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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 41 / Spring 2022

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 41 / Spring 2022

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

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  1. 1. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 ISSUE 1… …ISSUE 40 YEARS OF 1O
  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 41 | SPRING 2022 16 1 FEATURE STORY 16 Intriguing Developments Stricter municipal standards over the last decade have made navigating the development process more challenging. by Rob Blackstien 3 ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 24 13 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 A Decade of Better Builder 10 Big Topics and 10 Big Points of View by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 The Crisis of Housing Affordability and Challenges of Building Affordable Homes by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 6 10 Changes In 10 Years by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 A Decade of Perspective by Paul De Berardis SITE SPECIFIC 13 Projects A Look from Both Sides of the Fence by Alex Newman INDUSTRY EXPERT 21 Home at Last Heathwood Homes Continues Its Commitment to Sustainability by Marc Huminilowycz INDUSTRY EXPERT 24 Gearing Up for Greening by Marc Huminilowycz FROM THE GROUND UP 30 The Radon Logic Trap An Excerpt from Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes by Doug Tarry On our cover: 10 covers from Better Builder’s 10 years of publication.
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 A Decade of Better Builder 10 Big Topics and 10 Big Points of View 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. “There is nothing new under the sun.” — Ecclesiastes 1:9 T he sun is the source of all energy on the planet. Whether stored as fossil fuels like oil and natural gas or in biomass like the rainforests, these sources have not changed. The “what” that we get our energy from is static. The “how” in which we satisfy our energy and shelter needs depends on our ingenuity. I started Better Builder 10 years ago on a challenge. A partner and colleague from Sustainable Builder told me that I did not have what it takes to carry on solo with a new magazine. Ask anybody that knows me: suggesting I can’t do something is the first step of me working to make that thing a reality. Wendy and I conceived, edited and laid out the first issue of Better Builder in Liverpool, New York, in a coffee shop named Freedom of Espresso in spring 2012. My hope is that the magazine has created a positive change over the last decade. On December 31, 2012, energy performance standards were codified under SB-12, where an EnerGuide Rating System ERS 80 appeared as a benchmark as Package J (the archetypal R-2000, ENERGY STAR version 4 house). In 2017, that threshold improved by 15% in Package A1 to exceed the Paris Agreement reductions of 37% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since then, on a global scale, COVID-19, direct challenges to democracy, and the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and now Ukraine have distracted us from dealing with climate change in sectors other than housing. The mandate of this magazine, then and now, is to bring together premium product manufacturers and leading builders to create better, differentiated homes that use less energy, save water and reduce the impact on the environment. Real change comes from motivation, education and awareness – not what we need to change, but how we are going to do it. In this 10th anniversary issue, we present and discuss 10 big topics and 10 big points of view. We have our regular crew of contributors, but we’ve also included interviews from five other influencers. The 10 big topics we review are zero energy as a goal, change in codes, housing supply and affordability, municipal overreach and red tape, water efficiency, moisture and radon in basements, integrated design through Savings by Design, skilled labour shortages, global warming potential (GWP) of building materials and, lastly, changing mechanical systems. Lou Bada discusses the irony of policy creating the challenge of housing afford­ ability (page 3). Gord Cooke discusses the process of road testing the Net Zero energy approach (page 6). Paul De Berardis counters with municipal overreach and challenges with Net Zero energy and Code harmonization changes (page 9). And on page 30, Doug Tarry comes full circle and ends up where he started in the very first issue: in the basement, as he explains approaches to dealing with radon. In closing, I will also finish off where I started – there is nothing new under the sun, only the promise of becoming better at building sustainably by approaching tomorrow in new and creative ways. Here’s to the next 10 years. BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 now present are the only way to meaningfully address the crisis. It is useful to look at some of the issues that are external to builders and their effect on our internal decisions. Externally, in a nutshell, govern­ ment land-use policies inadvertently created a mismatch in the supply and demand for housing. Federal policy to increase immigration levels, T he Oxford Dictionary defines a crisis as “a time of danger or great difficulty or a decisive moment; turning point,” originating from the Greek meaning of “decision.” I don’t believe you can find anyone today that would argue that it’s not a time of great difficulty for housing affordability in the Greater Toronto Area (or Canada, for that matter). The term “affordability crisis” is so easily spoken of now and no longer a contested subject. How this came to be is no longer a matter of great debate either: it was a series of short- sighted government policy decisions at all levels. Which decisions do we make now, as both the government and industry, to improve affordability? Blaming each other won’t help, but understanding the origins of the problem and the challenges they which are necessary for Canada to continue to grow, was not paired with provincial and municipal policies to increase land development approvals to develop housing to accommodate an expanding population. Federal immigration policies are of great consequence. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, approximately 400,000 new residents were brought into Canada in 2021. Between 100,000 and 150,000 have settled in Ontario (predominantly the GTA) each year since 2001. This obviously created increased demand for housing. Although desirable, government policies for increased immigration are flawed in their implementation. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for new Canadians created a problem: few recent immigrants are matched to the increasing requirement for new 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA The Crisis of Housing Affordability and Challenges of Building Affordable Homes BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 ISTOCKPHOTO Externally, in a nutshell, govern­ment land-use policies inadvertently created a mismatch in the supply and demand for housing.
