Successfully reported this slideshow.

Better Builder Magazine, Issue 40 / Winter 2021

0

Share

Loading in …3
×
1 of 36
1 of 36

Better Builder Magazine, Issue 40 / Winter 2021

0

Share

Download to read offline

Description

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.

Transcript

  1. 1. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 FUTURE PROOFING INSIDE Country Homes’ Low Carbon Demonstration Home Occupant Behaviour Counting Carbon Energy Smarts at Home Carbon Reduction Disruption CHALLENGES IN CO2e REDUCTION
  2. 2. www.airmaxtechnologies.com T 905-264-1414 Prioritizing your comfort while providing energy savings Canadian Made Manufactured by Glow Brand Manufacturing 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 arefully modulating at 10 to 1 and 2 inch PVC venting up to 100 feet. Brand TM ENDLESS ON-DEMAND HOT WATER Models C95 & C140 Glow Brand C95 and C140 instantaneous combination ASME boilers for heating and on-demand
  3. 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 16 1 FEATURE STORY 16 Behavioural Studies New technology may help address the next hurdle in energy efficiency: occupant behaviour. by Rob Blackstien 3 ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. Cover: iStock. 13 9 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Occupant Behaviour: The Low-hanging Fruit by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Plant-based Housing or Low-hanging Fruit? by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 6 What Counts When Counting Carbon by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 Futureproofing Benchmarking Emerging Technologies with the Super- Semi Discovery Project by Paul De Berardis SITE SPECIFIC 13 Heating Design The Unsung Hero of Energy Efficiency by Alex Newman INDUSTRY NEWS 20 Saving Energy at Home It’s Really Up to the Occupant by Marc Huminilowycz INDUSTRY EXPERT 22 Wiser Energy Empowering Homeowners to be Smarter by Marc Huminilowycz INDUSTRY EXPERT 27 Combi Systems CSA B214:21 Installation Code for Hydronic Heating Systems Update by Brian Jackson FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Are You Ready for Industry (Carbon Reduction) Disruption? by Doug Tarry
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Occupant Behaviour: The Low-hanging Fruit 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. “Nothing ever comes off exactly as intended ... and yet, the fallacy of overinflated agency has proven to be incredibly resilient.” — Ivana Milojevic O ld habits die hard, and simple thinking is responsible for many of the problems in the world. When I think about climate issues, the elephant in the room is that there are too many humans using finite resources in inappropriate ways. It’s not really a technical issue; it’s a behavioural one. When I turn my thoughts to housing, I feel the biggest unaddressed issue is occupant behaviour. 52% of the energy consumed in a new code house is occupant driven. How does it make sense to cover a roof with carbon-intensive solar panels when the people inside are consuming too much energy? How does it make sense for the house to use more carbon operationally than it did to build it? This issue features the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project (page 16). The project monitors a high-performance, low-carbon, natural gas house side by side with a Net Zero-modelled, balanced-energy, electrically heated house. The key to this comparison is the use of a home energy monitoring system (HEMS) to compare and monitor the impact of the occupants’ own energy consumption on both houses. Another objective is to assess the hybrid approach on the low-carbon side, which uses natural gas wisely with combination hybrid heating. A right-sized tankless domestic hot water heater (TDHWH) provides primary space and hot water heating, supplemented with an air source heat pump (ASHP) powered by off-peak electricity. There are no solar panels, but there are 11 kilowatt hours of off-peak battery storage that can provide backup during a power failure. On page 3, Lou Bada provides a pragmatic approach to identifying practical futureproofing strategies in the place of lofty net zero goals. Meanwhile, Gord Cooke examines the details of the other carbon-smart approaches and evaluates them based on carbon counting (page 6). And on page 9, Paul De Berardis shares with us important government policy to get gasoline cars off the road. He further expands on the importance of the Super-Semi Discovery Project for finally getting to the bottom of whether net zero is a worthwhile goal. Lastly, Doug Tarry provides us with an example of “the fallacy of overinflated agency” on page 30. He encourages us to be smarter with our window choices. The old thinking was that we needed the sun to heat our houses only in the winter. Now, those windows must also help us reduce air conditioning loads in the summer, which are increasing every year. Let’s approach the new year with a new mindset that will help us see our challenges holistically. A hybrid approach, where there is more than one energy solution, coupled with engaged occupants through homeowner education, can take us closer to our future goals of minimizing carbon emissions. Monitoring and measuring is the best way to find the truth about our past assumptions. Please join me on the journey. Happy new year! BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Another question: do we invest in the production and distribution of electricity, or do we make the massive investments needed to mitigate the effects of climate change? I assume we do both (lest we forget health care, education, child care…). At the moment, I still subscribe to the economic theory of “the scarcity of resources.” I know, I know: the sun has infinite energy. But we still haven’t completely figured out a way to heat I get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear someone talking about “zero-carbon housing.” I mean, conceptually I get it: eliminate fossil fuel use and use clean electricity for your home to eliminate operational carbon and minimize the embodied carbon to build the home. Then offset the balance of embodied carbon with a price on carbon for the concrete, steel and other materials that we use to build it – I guess? Maybe? It’s like me proposing “plant- based housing” – sounds good, but how do we make it work? I am circumspect of the notion of “zero-carbon housing” without answers to a lot of questions. My first question: why not do something we know actually works now, rather than strive for something not well understood? You may say “do both,” but I believe one distracts from the other. In our industry, if we propose a new housing development, we are required to study the infrastructure available to support it before we get approvals (sewers, water, roads, transit, emergency services, schools, energy, etc.). Not enough infrastruc- ture means no approvals. On the surface, this makes sense (without getting too deep, we pay huge devel- opment charges for infrastructure). In order to have the clean electrifica- tion of housing and transportation, we need a massive investment in the infrastructure for the production, transmission and storage of clean electricity. Currently, 28% of Ontario’s grid-installed energy comes from natural gas/oil, which is used mostly for times of peak demand.1 everyone’s home with it on a cold Jan­ uary night while charging our electric vehicles with renewable energy alone. If we are going to make inroads into first reducing energy consump­ tion, with the hope of having an electrical system that can eventually support electrification, we need to be flexible in our thinking. We have to be less dogmatic in eliminating natural gas from home heating until we are much further along in using renewables. 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA Plant-based Housing or Low-hanging Fruit? BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 1 Source: Reliability Outlook, released September 2021, updated quarterly. If we are going to make inroads into first reducing energy consump­ tion, with the hope of having an electrical system that can eventually support electrification, we need to be flexible in our thinking. ISTOCKPHOTO
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 They can use less electricity and/or load shift to off-peak times. John Godden has described the power-saving advantages of a hybrid HRV/ERV for ventilation by decoupling the ventilator from the furnace fan. The discovery homes in Milton will be monitored during occupancy to document real-world data. Using some natural gas will provide a great bridge fuel until we can solve some of our infrastructure shortcomings and accommodate the wave of electric cars coming our way. As for “plant-based housing,” we may have to wait just a while longer for the “impossible home,” but I’m sure someone’s working on it as we speak. In the meantime, let’s do what we can actually do to get us a little closer to our laudable goals. BB Lou Bada is vice- president of low-rise construction at Starlane Home Corporation and on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The use of combination water and home heating appliances, coupled with an electric heat pump, just make sense. An in-home battery storage system as an option can do a great job of evening out peak demand on our electrical grid and provide some back-up power if needed. Addressing occupant behaviour is important when we consider occupant loads. Sensors monitoring electrical consumption make sense. Information is powerful when it comes to power consumption. Consumers can make smart choices when occupying their home and save some money when the cost of electricity inevitably increases. Currently, 52% of a home’s opera­ ting energy comes from occupancy loads (see chart at right). I recently visited Country Homes’ two discovery homes in Milton for two approaches to building a next generation of homes (great job, by the way). One was a Canadian Home Builders’ Association Net-Zero home (all electric) and the other was a HERS Index home (a hybrid gas system). To compare and contrast side-by-side homes is a great way to assess the impact of different building methods. I think the hybrid heating system makes the most sense at this time, and it allows us to start the journey to better solutions by picking the low-hanging fruit. Some ideas (I stole) from my visit include: • Builders could review their offerings to express them in a sustainability checklist that could be used with the municipality. • Install a combination heating system for any size house. Studies and research reveal a 20% reduction in natural gas usage. • Help homeowners reduce their electricity costs by using a home monitoring system (HEMS) like the Schneider Wiser Electric system installed by Country Homes. • Use off-peak electricity for supplemental space heating, an air source heat pump or a battery storage system. • Use a hybrid heat recovery ventilator (HRV)/energy recovery ventilator (ERV) installation to reduce electricity required for ventilation distribution. 4 41% 11% 48% PACKAGE AI 2017 @ 3.0 ACH  ENVELOPE AND VENTILATION HEAT LOSS  AIR CONDITIONING AND LIGHTING AND APPLIANCES  DOMESTIC HOT WATER OCCUPANT LOADS ACCOUNT FOR 52% OF ENERGY USE Sensors monitoring electrical consumption make sense. Consumers can make smart choices when occupying their home and save some money when the cost of electricity inevitably increases.
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Learn more at  PanasonicBreatheWell.com Create spaces for living, feeling and breathing well. Build with air in mind.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 6 industryexpert / GORD COOKE It would be presumptuous to imagine this one article could provide answers to navigate the rough waters ahead. However, a short primer on charting carbon, the important new metric, should help guide builders and their supply partners start down the right path. In the homebuilding industry in the next decade, the focus will be on two carbon counts: 1) the carbon emissions from the production of the building materials used (sometimes called the embodied carbon or the mat­ erial carbon emissions [MCE]) and 2) the carbon emissions from the operation of a home (the opera­ tional carbon emissions [OCE]). Much like the choices in energy modelling software, there is already a selection of software carbon calcu­ lators. Each of these calculators relies on energy modelling predictions, such as those produced by software like HOT2000 or HERS software, to calcu­late the OCE. For the material emis­ sions, the industry is slowly building a database for the hundreds of com­ ponents that are part of the complex makeup of even simple houses. Every industry supply partner’s 2022 “To Do” list must include calculating and declaring the carbon emissions for their products. The Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is becoming a must-have for every manufacturer. For example, leading insulation manufacturers, the forest products industry and even the leading cement manufacturers already have detailed reporting and calculators available for the embodied carbon implications for their products. For many other products, there are estimates and defaults available from the committed carbon researchers who have developed carbon calculators. When doing a comprehensive carbon calculation for a home, it becomes very clear, very quickly that the embodied carbon of single- family homes is dominated by three or four products or components. First comes the concrete used for footings, foundations and slabs. Second is insulation: both cavity insulation and continuous insulation in attics, exterior walls and basements. Third is windows and the glass within them. Fourth, drywall and cladding choices also have a significant impact. For example, we just completed a carbon analysis for a client on a 2,770 square foot single-detached home. The concrete elements for the home – footings, foundation walls and slabs, including the garage – accounted for 14.5 tonnes of embodied carbon, and this represented 35% of the total calculated 41.4 tonnes of embodied carbon for this home. By comparison, the embodied carbon of a 1,390 square foot townhome we assessed for another client was just 23.3 tonnes, and the concrete elements accounted for 44% of that embodied carbon. The chart (see facing page) summarizes the major carbon contributors associated with the construction of these two homes. — Now turn your attention to the carbon impacts related to the operation of these homes built in 2022, year after year after year. Let’s assume the two homes above are both built to the current Ontario Building Code SB-12 energy efficiency requirements and assume that space and domestic hot water heating are provided by natural gas appliances. A common energy model – such as one produced from HOT2000 or HERS software – will predict the annual energy use for a home. In the table, you can see that the detached home operational carbon impact is 3.6 tonnes per year and the interior townhome unit’s operational T here has been no shortage of reminders in the news this year of the three crises that are affecting society as a whole, but our housing industry specifically: the pandemic, the housing shortage (resulting in an affordability crunch) and climate change. The confluence of these issues in the context of the housing sector presents challenging dilemmas. For example, a recent report by the Smart Prosperity Institute and funded in part by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association projects that one million new homes will need to be built in Ontario over the next decade to keep up with population growth and movement under current policies. Contrast that with Canada’s recent commitment at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to cut carbon emissions by 40% to 45% over that same next decade and get to zero carbon by 2050. Then, add the material and labour shortages highlighted by the pandemic that are likely to affect our industry for at least the near term. What Counts When Counting Carbon
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 carbon impact is 1.9 tonnes per year. Notice too that by that important 2030 target, the accumulated opera­ tional carbon for both homes equals approximately 70% of the initial embodied carbon. With the base calculation of both the embodied and operational carbon completed, there is now an opportu­ nity to find the most convenient and cost-effective approach to reducing the carbon impact of the one million homes that need to be built over the next 10 years. Starting with the oper­ ational carbon, it should be no surprise to builders who are familiar with the outputs from the energy models used for permit application that over 50% of the energy used to operate that detached home goes to space heating, provided by a high-efficiency natural gas furnace. A deeper dive shows that 24% of that space heating load is associated with unwanted air leakage and 28% is lost via conduction through the exterior walls. The new emphasis on carbon will direct you to concentrate first on airtightness. Improving the airtight­ ness to 1.0 air changes per hour at 50 Pascal will simultaneously: • reduce operational carbon by 0.6 tonnes per year; • reduce the design heat loss of the house by at least 6,000 BTUs per hour so as to allow a downsizing of the furnace and heat pump; and • reduce annual energy bills without impacting the embodied carbon. Moreover, new technologies, such as the AeroBarrier airsealing process, ensure airtightness can be achieved without design or process changes. To be clear, additional exterior wall insulation will undoubtedly be required in all houses by 2050. However, in the next eight to 10 years, it is important to reduce operational carbon with as little impact to embodied carbon as possible. Indeed, let’s think about three easy and cost-effective strategies that can be implemented in 2022 – specifically in Ontario, where the demand for new homes is still so strong. First, call your concrete supplier and ask for a mix that includes 30% to 40% fly-ash or other supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs). All major suppliers appear to be ready to provide this option at no or very modest additional cost. On the detached home above, this rather sim­ ple change would reduce the embodied carbon by as much as 2.5 tonnes. Next, substitute an air source heat pump for a traditional air conditioner and provide your homeowner with one of the new smart thermostats that optimizes a dual fuel approach to heating. Use the natural gas furnace only during extremely cold periods or 7 SINGLE DETACHED HOME (2,770 ft2) TOWNHOME (1,390 ft2) INTERIOR UNIT TOTAL EMBODIED CARBON 41.4 CARBON- EQUIVALENT TONNES (CO2e) 23.3 CO2e CONCRETE 14.5 CO2e 10.3 CO2e CLADDING 3.5 CO2e — BRICK 0.39 CO2e — SIDING WINDOWS 3.1 CO2e 1.93 CO2e INSULATION 4.98 CO2e 2.81 CO2e DRYWALL 4.22 CO2e 4.07 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON PER YEAR 3.6 CO2e 1.92 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON OVER EIGHT YEARS 28.8 CO2e 15.36 CO2e CO2e is a term for describing different greenhouse gases in a common unit. For any quantity and type of greenhouse gas, CO2e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming impact. The carbon equivalent for a specific product or system includes the inputs of all materials, manufacturing processes and even transportation and installation impacts. For the operational carbon, consideration is given to how electricity is generated and the makeup of the natural gas for each local market. For example, the Ontario electrical grid is fed from a combination of hydroelectric, nuclear, wind and natural gas- powered generation. This mix is included in the operational carbon calculation.
