy programs alone, approximately one million homes were impacted. Indeed, Natural Resources Canada reports that energy use per Canadian household has decreased by 28% between 1990 and 2017. However, the energy used in the residential sector accounts for almost 17% of the total secondary energy used in Canada and almost 13% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions. In light of our industry’s success in past programs and the ever-more alarming climate change urgency and international commitment to change, our industry should be able to support and encourage the newest of the federal government initiatives: the Canada Greener Homes Grant program, announced in the spring. The Greener Homes program will be offering up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 each for approved energy effi­ ciency retrofits in homes. For profes­ sional builders, renovators and trade contractors, there are some important “need to know” elements. First, the program, much like the ecoEnergy initiatives, requires a performance validation process. This means each house must have an EnerGuide eval­ uation done on it before any work can be started. Furthermore, it requires a second evaluation done after work is completed before the homeowner will see any of the grant money. These eval­ uations must be conducted by a qual­ ified Registered Energy Advisor (REA) holding a current licence from Natural Resources Canada. Fortunately, the cost of the evaluations is covered up to $600, and that is in addition to the actual grant money. The REAs must work with one or more licensed service organizations (SOs), and this is important for con­ tractors and renovators to understand. You will be most helpful to your clients if you have a relationship with an REA and an SO and relay that informa­ tion to your client. You can find SOs that service your area by going to the following website and entering your postal code: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/ energy-efficiency/homes/find-ser- vice-provider/find-service-organiza- tions-for-existing-homes/23772 You will typically find half a dozen or more SOs for most places in Canada. It should be of some comfort that the leading new home SOs that deliver programs such as ENERGY STAR also serve the Greener Homes program (for example, EnerQuality Corporation in Ontario is licensed for existing homes). To start the process, the home­ owner must register their interest in getting an evaluation on the Greener Homes website listed here: https:// www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/ homes/canada-greener-homes-grant/ make-your-home-more-energy-efficient/ I n my career spanning 35+ years, I believe I can count at least four or five federal government programs that came and went that were designed to spur on energy-efficient retrofits in the 14 million or so existing homes in Canada. In addition, there have been provincial and even municipal programs – and of course, many utility programs, both electric and gas – all trying to mitigate the energy used to condition existing homes in a very cold country. The Greener Homes Opportunity
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 plan-document-and-complete-your- home-retrofits/eligible-grants-for-my- home-retrofit/23504 When they are registering, home­ owners must select a licensed SO they would like to use, which is why you will want to direct them to enter the SO you are comfortable working with. Reportedly, at the time of writing this article, over 90,000 homeowners have registered their interest in participat­ ing, and Natural Resources Canada is working to qualify these registrations and metering them out to the selected SOs. Some patience may be required by both you and your client to allow the early days of the program logistics to catch up to demand. The evaluation completed by the REA ideally creates a comprehensive plan for the homeowner that helps them match up the overall renovation project with the available incentive grants. For example, if your project includes recladding the exterior of the building, they could receive a grant of $3,300 for adding R-7.5 to R-12 of insu­ lated sheathing. That won’t pay for the recladding, but it would cover much of the incremental cost of the insulated sheathing and presents a significant improvement in comfort and sound control. Renovators and contractors can appreciate the value of a solid rela­ tionship with an REA who understands the type of work they do and what is practical for homeowners to achieve when doing those types of projects. The Greener Homes program website has very specific rules about the levels of insulation and the extent of coverage required to qualify for grants. Similarly, there are detailed specifications for windows that can qualify for grants. These are based on ENERGY STAR specifications. Be sure to carefully check with your window supplier as to which models, styles and glazing choices will qualify. Perhaps the biggest difference between this program and all previous ones is the focus on heat pump technology for both space heating and domestic water heating. Even the most efficient gas furnace or water heater will not qualify for incentives. This program is clearly focused on maximizing energy and greenhouse gas reductions. With that in mind, it’s impossible to ignore the 300% to 400% efficiency of air or ground source heat pumps, plus the elimination of the CO2 and other combustion gases from fossil fuel-burning appliances. Applying for the heat pump incen­ tive has some important parameters. For example, for space heating, the installing contractor must sign two attestation statements: one confirming they are licensed to install equipment in the province and the second stating that the heat pump to be installed is capable of distributing heat to the entire home. (This “entire home” requirement deserves some explanation. The program does not wish to incent mini-split heat pumps that serve one or two rooms. Moreover, they want the heat pump to be sized such that it can distribute heat to the entire home for the bulk of the heating days. Natural Resources Canada has a heat pump sizing guide tool that they encourage mechanical contractors to use.) Lastly, there is a very specific list of heat pumps and matching air handlers that qualify for the grant. Be advised that the homeowner will be required to provide detailed receipts and documentation for 7 Perhaps the biggest difference between this program and all previous ones is the focus on heat pump technology for both space heating and domestic water heating.