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 where someone buys a home (usually a new home) and sells (assigns) the agreement to another purchaser for a profit before closing. This form of speculation is rampant in our industry, and although the profit should be taxed, it rarely is. I would go further and make it so that it is not permitted unless the original purchaser is suffering some form of extreme hardship. This would be a good use of government’s legislative powers. I must admit it has been frustrating for builders. We have been pointing out these challenges for years only to be shouted down and shut out. By no means is my list of misguided government policies and programs exhaustive either. One thing is for sure: If we don’t change our approach towards the affordability crisis, it will only get worse. When you’re in a hole and you want to get out, you should stop digging. It’s time to make a decision. 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). or streamlining and digitizing the process for approvals. This has produced few results so far but we are eternally hopeful. Advocating for the expansion of urban boundaries (not necessarily into the Greenbelt) to accommodate population growth, when properly done, can be sustainable. Densification, even when permitted, won’t solve all of our problems. On its face, it should be apparent we can’t have more people and not expand our communities. On the immigration file, we are lobbying the federal government along with our organized labour partners LiUNA Local 183 to bring in more immigrants as construction labourers. These are good paying jobs with pensions and benefits. Technology and innovation are builders’ most important tools when confronted with affordability chal- lenges. Panelized and modular build- ing are starting to take greater hold. We advocate for intelligent solutions based on recognized standards for energy conservation and low-carbon housing (not government programs), which will allow the cream to rise to the top and keep an eye on costs and benefits. I would also advocate for the federal and provincial governments to clamp down on the assignment sales of homes. Assignment sales are labour to build the homes they need to live in when they get here. Very few young people born in Canada want to become bricklayers, cement finishers or form workers. Older workers in these important fields are retiring quickly. This work was traditionally done by new immigrants in the past. This mismatch has created a large labour shortage, greatly increased the cost of labour and spurred costly delays. In terms of housing supply, rather than governments allowing more land development, they have curtailed and delayed approvals at the same time in which they were supposed to increase them. The 2005 Places to Grow Act began this attempt to curb urban sprawl in favour of greater sustainability, but it also set out to deal with government budget deficits for new infrastructure. The policies were very short-sighted. All levels of government also decided it was a good time to over­ reach with regulations and add more costs to building. This was often in the name of sustainability but just as often done for some obscure and circumspect planning goals. Pandering to NIMBYism (“not in my backyard”) was also in governments’ political self-interest and has also helped curtail supply and slow intensification. Scarcity of supply spurred rampant speculation in housing and thus created a vicious cycle of price growth. So, what can builders do? Well, we have been lobbying government for years to make changes by cutting the red tape 4 I would also advocate for the federal and provincial governments to clamp down on the assignment sales of homes …where someone buys a home and sells (assigns) the agreement to another purchaser for a profit before closing. This form of speculation is rampant in our industry.