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 when the price of electricity is at peak pricing. This can reduce operational carbon by as much as 1.4 tonnes without increasing embodied carbon or operating costs for the homeowner. Finally, when combined with the airtightness improvement, the total operational reduction is 2.0 tonnes per year. The table above summarizes the total impact of these three rather simple and cost-effective measures: three phone calls to your concrete supplier, your HVAC contractor and the air sealing professionals. The result is a 42% reduction between now and 2030, nicely aligned with our national commitment for a 40% to 45% reduction by that important target date. While carbon counting may seem like a complex process, in fact there are already resources and strategies available for immediate action. Do it now, while it counts. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. CURRENT SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE SINGLE DETACHED HOME NEW SPECIFICATIONS: • CONCRETE WITH FLY-ASH • ACH50 AIRTIGHTNESS • HEAT PUMP EMBODIED CARBON 41.4 CO2e 39 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON PER YEAR 3.6 CO2e 1.6 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON OVER EIGHT YEARS 28.8 CO2e 12.8 CO2e TOTAL CARBON BY 2030 70.2 CO2e 40.8 CO2e 8 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 40 | WINTER 2021 R egular readers of Better Builder may recall my summer 2021 article, where I raised some concerns with respect to embodied carbon and the future of high- performance homebuilding. In the article, I introduced a project that RESCON has been following. One of our builder members, Christian Rinomato – who is a passionate sustainability advocate with Country Homes – has an interesting initiative underway in Milton. The Super-Semi Discovery Project involves two semi-detached homes, each with their own innovative building techniques to best support environmental efficiency and sustainability. Each home will use its own energy advisor and receive third- party verification: one under the Net Zero program developed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and the other under the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score to produce a low-carbon and cost- efficient home. The performance of both homes will be measured and compared as families occupy each semi for one year, with statistics extrapolated and interpreted for long- term analysis. Through this year-long endeavour, Country Homes hopes to gain impor­ tant insights into how to optimize homebuilding techniques and build sustainable homes for the future. Some of the key highlights and differences between the two semi- detached homes are that the Net Zero home employs a roof-mounted solar array and uses solely electricity for the separate heat pump-based space and hot water heating systems. By contrast, the other semi with a HERS score of 38 uses a combination heat system, where a natural gas-fired condensing tankless water heater provides domestic hot water for the home as well as powers the hydronic air handler, thereby eliminating the need for a separate furnace and hot water heater. The HERS semi is also equipped with a Panasonic EverVolt home battery storage solution, whereby the lithium-ion battery can be optimized to store power during the cheapest off-peak time of use (TOU) to provide peak shaving during 9 Futureproofing Benchmarking Emerging Technologies with the Super-Semi Discovery Project industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS Country Homes’ Christian Rinomato, Head of Sustainability (left), and Corey McBurney, Managing Director, Sustainability, at the Super-Semi Discovery Project in Milton. SO PH I E R I N O M ATO
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 10 the highest on-peak TOU rates, while also providing the added feature of backup power during outages. A key differentiator with the Net Zero home is that it obviously generates no operational carbon as it relies on electricity for all space and water heating, whereas the HERS semi still uses one gas-fired appliance for combination heat. What really makes this comparison project interesting is that both homes will be occupied for one year and the utilities will be monitored. At the time of writing this article, the semi-detached homes were just completed, and I was able to tour and see these technologies installed and operating in these homes. Without getting into too much pricing detail, the Net Zero home added approximately $50,000 in premiums above what a similar Code- built house would have cost, and the HERS 38 home came in right about half of that, at roughly $15,000 in extras. Most of this cost is the battery storage system. Obviously, the big-ticket item which contributed to notable cost diff­ erences between the two semis was the solar panel array in the Net Zero home. With construction now complete and the final costs tabulated, a detailed payback period and cost-benefit analysis will be compiled based on the utility costs over the next year of occupancy in each home. I look forward to seeing how this plays out and what level of greenhouse gas emission reductions we will see in the HERS semi versus the utility savings in the Net Zero home, all benchmarked against the costs. As part of this pilot project, Christian will also What really makes this comparison project interesting is that both homes will be occupied for one year and the utilities will be monitored.
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 give his insight into the necessary collaboration with the energy raters, designers and trades who all worked to facilitate this project, highlighting any challenges or obstacles that had to be overcome. The focus of this winter edition of Better Builder is on futureproofing, and this happens to be a timely issue as the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project was just completed in Milton. The two different strategies in the project will provide a lot of useful information over the next year to the production homebuilding industry which constructs housing for the homebuying masses. As regulatory requirements and building codes push housing to achieve increased levels of energy efficiency and emissions reductions, emerging technologies – such as those employed in the Country Homes project – will likely become more mainstream as regulations advance (most notably electrification of space and water heating equipment as well as solar panel systems and/or battery storage). Depending on when these types of technologies become mandatory, a few considerations come to mind: namely, the supply chain of these products and technologies in our marketplace as well as the ability of the trades to keep pace with the evolving technology requirements while still maintaining construction productivity. I was happy to see a recent announcement from our premier and provincial government, citing a “driving prosperity” strategy to invest in and develop battery production in Ontario, specifically establishing and supporting an electric battery supply chain ecosystem in our province. The idea is to leverage our critical mineral wealth in Ontario’s north, supporting a broader supply chain that includes mining and the refining of those minerals required for manufacturing batteries. A key part of that strategy involves opening up the so-called Ring of Fire mineral deposit. The Ring of Fire is rich in its supply of minerals used in batteries and energy storage systems, including cobalt, lithium, manganese, nickel, graphite and copper. The overarching strategy involves not only mining and manufacturing batteries here in Ontario, but also eventually manufacturing electric vehicles. It’s no secret that these types of products are now largely sourced from producers in overseas countries, so hopefully having a local supply chain on a technology like batteries will eventually make these products more financially palatable. Not to mention the industry has become more sensitive to supply chain logistic challenges during the pandemic and the associated soaring shipping container freight costs driving up prices for products manufactured elsewhere in the world. Figuring out how to best make homes more environmentally sustainable from a technical standpoint is one part of the challenge. The other is moving forward with a strategy that can balance affordability and constructability yet still achieve increasing energy efficiency. This ties closely to another top-of- mind issue for the industry as well as governments: the cost of buying or renting a home. The soaring price of housing in Ontario is poised to become the next big pre-election issue for the premier. It comes as home sale prices in the province are in the midst of a second straight year of double-digit annual increases, even beyond the Greater Toronto Area. The provincial government announced earlier this month that it’s creating a task force on housing affordability. The mandate will be to provide recommendations “to make housing more affordable for Ontario families,” which can consider matters such as measures to increase housing supply, how to streamline the development approvals process and technical construction practices that can boost productivity. Therefore, initiatives such as the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project are so important for builders as they pilot with their trades and suppliers how to best deliver sustainable housing offerings in a cost-effective manner. Keep reading the magazine and following along as we highlight the performance attributes and utility costs of this comparison project. BB Paul De Berardis is the director of building science and innovation for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). Email him at deberardis@rescon.com 11 Hopefully having a local supply chain on a technology like batteries will eventually make these products more financially palatable.
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 H eating design might not get much attention as a huge contributor to energy efficiency, but Doug McCallum never let that bother him. His pursuit of excellence has naturally led to constantly improving the way heating systems are designed and delivered. When he started out in the 1980s, heating design was very simple. “It was all about heat loss and duct lay- out, duct sizing,” he says. “But things have changed, and the SB-12 stan- dards we’re designing to now are a moving target with new compliances, a constantly changing Building Code. You really have to keep on top of it.” In 1983, after graduating from Humber as a mechanical engineering technologist and then nine years working for others in the industry, he started his own business: McCallum HVAC Design. He worked out of a bedroom in his home, drawing designs in pencil with a program he’d learned. “In those days,” he says, “if you installed heating systems, you first had to provide a drawing for the builder. It also depended on the municipality, though. Some expected a full heating design; others didn’t.” To further hone his skills and become certified as a designer, he continued taking courses in ventila­ tion and commercial design through the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI). “I wanted to show clients I knew what I was doing,” he says. As his skills grew, so did the business, and he hired a designer with AutoCAD experience. “Finding someone with that skill was hard in the ’90s because it was such a new technology, and somewhat complicated.” Joanne McCallum, Doug’s wife and the company’s co-owner/ business director, joined McCallum HVAC Design after nearly 30 years as a supply chain executive in the pharmaceuticals industry. To manage the company’s growth, she conducts a daily huddle so that everyone is on the same page and knows what’s happening each day. Doug credits intensive training for the company’s stellar growth. “We want an educated staff, so everyone gets HRAI training. Some companies think if you train your staff, they’ll leave. But if conditions are good, and they are treated well, people don’t leave.” This much training is necessary, he explains, “because the industry is changing. There’s geothermal, in-floor radiant, net zero, and so on. Things change so frequently, and the changes are more challenging. Looking back 30 years, it’s like night and day.” He doesn’t have a problem with the constant changes, and Joanne agrees. “Thanks to our training, we are able to walk builders through programs such as Savings by Design. We know what R-values are necessary and how to adjust for heat loss, which will be lower when they use Savings by Design or ENERGY STAR. This in turn affects the equipment chosen – you can go with smaller equipment, which uses less energy and ultimately is kinder to the wallet,” she says. Also known as “right sizing,” the importance of using the right equip­ ment can’t be underestimated, Doug says. “When we design the right size 13 Heating Design The Unsung Hero of Energy Efficiency sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN Doug credits intensive training for the company’s stellar growth. “We want an educated staff, so everyone gets HRAI training.” Doug McCallum of McCallum HVAC Design LI SA W E S TL A K E
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 14 – and the right type – of equipment for heat distribution systems, you’re able to control not just the temperature but also the relative humidity.” Designing a home above code causes a significant drop in heat loss calculation, Doug says: “Not down all the way to net zero, but it certainly allows for smaller equipment. They’ve been doing a lot of fan coil systems, especially in smaller townhomes that have small loads. And builders are doing way more towns these days because of the cost of real estate.” Climate change has changed our priorities too, Doug says, with heating now taking a back seat to cooling. “With summers so much hotter – and homes being built with more glazing – the cooling system really needs to be designed properly with respect to the home’s size.” To handle these changes and increase efficiency, zone systems are becoming more prevalent, and in-floor radiant heat is becoming a more common source of primary heat, Doug says. He’s finding more clients these days are keen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are doing the research to learn about how to tackle environmental concerns. He’s been getting more clients interested in whether they have the right conditions to install geothermal and whether they could ready their home for net zero. The company has done several net zero, or net zero accordant, homes over the past year. “It’s really on the upswing.” “A lot of clients, architects, builders and homeowners are right into the discussion on above-code systems,” Doug says. With the pandemic keeping people at home, they’ve been research- ing building science and asking what to do pre-emptively. “I call it optimiza- tion – that sweet spot between the cost of the system and energy savings.” Doug is seeing more homes built with a glass-to-wall ratio of over 22% – over 100 in the past year alone – and that’s when he calls in energy advisors like John Godden. They go over the architectural drawings to computer model and come back with R-values and specifications. The business continues to grow. Now, half his clients are custom one- off residences, and the rest are builders of large tract developments. By the end of this year, he will have designed the heating systems for 750 custom homes and countless developments. Currently, he employs eight heating designers. And he’s finally moved the office out of his home. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. 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. “A lot of clients, architects, builders and homeowners are right into the discussion on above-code systems,” Doug says. With the pandemic keeping people at home, they’ve been researching building science and asking what to do pre-emptively.
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 16 B ased on current standards, the general perception is that, as an industry, we have pretty much maxed out how energy efficient we can make homes, at least from a technological and envelope tightness perspective. The next bastion we tackled was the amount of embodied carbon we put in homes, a topic we explored in great detail with the work Country Homes was doing with its Super-Semi Discovery Project (see “No Country for Old Ways” in the winter 2020 issue). This is an ongoing battle. Now, in the endless quest to make homes more energy efficient, builders are turning their focus towards the actual people that inhabit those houses. Given that occupant loads consume 52% of the energy in a new home (see pie chart on page 4), how can we devise strategies to alter occupant behaviour related to the consumption of electricity? This exact dynamic – the potential savings of reducing occupant-created loads – will be examined starting in January 2022 in one of Country Homes’ super semis, thanks to a partnership between one of the world’s largest electronic giants and an award- featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN New technology may help address the next hurdle in energy efficiency: occupant behaviour. winning Canadian invention. Panasonic’s EverVolt battery storage system, when used in conjunction with Swidget and its smart control insert, will allow homeowners to peak shave – a technique that can make a huge difference on your energy bill. It’s actually quite a simple concept: you charge your home battery storage system during off-hours, when electricity from the grid is cheaper, and then use the system to power your home during peak hours, when electricity costs are higher. Swidget manufactures the control devices that make this granular level BEHAVIOURAL STUDIES