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 8 all items installed in their home when they apply for the grant, including items such as the heat pump sizing tool. They will need your help in accumulating and documenting these. The lessons of the past ecoEnergy initiatives with unscrupulous and unprofessional contractors have been heeded. This new program rewards the professional contractor, if you have the patience to follow the process. If you are feeling angst about the process and wonder if homeowners really have the interest and patience to follow through, I have been con­ vinced in just the last few months by conversations with acquaintances, colleagues and clients that the inter­ est level in doing what is right for the future is compelling. As one small example, a client who is planning a renovation to start next spring asked their renovator (a fellow I have known for 30 years) to introduce them to an EA now so they could be made aware of what was possible. They pointed to the old, but efficient, gas boiler that provides hot water to the cast iron radiators in a historically significant house and said, “isn’t it time we stopped burning fuels in houses? We have such a green electrical grid – shouldn’t we use it more, even if it is more expensive right now?” What followed was a great conversation about the practical possibilities in that very old home, with very little interest in the incentives, but a huge interest in the evaluation process and resulting plan that would help them make better decisions. That, in my opinion, is the real value of the Greener Homes program. It can help you, and it can help your clients make better decisions, which ultimately helps them trust you more. So plan ahead, find a licensed EA and their preferred SOs, and include an energy eval­ uation in every project you quote. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada.   Meet the new AI Series! The most advanced Fresh Air System available. Your work just got a lot easier! Contact your Air Solutions Representative for more information: suppport@airsolutions.ca | 800.267.6830 We Know Air Inside Out. You won’t believe how easy the AI Series is to install. Quicker set-up – save up to 20 mins on installs Consistent results – auto-balancing and consistency in installs for optimal performance 20-40-60 Deluxe – wireless Wi-Fi enabled auxiliary control with automatic RH dectection Advanced Touchscreen – using Virtuo Air TechnologyMD Compact – smallest HRV and ERV units delivering the most CFM
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 A growing number of housing critics have pinned housing shortages as a source of soaring home prices. As Canada’s population grows – mostly thanks to immigration, and as the large millennial generation enters the homebuying stage of their lives – the country (but especially Ontario) hasn’t been adding enough homes to keep pace with demand. Each party now has their own proposals to boost the supply of homes available for either ownership or rental. This is refreshing as parties are finally starting to acknowledge that we have a supply-side issue. In the past, most government policies have been demand-side measures, such as the mortgage stress test, the vacant property tax or the foreign buyers tax. Many of these levers did very little to meaningfully temper the real estate market. The Liberals promise to build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes in four years; the Conservatives want to build one million homes in three years; and the NDP aims to build 500,000 affordable homes in 10 years. When it comes to financial help for homebuyers and renters, the Liberals propose a tax-free savings account to save for a down payment and a rent- to-own program; the Conservatives intend to change the federal mortgage stress test and promote seven- to 10-year mortgage terms; and the NDP wants to re-introduce 30-year insured mortgages and a $5,000 rental subsidy. Each of the parties also has similar promises to tax or temporarily ban foreign investors and strengthen measures to address money laundering in real estate. All of these campaign plans and promises have potential to help Canadians with the current challenges in the real estate market. Only time will tell which party is elected and if any of their plans come to fruition to bring about a more balanced real estate market. However, in my opinion, one important aspect of the real estate market that none of these political leaders seem to be addressing is the existing group of homeowners. Each year, new construction only adds about 1% more housing units onto the existing housing stock. More importantly, the existing housing stock is comprised of homes from various vintages built across the past decades. So the affordability and supply challenges in the current real estate market have prevented a lot of move-up buyers looking to get into larger accommodations, or empty- nesters seeking to downsize. With more homeowners deciding to stay put and renovate instead of move, the renovation market has exploded during the pandemic and is just as hot as the real estate market. A quick look at the stats shows Canadian homeowners shelled out roughly $80 billion on home renova­ tions in 2019, according to a report from Altus Group, whereas overall spending on new home construction was lower at approximately $60 billion. Since this edition of Better Builder is focused on renovations, I thought I would put a political spin on the topic, given the ongoing federal election. While there is a clear path forward on how new homes will get to zero emissions through gradual regulatory changes to the Building Code, it is still unknown how the government intends to equally green the existing housing stock. 9 The Renovation Conundrum: Can the government have their cake and eat it too? industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS A t the time of writing this article, the news is dominated by two topics: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and rising case numbers in Ontario, as well as the recently called federal government election. Since this is Better Builder after all, I won’t really be diving into the pandemic (even though COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented building material price escalations, supply chain nightmares and labour productivity challenges for the residential building industry). I would, however, like to discuss the federal election and the campaign platforms of the main political parties – more specifically, how they relate to the building industry and the housing sector. While there is a clear path forward on how new homes will get to zero emissions through gradual regulatory changes, it is still unknown how the government intends to equally green the existing housing stock.