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Learn more at  PanasonicBreatheWell.com Create spaces for living, feeling and breathing well. Build with air in mind.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 6 industryexpert / GORD COOKE In an industry often cited for being slow to change, these first 10 years in the life of Better Builder coincided with many compelling industry developments that have impacted the performance of houses and those involved in building them. Here, then, are 10 changes that undoubtedly have impacted your business and that I feel the building science community can help with in new home construction and renovation. Perhaps the most obvious initia­ tives in the building science realm were the ever-more comprehensive energy efficiency measures in both the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) and the Ontario Building Code (OBC) since 2012. I find it interesting that insulation of walls and attics was a requirement in the first NBC published in 1941, but it was in the “Health and Sanitation” section of the Code, to ensure the life safety of occupants and to avoid condensation on surfaces in cold weather. The 2010 NBC and the 2012 OBC created new sections that ramped up the require­ ments to include a comprehensive accounting of all enclosure elements and mechanical systems. One helpful aspect of the two Code changes in Ontario since 2012 was that up to five years of advanced warning of future energy efficiency measures were given. The newest version of the NBC (2020) continues this helpful approach by publishing future tiers of energy efficiency requirements, allowing the industry time to contemplate and innovate new cost-effective approaches. A very interesting aspect of the energy requirements is that the Code includes both a prescriptive and performance path for meeting energy requirements. This provides excellent flexibility for builders, but it does create stress for manufacturers, building officials and trade suppliers in trying to satisfy the many solutions builders want to try. It has raised the profile of the energy advisor or rater profession as they become an important consultant to help builders optimize the cost and buildability of the ever-increasing energy efficiency requirements. One compelling change in the last decade was complementary to the advancing energy codes, including the tiered approach – it was the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s development of the entirely industry- driven, voluntary Net Zero Energy program. The enthusiasm from the building industry across the country for this program is due in part, in my opinion, to the simple definition and straightforward objectives of the program. Builders, manufacturers, energy advisors, local home builders’ associations and even utilities are encouraged to work together to provide a simple choice to homebuyers for a home that uses only as much energy as it is able to produce itself on-site. Unlike other energy programs, the good folks at Natural Resources Canada are encouraged to play just a supporting role in this industry-driven program – hopefully a change that develops into a trend or path going forward. It is useful to highlight that, over the last decade, mechanical equipment specifications have been bumped up either by the federal government minimum efficiency regulations or within provincial building code options. In many cases, the new efficiency requirements nudge up against the theoretical or at least practical limits of traditional technologies. For example, the 95% federal annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) requirement and the 96% AFUE requirement for gas furnaces within the most commonly chosen OBC compliance packages don’t leave much room for future advancements with this familiar and reliable technology. The regulations for furnace fan motor efficiency (FER) enacted in 2019 also offered not only a significant improvement to the electrical efficiency of air handling 10 Changes In 10 Years One compelling change in the last decade … was the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s development of the entirely industry- driven, voluntary Net Zero Energy program. C ongratulations to the publishers and staff of Better Builder on the 10th anniversary of the founding of this publication. Thank you for chronicling the passion, the challenges and the accomplishments of committed high- performance builders and their industry partners over the last 10 years.
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 equipment, but also improved air distribution capabilities and lowered noise levels in houses. Hot water heating equipment and heat or energy recovery ventilation system minimum efficiency levels were also increased over the last 10 years. The most commonly used water heater in 2012 would have been either a natural draft or a power vented water heater with an energy factor (EF) of 0.67. Now, condensing tank water heaters and tankless water heaters or boilers with EFs of over 0.80 are a cost-effective way for builders to eke out the overall energy performance requirements of their homes under either prescriptive or performance path approaches. Drain water heat recovery systems have similarly become a useful measure for optimizing energy performance. However, it does mean that other than adopting heat pump technologies, we can’t expect to rely on mechanical system improvements to drive future energy efficiency gains. One other intriguing mechanical change in the last few years was the requirement for duct sealing in the Code. In houses where all or even some of the duct work is located in unconditioned spaces, there can be significant energy losses related to duct leakage. Ducts in chases on outside walls, ducts in garage walls and ceilings, and ducts in attics all present risks of large energy losses. But even duct leakage into the conditioned space, which wouldn’t be considered to be a direct energy efficiency loss, may impact comfort control. For example, our random measurements of duct leakage both before and after the 2014 Code change upping duct sealing requirements have shown an improvement from typically 25% to 35% duct leakage down to under 20%. This has definitely improved the accuracy of air flow distribution in homes, but a 20% loss in delivery of air to