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 17 of control possible. It makes a range of smart inserts that, when paired with a specific type of device, provide homeowners with an unparalleled level of control of their smart home through an app. “Our switch, dimmer, and 15-amp and 20-amp outlets all have current sensors built into the device,” says Justin Arghittu, Swidget’s director of sales. “When coupled with a control insert module, the device will report power wattage accurately and in real- time within the Swidget app.” A Jolt for Swidget Swidget will get a real jolt thanks to a recent deal with Panasonic that entails Panasonic’s lines of energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) and ventilation fan products becoming the sole distribution channel in North America for Swidget’s air quality sensor control insert. In one of the Country Homes demo units, both the ERV system and battery storage solution will be tested with the Swidget inserts. Arghittu says that this is a great way to get the most out of your ERV. “Adding Swidget smart controls to your home’s ventilation ecosystem ensures that you are using your ERV in an energy-efficient way while providing the most optimal indoor air quality.” In this instance, the control insert modules will wirelessly relay infor­ mation about air quality, temper­ ature, humidity and occupancy from various areas of the home back to the ERV so that it operates on demand based on real-time data. Arghittu says this provides several benefits to homeowners, including ensuring that they get fresh, optimal air quality when it’s needed and on demand; real-time information about the air quality; the reassurance that Country Homes is exploring different approaches to state-of-the-art building systems in their semi-detached Super-Semi Discovery Project (corner lot with solar panels) in Milton, Ontario. In addition to assessing the impact of contrasting building methodologies and technologies on carbon and energy costs, they will also track and analyze occupant behaviours in each home with a view to future applications. LU C A S PAVA N
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 18 panels and can be retrofitted fairly easily; plus, it’s great for new builds as well. The DC version is solar focused and is a bit more efficient, he says. Roughly the size of a dishwasher, the EverVolt is available in multiple storage capacity options. The standard system holds 11 kilowatt hours and can scale up to 100 kilowatt hours. In terms of usage, Kraus says users will want to focus on essential loads, similar to a backup generator – fridge, furnace, some lights and a few outlets. Hooked up to those loads, the 11-kilowatt hours system will provide anywhere from four to 12 hours of usage, and the 100-kilowatt system will offer 40 to 120 hours. And if you install solar alongside it, he adds, you can continue powering your battery forever, and essentially go off grid. Kraus explains that other than peak shaving, you can set the battery system to be in natural disaster mode, which involves fully charging it and holding that charge for a couple of days if you believe serious weather is coming that could cause a blackout. Traditionally, Kraus says, energy bills only display your usage in the past, and perhaps you can make changes to affect that in the future. However, the EverVolt allows you real-time viewing of your energy, whether from the grid, the battery or the solar panel. Getting Granular Tack Swidget onto that, and users get a far more granular perspective of their energy usage, down to specific outlets. Armed with this information, they can discover the real energy-sucking culprits in their homes and address the ventilation system is providing clean, fresh air; and notification when the filter needs changing. Scott Kraus, group manager, energy products for Panasonic Canada, believes that finding ways to alter occupant behaviour is a good approach in the ongoing battle to reduce our carbon footprint. “We’re reaching the most efficient we can build a home, so now we need to look at other things, and the behaviour side is a big one.” Solar Flair In the Country Homes demo, Pana­ sonic is using its battery-only Ever­ Volt, but it also offers one with a battery, inverter and connected solar array. Kraus says it comes in two flavours: an AC system and a DC system. The AC version (no solar) connects to existing DISCOVERY HOME HARDWOOD FLOORING CRAFT HARDWOOD FLOORING Woodfrom100%sustainablesources. WHY? Wecaredeeplyaboutusingwoodfromsustainablesources. ThisDiscoveryHomesinitiativewillallowustotryanew supplierandseehowtheirproductstandsup. 8 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN DISCOVERY HOME INSULATION ROCKWOOL R-24 BATT INSULATION Aninnovativefibreglassalternativethathasalower carbonfootprint,isfire-andmould-resistant,isproduced locallyandhasahighrecycledcontent. WHY? Overthelifetimeofitsuse,thisinsulationwillsave 100timesthecarbonemittedvs.traditionalinsulation. 2 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN DISCOVERY HOME INDOOR AIR QUALITY MONITOR SWIDGET RECEPTACLES INSERTS Theabilitytomonitortheindoorenvironmentgiveshomeowners greatercontroloftheircomfortandenergyuse.Theswappable insertsintheSwidgetsystemallowusto“futureproof”ourhomes. WHY? Thefutureofgreenbuildingincludessmarttechnologies. Wewanttoseehowthemonitorswillcommunicatewith thehome’sHVACsysteminoptimizingindoorairquality. 7 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN Country Homes is testing a range of products in their Discovery Home. Above, carbon neutral flooring from CRAFT will be put through its paces. Antony Zanini shows off the Panasonic EverVolt battery storage system that uses peak shaving to store electricity at night. LU C A S PAVA N
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 those problem areas accordingly. Arghittu says Swidget has control inserts that not only make devices smart, but can add sensing functionality. For instance, there’s a motion sensor which can turn a light switch on based on someone walking into the room. More importantly, they have vacancy detection so it can turn itself off when no one’s in the room. And all this functionality is customizable based on rules users set up in the app. This could mean significant savings when dealing with a big power consumer, like a space heater in the home office. Having it turn off when the Swidget senses vacancy in the room will really help. That’s just one way Swidget deals with power consumption issues. Another benefit is the alerts, Arghittu says, “so you can get notified when you’re consuming power.” Not that we’re dealing with canine psyches, but the idea here is almost Pavlovian: receive that notification enough times, and you’re likely to alter your behaviour. “So we can change some of the habits,” he says. Arghittu says users can set up schedules to turn off all non-essential power and switches during the day, which is especially helpful with vampire power – devices that draw electricity even when they’re not being used. This includes items like TVs, gaming consoles, computers, monitors, digital cable boxes and anything with a clock on it (like microwave ovens). Most Are Unaware All these devices constantly consume power, yet most people are unaware of that. “The only reason I know that is because I have them plugged into a Swidget device,” he says. Arghittu estimates that it was costing him well over $100 in wasted energy costs annually. So by employing the various strategies outlined above, he figures he’s getting about one free month of hydro per year. That’s a pretty impressive discount for simply making some slight tweaks to your behaviour. In this instance, perhaps we can teach an old dog new tricks. Somewhere, Ivan Pavlov is nodding approvingly. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 19 DISCOVERY HOME SMART ELECTRICAL PANEL LEVITON SMART ELECTRICAL PANEL Thesmartwaytocontrolyourhome’selectricalsystem. WHY? Controlsenergyuserightfromthepowersource, andevenprovidestheopportunitytoshutdown phantomloadsrightfromtheuser’sphone. 12 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN DISCOVERY HOME ERV PANASONIC 83% ENERGY RECOVERY VENTILATOR (ERV) Energyrecoveryventilatorsareastandardfeatureinenergy efficienthomestoensureindoorairquality. WHY? ThePanasonicERVisconnectedwiththeSwidget monitorstoautomaticallyturnonandoffasneeded. 13 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN Brian Cooke of AeroBarrier. The Glow THWH combo system (left) provides primary heating. Panasonic’s new ERV 200 (right) is exhaust-ducted to all bathrooms to provide balanced ventilation. DISCOVERY HOME AIR BARRIER AEROBARRIER AIR SEALING TECHNOLOGY Aninnovativeenvelope-sealingtechnologythatimproves energyefficiencybyachievingexceptionalair-tightness. WHY? Air-tightnesscanbeachallengewhenbuildingproduction homes.Wewanttotesthowmuchofanimpactair tightnesscontributestoenergyefficiency. 5 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN LU C A S PAVA N LU C A S PAVA N
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 20 industrynews / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ A family buys their first high- performance, better-than- Code home. Equipped with a tight building envelope, efficient windows and the latest in energy- saving technology, they are confident that their new home will save them money on their energy bills and help them greatly reduce their carbon footprint. A few months after moving in, they realize that their energy bills are not dropping as much as they had expected. What could be wrong? According to Ontario building scientist Michael Lio, whose company was the project lead in Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Net-Zero Energy Housing Demonstration Project a couple of years ago, saving energy really depends on the behaviour of homeowners. In the ground-breaking project, five leading builders across Canada built 26 market-ready net zero homes that produce at least as much energy as they consume in a year. In a media interview regarding the project, Lio observed, “These houses are only net zero in simulation. If the homeowners keep the TV on all night, or sleep with the windows open, they won’t work. In reality, there are no net zero homes – only net zero occupants.” The latest government data shows that buildings, including homes, account for almost 20% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions (factoring in space and water heating, as well as electricity use for cooling, lighting and appliances).1 The demand for electricity in Canada is intensive, according to NRCan. In 2016, residential electricity use made up 33% of the country’s total electricity demand. Energy modelling of a reference house conducted by the Ontario Building Code showed that 41% of electricity use is due to “occupant loads”: air conditioning, lighting and appliances. “We know that electricity demand is going up, with more of us relying on digital devices and appliances in the home,” says Dan Murphy, director of business development – home builders with the Canadian division of Schneider Electric, a global leader in digital energy management and automation. “Add to that lighting not being turned off, fans running continually, poorly functioning equipment and ‘phantom power’ – anything electronic that is constantly plugged in drawing electricity, such as computers and TVs.” On a global scale, Murphy points to the current trends of decarbonization and electric vehicle production and use as contributing factors in increasing electricity consumption. On its website, Schneider Electric cites “megatrends” as provoking a rise in energy demand: • Urbanization: an increase of over 2.5 billion people in cities by 2050; • Digitization: 30 billion connected things currently; and • Industrialization: leading to an increase in energy consumption of over 50% by 2050. A chart on the website illustrates “massive untapped efficiency poten­ tial” – 82% “unrealized” in buildings. Saving Energy at Home It’s Really Up to the Occupant 1 https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2021/05/27/making-homes-more-energy- efficient-reduce-energy-bills-create-jobs. Wiser’s energy monitor can be installed in 15 minutes by an electrician on any panel with breakers.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Energy system, such as an awareness of lights on in rooms when they are not being used. It is somewhat ironic that it takes a digital solution (powered by electricity) to help alleviate increasing electricity use, which is partly due to the pervasiveness of digital devices and appliances in the home. But the fact remains that HEMS devices like Wiser Energy are an important tool for energy conservation in the home. The Wiser monitoring system is being used to monitor whole-house electrical consumption in the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project (see page 16). “Consumers of energy monitoring systems were primarily eco-conscious people two years ago,” says Murphy. “Today, with climate change in the mainstream and top of people’s minds, the timing is right for our Wiser product.” 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. Increasingly, occupant behaviour with energy use in the home is being recognized as a major factor in reducing energy consumption, which can vary by up to 150% annually between active occupants (who monitor their electricity use) and passive occupants. A research paper from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (2010) studied home energy monitoring systems (HEMS) and their use in homes, exploring “the extent to which participants manage to sustain their initial electricity savings over time, with a special focus on the development of habitual energy- saving behaviour.” The Netherlands study came up with the following results and observations: Initial savings in energy consumption were 7.8% after four months (but could not be sustained in the medium to long term); • Certain groups of people seem more receptive to energy-saving interventions than others (these participants quickly develop new habits and exhibit larger energy savings); • For HEMS to be effective, a deeper understanding is needed that embraces social science, contextual factors, usability and interaction design research. The concept of HEMS is simple: if you can see how you, your devices and your appliances are using electricity, you can make adjustments to reduce your home’s energy use. An advanced HEMS product from Schneider Electric, the Wiser Energy system, does exactly that. Installed by an electrical contractor beside the electrical panel in as little as 15 minutes, the device monitors critical electrical equipment in the home, continually checking appliance and lighting consumption, and offering real-time reporting via an app that displays electricity use by source as bubbles. The larger the bubble, the more electricity is being used by the source. “Based on the information supplied by the Wiser app, home occupants can identify electricity waste and potential appliance problems, and adjust their behaviour accordingly,” says Murphy. “This intelligence gives homeowners peace of mind because they can visibly and instantly see which of their appliances are on. It also helps them prevent big appliance repairs, take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity, estimate monthly energy consumption and ultimately save money on their electricity bills.” When asked how much energy homeowners can expect to save by monitoring their use and adjusting their behaviour accordingly, Murphy replied that not much data is available, but Schneider will be testing with builders, including real-life monitoring of occupant behaviours via the Wiser 21 The success of HEMS depends on homeowner interface.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 22 industryexpert / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ L ights and fans are left on in unused rooms. A sump pump seems to be running constantly. The fridge is gobbling up electricity. These are only a few of the culprits in the home that can be stealing energy and driving up electricity bills. And they appear as bubbles on a smart new device called Wiser Energy from Schneider Electric. Simply put, Wiser Energy is a device that monitors critical electrical equipment in the home. It continually checks energy consumption by appliance and offers real-time reporting so that home occupants can identify waste and potential appliance problems and adjust their usage behaviour accordingly. The energy use of appliances, devices and lighting is displayed as bubbles on an app. The bigger the bubble, the more electricity is being used. With an easy-to-use mobile app, occupants can easily see what is turned on and how much energy it’s using. Wiser Energy can identify abnormal energy use patterns which indicate potential problems, such as a malfunctioning refrigerator that may, at the least, require a simple cleaning of refrigerant coils, or an unusual pattern in the HVAC system. The device allows homeowners to spot inefficiencies that increase their bills, take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity and estimate their monthly energy consumption. “The Wiser Energy device can be installed inside the electrical panel (by an electrical contractor) in as little as 15 minutes,” says Dan Murphy, director of business development – home builders with Schneider Electric Canada. “Every electrical device in the home has a unique electrical current fingerprint. Wiser Energy learns these signatures and determines all energy drivers within the home. People get the information they need to make smart decisions about their energy use. The Wiser device makes it easy.” And “there’s also a safety consider­ ation,” Murphy adds. “The system can provide notifications about when items are turned on or off, so that occupants can be alerted if they leave their garage door open or an iron turned on.” Schneider Electric, which offers the Wiser Energy systems and other home solutions to homeowners and builders, was founded over 180 years ago in France. It is a global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation. According to the Schneider website, the company is “driving digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, software and services, enabling integrated company management for homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries.” Schneider believes that access to energy and digital is a basic human right. “Our generation is facing a tectonic shift in energy transition and industrial revolution catalyzed by digitization in a more electric world,” Wiser Energy Empowering Homeowners to be Smarter DISCOVERY HOME ENERGY MONITOR WISER SMART HOME ENERGY MONITOR Helpshomeownerskeeptabsontheirenergy useinrealtimeforamoreefficienthome. WHY? Thissystemwillprovideuswithgreaterinsightsinto energyloadsandtheimpactonoccupantbehaviour. 6 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN The device allows homeowners to spot inefficiencies, take advantage of cheaper off- peak electricity, and estimate their monthly energy consumption.