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 10 Given the fact that climate change is still top of mind and Canada’s federal government, like numerous others from around the world, have committed to net zero emissions by 2050, I was surprised to see that none of the political parties really offered much in terms of driving this agenda. With the existing housing stock obvi­ ously making up the bulk of housing supply and the market trends in the home renovation sector, would it not make sense for the government to take this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone – achieve their net zero emissions target while piggybacking onto the already massive spending homeowners pump into renovations? Going back to 2007, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government offered the Home Retrofit Subsidy, and later the Home Renovation Tax Credit, which both arguably helped stimulate Canada’s economy and shielded Canada from the worst of a global recession. Fast forward 14 years, and the current government essentially has the same program in place called the Canada Greener Homes Grant, whereby a homeowner can claim up to $5,000 total to help you make energy-efficiency retrofits to your home once verified using pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluations. The latest Canada Greener Homes Grant is applicable for things like home insulation, airsealing, windows and doors, space and water heating, renewable energy and resiliency measures – $5,000 does not go very far for these updates. Especially since the new program no longer covers things like replacing natural gas-fired furnaces or hot water heaters with more efficient units (only electric heat pump equipment is eligible now). At a time when building materials and components are at an all-time high and there is a shortage of skilled trades driving up labour prices, $5,000 is not doing much to make homeowners prioritize energy- efficiency improvements in their renovation plans. Don’t just breathe, BREATHE BETTER. As the industry leader in Indoor Air Quality systems, Lifebreath offers effective, energy efficient and Ontario Building Code compliant solutions for residential and commercial applications. To learn more about our lineup of products contact us today. lifebreath.com Visit Lifebreath.com tolearnmore! orcallusat 1-855-247-4200
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 In my opinion, if the government is truly serious about reducing green­ house gas emissions and moving to a net zero emissions society by 2050, we need some fresh and bold new ideas instead of just recycling the same old government programs. While I like the idea behind the Canada Greener Homes Grant, $5,000 feels like a drop in the bucket. I think a program like this would be more effective if it were paired with some of the concepts discussed by another fellow Better Builder contributor, Lou Bada, in the article “When Is ‘Good Enough’ Good Enough?” (see page 3). Essentially, a home with energy-efficiency mea­ sures that are not readily apparent must be looked at differently than a typical home, especially when it comes time to get a home appraisal for mort­ gage financing or refinancing. The key to this requires property appraisers to recognize that homes that provide notable savings on energy costs can also be used to offset against mortgage financing, similar to how an appraiser can take into account rent from a secondary suite against the mortgage calculations. While this may seem complicated, it really shouldn’t be difficult to implement in Canada since it’s already available to our American neighbours in their housing mar­ ket under the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. So, if I were to make one recom­ mendation to our political party leaders, it’d be this: Don’t simply focus on helping homebuyers or renters. This eventual planned shift to net zero emissions will be a challenge for all homeowners, and they will need programs in place to support them and effect meaningful change. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at deberardis@rescon.com. 11
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 Part of the reason they wanted to renovate was to maintain the home’s history and character, in an established neighbourhood; but another big part of renovating was creating a house specifically designed for their lifestyle. They’d looked at plenty of other houses that were newly and beautifully renovated, but “they just weren’t us,” David says. Finding a contractor who under­ stood the scope of the project – and was willing to create a detailed written quote – was challenging, until they came to Amedeo Barbini. “He was the only contractor who took the time to thoroughly understand what we wanted, then walked us through all the variables that went into creating the quote. We were really satisfied with his process and his transparency.” The process included a conversa­ tion with Clearsphere’s John Godden, “who took us through the workings of the home from air flow to water flow, so we’d understand not just the pretty parts but the envelope too,” Heather says. Barbini also took them through process and budget, so there were no surprises. “That made us feel secure about delivery,” Heather says. And because Barbini has worked closely with Clearsphere since 2006, he was on top of the most effective green components. After attending a seminar with Clearsphere, Barbini realized that controlling the building envelope was key to controlling the air quality. “I call it ‘stealth comfort,’” he says. “You don’t see it but experience it.” The difference lies in being aware of the latest improvements to green technology and how the components work together. “They’re not always more expensive. Effective insulation, for example, reduces the load on the HVAC and you can get away with a smaller system.” Barbini explains. One particular component the Andersons are excited about is the Greyter HOME system, which recycles water within the home by diverting “grey” shower water for use in toilets and also yard irrigation. “I love the idea of reducing our home’s consumption of water by as much as 25%. That’s huge,” Heather says. That’s not the only green item, though, because the Andersons were 13 Renovations from a Home Owner’s Perspective specialinterest / ALEX NEWMAN H eather and David Anderson, old hands at renovating homes, have just completed an ambitious project in Toronto’s tony Rosedale area. Given the potential for problems – delayed schedules and deliveries, unforeseen events such as a pandemic – you’d think they’d rather knock the whole thing down and start new. But “old gems on special lots are way more satisfying to bring back to life,” they say. Heather and David Anderson
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 14 set on creating as clean a house as possible. “From windows to the plumbing system, we’re working with a [variety of] experts to help us make the right decisions for our home and environment,” David says. Barbini lists the components: Greyter system; high-end energy- efficient fiberglass windows; ROCKWOOL insulation that provides higher R-values; an HVAC system with two different zones; and two energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) to moderate interior humidity levels. As well, the “furnace” is a modulating boiler with two air handlers: one for the first floor and basement, the other for the second and third floors. Even the basement is green, with insulated hydronically heated floors to make it more comfortable with hot water circulation through tubing, looping from the boiler and back. The only setback the Andersons experienced was COVID-19, Heather adds. While it didn’t stop the project, “the price of wood and materials skyrocketed, causing us quite a bit of concern.” One thing the Andersons have learned through this process is not to listen to the so-called home experts on TV reality shows. “Don’t trust the ‘experts’ on TV. We learned so much about the workings within the home – from the windows, to the plumbing, mechanical, insulation – by talking with real experts in the field. Take the time to make sure you learn about all the options before jumping into a renovation. There have been so many advances in the home-building industry in the past few years. They can make a difference to the health of your home and your wallet,” they say. For example, the couple was all set on spray-in insulation – instead of the ROCKWOOL they ultimately decided on – because of what they’d seen on TV. “But it’s terrible for the environment and more expensive. People think spray foam will save money, but they’re not learning best practices from those actors.” The reality is, home owners need to have trust in their general contractor when it comes to making decisions about materials and building systems. HGTV is full of stories of projects gone wrong. The big challenge is finding that renovator who will deliver on their promise of meeting goals and educating home owners about their many choices from design to project completion. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. Contact your Air Solutions Representative for more information: suppport@airsolutions.ca | 800.267.6830 Tankless just got even better. Dual venturi - provides a higher turn down ratio up to 15:1 Easy to use Set-up Wizard 2” PVC up to 75 ft. Optional NaviCirc™ - easy to install with no recirc return loop needed Better never looked so good. High efficiency up to 0.96 UEF Built in Hot Button™ on-demand system Meet the all NEW NPE-2! “Don’t trust the ‘experts’ on TV. We learned so much about the workings within the home – from the windows, to the plumbing, mechanical, insulation – by talking with real experts in the field.”
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 16 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 17 Alair Homes’ Sorauren project, winner of the Best Kitchen Renovation Under $100,000. P H OTO G R A P H Y BY J U LES LE E U N LES S OT H E R W I S E S P E C I F I E D MENIN PROJECT DESIG NED BY SHIRLE Y MEISELS OF MHOUSE INC . SOR AUREN PROJECT DESIG NED BY LINDSE Y KONIOR OF QANUK By employing a unique model that empowers its customers, Alair Homes has earned plenty of recognition. POWER TO THE PEOPLE E velynn Ratcliffe believes that by generally sticking to two fairly restrictive models, the renovation/ custom home building industry has done a disservice to its customers for many years. The partner for Alair Homes, Forest Hill, says that builders will typically offer customers one of two models: fixed price (providing customers peace of mind, budget wise, but leaving loss of transparency and little control over the finishes) or cost-plus (providing customers control over the finishes, but a high degree of uncertainty about costs). “Traditionally, clients have been forced to make that compromise and it feels like, as an industry, we’ve maybe let people down for many, many decades because there’s no reason to force somebody to choose one or the other,” Ratcliffe says. “You can in fact have both. And part of our belief system is you shouldn’t have to compromise.”
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 18 At the heart of that belief system is the Client Control™ method, which has been a major differentiator for Alair Homes, helping bag the company a boatload of awards (see “Alair’s Awards on page 21). She explains that it shouldn’t cost more to get what you’re looking for. So prior to construction, Alair takes the time to scope each client’s project on a category-by-category basis, getting as granular with the details as possible. “If we’re able to collect all that information up front and help guide you through making a decision about it, then once we’ve got that scope nailed down, I can take it to tender and get a hard price for you,” Ratcliffe says. That way, if a quote comes back too high, they explore ways to value engineer it back to a price point the customer is comfortable with. Therefore, once this process is complete, Alair is on the exact same page with the customer about precisely what’s happening – who’s doing each piece, how much each piece costs and how long each piece will take. There are no surprises. Some builders offer a similar model, but not on the scale that Alair does. In fact, the company claims it’s the only North American builder to take this approach across the board for all its projects. “I haven’t come across anybody in our industry that does this the way that we do,” she says. Then again, no one else can use the specific term “Client Control,” as Alair has trademarked it. But regardless of what you want to call it, this is an approach that Ratcliffe believes is the way of the future. “I think the whole industry has to move in this direction. Clients are becoming more savvy, [so] there’s no reason for us to be anything Back row, from left to right: Andrew Polischuk, Jamie Mckindsey, Evelynn Ratcliffe, Andrew Black, Natalia Harhaj, Cory Norris (Markham), Jose Cajiao (North York), Dan Wojcik (Mississauga), Nima Behrooz (Markham). Centre row: Amrit Singh, Mike Fallico (North York), Leyla Rajabi, Adam Bryce. Front: Marissa Lee. CLIENT CONTROL™ ROADMAP Client Control is a three phased approach to maximize certainty around what your project will cost, what you are actually going to get, and when it will be completed before we ever start construction. Project Manager Assigned Ready for Pricing Drawings (RPD) Completed Confirm Permit Viability: Local / Regional Structural Scopes Verified Against RPD Structural Hard Fixed Costs Verified Against RPD Finish Scopes Verified Against RPD Finish Hard Fixed Costs Verified Against RPD Trades Awarded Schedules Confirmed Total Cost Investment Verified: Client Approved Property or Land Secured Financing Secured Preliminary Plans Risk Analysis Complete Project Permit Viability ? Sign Construction Agreement Daily Project Management Activity Reporting Daily Trade Activity Reporting Daily Financial Reporting Weekly Client Status Meetings Warranty Management Scheduled Safety Management Maintenance
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 but transparent and provide full disclosure, because this information is readily available now.” Alair was founded in British Columbia in 2007 by Blair McDaniel to serve “a very discerning client base,” says director of market development Shane Duff. But growing this business model – while maintaining its integrity – proved difficult. “Blair faced the challenge of sustainably scaling his business without diluting the characteristics that had driven his success in the early years,” Duff explains. The solution? Alair formed a partnership with another builder, and in 2012 it developed a franchise format to replicate its model. Alair has grown to nearly 125 offices across North America, making it the largest premium custom home building and large-scale renovation/remodelling brand in the world, Duff says. He explains that it can be a chal­ lenge to locate builders and renovators that align with Alair’s philosophy, so the partner vetting process is in-depth. “Our goal is to partner with like- minded industry leaders who not only embody Alair’s core values, but also work daily to reimagine the construction experience by asking ourselves how we can help others live happier, healthier and more productive lives,” Duff says. Ratcliffe says Alair’s goal is Six Sigma-like constant, never-ending improvement, which manifests itself in three core values: 1 – Surprise and delight: “For us, it’s the opportunity to surprise people and put smiles on their faces every chance we can,” she explains. This doesn’t just mean clients; it also applies to neighbours and Alair’s trade partners and market partners, such as designers. “It requires us to act with compassion, be empathetic, really collaborate, make sure that we’re connecting with people on a more human level, getting to know our clients well enough that we can surprise and delight them.” This is something the company takes very seriously, Ratcliffe explains. In fact, each week during their internal team 19 A L A I R H O M ES F O R ES T H I LL Before (insets) and after photos of Alair Homes’ Sorauren (left) and Menin (right) projects.