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 24 its company profile states. “Electricity is the most efficient and best vector for decarbonization. Schneider’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this ‘Life Is On.’” In 2021, Corporate Knights, a Canadian media and research company that develops rankings and product ratings based on corporate sustainability performance, awarded Schneider Electric the top spot among the global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. Besides curbing its own CO2 emissions by 250,000 metric tons in 24 months by shifting to renewable energy, the company claims that its energy- efficient technologies and services saved 120 million metric tons of CO2 on their customers’ behalf in 2020. Schneider earned 70% of its revenue from sustainable solutions, while 73% of its investments were directed towards sustainability. In 2021, Schneider partnered with KB Homes, one of the largest homebuilders in the U.S., to provide “grid-to-plug” innovation in the builder’s new ENERGY STAR-certified community in California. The homes incorporate the Square D Energy Centre and connected wiring devices to offer homeowners great levels of control, energy efficiency and resiliency. Schneider is now reaching out to Canadian builders with an invitation to partner with them to create a better, more efficient and more sustainable living environment for their clients. Prior to joining Schneider Electric Canada, Murphy had been working with homebuilders for the past five years. “In Canada, we are actively connecting with homebuilders, electricians and electrical distributors to showcase all of our solutions,” he says. Besides the Wiser energy management system, Schneider offers numerous home solutions such as load centres, breakers, wiring devices, wifi-enabled switches, receptacles, cover plates, whole-house surge protectors, uninterrupted power and backup supply systems, and air/ distribution systems. “In 2023, we will be introducing the Wiser Energy Centre in Canada. It is designed to manage the increasing electricity needs of homes, creating a hub that allows homeowners to manage the sources of energy in their home,” says Murphy. “It will appeal to people who want to live more sustainably, as well as those who have complicated home energy systems and requirements.” The Wiser Energy Centre will prioritize power from solar panels or storage batteries when it’s available, automatically switching to renewable energy, thereby maximizing the use of solar panels while minimizing the home’s carbon footprint. It will use data – including the energy tariff, the time, the weather and household energy consumption patterns – to help manage the system and decide how to store and use power. The system will also divide power usage into critical and non-critical loads, meaning that in the event of a power cut, stored energy to non-critical appliances will be cut off, while the fridge, the freezer and the home security system stay on. “Our goal is to help homebuilders build more attractive, comfortable and sustainable homes,” says Murphy. “Builders are driven by codes. Our products can help them build smarter – beyond Code. Large builders like Schneider partner KB Homes in the U.S. are embracing grid-to-plug solutions. We want to connect with Canadian builders to learn what they’re doing, better understand them and showcase our solutions to them. We can help builders, and they can help us. Why is energy monitoring important? Because it provides home occupants the data they need to help them save energy and money – and improve safety and resiliency – all without compromising their comfort.” 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. “Builders are driven by codes. Our products can help them build smarter – beyond Code.” Dan Murphy
  25. 25. Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 27 industryexpert / BRIAN JACKSON These systems have advantages over a typical forced air gas furnace and water tank: combi systems can be easily zoned, are more efficient if properly selected, have only one fuel- burning source, can provide better occupant comfort and will integrate easily into a dual fuel designed system. For these reasons they have become more popular in new construction and renovation designs. There are many design approaches to combi systems, but one in particu- lar has been more frequently utilized, primarily due to capital cost consid- erations: the use of a wall-hung water heater with a heat source (typically a hydronic fan coil). I am not an advocate of this design as a water heater is purpose-designed and rated for DHW production (high water-side temperature rise) and it is perform­ ance rated using a Department of Energy test procedure to determine a uniform energy factor (UEF). This test involves water draws at various flows but always at 67°F +/- temperature rise, which is domestic water terri- tory, and with a supply temperature of 125°F. These are not space heating conditions where the supply temper­ ature is higher, the temperature rise is 15°F to 20°F and the flow is typically constant. A high UEF is in no way an indication of a well-performing space heating source. When applying this system design, there are additional considerations that you should be aware of: 1. You are introducing potable water into the heating system and vice versa. You have to safeguard against legionella and contaminants when you mix systems. We’ll discuss this later. 2. A typical DHW heater capacity is 199 MBH with a 10:1 turn down, which gives you a minimum firing input rate of 19.9 MBH. Most attached housing has a heat loss of under 25,000 BTUH and you are operating at less than 40% of this load 90% of the time (CSA P.9-11). So if the space heating is running below 10 MBH 90% of the time, it will cause the water heater to cycle. This will make the equipment horribly inefficient and, since life cycle is defined in cycles and not run time, the lifetime of the water heater will be reduced. That being said, water heaters are used quite often, probably due to cost and naïveté. The updated B214 gives some clarifications when using potable water. First off, all components in contact with the potable water must be intended for use in a potable water system. All of the following conditions must be met when using potable water as a hydronic heating fluid: • A maximum of one heat source per potable water loop. • The total length of piping shall not exceed 50 feet. • The total volume of the system shall not exceed 13.1 gallons. • The supply water temperature to the heat source must not be lower than 140°F. • To prevent stagnation, an automatic means will be provided to flush the heating system for at least five minutes over every 24-hour period (there is a calculation to reduce this number based on volume and flow). Designing with water heaters does present challenges. This standard states the minimum supply water temperature can be only 140°F to the heating device. Most water heater manufacturers will allow only a maximum 140°F to 145°F set point on their equipment to allow the use of PVC venting. You may be required to set the appliance at 145°F to allow for piping losses and ensure 140°F at the fan coil. In doing this, it is critical to ensure the Combi Systems CSA B214:21 Installation Code for Hydronic Heating Systems Update I n January of this year, CSA Group introduced their updated standard for the installation of hydronic heating systems. This standard has some terrific information included and I would suggest all designers have a copy on hand. One of the systems covered in the standard is combi systems, which are hydronic-based mechanical systems that are designed to provide both domestic hot water (DHW) and space heating.
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 28 DHW anti-scald mixing valve is set correctly to ensure no harm comes to the occupants. Just last week, we were asked by a municipality in the Greater Toronto Area to select the fan coil size based on the capacity at 130°F entering water as this was the number stated in the 1997 combi guideline. This request caused us to over-size by at least one size every fan coil and consequently over-size the duct work on the entire site. To comply with CSA B214, we still had to set the water temperature to a minimum of 140°F. A handful of diligent fan coil man- ufacturers have completed various CSA P.9-11 tests to benchmark combi system performance. At present, the P.9 result is mandatory for ENERGY STAR for New Homes projects but will be required as our Building Code and other special programs evolve. The format of these tests is rigid and the tests are expensive, so designers’ choices are limited. I just completed a quick five-minute review of the first page of the Natural Resources Canada P.9 directory to see six test results that are no longer Code compliant because they used a water heater and the enter- ing water temperature is too low to comply with B214. Use of a wall-hung combination unit or boiler negates all these issues and typically gets you an ASME-certified unit that requires less service and has a longer lifespan at a higher space heating operating efficiency. Be careful when applying water heaters as part of a combi system. It can be done, but make sure your designer is well informed. BB Brian Jackson, P.Eng. is a consulting engineer currently working with the development and testing of Glow boilers. His experience spans 35 years, including extensive P9-11 testing. 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 Be careful when applying water heaters as part of a combi system. It can be done, but make sure your designer is well informed.
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 30 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY O ver the years, I’ve engaged with numerous stakeholders about how to build a better home. At times it can be a very frustrating experience – somewhat equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I’ve used my ongoing “discussions” with code officials and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) about low solar glass. As a high-performance builder, I find it frustrating that I have to explain to people why I use windows that do not meet ENERGY STAR requirements for the zone they are in. I wear it as a badge of honour at this point, as I want stakeholders to know why selecting the right window specifications is more important than worrying about meeting a window specification requirement that is so out of touch with the actual needs of the occupants and the buildings they live/work/spend time in. In a nutshell, NRCan has set the program – specifically, the ENERGY STAR program for windows – up to favour windows that gain heat. Now, imagine a high-performance build- ing that is designed to be balanced throughout and use a very low energy consumption. Then we add in an uncontrolled high heat gain event that happens every day – energy that you have to oversize your mechanical sys- tems to handle – that results in some rooms being too hot, with other rooms being too cold due to the excess cool- ing for the rooms that are overheating. The design answer? Oh, let’s go all out and add in a zoned system for a bunch more money. Makes sense, right? It doesn’t if you are thinking about streamlining, affordability, the comfort of occupants or the health of the planet. It’s just dumb. What does make sense is reducing the effects of intermittent, uncontrolled heat gain in a climate that is moving towards being cooling dominant. Remember when all those folks died tragically in British Columbia this past summer due to a heat dome? They needed air condition- ing and didn’t have it, and they needed windows that limited heat gain. But this article is not about win­ dows, so I will get off that particular soap box. No, this is something far more critical that we address now – before the National Building Code, followed by the provincial building codes, go down the wrong path as they pursue the Energy Step Code. What I am asking you to consider is that programs such as ENERGY STAR and Net Zero, while great aspirational goals as we learned how to build a more efficient housing stock, are the wrong goal when we look at the future Are You Ready for Industry (Carbon Reduction) Disruption? Operational carbon is a great starting point, but it’s only the start … what about the carbon we put into our buildings?
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 of our planet and the programs we will need to address climate change. I believe this is being reflected in the results coming out of COP26 that recently concluded in Glasgow, which included the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact. Here are a few critical points of agreement: 1. Reaffirms the Paris Agreement temperature goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; 2. Recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5°C compared with 2°C and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C; 3. Recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases; 4. Also recognizes that this requires accelerated action in this critical decade, on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge and equity, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national ening to know that Step 5 of the proposed code is pretty much Passive House. As a Net Zero builder, I am concerned why this additional cost burden was selected when there is minimal performance benefit for adding significantly more cost to a home, without considering afford­ ability. And if you aren’t aware, there is a massive housing crisis happen­ ing at the moment that has blown affordability out of the water across the province. We should all be up in arms at what this means to our communities and the future of our workforce. It will force automation upon us, as workers will be very selective where, and for whom, they will work. But here’s where it gets very inter­ esting. That home that exceeds the Net Zero requirements could ultimately result in a higher embodied carbon footprint than a Code-built home, or one built to Net Zero. Let’s take a home built with an exterior brick wall. We have to support the brick. With thicker insulation, this could result in more concrete being used for the foundation. Concrete is the largest carbon contributor of any product that we use, so more insulation can result in a higher carbon footprint for the insulation and the concrete. You do that enough times and you can put more carbon into the building than you can ever possibly save by solely looking at the operational carbon in 31 circumstances and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. So, what does this have to do with homebuilding? It means that we, as builders, are going to have to work with government to figure out how to reduce our carbon footprint of the houses that we build and renovate by 45% below 2010 levels and get to net zero by mid-century. No problem, you’re thinking: ENERGY STAR is already taking us down that path, and the Net Zero program will help us get all the way. After all, isn’t that why we have the Net Zero program? Not so fast! We’re missing a critical point, and that is specifically my argument. These programs focus on reducing energy consumption, which results in a reduction of operational carbon. But what about the carbon we put into our buildings? All that concrete, glass and steel came from somewhere, and it took a lot of energy to create it. What about transporting our materials to the jobsite? Do we know how much energy is consumed by having that pickup truck idle while the boys (and, hopefully, a lot more girls) are having their coffee break? Operational carbon is a great starting point, but it’s only the start. For instance, when we look at the new proposed step levels of the National Building Code, it’s disheart­ But here’s where it gets very interesting. That home that exceeds the Net Zero requirements could ultimately result in a higher embodied carbon footprint than a Code-built home, or one built to Net Zero.
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 32 isolation. You don’t have to take my word alone on this: Chris Magwood at the Endeavour Centre is doing excellent work leading the way on counting carbon and how it can be scaled up for production builders to better understand their impact. Folks, this is coming, and it’s coming fast. That’s a big part of why I’ve been trying to finish my book, From Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes. I’m trying to share my experiences to help the industry prepare for this massive disruption. We have to get our focus past Net Zero housing and look at what I consider to be the four principles of modern design. What I recommend everyone do is first ensure that you have a really solid plan for dealing with water management and airtightness. Then, apply the four principles: 1. Look at carbon reduction (decar­ bonization) of your materials. 2. Adopt indoor air quality measures to ensure you are providing a safe environment. 3. Install climate-resilient construc­tion measures (you don’t meet your carbon targets if the building goes to the landfill after a storm). 4. Design for occupant comfort (this is a critical point that is typically, at best, an afterthought). If you design and build your housing to meet these four criteria, the energy consumption part of the equation is dealt with along the way. The next critical step is to engage with government and stakeholders at all levels to try and stop them from baking in bad pol- icy decisions that impact our collective ability to meet the COP26 goal of 45% by 2030. Maybe we should get that on t-shirts. After all, informed thinking and design have always been at the heart of futureproof- ing houses. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 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
  32. 32. Meet your Enbridge Gas Residential New Construction Team — We recognize the important work done by builders and developers across Ontario. We strive to be your energy provider of choice and are committed to ensuring that every builder’s experience with Enbridge Gas adds value. We provide assistance during the new construction process to promote best practices, innovation, energy-efficiency programs and training opportunities. Connect with your area representative today. Enbridge Gas © 2021 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. ENB 501 09/2021 Susan Cudahy Supervisor Strategic Builder Relationships, New Construction and Residential Sales 289-237-0068 susan.cudahy@enbridge.com Michelle Vestergaard Sr. Advisor Residential New Construction, Ontario-based Developers and Toronto Builders 905-717-6261 michelle.vestergaard@enbridge.com Don Armitage Sr. Analyst Residential New Construction, Ontario-based Community Expansion; Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough the Kawarthas Builders 705-750-7203 don.armitage@enbridge.com Garrett Fell 343-997-1509 garrett.fell@enbridge.com Eastern Ontario Lanark, Leeds/Grenville, Ottawa, Prescott/Russell, Renfrew and Cornwall Kain Allicock 437-223-2349 kain.allicock@enbridge.com GTA East Eastern Ontario (to Frontenac County) Durham, Frontenac, Hastings, Kingston, Lennox/Addington, Northumberland, Prince Edward County and York Region Michelle Nikitin 416-903-4274 michelle.nikitin@enbridge.com GTA West Northern Ontario Algoma, Dufferin, Halton, Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Peel, Simcoe and Sudbury Gina Mancini 519-564-7943 gina.mancini@enbridge.com Southwestern Ontario Chatham–Kent, Huron County, Lambton, London, Middlesex, Oxford, Perth County, St. Thomas, Elgin County and Windsor/Essex Joanne Van Panhuis 519-209-6345 joanne.vanpanhuis@enbridge.com Southeastern Ontario Brant, Bruce County, Grey County, Haldimand, Hamilton, Niagara Region, Norfolk and Wellington County