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 20 with the never-ending improvement focus, with a necessary sense of self- awareness, she explains. “It requires us to understand that as great as we are, we cannot rest on our laurels.” So they are always seeking more innovative, more creative, more collaborative, faster or more cost-effective ways to do things. The curiosity part comes from a never-ending quest to learn and to be passionate about an industry that they are driven to be trailblazers in, she says. 3 – Smart, scalable and safe: Ratcliffe says this boils down to asking: “Are we making the smartest possible decisions for the problem at hand in concert with all the other decisions that need to be made?” Have they collected enough data? Is this decision being rushed? In a nutshell, this involves making sure that this “decision is not only a good one, but a scalable one” because the company believes a consistent approach is key. “Success isn’t about doing it great once; it’s about doing it great over and over and over again,” Ratcliffe says. And obviously the safe part of this focus has become particularly important during the pandemic, but Ratcliffe says this generally involves three areas: “One: Is the site safe? Are we protecting our trades? Is it free of physical hazards? Two: Is it COVID safe? Are we protecting our community and our trades? Three: Is our client’s investment safe? Are we protecting I N S E T P H OTOS BY A L A I R H O M ES F O R ES T H I LL meetings, this is the first thing they discuss as everyone has to talk about how they surprised and delighted someone that week. And part of that involves doing nice things for yourself, she adds. “We recognize that you can’t fill from an empty cup, and this is something that has become more prevalent for us because of COVID – if we’re not taking care of ourselves, we can’t take care of those around us.” Given that Alair means “cheerful” in Latin, this seems appropriate. 2 – Humble and curious: “For us, we recognize that we are really good at what we do, but there’s always room for improvement,” Ratcliffe says. So the humble piece ties in Before (insets) and after photos of the Menin exterior.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 21 ALAIR’S AWARDS Alair has won several awards over the years, most recently taking home two 2020 BILD Renovation Custom Home Awards: Best Kitchen Renovation under $100,000 (Sorauren Avenue) and Best Renovation (no addition) $250,000-$500,000 (Menin Road), which Alair has now won for two straight years. “It was awesome,” says Alair Homes, Forest Hill partner Andrew Black of the awards. “It gives us some great credibility.” For Sorauren, the clients wanted a main floor powder room that wasn’t readily visible. However, because the house wasn’t large, the room couldn’t be tucked away in a corner, so it wound up being right in the middle of the kitchen. To compensate, the room was hidden behind a wall panel that looked like an alcove pass into the dining room. “But if you push on the wall, the door opens up and there’s a bathroom in there,” Black explains. The Menin home features a “stunning” overall design, Black says. Some of the homes’ highlights include: SORAUREN • Kitchen gutted down to the masonry; • Created two larger masonry openings to allow for large windows to let in the light; • Framed and strapped all exterior walls to allow for spray foam insulation to create a tight envelope; • Levelled the floor to allow for new millwork and finishes;  • Full-height backsplash with floating shelves; • Added bar area adjacent to the kitchen by opening up an old partition to recess it into the dining room; and • Created a built-in banquet and table to maximize the functionality of the overall space. MENIN • Full gut to existing envelope down to the masonry; • Strap exterior walls and spray with two-pound closed cell insulation throughout entire home; • Triple-glaze Pella windows, entry doors and patio sliders; • Combi boiler to pick up the domestic hot water and the radiators for space heating; • SpacePak high-velocity central air conditioning; • New roofing, soffits, troughs and downspouts; • New landscaping, driveway, garage doors, garage slab; • Custom millwork throughout including the foyer, kitchen, pantry, all vanities and laundry room; and • Lighting automation with integrated sound system controlled by tablet. Menin kitchen.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 22 them in being the stewards of their investment, making sure that they are properly educated, that they’ve been given the options they need to make the decision that makes the most sense for them?” Client education is a key part of the company’s role, says Andrew Black, partner at Alair Homes, Forest Hill. “It’s hard to know what you want until you know what you can get,” he says. So during the planning phase, they act as a trusted advisor to guide clients through every step. “We want to make sure we can identify what the scope is and educate the client why we’re doing these types of scopes of work and what we’re putting into these scopes of work and why, so they can make a more informed decision on every component, all the way from demo to the final paint stroke,” Black says. He explains that because there are often several ways to tackle a specific project task, in an effort to manage the client’s expectations of the final product, they will walk through all the ramifications of each choice. They will explain why one option is more expensive and the overall impact it will have, comparatively, and the difference in terms of how the house will perform. As a result, clients are empowered to make an educated choice. “We want to make sure we educate them so they understand exactly what the outcome will be based on their decisions now,” Black says. What’s that? A builder taking responsibility for client education? That’s a dream come true for us (see “Back to School” in the fall 2019 issue, page 16). Small wonder Alair has been winning over its customers and industry experts alike. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca craftfloor.com CRAFT is dedicated to creating uncommonly beautiful wood floors that are as kind to the planet as they are luxurious. SHOP AND SAMPLE NOW: 1 Shown here: craftfloor.com/gradara