Description

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.

Transcript

  1. 1. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 FUTURE PROOFING INSIDE Country Homes’ Low Carbon Demonstration Home Occupant Behaviour Counting Carbon Energy Smarts at Home Carbon Reduction Disruption CHALLENGES IN CO2e REDUCTION
  2. 2. www.airmaxtechnologies.com T 905-264-1414 Prioritizing your comfort while providing energy savings Canadian Made Manufactured by Glow Brand Manufacturing 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 arefully modulating at 10 to 1 and 2 inch PVC venting up to 100 feet. Brand TM ENDLESS ON-DEMAND HOT WATER Models C95 & C140 Glow Brand C95 and C140 instantaneous combination ASME boilers for heating and on-demand
  3. 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 16 1 FEATURE STORY 16 Behavioural Studies New technology may help address the next hurdle in energy efficiency: occupant behaviour. by Rob Blackstien 3 ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. Cover: iStock. 13 9 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Occupant Behaviour: The Low-hanging Fruit by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Plant-based Housing or Low-hanging Fruit? by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 6 What Counts When Counting Carbon by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 Futureproofing Benchmarking Emerging Technologies with the Super- Semi Discovery Project by Paul De Berardis SITE SPECIFIC 13 Heating Design The Unsung Hero of Energy Efficiency by Alex Newman INDUSTRY NEWS 20 Saving Energy at Home It’s Really Up to the Occupant by Marc Huminilowycz INDUSTRY EXPERT 22 Wiser Energy Empowering Homeowners to be Smarter by Marc Huminilowycz INDUSTRY EXPERT 27 Combi Systems CSA B214:21 Installation Code for Hydronic Heating Systems Update by Brian Jackson FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Are You Ready for Industry (Carbon Reduction) Disruption? by Doug Tarry
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Occupant Behaviour: The Low-hanging Fruit 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. “Nothing ever comes off exactly as intended ... and yet, the fallacy of overinflated agency has proven to be incredibly resilient.” — Ivana Milojevic O ld habits die hard, and simple thinking is responsible for many of the problems in the world. When I think about climate issues, the elephant in the room is that there are too many humans using finite resources in inappropriate ways. It’s not really a technical issue; it’s a behavioural one. When I turn my thoughts to housing, I feel the biggest unaddressed issue is occupant behaviour. 52% of the energy consumed in a new code house is occupant driven. How does it make sense to cover a roof with carbon-intensive solar panels when the people inside are consuming too much energy? How does it make sense for the house to use more carbon operationally than it did to build it? This issue features the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project (page 16). The project monitors a high-performance, low-carbon, natural gas house side by side with a Net Zero-modelled, balanced-energy, electrically heated house. The key to this comparison is the use of a home energy monitoring system (HEMS) to compare and monitor the impact of the occupants’ own energy consumption on both houses. Another objective is to assess the hybrid approach on the low-carbon side, which uses natural gas wisely with combination hybrid heating. A right-sized tankless domestic hot water heater (TDHWH) provides primary space and hot water heating, supplemented with an air source heat pump (ASHP) powered by off-peak electricity. There are no solar panels, but there are 11 kilowatt hours of off-peak battery storage that can provide backup during a power failure. On page 3, Lou Bada provides a pragmatic approach to identifying practical futureproofing strategies in the place of lofty net zero goals. Meanwhile, Gord Cooke examines the details of the other carbon-smart approaches and evaluates them based on carbon counting (page 6). And on page 9, Paul De Berardis shares with us important government policy to get gasoline cars off the road. He further expands on the importance of the Super-Semi Discovery Project for finally getting to the bottom of whether net zero is a worthwhile goal. Lastly, Doug Tarry provides us with an example of “the fallacy of overinflated agency” on page 30. He encourages us to be smarter with our window choices. The old thinking was that we needed the sun to heat our houses only in the winter. Now, those windows must also help us reduce air conditioning loads in the summer, which are increasing every year. Let’s approach the new year with a new mindset that will help us see our challenges holistically. A hybrid approach, where there is more than one energy solution, coupled with engaged occupants through homeowner education, can take us closer to our future goals of minimizing carbon emissions. Monitoring and measuring is the best way to find the truth about our past assumptions. Please join me on the journey. Happy new year! BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Another question: do we invest in the production and distribution of electricity, or do we make the massive investments needed to mitigate the effects of climate change? I assume we do both (lest we forget health care, education, child care…). At the moment, I still subscribe to the economic theory of “the scarcity of resources.” I know, I know: the sun has infinite energy. But we still haven’t completely figured out a way to heat I get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear someone talking about “zero-carbon housing.” I mean, conceptually I get it: eliminate fossil fuel use and use clean electricity for your home to eliminate operational carbon and minimize the embodied carbon to build the home. Then offset the balance of embodied carbon with a price on carbon for the concrete, steel and other materials that we use to build it – I guess? Maybe? It’s like me proposing “plant- based housing” – sounds good, but how do we make it work? I am circumspect of the notion of “zero-carbon housing” without answers to a lot of questions. My first question: why not do something we know actually works now, rather than strive for something not well understood? You may say “do both,” but I believe one distracts from the other. In our industry, if we propose a new housing development, we are required to study the infrastructure available to support it before we get approvals (sewers, water, roads, transit, emergency services, schools, energy, etc.). Not enough infrastruc- ture means no approvals. On the surface, this makes sense (without getting too deep, we pay huge devel- opment charges for infrastructure). In order to have the clean electrifica- tion of housing and transportation, we need a massive investment in the infrastructure for the production, transmission and storage of clean electricity. Currently, 28% of Ontario’s grid-installed energy comes from natural gas/oil, which is used mostly for times of peak demand.1 everyone’s home with it on a cold Jan­ uary night while charging our electric vehicles with renewable energy alone. If we are going to make inroads into first reducing energy consump­ tion, with the hope of having an electrical system that can eventually support electrification, we need to be flexible in our thinking. We have to be less dogmatic in eliminating natural gas from home heating until we are much further along in using renewables. 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA Plant-based Housing or Low-hanging Fruit? BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 1 Source: Reliability Outlook, released September 2021, updated quarterly. If we are going to make inroads into first reducing energy consump­ tion, with the hope of having an electrical system that can eventually support electrification, we need to be flexible in our thinking. ISTOCKPHOTO
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 They can use less electricity and/or load shift to off-peak times. John Godden has described the power-saving advantages of a hybrid HRV/ERV for ventilation by decoupling the ventilator from the furnace fan. The discovery homes in Milton will be monitored during occupancy to document real-world data. Using some natural gas will provide a great bridge fuel until we can solve some of our infrastructure shortcomings and accommodate the wave of electric cars coming our way. As for “plant-based housing,” we may have to wait just a while longer for the “impossible home,” but I’m sure someone’s working on it as we speak. In the meantime, let’s do what we can actually do to get us a little closer to our laudable goals. BB Lou Bada is vice- president of low-rise construction at Starlane Home Corporation and on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The use of combination water and home heating appliances, coupled with an electric heat pump, just make sense. An in-home battery storage system as an option can do a great job of evening out peak demand on our electrical grid and provide some back-up power if needed. Addressing occupant behaviour is important when we consider occupant loads. Sensors monitoring electrical consumption make sense. Information is powerful when it comes to power consumption. Consumers can make smart choices when occupying their home and save some money when the cost of electricity inevitably increases. Currently, 52% of a home’s opera­ ting energy comes from occupancy loads (see chart at right). I recently visited Country Homes’ two discovery homes in Milton for two approaches to building a next generation of homes (great job, by the way). One was a Canadian Home Builders’ Association Net-Zero home (all electric) and the other was a HERS Index home (a hybrid gas system). To compare and contrast side-by-side homes is a great way to assess the impact of different building methods. I think the hybrid heating system makes the most sense at this time, and it allows us to start the journey to better solutions by picking the low-hanging fruit. Some ideas (I stole) from my visit include: • Builders could review their offerings to express them in a sustainability checklist that could be used with the municipality. • Install a combination heating system for any size house. Studies and research reveal a 20% reduction in natural gas usage. • Help homeowners reduce their electricity costs by using a home monitoring system (HEMS) like the Schneider Wiser Electric system installed by Country Homes. • Use off-peak electricity for supplemental space heating, an air source heat pump or a battery storage system. • Use a hybrid heat recovery ventilator (HRV)/energy recovery ventilator (ERV) installation to reduce electricity required for ventilation distribution. 4 41% 11% 48% PACKAGE AI 2017 @ 3.0 ACH  ENVELOPE AND VENTILATION HEAT LOSS  AIR CONDITIONING AND LIGHTING AND APPLIANCES  DOMESTIC HOT WATER OCCUPANT LOADS ACCOUNT FOR 52% OF ENERGY USE Sensors monitoring electrical consumption make sense. Consumers can make smart choices when occupying their home and save some money when the cost of electricity inevitably increases.
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Learn more at  PanasonicBreatheWell.com Create spaces for living, feeling and breathing well. Build with air in mind.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 6 industryexpert / GORD COOKE It would be presumptuous to imagine this one article could provide answers to navigate the rough waters ahead. However, a short primer on charting carbon, the important new metric, should help guide builders and their supply partners start down the right path. In the homebuilding industry in the next decade, the focus will be on two carbon counts: 1) the carbon emissions from the production of the building materials used (sometimes called the embodied carbon or the mat­ erial carbon emissions [MCE]) and 2) the carbon emissions from the operation of a home (the opera­ tional carbon emissions [OCE]). Much like the choices in energy modelling software, there is already a selection of software carbon calcu­ lators. Each of these calculators relies on energy modelling predictions, such as those produced by software like HOT2000 or HERS software, to calcu­late the OCE. For the material emis­ sions, the industry is slowly building a database for the hundreds of com­ ponents that are part of the complex makeup of even simple houses. Every industry supply partner’s 2022 “To Do” list must include calculating and declaring the carbon emissions for their products. The Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is becoming a must-have for every manufacturer. For example, leading insulation manufacturers, the forest products industry and even the leading cement manufacturers already have detailed reporting and calculators available for the embodied carbon implications for their products. For many other products, there are estimates and defaults available from the committed carbon researchers who have developed carbon calculators. When doing a comprehensive carbon calculation for a home, it becomes very clear, very quickly that the embodied carbon of single- family homes is dominated by three or four products or components. First comes the concrete used for footings, foundations and slabs. Second is insulation: both cavity insulation and continuous insulation in attics, exterior walls and basements. Third is windows and the glass within them. Fourth, drywall and cladding choices also have a significant impact. For example, we just completed a carbon analysis for a client on a 2,770 square foot single-detached home. The concrete elements for the home – footings, foundation walls and slabs, including the garage – accounted for 14.5 tonnes of embodied carbon, and this represented 35% of the total calculated 41.4 tonnes of embodied carbon for this home. By comparison, the embodied carbon of a 1,390 square foot townhome we assessed for another client was just 23.3 tonnes, and the concrete elements accounted for 44% of that embodied carbon. The chart (see facing page) summarizes the major carbon contributors associated with the construction of these two homes. — Now turn your attention to the carbon impacts related to the operation of these homes built in 2022, year after year after year. Let’s assume the two homes above are both built to the current Ontario Building Code SB-12 energy efficiency requirements and assume that space and domestic hot water heating are provided by natural gas appliances. A common energy model – such as one produced from HOT2000 or HERS software – will predict the annual energy use for a home. In the table, you can see that the detached home operational carbon impact is 3.6 tonnes per year and the interior townhome unit’s operational T here has been no shortage of reminders in the news this year of the three crises that are affecting society as a whole, but our housing industry specifically: the pandemic, the housing shortage (resulting in an affordability crunch) and climate change. The confluence of these issues in the context of the housing sector presents challenging dilemmas. For example, a recent report by the Smart Prosperity Institute and funded in part by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association projects that one million new homes will need to be built in Ontario over the next decade to keep up with population growth and movement under current policies. Contrast that with Canada’s recent commitment at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to cut carbon emissions by 40% to 45% over that same next decade and get to zero carbon by 2050. Then, add the material and labour shortages highlighted by the pandemic that are likely to affect our industry for at least the near term. What Counts When Counting Carbon
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 carbon impact is 1.9 tonnes per year. Notice too that by that important 2030 target, the accumulated opera­ tional carbon for both homes equals approximately 70% of the initial embodied carbon. With the base calculation of both the embodied and operational carbon completed, there is now an opportu­ nity to find the most convenient and cost-effective approach to reducing the carbon impact of the one million homes that need to be built over the next 10 years. Starting with the oper­ ational carbon, it should be no surprise to builders who are familiar with the outputs from the energy models used for permit application that over 50% of the energy used to operate that detached home goes to space heating, provided by a high-efficiency natural gas furnace. A deeper dive shows that 24% of that space heating load is associated with unwanted air leakage and 28% is lost via conduction through the exterior walls. The new emphasis on carbon will direct you to concentrate first on airtightness. Improving the airtight­ ness to 1.0 air changes per hour at 50 Pascal will simultaneously: • reduce operational carbon by 0.6 tonnes per year; • reduce the design heat loss of the house by at least 6,000 BTUs per hour so as to allow a downsizing of the furnace and heat pump; and • reduce annual energy bills without impacting the embodied carbon. Moreover, new technologies, such as the AeroBarrier airsealing process, ensure airtightness can be achieved without design or process changes. To be clear, additional exterior wall insulation will undoubtedly be required in all houses by 2050. However, in the next eight to 10 years, it is important to reduce operational carbon with as little impact to embodied carbon as possible. Indeed, let’s think about three easy and cost-effective strategies that can be implemented in 2022 – specifically in Ontario, where the demand for new homes is still so strong. First, call your concrete supplier and ask for a mix that includes 30% to 40% fly-ash or other supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs). All major suppliers appear to be ready to provide this option at no or very modest additional cost. On the detached home above, this rather sim­ ple change would reduce the embodied carbon by as much as 2.5 tonnes. Next, substitute an air source heat pump for a traditional air conditioner and provide your homeowner with one of the new smart thermostats that optimizes a dual fuel approach to heating. Use the natural gas furnace only during extremely cold periods or 7 SINGLE DETACHED HOME (2,770 ft2) TOWNHOME (1,390 ft2) INTERIOR UNIT TOTAL EMBODIED CARBON 41.4 CARBON- EQUIVALENT TONNES (CO2e) 23.3 CO2e CONCRETE 14.5 CO2e 10.3 CO2e CLADDING 3.5 CO2e — BRICK 0.39 CO2e — SIDING WINDOWS 3.1 CO2e 1.93 CO2e INSULATION 4.98 CO2e 2.81 CO2e DRYWALL 4.22 CO2e 4.07 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON PER YEAR 3.6 CO2e 1.92 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON OVER EIGHT YEARS 28.8 CO2e 15.36 CO2e CO2e is a term for describing different greenhouse gases in a common unit. For any quantity and type of greenhouse gas, CO2e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming impact. The carbon equivalent for a specific product or system includes the inputs of all materials, manufacturing processes and even transportation and installation impacts. For the operational carbon, consideration is given to how electricity is generated and the makeup of the natural gas for each local market. For example, the Ontario electrical grid is fed from a combination of hydroelectric, nuclear, wind and natural gas- powered generation. This mix is included in the operational carbon calculation.
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 when the price of electricity is at peak pricing. This can reduce operational carbon by as much as 1.4 tonnes without increasing embodied carbon or operating costs for the homeowner. Finally, when combined with the airtightness improvement, the total operational reduction is 2.0 tonnes per year. The table above summarizes the total impact of these three rather simple and cost-effective measures: three phone calls to your concrete supplier, your HVAC contractor and the air sealing professionals. The result is a 42% reduction between now and 2030, nicely aligned with our national commitment for a 40% to 45% reduction by that important target date. While carbon counting may seem like a complex process, in fact there are already resources and strategies available for immediate action. Do it now, while it counts. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. CURRENT SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE SINGLE DETACHED HOME NEW SPECIFICATIONS: • CONCRETE WITH FLY-ASH • ACH50 AIRTIGHTNESS • HEAT PUMP EMBODIED CARBON 41.4 CO2e 39 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON PER YEAR 3.6 CO2e 1.6 CO2e OPERATIONAL CARBON OVER EIGHT YEARS 28.8 CO2e 12.8 CO2e TOTAL CARBON BY 2030 70.2 CO2e 40.8 CO2e 8 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 40 | WINTER 2021 R egular readers of Better Builder may recall my summer 2021 article, where I raised some concerns with respect to embodied carbon and the future of high- performance homebuilding. In the article, I introduced a project that RESCON has been following. One of our builder members, Christian Rinomato – who is a passionate sustainability advocate with Country Homes – has an interesting initiative underway in Milton. The Super-Semi Discovery Project involves two semi-detached homes, each with their own innovative building techniques to best support environmental efficiency and sustainability. Each home will use its own energy advisor and receive third- party verification: one under the Net Zero program developed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and the other under the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score to produce a low-carbon and cost- efficient home. The performance of both homes will be measured and compared as families occupy each semi for one year, with statistics extrapolated and interpreted for long- term analysis. Through this year-long endeavour, Country Homes hopes to gain impor­ tant insights into how to optimize homebuilding techniques and build sustainable homes for the future. Some of the key highlights and differences between the two semi- detached homes are that the Net Zero home employs a roof-mounted solar array and uses solely electricity for the separate heat pump-based space and hot water heating systems. By contrast, the other semi with a HERS score of 38 uses a combination heat system, where a natural gas-fired condensing tankless water heater provides domestic hot water for the home as well as powers the hydronic air handler, thereby eliminating the need for a separate furnace and hot water heater. The HERS semi is also equipped with a Panasonic EverVolt home battery storage solution, whereby the lithium-ion battery can be optimized to store power during the cheapest off-peak time of use (TOU) to provide peak shaving during 9 Futureproofing Benchmarking Emerging Technologies with the Super-Semi Discovery Project industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS Country Homes’ Christian Rinomato, Head of Sustainability (left), and Corey McBurney, Managing Director, Sustainability, at the Super-Semi Discovery Project in Milton. SO PH I E R I N O M ATO
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 10 the highest on-peak TOU rates, while also providing the added feature of backup power during outages. A key differentiator with the Net Zero home is that it obviously generates no operational carbon as it relies on electricity for all space and water heating, whereas the HERS semi still uses one gas-fired appliance for combination heat. What really makes this comparison project interesting is that both homes will be occupied for one year and the utilities will be monitored. At the time of writing this article, the semi-detached homes were just completed, and I was able to tour and see these technologies installed and operating in these homes. Without getting into too much pricing detail, the Net Zero home added approximately $50,000 in premiums above what a similar Code- built house would have cost, and the HERS 38 home came in right about half of that, at roughly $15,000 in extras. Most of this cost is the battery storage system. Obviously, the big-ticket item which contributed to notable cost diff­ erences between the two semis was the solar panel array in the Net Zero home. With construction now complete and the final costs tabulated, a detailed payback period and cost-benefit analysis will be compiled based on the utility costs over the next year of occupancy in each home. I look forward to seeing how this plays out and what level of greenhouse gas emission reductions we will see in the HERS semi versus the utility savings in the Net Zero home, all benchmarked against the costs. As part of this pilot project, Christian will also What really makes this comparison project interesting is that both homes will be occupied for one year and the utilities will be monitored.
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 give his insight into the necessary collaboration with the energy raters, designers and trades who all worked to facilitate this project, highlighting any challenges or obstacles that had to be overcome. The focus of this winter edition of Better Builder is on futureproofing, and this happens to be a timely issue as the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project was just completed in Milton. The two different strategies in the project will provide a lot of useful information over the next year to the production homebuilding industry which constructs housing for the homebuying masses. As regulatory requirements and building codes push housing to achieve increased levels of energy efficiency and emissions reductions, emerging technologies – such as those employed in the Country Homes project – will likely become more mainstream as regulations advance (most notably electrification of space and water heating equipment as well as solar panel systems and/or battery storage). Depending on when these types of technologies become mandatory, a few considerations come to mind: namely, the supply chain of these products and technologies in our marketplace as well as the ability of the trades to keep pace with the evolving technology requirements while still maintaining construction productivity. I was happy to see a recent announcement from our premier and provincial government, citing a “driving prosperity” strategy to invest in and develop battery production in Ontario, specifically establishing and supporting an electric battery supply chain ecosystem in our province. The idea is to leverage our critical mineral wealth in Ontario’s north, supporting a broader supply chain that includes mining and the refining of those minerals required for manufacturing batteries. A key part of that strategy involves opening up the so-called Ring of Fire mineral deposit. The Ring of Fire is rich in its supply of minerals used in batteries and energy storage systems, including cobalt, lithium, manganese, nickel, graphite and copper. The overarching strategy involves not only mining and manufacturing batteries here in Ontario, but also eventually manufacturing electric vehicles. It’s no secret that these types of products are now largely sourced from producers in overseas countries, so hopefully having a local supply chain on a technology like batteries will eventually make these products more financially palatable. Not to mention the industry has become more sensitive to supply chain logistic challenges during the pandemic and the associated soaring shipping container freight costs driving up prices for products manufactured elsewhere in the world. Figuring out how to best make homes more environmentally sustainable from a technical standpoint is one part of the challenge. The other is moving forward with a strategy that can balance affordability and constructability yet still achieve increasing energy efficiency. This ties closely to another top-of- mind issue for the industry as well as governments: the cost of buying or renting a home. The soaring price of housing in Ontario is poised to become the next big pre-election issue for the premier. It comes as home sale prices in the province are in the midst of a second straight year of double-digit annual increases, even beyond the Greater Toronto Area. The provincial government announced earlier this month that it’s creating a task force on housing affordability. The mandate will be to provide recommendations “to make housing more affordable for Ontario families,” which can consider matters such as measures to increase housing supply, how to streamline the development approvals process and technical construction practices that can boost productivity. Therefore, initiatives such as the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project are so important for builders as they pilot with their trades and suppliers how to best deliver sustainable housing offerings in a cost-effective manner. Keep reading the magazine and following along as we highlight the performance attributes and utility costs of this comparison project. BB Paul De Berardis is the director of building science and innovation for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). Email him at deberardis@rescon.com 11 Hopefully having a local supply chain on a technology like batteries will eventually make these products more financially palatable.
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 H eating design might not get much attention as a huge contributor to energy efficiency, but Doug McCallum never let that bother him. His pursuit of excellence has naturally led to constantly improving the way heating systems are designed and delivered. When he started out in the 1980s, heating design was very simple. “It was all about heat loss and duct lay- out, duct sizing,” he says. “But things have changed, and the SB-12 stan- dards we’re designing to now are a moving target with new compliances, a constantly changing Building Code. You really have to keep on top of it.” In 1983, after graduating from Humber as a mechanical engineering technologist and then nine years working for others in the industry, he started his own business: McCallum HVAC Design. He worked out of a bedroom in his home, drawing designs in pencil with a program he’d learned. “In those days,” he says, “if you installed heating systems, you first had to provide a drawing for the builder. It also depended on the municipality, though. Some expected a full heating design; others didn’t.” To further hone his skills and become certified as a designer, he continued taking courses in ventila­ tion and commercial design through the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI). “I wanted to show clients I knew what I was doing,” he says. As his skills grew, so did the business, and he hired a designer with AutoCAD experience. “Finding someone with that skill was hard in the ’90s because it was such a new technology, and somewhat complicated.” Joanne McCallum, Doug’s wife and the company’s co-owner/ business director, joined McCallum HVAC Design after nearly 30 years as a supply chain executive in the pharmaceuticals industry. To manage the company’s growth, she conducts a daily huddle so that everyone is on the same page and knows what’s happening each day. Doug credits intensive training for the company’s stellar growth. “We want an educated staff, so everyone gets HRAI training. Some companies think if you train your staff, they’ll leave. But if conditions are good, and they are treated well, people don’t leave.” This much training is necessary, he explains, “because the industry is changing. There’s geothermal, in-floor radiant, net zero, and so on. Things change so frequently, and the changes are more challenging. Looking back 30 years, it’s like night and day.” He doesn’t have a problem with the constant changes, and Joanne agrees. “Thanks to our training, we are able to walk builders through programs such as Savings by Design. We know what R-values are necessary and how to adjust for heat loss, which will be lower when they use Savings by Design or ENERGY STAR. This in turn affects the equipment chosen – you can go with smaller equipment, which uses less energy and ultimately is kinder to the wallet,” she says. Also known as “right sizing,” the importance of using the right equip­ ment can’t be underestimated, Doug says. “When we design the right size 13 Heating Design The Unsung Hero of Energy Efficiency sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN Doug credits intensive training for the company’s stellar growth. “We want an educated staff, so everyone gets HRAI training.” Doug McCallum of McCallum HVAC Design LI SA W E S TL A K E
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 14 – and the right type – of equipment for heat distribution systems, you’re able to control not just the temperature but also the relative humidity.” Designing a home above code causes a significant drop in heat loss calculation, Doug says: “Not down all the way to net zero, but it certainly allows for smaller equipment. They’ve been doing a lot of fan coil systems, especially in smaller townhomes that have small loads. And builders are doing way more towns these days because of the cost of real estate.” Climate change has changed our priorities too, Doug says, with heating now taking a back seat to cooling. “With summers so much hotter – and homes being built with more glazing – the cooling system really needs to be designed properly with respect to the home’s size.” To handle these changes and increase efficiency, zone systems are becoming more prevalent, and in-floor radiant heat is becoming a more common source of primary heat, Doug says. He’s finding more clients these days are keen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are doing the research to learn about how to tackle environmental concerns. He’s been getting more clients interested in whether they have the right conditions to install geothermal and whether they could ready their home for net zero. The company has done several net zero, or net zero accordant, homes over the past year. “It’s really on the upswing.” “A lot of clients, architects, builders and homeowners are right into the discussion on above-code systems,” Doug says. With the pandemic keeping people at home, they’ve been research- ing building science and asking what to do pre-emptively. “I call it optimiza- tion – that sweet spot between the cost of the system and energy savings.” Doug is seeing more homes built with a glass-to-wall ratio of over 22% – over 100 in the past year alone – and that’s when he calls in energy advisors like John Godden. They go over the architectural drawings to computer model and come back with R-values and specifications. The business continues to grow. Now, half his clients are custom one- off residences, and the rest are builders of large tract developments. By the end of this year, he will have designed the heating systems for 750 custom homes and countless developments. Currently, he employs eight heating designers. And he’s finally moved the office out of his home. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. 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. “A lot of clients, architects, builders and homeowners are right into the discussion on above-code systems,” Doug says. With the pandemic keeping people at home, they’ve been researching building science and asking what to do pre-emptively.
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 16 B ased on current standards, the general perception is that, as an industry, we have pretty much maxed out how energy efficient we can make homes, at least from a technological and envelope tightness perspective. The next bastion we tackled was the amount of embodied carbon we put in homes, a topic we explored in great detail with the work Country Homes was doing with its Super-Semi Discovery Project (see “No Country for Old Ways” in the winter 2020 issue). This is an ongoing battle. Now, in the endless quest to make homes more energy efficient, builders are turning their focus towards the actual people that inhabit those houses. Given that occupant loads consume 52% of the energy in a new home (see pie chart on page 4), how can we devise strategies to alter occupant behaviour related to the consumption of electricity? This exact dynamic – the potential savings of reducing occupant-created loads – will be examined starting in January 2022 in one of Country Homes’ super semis, thanks to a partnership between one of the world’s largest electronic giants and an award- featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN New technology may help address the next hurdle in energy efficiency: occupant behaviour. winning Canadian invention. Panasonic’s EverVolt battery storage system, when used in conjunction with Swidget and its smart control insert, will allow homeowners to peak shave – a technique that can make a huge difference on your energy bill. It’s actually quite a simple concept: you charge your home battery storage system during off-hours, when electricity from the grid is cheaper, and then use the system to power your home during peak hours, when electricity costs are higher. Swidget manufactures the control devices that make this granular level BEHAVIOURAL STUDIES