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 24 industrynews / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ M ore and more Canadian consumers are choosing to invest money into buying or building low-carbon, high- performance homes. They’re doing this for a number of reasons: reducing their carbon footprint, saving money on their energy bills, ensuring the comfort and health of their families, and choosing a better-built, “future- proofed” home that will stand the test of time. These homes cost more money to build than Code-built ones. When it comes time for financing or selling, should they not be appraised at a higher value? This writer and his wife built a high-performance home back in 2000. Although it has surpassed our expectations in terms of comfort and energy costs, the price of labour and materials for its energy- saving features at the time were astronomical: specifically, the custom-made triple-glazed windows and doors that were virtually unheard of, the superior levels of insulation in the exterior walls and ceilings, and double drywall on every wall and ceiling in the house (for “thermal mass”). When it came time to refinance our mortgage and have our home appraised, all of the original investment “inside the walls” was not taken into account in setting a value. In the United States, the Appraisal Institute (AI) and RESNET (the Residential Energy Services Network, established to develop a national market for home energy rating systems) have worked together to train real estate appraisers about the value of energy-efficient features in homes. The result is a set of critical tools and appraisal form tick boxes that allow appraisers to make proper comparisons and adjustments to appraisal valuations, based on guidance for homes that are better quality, more durable and energy efficient. The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum in an appraisal is used in the U.S. when a mortgage is underwritten, so that buyers can qualify for larger loans and sellers can ask for a higher selling price. The rationale is twofold: (1) a future- proofed home that is more durable and less costly to run and (2) savings on energy costs that could also be used to pay down financing more quickly. Unfortunately, this appraisal addendum does not yet exist in Canada, leaving appraisers and lending institutions mostly unaware of its financial benefits. A new federal government program called the Canada Greener Homes Grant (administered by Natural Resources Canada) is currently offering homeowners funds for home evaluations and retrofits, to a total of $5,600. Homeowners are eligible for up to $600 for the cost of pre- and post- retrofit EnerGuide evaluations, and up to $5,000 for the implementation of eligible retrofits such as insulation and airsealing of windows and doors. Meanwhile, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is offering a refund of up to 25% on its mortgage loan insurance premium when someone buys or builds an energy-efficient home or buys an existing home and makes energy- saving renovations. Low-Carbon Homes: Are They Worth It? ADAPTED FROM COSTAR.COM / UPLOADEDFILES/JOSRE /JOURNALPDFS/ 11 . 221 _ 248. PDF Green Premium and Brown Discount Appraisal Valuations GREEN PREMIUM • Demand for green • Sufficient supply of green buildings • High-quality asset • Premium value assignment BROWN DISCOUNT • High deferred maintenance-energy operating costs • Low-quality asset • Declining regional markets EARLY ADAPTER MID ADAPTER L ATE ADAPTER 2013 2014–2016 TIPPING POINT Critical Mass Mortgage Write-Downs
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 These initiatives are clear indica­ tors of both consumers and govern­ ments open to reducing the carbon footprint of homes and helping save money on energy bills. They also strongly suggest that the market here in Canada would support higher appraisals based on the building qual­ ity and energy efficiency of a home. While the federal government grant seems to be a good solution for promoting energy-efficient housing, like other government programs, it never really impacts the market­ place and it creates problems with fraud. It is also a short-term solution to a long-term problem. This $5,000 grant means homeowners are really just getting their own tax dollars back. Letting them keep their money through a tax credit and expanding their borrowing potential from finan­ cial institutions would serve all in the long term by building infrastructure. This system can stand alone without government intervention. The recognition of the value of low-carbon homes by appraisers, banks and real estate agents is a long- term solution which does not involve tax dollars. Government grants actually hinder the creation of this market-based solution by obstructing the building of an infrastructure in the marketplace that helps people borrow. Ideally, the market should finance what is really needed. The question is how to make it happen. Ottawa builder Campanale Homes, an early adopter of the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), is committed to building high-quality, low- carbon homes, and would like to see appraisers and banks recognizing their value. According to contracts manager Tim Campanale, appraising with HERS and other energy-efficient standards has been a challenge. “It’s hard getting appraisers to understand and banks to enforce,” says Campanale. “Here’s an opportunity for homeowners to value their homes higher, and they should be able to qualify for a higher mortgage – maybe $10,000 to $15,000 more – because their monthly operating costs are lower. Canada is one of the most indebted countries in the world. Our money is all spent on making payments. It’s time to change the marketplace and get banks on board.” According to Campanale, HERS homes are getting more prevalent in the Ottawa region, although they are still competing with their Code-built counterparts. As a real estate business as well as a homebuilder, Campanale Homes deals with people looking to purchase resales of its existing homes. “The first thing people look at is the kitchen, but we’re always promoting green things, focusing on what’s better than Code – what’s inside that can save them $1,000 per year down the road.” 25 519-489-2541 airsealingpros.ca As energy continues to become a bigger concern, North American building codes and energy programs are moving towards giving credit for and/or requiring Airtightness testing. AeroBarrier, a new and innovative envelope sealing technology, is transforming the way residential, multifamily, and commercial buildings seal the building envelope. AeroBarrier can help builders meet any level of airtightness required, in a more consistent and cost-effective way. Take the guesswork out of sealing the envelope with AeroBarrier’s proprietary technology. Government grants actually hinder the creation of this market-based solution by obstructing the building of an infrastructure in the marketplace that helps people borrow.
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 26 “We’re working on banks and appraisers to get them on board in recognizing the value of low-carbon homes,” says Campanale. “There’s the Green Energy Money Concept for them to consider. Banks can defer future risk and have a guarantee that the home they are financing will not be obsolete in the future (versus a Code-built home). The home’s value will increase every year, and energy savings can be used by borrowers to pay down their mortgage.” A second concept which makes sense for apprais­ ing high-performance homes is future proofing, Campanale adds. “You need to consider the exponen­ tial value of utility rates: water, electricity and gas,” he says. “As an example, a greywater system costs about $5,000 to install. It will save you 30% on your water bill, which equals about $150 per year. Over the next years, as water rates go up – and they inevitably will – you will be saving money for the rest of your life. You’re spending money now to save money tomorrow.” This begs the question: with Canada currently in a housing affordability crisis, wouldn’t a house that actually pays for itself be part of the solution? Campanale believes that the key to getting appraisers and banks on board is knowledge. “Banks recognize government programs like ENERGY STAR. We need to get them to push appraisers, real estate agents and even municipalities who don’t realize the value of low-carbon homes on adopting the green attributes of homes into their valuations,” he says. “The Appraisal Institute of Canada needs to start mandating a calculation – something not too complicated that will satisfy all its members.” “We’ve started the conversation with our bank,” says Campanale. “But it will take the collaboration of everyone – not just our company – to make this happen. And, most of all, we need to get the big builders to buy into the value of the idea.” BB Marc Huminilowycz is a senior writer. He lives and works in a low-energy home built in 2000. As such, he brings first-hand experience to his writing on technology and residential housing and has published numerous articles on the subject.  AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 28 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF The Sustainable Housing Foundation’s 13th annual Green Builder Challenge™ Golf Tournament was held on Satur­ day, June 12th at Flemingdon Park Golf Club. Seven teams teed off for a socially distanced best-ball round of nine holes on a beautiful, sunny day. The history of the tournament dates back to John Godden’s 50th birthday, when he challenged his green builder clients and friends to build 50 homes that were 50% more efficient. It became known as the “Green is 50” challenge. They celebrated by holding a golf tournament, which has now become an annual event and a fundraiser for the work of the Sustainable Housing Foundation (SHF). This year’s COVID-19 restrictions posed another barrier in that the tournament was held on a Saturday and numbers were limited. The golf course owners accommodated our need to socially distance and provided an early dinner outside and a drinks cart so that players could participate without compromising their distance. As a golfer and SHF Board member, Christian Rinomato commented, “It was an amazing event. It brought together like-minded people in an intimate and fun setting to build sus­ tainable relationships. I had a blast!” BB T H E W I N N E R S O F T H I S Y E A R ’ S P R I Z E S W E R E : WOMEN’S LONGEST DRIVE Liz Cameron BEST FOURSOME Paul Duffy’s Team MEN’S LONGEST DRIVE Scott Bullock CLOSEST TO THE HOLE John Godden MOST HONEST FOURSOME Heathwood Team From left: Scott Bullock, Richard Lyall, Paul Duffy and Antony Zanini. From left: Dominic Conforti, Frank Muto (Rodeo Team) and Paul Lowes. From left: Tino Iamundo, Tony DiClemente, Karlee Vincent and Christian Rinomato. From left: Chris Watt, Anthony Martelli, Kevin Watt and Doug Dailey. GREEN BUILDER CHALLENGE
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 29 M A N Y T H A N K S T O T H E S P O N S O R S O F T H I S Y E A R ’ S C H A L L E N G E RenewABILITY’s drain water heat recovery innovation. The X2-48 can be used for grey water systems. Team Heathwood, from left: Rocco Longo, Silvio Longo, Howard Cohen and Matthew Solomon. Team RESCON, from left: Grant Cameron, Liz Cameron, Aonghus Kealy and Travis Schiller. Dan Murphy, Nick Samavarchian, Rod Buchalter and John Godden Scott Bullock was the winner of the longest drive AND the best ride.
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 30 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY That being said, harmonizing the Ontario Building Code (OBC) with the NBC is more easily said than done. There are several areas where the OBC is, or has been, more advanced than its national counterpart. Take renovations, for instance. Part 11 of the OBC has very detailed guidance to follow when undertaking a renovation and, depending on the level of work and occupancy type, different rules apply. Because of the shift to looking at harmonization, there isn’t really anything new being discussed for the OBC. If anything, it would appear that the NBC will be looking to the OBC for direction. That creates a situation where there isn’t really an engagement framework for considering potential Code changes provincially. The recent tornado in Barrie and the community’s demand for answers may not have any place for the work to go, unless the Ontario Government decides to backtrack on its position (more on the Barrie tornado fallout a bit later). So where does this leave renova­ tors in relation to Code changes? For the moment, there is not much to report on, as there is no OBC process happening. So, I checked in with Frank Lohmann at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. Frank was able to provide me with an update on what is happening nationally. A policy-level review was con­ ducted, which produced a report1 for the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC). This report was approved, along with the go-ahead on the resulting action items, in April 2020. While the approach has been approved, the CCBFC has not approved specific work by specific standing committees on this. Here is a summary of the recommended approach: • It will be a separate part in each Code (except for the Fire Code, which already applies to existing buildings). • These parts will describe the application of current Code requirements to existing buildings (much like the International Code Council code for existing buildings). • Harmonization with Ontario’s and Quebec’s existing parts on renovation will be a high priority. • It is not going to be called “retrofit” as it is not retroactive. • Requirements are “voluntary.” This means they will apply to renovations/alterations (whenever they happen), but requirements will not be mandatory where renovations/alterations are not planned. • Aside from an “exempt” level, requirements will be categorized into “minor” and “major” alterations, each with a different requirement profile. So where does this leave us moving forward? Again, from Frank: Next Phase (Now to 2025) • The next phase of the work will be done by a Joint Task Group (JTG) between CCBFC and the Provincial/ Territorial Policy Advisory Committee on Codes (PTPACC). This format is like the previous one that delivered the report and is being chaired by Tom Cochren. • The JTG will work on the technical questions and which current Code requirements should apply to renos. • Standing committees will study the proposed approach and scope out what they need to work on in their respective disciplines. • The new JTG will provide support to all standing committees while they work out the details (for example, whether new objectives are needed or if other policy questions show up). • Overall, this task was given high priority and energy efficiency is the first subject being worked on. • The goal is to produce requirements for the 2025 Codes. Future Code Changes and Renovations T he Government of Ontario, under Premier Ford, made the decision early in their mandate that harmonization with the National Building Code (NBC) would be their key policy direction. As such, there has been very little in the way of Code changes being considered at the provincial level. There is growing support from all levels of government in Canada and around the world to improve the energy performance of the built environment.