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 17 of control possible. It makes a range of smart inserts that, when paired with a specific type of device, provide homeowners with an unparalleled level of control of their smart home through an app. “Our switch, dimmer, and 15-amp and 20-amp outlets all have current sensors built into the device,” says Justin Arghittu, Swidget’s director of sales. “When coupled with a control insert module, the device will report power wattage accurately and in real- time within the Swidget app.” A Jolt for Swidget Swidget will get a real jolt thanks to a recent deal with Panasonic that entails Panasonic’s lines of energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) and ventilation fan products becoming the sole distribution channel in North America for Swidget’s air quality sensor control insert. In one of the Country Homes demo units, both the ERV system and battery storage solution will be tested with the Swidget inserts. Arghittu says that this is a great way to get the most out of your ERV. “Adding Swidget smart controls to your home’s ventilation ecosystem ensures that you are using your ERV in an energy-efficient way while providing the most optimal indoor air quality.” In this instance, the control insert modules will wirelessly relay infor­ mation about air quality, temper­ ature, humidity and occupancy from various areas of the home back to the ERV so that it operates on demand based on real-time data. Arghittu says this provides several benefits to homeowners, including ensuring that they get fresh, optimal air quality when it’s needed and on demand; real-time information about the air quality; the reassurance that Country Homes is exploring different approaches to state-of-the-art building systems in their semi-detached Super-Semi Discovery Project (corner lot with solar panels) in Milton, Ontario. In addition to assessing the impact of contrasting building methodologies and technologies on carbon and energy costs, they will also track and analyze occupant behaviours in each home with a view to future applications. LU C A S PAVA N
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 18 panels and can be retrofitted fairly easily; plus, it’s great for new builds as well. The DC version is solar focused and is a bit more efficient, he says. Roughly the size of a dishwasher, the EverVolt is available in multiple storage capacity options. The standard system holds 11 kilowatt hours and can scale up to 100 kilowatt hours. In terms of usage, Kraus says users will want to focus on essential loads, similar to a backup generator – fridge, furnace, some lights and a few outlets. Hooked up to those loads, the 11-kilowatt hours system will provide anywhere from four to 12 hours of usage, and the 100-kilowatt system will offer 40 to 120 hours. And if you install solar alongside it, he adds, you can continue powering your battery forever, and essentially go off grid. Kraus explains that other than peak shaving, you can set the battery system to be in natural disaster mode, which involves fully charging it and holding that charge for a couple of days if you believe serious weather is coming that could cause a blackout. Traditionally, Kraus says, energy bills only display your usage in the past, and perhaps you can make changes to affect that in the future. However, the EverVolt allows you real-time viewing of your energy, whether from the grid, the battery or the solar panel. Getting Granular Tack Swidget onto that, and users get a far more granular perspective of their energy usage, down to specific outlets. Armed with this information, they can discover the real energy-sucking culprits in their homes and address the ventilation system is providing clean, fresh air; and notification when the filter needs changing. Scott Kraus, group manager, energy products for Panasonic Canada, believes that finding ways to alter occupant behaviour is a good approach in the ongoing battle to reduce our carbon footprint. “We’re reaching the most efficient we can build a home, so now we need to look at other things, and the behaviour side is a big one.” Solar Flair In the Country Homes demo, Pana­ sonic is using its battery-only Ever­ Volt, but it also offers one with a battery, inverter and connected solar array. Kraus says it comes in two flavours: an AC system and a DC system. The AC version (no solar) connects to existing DISCOVERY HOME HARDWOOD FLOORING CRAFT HARDWOOD FLOORING Woodfrom100%sustainablesources. WHY? Wecaredeeplyaboutusingwoodfromsustainablesources. ThisDiscoveryHomesinitiativewillallowustotryanew supplierandseehowtheirproductstandsup. 8 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN DISCOVERY HOME INSULATION ROCKWOOL R-24 BATT INSULATION Aninnovativefibreglassalternativethathasalower carbonfootprint,isfire-andmould-resistant,isproduced locallyandhasahighrecycledcontent. WHY? Overthelifetimeofitsuse,thisinsulationwillsave 100timesthecarbonemittedvs.traditionalinsulation. 2 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN DISCOVERY HOME INDOOR AIR QUALITY MONITOR SWIDGET RECEPTACLES INSERTS Theabilitytomonitortheindoorenvironmentgiveshomeowners greatercontroloftheircomfortandenergyuse.Theswappable insertsintheSwidgetsystemallowusto“futureproof”ourhomes. WHY? Thefutureofgreenbuildingincludessmarttechnologies. Wewanttoseehowthemonitorswillcommunicatewith thehome’sHVACsysteminoptimizingindoorairquality. 7 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN Country Homes is testing a range of products in their Discovery Home. Above, carbon neutral flooring from CRAFT will be put through its paces. Antony Zanini shows off the Panasonic EverVolt battery storage system that uses peak shaving to store electricity at night. LU C A S PAVA N
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 those problem areas accordingly. Arghittu says Swidget has control inserts that not only make devices smart, but can add sensing functionality. For instance, there’s a motion sensor which can turn a light switch on based on someone walking into the room. More importantly, they have vacancy detection so it can turn itself off when no one’s in the room. And all this functionality is customizable based on rules users set up in the app. This could mean significant savings when dealing with a big power consumer, like a space heater in the home office. Having it turn off when the Swidget senses vacancy in the room will really help. That’s just one way Swidget deals with power consumption issues. Another benefit is the alerts, Arghittu says, “so you can get notified when you’re consuming power.” Not that we’re dealing with canine psyches, but the idea here is almost Pavlovian: receive that notification enough times, and you’re likely to alter your behaviour. “So we can change some of the habits,” he says. Arghittu says users can set up schedules to turn off all non-essential power and switches during the day, which is especially helpful with vampire power – devices that draw electricity even when they’re not being used. This includes items like TVs, gaming consoles, computers, monitors, digital cable boxes and anything with a clock on it (like microwave ovens). Most Are Unaware All these devices constantly consume power, yet most people are unaware of that. “The only reason I know that is because I have them plugged into a Swidget device,” he says. Arghittu estimates that it was costing him well over $100 in wasted energy costs annually. So by employing the various strategies outlined above, he figures he’s getting about one free month of hydro per year. That’s a pretty impressive discount for simply making some slight tweaks to your behaviour. In this instance, perhaps we can teach an old dog new tricks. Somewhere, Ivan Pavlov is nodding approvingly. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 19 DISCOVERY HOME SMART ELECTRICAL PANEL LEVITON SMART ELECTRICAL PANEL Thesmartwaytocontrolyourhome’selectricalsystem. WHY? Controlsenergyuserightfromthepowersource, andevenprovidestheopportunitytoshutdown phantomloadsrightfromtheuser’sphone. 12 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN DISCOVERY HOME ERV PANASONIC 83% ENERGY RECOVERY VENTILATOR (ERV) Energyrecoveryventilatorsareastandardfeatureinenergy efficienthomestoensureindoorairquality. WHY? ThePanasonicERVisconnectedwiththeSwidget monitorstoautomaticallyturnonandoffasneeded. 13 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN Brian Cooke of AeroBarrier. The Glow THWH combo system (left) provides primary heating. Panasonic’s new ERV 200 (right) is exhaust-ducted to all bathrooms to provide balanced ventilation. DISCOVERY HOME AIR BARRIER AEROBARRIER AIR SEALING TECHNOLOGY Aninnovativeenvelope-sealingtechnologythatimproves energyefficiencybyachievingexceptionalair-tightness. WHY? Air-tightnesscanbeachallengewhenbuildingproduction homes.Wewanttotesthowmuchofanimpactair tightnesscontributestoenergyefficiency. 5 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN LU C A S PAVA N LU C A S PAVA N
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 20 industrynews / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ A family buys their first high- performance, better-than- Code home. Equipped with a tight building envelope, efficient windows and the latest in energy- saving technology, they are confident that their new home will save them money on their energy bills and help them greatly reduce their carbon footprint. A few months after moving in, they realize that their energy bills are not dropping as much as they had expected. What could be wrong? According to Ontario building scientist Michael Lio, whose company was the project lead in Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Net-Zero Energy Housing Demonstration Project a couple of years ago, saving energy really depends on the behaviour of homeowners. In the ground-breaking project, five leading builders across Canada built 26 market-ready net zero homes that produce at least as much energy as they consume in a year. In a media interview regarding the project, Lio observed, “These houses are only net zero in simulation. If the homeowners keep the TV on all night, or sleep with the windows open, they won’t work. In reality, there are no net zero homes – only net zero occupants.” The latest government data shows that buildings, including homes, account for almost 20% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions (factoring in space and water heating, as well as electricity use for cooling, lighting and appliances).1 The demand for electricity in Canada is intensive, according to NRCan. In 2016, residential electricity use made up 33% of the country’s total electricity demand. Energy modelling of a reference house conducted by the Ontario Building Code showed that 41% of electricity use is due to “occupant loads”: air conditioning, lighting and appliances. “We know that electricity demand is going up, with more of us relying on digital devices and appliances in the home,” says Dan Murphy, director of business development – home builders with the Canadian division of Schneider Electric, a global leader in digital energy management and automation. “Add to that lighting not being turned off, fans running continually, poorly functioning equipment and ‘phantom power’ – anything electronic that is constantly plugged in drawing electricity, such as computers and TVs.” On a global scale, Murphy points to the current trends of decarbonization and electric vehicle production and use as contributing factors in increasing electricity consumption. On its website, Schneider Electric cites “megatrends” as provoking a rise in energy demand: • Urbanization: an increase of over 2.5 billion people in cities by 2050; • Digitization: 30 billion connected things currently; and • Industrialization: leading to an increase in energy consumption of over 50% by 2050. A chart on the website illustrates “massive untapped efficiency poten­ tial” – 82% “unrealized” in buildings. Saving Energy at Home It’s Really Up to the Occupant 1 https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2021/05/27/making-homes-more-energy- efficient-reduce-energy-bills-create-jobs. Wiser’s energy monitor can be installed in 15 minutes by an electrician on any panel with breakers.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 Energy system, such as an awareness of lights on in rooms when they are not being used. It is somewhat ironic that it takes a digital solution (powered by electricity) to help alleviate increasing electricity use, which is partly due to the pervasiveness of digital devices and appliances in the home. But the fact remains that HEMS devices like Wiser Energy are an important tool for energy conservation in the home. The Wiser monitoring system is being used to monitor whole-house electrical consumption in the Country Homes Super-Semi Discovery Project (see page 16). “Consumers of energy monitoring systems were primarily eco-conscious people two years ago,” says Murphy. “Today, with climate change in the mainstream and top of people’s minds, the timing is right for our Wiser product.” 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. Increasingly, occupant behaviour with energy use in the home is being recognized as a major factor in reducing energy consumption, which can vary by up to 150% annually between active occupants (who monitor their electricity use) and passive occupants. A research paper from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (2010) studied home energy monitoring systems (HEMS) and their use in homes, exploring “the extent to which participants manage to sustain their initial electricity savings over time, with a special focus on the development of habitual energy- saving behaviour.” The Netherlands study came up with the following results and observations: Initial savings in energy consumption were 7.8% after four months (but could not be sustained in the medium to long term); • Certain groups of people seem more receptive to energy-saving interventions than others (these participants quickly develop new habits and exhibit larger energy savings); • For HEMS to be effective, a deeper understanding is needed that embraces social science, contextual factors, usability and interaction design research. The concept of HEMS is simple: if you can see how you, your devices and your appliances are using electricity, you can make adjustments to reduce your home’s energy use. An advanced HEMS product from Schneider Electric, the Wiser Energy system, does exactly that. Installed by an electrical contractor beside the electrical panel in as little as 15 minutes, the device monitors critical electrical equipment in the home, continually checking appliance and lighting consumption, and offering real-time reporting via an app that displays electricity use by source as bubbles. The larger the bubble, the more electricity is being used by the source. “Based on the information supplied by the Wiser app, home occupants can identify electricity waste and potential appliance problems, and adjust their behaviour accordingly,” says Murphy. “This intelligence gives homeowners peace of mind because they can visibly and instantly see which of their appliances are on. It also helps them prevent big appliance repairs, take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity, estimate monthly energy consumption and ultimately save money on their electricity bills.” When asked how much energy homeowners can expect to save by monitoring their use and adjusting their behaviour accordingly, Murphy replied that not much data is available, but Schneider will be testing with builders, including real-life monitoring of occupant behaviours via the Wiser 21 The success of HEMS depends on homeowner interface.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 22 industryexpert / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ L ights and fans are left on in unused rooms. A sump pump seems to be running constantly. The fridge is gobbling up electricity. These are only a few of the culprits in the home that can be stealing energy and driving up electricity bills. And they appear as bubbles on a smart new device called Wiser Energy from Schneider Electric. Simply put, Wiser Energy is a device that monitors critical electrical equipment in the home. It continually checks energy consumption by appliance and offers real-time reporting so that home occupants can identify waste and potential appliance problems and adjust their usage behaviour accordingly. The energy use of appliances, devices and lighting is displayed as bubbles on an app. The bigger the bubble, the more electricity is being used. With an easy-to-use mobile app, occupants can easily see what is turned on and how much energy it’s using. Wiser Energy can identify abnormal energy use patterns which indicate potential problems, such as a malfunctioning refrigerator that may, at the least, require a simple cleaning of refrigerant coils, or an unusual pattern in the HVAC system. The device allows homeowners to spot inefficiencies that increase their bills, take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity and estimate their monthly energy consumption. “The Wiser Energy device can be installed inside the electrical panel (by an electrical contractor) in as little as 15 minutes,” says Dan Murphy, director of business development – home builders with Schneider Electric Canada. “Every electrical device in the home has a unique electrical current fingerprint. Wiser Energy learns these signatures and determines all energy drivers within the home. People get the information they need to make smart decisions about their energy use. The Wiser device makes it easy.” And “there’s also a safety consider­ ation,” Murphy adds. “The system can provide notifications about when items are turned on or off, so that occupants can be alerted if they leave their garage door open or an iron turned on.” Schneider Electric, which offers the Wiser Energy systems and other home solutions to homeowners and builders, was founded over 180 years ago in France. It is a global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation. According to the Schneider website, the company is “driving digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, software and services, enabling integrated company management for homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries.” Schneider believes that access to energy and digital is a basic human right. “Our generation is facing a tectonic shift in energy transition and industrial revolution catalyzed by digitization in a more electric world,” Wiser Energy Empowering Homeowners to be Smarter DISCOVERY HOME ENERGY MONITOR WISER SMART HOME ENERGY MONITOR Helpshomeownerskeeptabsontheirenergy useinrealtimeforamoreefficienthome. WHY? Thissystemwillprovideuswithgreaterinsightsinto energyloadsandtheimpactonoccupantbehaviour. 6 TO DISCOVER MORE, SCAN The device allows homeowners to spot inefficiencies, take advantage of cheaper off- peak electricity, and estimate their monthly energy consumption.