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 • This will be a major effort for standing committees during this Code cycle by all committees. • The JTG meetings will be public. • The first phase of the work will end in 2022 with another round of consultation with CCBFC and provinices and territories (to make sure they are okay with the exact harmonized approach, etc.) Following are two key highlights from the report that give a flavour of the direction being taken. Energy efficiency as a starting point “Environment” is just one of 5 code objectives. There are 4 other objectives to consider as well – and they all need to be considered holistically. For example, improving the structural protection of a building to withstand a seismic event could diminish its energy efficiency because of the effects of thermal bridging. Likewise, improving the energy efficiency of a building through exterior cladding could have an impact on fire safety so – depending on the materials used – additional precautions may be needed. While all code objectives need to be considered, alterations that improve the energy efficiency of buildings have become the driving force behind this initiative. Canada signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement and must regularly report on its progress towards meeting its commitments. There is growing support from all levels of government in Canada and around the world to improve the energy performance of the built environment in light of the Paris Climate Agreement commitments. The resulting Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change describes several goals with respect to the built environment and a specific goal with respect to existing buildings: “Develop a model code for existing buildings to help guide energy efficiency improvements during renovations, with the goal that all provinces and territories adopt it.” Sustainability It is important to consider the big picture when introducing any regulation, and this is particularly important with respect to alterations to existing buildings. There are many factors that affect overall sustainability beyond reducing the operational energy (i.e. energy efficiency) of a building – the carbon intensity of buildings is one such factor. Although carbon is currently not addressed through any of the code objectives, this subject could be re-visited if there is provincial/ territorial consensus that carbon should be addressed in the codes. What does this mean for renova­ tors? The report is signalling that we have to look beyond energy consump­ tion (operational carbon) and begin to account for embodied carbon. That’s the carbon footprint of the products we use in our construction and renovations. It can seem daunting to consider, but here is a very basic rule of thumb guide to get you started: if it grows, or has a high recycled content and you use it in your project (sustainable forest wood, hemp and blown cellulose insulation), then it should reduce your carbon footprint by storing the carbon the plant took out of the atmosphere. If it is mined and processed (concrete and steel), then it will increase your carbon 31 Hurricane clip (left) and screw detail (install from outside of wall). The report is signal­ ling that we have to look beyond energy consumption (operational carbon) and begin to account for embodied carbon.
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 32 footprint. Increasing the former while decreasing the latter will get you on your way to a reduced carbon footprint. However, while decarbonization of our projects is an effort to mitigate climate change, climate-resilient construction is an acknowledgement that the climate is already changing rapidly, and we must also address making our buildings more resilient, such as being able to keep the roof on during a tornado. While municipalities look to increase the climate resiliency of new buildings, there is growing discussion that some type of retrofit rebate program might be needed in order to increase the durability of our buildings. Traditional thinking has always been that we need to hold the roof up. Climate-resilient construction seeks to hold the roof down. What can we do? Remove the sof­ fits and, if there is exterior insulation and/or a weather-resistant barrier, pull these aside temporarily at each truss/rafter bottom cord to top plate connection. Then install either a hurricane clip or applicable engineered screw (Simpson Strong- Tie has an applicable six-inch screw for this application) and then replace the insulation and weather-resistant barrier before reinstalling the soffits. If there is a gable overhand that is scabbed on, then use a hurricane tie to better connect it to the gable wall. It’s a bit of a tedious task, but missing rafter toe nails or scabbed on gables are highly suspect in a high-wind event and, if you lose your roof, then the house is headed for the landfill and that’s not reducing your carbon footprint. I see this as a good business opportunity for renovators to provide homeowners with a greater sense of security and hopefully create some goodwill for our industry. This issue can be tackled regardless of what government decides if, or when, they address the issue within the Building Code framework. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.   1 https://nrc.canada.ca/sites/default/files/2020- 07/final_report_alterations_to_existing_ buildings_joint_CCBFC_PTPACC_task.pdf Traditional thinking has always been that we need to hold the roof up. Climate-resilient construction seeks to hold the roof down.
  33. 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 39 | AUTUMN 2021 Trailblazer Matt Risinger Builder and building science expert COMFORTBOARD™ has received ICC-ES validated product acceptance as continuous insulation for multiple applications. For more information visit rockwool.com/comfortboard Continuous stone wool insulation that improves thermal performance Trailblazing requires confidence, expertise and a desire to do things right. Matt Risinger uses non-combustible, vapor-permeable and water-repellent COMFORTBOARD™ to help wall assemblies dry to the outside, keeping clients comfortable inside. It cuts down on heat loss and improves energy efficiency so that what you build today positively impacts your business tomorrow. 3773
  34. 34. Readytoplanyournextproject? Visitenbridgegas.com/savingsbydesign to learn more. High-performance homes cost less to operate, are more comfortable and have lower environmental impact. The Savings by Design Residential program can help you design with efficiency in mind. Buildhomes thatoutperform Why participate? Collaboration with sustainable design experts. A day-long workshop to explore design solutions. Real-time energy modelling of your designs. Financial incentives, post-construction. Enbridge Gas offers financial incentives, energy modelling, and time with green building experts — * HST is not applicable and will not be added to incentive payments. Terms and conditions apply. To be eligible for the Savings by Design Residential program, projects must be located in the former Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. service area. Visit enbridgegas.com/savingsbydesign for details. © 2021 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved.

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