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 24 its company profile states. “Electricity is the most efficient and best vector for decarbonization. Schneider’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this ‘Life Is On.’” In 2021, Corporate Knights, a Canadian media and research company that develops rankings and product ratings based on corporate sustainability performance, awarded Schneider Electric the top spot among the global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. Besides curbing its own CO2 emissions by 250,000 metric tons in 24 months by shifting to renewable energy, the company claims that its energy- efficient technologies and services saved 120 million metric tons of CO2 on their customers’ behalf in 2020. Schneider earned 70% of its revenue from sustainable solutions, while 73% of its investments were directed towards sustainability. In 2021, Schneider partnered with KB Homes, one of the largest homebuilders in the U.S., to provide “grid-to-plug” innovation in the builder’s new ENERGY STAR-certified community in California. The homes incorporate the Square D Energy Centre and connected wiring devices to offer homeowners great levels of control, energy efficiency and resiliency. Schneider is now reaching out to Canadian builders with an invitation to partner with them to create a better, more efficient and more sustainable living environment for their clients. Prior to joining Schneider Electric Canada, Murphy had been working with homebuilders for the past five years. “In Canada, we are actively connecting with homebuilders, electricians and electrical distributors to showcase all of our solutions,” he says. Besides the Wiser energy management system, Schneider offers numerous home solutions such as load centres, breakers, wiring devices, wifi-enabled switches, receptacles, cover plates, whole-house surge protectors, uninterrupted power and backup supply systems, and air/ distribution systems. “In 2023, we will be introducing the Wiser Energy Centre in Canada. It is designed to manage the increasing electricity needs of homes, creating a hub that allows homeowners to manage the sources of energy in their home,” says Murphy. “It will appeal to people who want to live more sustainably, as well as those who have complicated home energy systems and requirements.” The Wiser Energy Centre will prioritize power from solar panels or storage batteries when it’s available, automatically switching to renewable energy, thereby maximizing the use of solar panels while minimizing the home’s carbon footprint. It will use data – including the energy tariff, the time, the weather and household energy consumption patterns – to help manage the system and decide how to store and use power. The system will also divide power usage into critical and non-critical loads, meaning that in the event of a power cut, stored energy to non-critical appliances will be cut off, while the fridge, the freezer and the home security system stay on. “Our goal is to help homebuilders build more attractive, comfortable and sustainable homes,” says Murphy. “Builders are driven by codes. Our products can help them build smarter – beyond Code. Large builders like Schneider partner KB Homes in the U.S. are embracing grid-to-plug solutions. We want to connect with Canadian builders to learn what they’re doing, better understand them and showcase our solutions to them. We can help builders, and they can help us. Why is energy monitoring important? Because it provides home occupants the data they need to help them save energy and money – and improve safety and resiliency – all without compromising their comfort.” 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. “Builders are driven by codes. Our products can help them build smarter – beyond Code.” Dan Murphy
  25. 25. Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 27 industryexpert / BRIAN JACKSON These systems have advantages over a typical forced air gas furnace and water tank: combi systems can be easily zoned, are more efficient if properly selected, have only one fuel- burning source, can provide better occupant comfort and will integrate easily into a dual fuel designed system. For these reasons they have become more popular in new construction and renovation designs. There are many design approaches to combi systems, but one in particu- lar has been more frequently utilized, primarily due to capital cost consid- erations: the use of a wall-hung water heater with a heat source (typically a hydronic fan coil). I am not an advocate of this design as a water heater is purpose-designed and rated for DHW production (high water-side temperature rise) and it is perform­ ance rated using a Department of Energy test procedure to determine a uniform energy factor (UEF). This test involves water draws at various flows but always at 67°F +/- temperature rise, which is domestic water terri- tory, and with a supply temperature of 125°F. These are not space heating conditions where the supply temper­ ature is higher, the temperature rise is 15°F to 20°F and the flow is typically constant. A high UEF is in no way an indication of a well-performing space heating source. When applying this system design, there are additional considerations that you should be aware of: 1. You are introducing potable water into the heating system and vice versa. You have to safeguard against legionella and contaminants when you mix systems. We’ll discuss this later. 2. A typical DHW heater capacity is 199 MBH with a 10:1 turn down, which gives you a minimum firing input rate of 19.9 MBH. Most attached housing has a heat loss of under 25,000 BTUH and you are operating at less than 40% of this load 90% of the time (CSA P.9-11). So if the space heating is running below 10 MBH 90% of the time, it will cause the water heater to cycle. This will make the equipment horribly inefficient and, since life cycle is defined in cycles and not run time, the lifetime of the water heater will be reduced. That being said, water heaters are used quite often, probably due to cost and naïveté. The updated B214 gives some clarifications when using potable water. First off, all components in contact with the potable water must be intended for use in a potable water system. All of the following conditions must be met when using potable water as a hydronic heating fluid: • A maximum of one heat source per potable water loop. • The total length of piping shall not exceed 50 feet. • The total volume of the system shall not exceed 13.1 gallons. • The supply water temperature to the heat source must not be lower than 140°F. • To prevent stagnation, an automatic means will be provided to flush the heating system for at least five minutes over every 24-hour period (there is a calculation to reduce this number based on volume and flow). Designing with water heaters does present challenges. This standard states the minimum supply water temperature can be only 140°F to the heating device. Most water heater manufacturers will allow only a maximum 140°F to 145°F set point on their equipment to allow the use of PVC venting. You may be required to set the appliance at 145°F to allow for piping losses and ensure 140°F at the fan coil. In doing this, it is critical to ensure the Combi Systems CSA B214:21 Installation Code for Hydronic Heating Systems Update I n January of this year, CSA Group introduced their updated standard for the installation of hydronic heating systems. This standard has some terrific information included and I would suggest all designers have a copy on hand. One of the systems covered in the standard is combi systems, which are hydronic-based mechanical systems that are designed to provide both domestic hot water (DHW) and space heating.
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 28 DHW anti-scald mixing valve is set correctly to ensure no harm comes to the occupants. Just last week, we were asked by a municipality in the Greater Toronto Area to select the fan coil size based on the capacity at 130°F entering water as this was the number stated in the 1997 combi guideline. This request caused us to over-size by at least one size every fan coil and consequently over-size the duct work on the entire site. To comply with CSA B214, we still had to set the water temperature to a minimum of 140°F. A handful of diligent fan coil man- ufacturers have completed various CSA P.9-11 tests to benchmark combi system performance. At present, the P.9 result is mandatory for ENERGY STAR for New Homes projects but will be required as our Building Code and other special programs evolve. The format of these tests is rigid and the tests are expensive, so designers’ choices are limited. I just completed a quick five-minute review of the first page of the Natural Resources Canada P.9 directory to see six test results that are no longer Code compliant because they used a water heater and the enter- ing water temperature is too low to comply with B214. Use of a wall-hung combination unit or boiler negates all these issues and typically gets you an ASME-certified unit that requires less service and has a longer lifespan at a higher space heating operating efficiency. Be careful when applying water heaters as part of a combi system. It can be done, but make sure your designer is well informed. BB Brian Jackson, P.Eng. is a consulting engineer currently working with the development and testing of Glow boilers. His experience spans 35 years, including extensive P9-11 testing. 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 Be careful when applying water heaters as part of a combi system. It can be done, but make sure your designer is well informed.
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 30 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY O ver the years, I’ve engaged with numerous stakeholders about how to build a better home. At times it can be a very frustrating experience – somewhat equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I’ve used my ongoing “discussions” with code officials and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) about low solar glass. As a high-performance builder, I find it frustrating that I have to explain to people why I use windows that do not meet ENERGY STAR requirements for the zone they are in. I wear it as a badge of honour at this point, as I want stakeholders to know why selecting the right window specifications is more important than worrying about meeting a window specification requirement that is so out of touch with the actual needs of the occupants and the buildings they live/work/spend time in. In a nutshell, NRCan has set the program – specifically, the ENERGY STAR program for windows – up to favour windows that gain heat. Now, imagine a high-performance build- ing that is designed to be balanced throughout and use a very low energy consumption. Then we add in an uncontrolled high heat gain event that happens every day – energy that you have to oversize your mechanical sys- tems to handle – that results in some rooms being too hot, with other rooms being too cold due to the excess cool- ing for the rooms that are overheating. The design answer? Oh, let’s go all out and add in a zoned system for a bunch more money. Makes sense, right? It doesn’t if you are thinking about streamlining, affordability, the comfort of occupants or the health of the planet. It’s just dumb. What does make sense is reducing the effects of intermittent, uncontrolled heat gain in a climate that is moving towards being cooling dominant. Remember when all those folks died tragically in British Columbia this past summer due to a heat dome? They needed air condition- ing and didn’t have it, and they needed windows that limited heat gain. But this article is not about win­ dows, so I will get off that particular soap box. No, this is something far more critical that we address now – before the National Building Code, followed by the provincial building codes, go down the wrong path as they pursue the Energy Step Code. What I am asking you to consider is that programs such as ENERGY STAR and Net Zero, while great aspirational goals as we learned how to build a more efficient housing stock, are the wrong goal when we look at the future Are You Ready for Industry (Carbon Reduction) Disruption? Operational carbon is a great starting point, but it’s only the start … what about the carbon we put into our buildings?
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 of our planet and the programs we will need to address climate change. I believe this is being reflected in the results coming out of COP26 that recently concluded in Glasgow, which included the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact. Here are a few critical points of agreement: 1. Reaffirms the Paris Agreement temperature goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; 2. Recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5°C compared with 2°C and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C; 3. Recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases; 4. Also recognizes that this requires accelerated action in this critical decade, on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge and equity, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national ening to know that Step 5 of the proposed code is pretty much Passive House. As a Net Zero builder, I am concerned why this additional cost burden was selected when there is minimal performance benefit for adding significantly more cost to a home, without considering afford­ ability. And if you aren’t aware, there is a massive housing crisis happen­ ing at the moment that has blown affordability out of the water across the province. We should all be up in arms at what this means to our communities and the future of our workforce. It will force automation upon us, as workers will be very selective where, and for whom, they will work. But here’s where it gets very inter­ esting. That home that exceeds the Net Zero requirements could ultimately result in a higher embodied carbon footprint than a Code-built home, or one built to Net Zero. Let’s take a home built with an exterior brick wall. We have to support the brick. With thicker insulation, this could result in more concrete being used for the foundation. Concrete is the largest carbon contributor of any product that we use, so more insulation can result in a higher carbon footprint for the insulation and the concrete. You do that enough times and you can put more carbon into the building than you can ever possibly save by solely looking at the operational carbon in 31 circumstances and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. So, what does this have to do with homebuilding? It means that we, as builders, are going to have to work with government to figure out how to reduce our carbon footprint of the houses that we build and renovate by 45% below 2010 levels and get to net zero by mid-century. No problem, you’re thinking: ENERGY STAR is already taking us down that path, and the Net Zero program will help us get all the way. After all, isn’t that why we have the Net Zero program? Not so fast! We’re missing a critical point, and that is specifically my argument. These programs focus on reducing energy consumption, which results in a reduction of operational carbon. But what about the carbon we put into our buildings? All that concrete, glass and steel came from somewhere, and it took a lot of energy to create it. What about transporting our materials to the jobsite? Do we know how much energy is consumed by having that pickup truck idle while the boys (and, hopefully, a lot more girls) are having their coffee break? Operational carbon is a great starting point, but it’s only the start. For instance, when we look at the new proposed step levels of the National Building Code, it’s disheart­ But here’s where it gets very interesting. That home that exceeds the Net Zero requirements could ultimately result in a higher embodied carbon footprint than a Code-built home, or one built to Net Zero.
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 2021 32 isolation. You don’t have to take my word alone on this: Chris Magwood at the Endeavour Centre is doing excellent work leading the way on counting carbon and how it can be scaled up for production builders to better understand their impact. Folks, this is coming, and it’s coming fast. That’s a big part of why I’ve been trying to finish my book, From Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes. I’m trying to share my experiences to help the industry prepare for this massive disruption. We have to get our focus past Net Zero housing and look at what I consider to be the four principles of modern design. What I recommend everyone do is first ensure that you have a really solid plan for dealing with water management and airtightness. Then, apply the four principles: 1. Look at carbon reduction (decar­ bonization) of your materials. 2. Adopt indoor air quality measures to ensure you are providing a safe environment. 3. Install climate-resilient construc­tion measures (you don’t meet your carbon targets if the building goes to the landfill after a storm). 4. Design for occupant comfort (this is a critical point that is typically, at best, an afterthought). If you design and build your housing to meet these four criteria, the energy consumption part of the equation is dealt with along the way. The next critical step is to engage with government and stakeholders at all levels to try and stop them from baking in bad pol- icy decisions that impact our collective ability to meet the COP26 goal of 45% by 2030. Maybe we should get that on t-shirts. After all, informed thinking and design have always been at the heart of futureproof- ing houses. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 40 | WINTER 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
  32. 32. Meet your Enbridge Gas Residential New Construction Team — We recognize the important work done by builders and developers across Ontario. We strive to be your energy provider of choice and are committed to ensuring that every builder’s experience with Enbridge Gas adds value. We provide assistance during the new construction process to promote best practices, innovation, energy-efficiency programs and training opportunities. Connect with your area representative today. Enbridge Gas © 2021 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. ENB 501 09/2021 Susan Cudahy Supervisor Strategic Builder Relationships, New Construction and Residential Sales 289-237-0068 susan.cudahy@enbridge.com Michelle Vestergaard Sr. Advisor Residential New Construction, Ontario-based Developers and Toronto Builders 905-717-6261 michelle.vestergaard@enbridge.com Don Armitage Sr. Analyst Residential New Construction, Ontario-based Community Expansion; Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough the Kawarthas Builders 705-750-7203 don.armitage@enbridge.com Garrett Fell 343-997-1509 garrett.fell@enbridge.com Eastern Ontario Lanark, Leeds/Grenville, Ottawa, Prescott/Russell, Renfrew and Cornwall Kain Allicock 437-223-2349 kain.allicock@enbridge.com GTA East Eastern Ontario (to Frontenac County) Durham, Frontenac, Hastings, Kingston, Lennox/Addington, Northumberland, Prince Edward County and York Region Michelle Nikitin 416-903-4274 michelle.nikitin@enbridge.com GTA West Northern Ontario Algoma, Dufferin, Halton, Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Peel, Simcoe and Sudbury Gina Mancini 519-564-7943 gina.mancini@enbridge.com Southwestern Ontario Chatham–Kent, Huron County, Lambton, London, Middlesex, Oxford, Perth County, St. Thomas, Elgin County and Windsor/Essex Joanne Van Panhuis 519-209-6345 joanne.vanpanhuis@enbridge.com Southeastern Ontario Brant, Bruce County, Grey County, Haldimand, Hamilton, Niagara Region, Norfolk and Wellington County

More Related Content

Related Books

Free with a 30 day trial from Scribd

See all

×