a room over the garage is still a significant factor to keeping that room warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In my experience, the duct sealing requirements in the Code have also raised the expectations of HVAC designers, building officials, home inspectors and homeowners for even higher levels of performance. If we use the United States’ experience as a guide, the International Energy Conservation Code since at least 2012 has required an objective test of duct leakage. At least 30 U.S. states have adopted this code requirement, in part because it avoids the ambiguity of subjective inspections and determination of whether the duct sealing is adequate. The two Code changes, the addition of the Net Zero Energy program and at least the five mechanical equipment changes outlined above were all taken pretty much in stride by the partner- ship and cooperation of builders, man- ufacturers, trade suppliers and energy advisors/raters. Moreover, there is a clear path and process moving forward to achieve net zero-ready levels of energy efficiency over the next decade that I am confident the industry can respond to cost effectively. That confidence is in part due to the fact that the sum of the incre­ mental costs of the energy efficiency improvements required above were in the ballpark of $4,000 to $6,000 per house (at least in Ontario). However, the resulting energy savings per household were in the range of $300 to $600 per year or $25 to $50 per month. At current interest rates of 3% to 4%, this means the utility savings actually make 2022-built homes slightly more affordable per month than 2012-built homes, and the affordability crunch is, of course, a much bigger agent of change than all the Code and technical changes listed above. Affordability is a much bigger topic than a building science writer is qualified to discuss; however, the building science community and the professional builders they serve have 7 POSITIVE PRESSURE 1000 900 100 SUPPLY AIR RETURN AIR RETURN DUCT LEAKAGE (Testing duct work outside heated boundary.) Pulling 900 cfm from the house and putting 1000 cfm into the house. The pressure is higher inside the house than the pressure outdoors. We say the indoor pressure is positive. That extra air’s gotta go somewhere, so it leaks out. We get more exfiltration from the house when this system is running than when it’s off. — Energy Vanguard website
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 been impacted by the dramatic house price increases. Specifically, with each price increase, the expectations of the buyers of million-dollar homes seem to increase exponentially. These rising expectations, coupled with the changes to the new home warranty process and builder licensing, are making the phones ring in our building science realm. Small temperature differences between rooms or spaces, minor drafts around windows, modestly high relative humidity levels, and minor differences in floor layouts or specifications that used to be easily rationalized now require exhaustive research and explanation to homeowners. The coincidence of rapidly increasing prices and rising expectations has been documented before in the industry, and new home builders may wish to “design-out” what are now seen as defects or be ready to quickly address them in early customer service meetings before they escalate into very expensive and time- consuming processes. Fortunately, there is good evidence that the same measures undertaken to make houses more efficient simultaneously make houses healthier, quieter, more comfortable, more durable and, as noted above, more affordable. From a building science perspec­ tive, it’s been a decade of helpful advancements along a path of continual improvement with the end goal clearly in sight – and it’s attainable and cost effective. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 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 At current interest rates of 3% to 4%, the utility savings actually make 2022-built homes slightly more affordable per month than 2012-built homes.
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 a mechanism for the provincial government to achieve certain climate change policy objectives through energy efficiency improvements in new homes and buildings. Still under the 2006 OBC at the time, a notable leap in regulating the performance of new homes took effect on January 1, 2012, with the intro­ duction of Supplementary Standard SB-12: Energy Efficiency for Housing. The concept of choosing a prescriptive compliance package (A through M) was permitted along with the perfor­ mance compliance path that utilized energy modelling. Not long after, SB-12 was revised effective January 1, 2017 to provide a further minimum 15% energy efficiency improvement with new packages (A1 to A6), drain water T his being the 10-year anniver­ sary edition of Better Builder, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide some per­ spective on how the homebuilding industry has evolved over the last decade, and where things might go in the next 10 years. Looking back 10 years, the term “global warming” started to become more prominent in the media and people were becoming cognizant of the effects of climate change and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All levels of government were working on different policies and initiatives to combat climate change. The Canadian government signed the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon pollution and limit global average temperature rise, later adopting the enabling roadmap known as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. At the provincial level, combating climate change was paramount for the reigning Liberal government under former Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. It was during this era that government policies truly began to permeate into the mechanics of the building industry. As an example, the Ontario Climate Change Action Plan from that era intended to update the Building Code to require net zero carbon emission (all-electric) homes by 2030 or sooner, while planning to keep electricity rates affordable for homeowners through subsidies from the proceeds of the cap-and- trade program. As a result, the Ontario Building Code (OBC) became heat recovery became mandatory, heat/energy recovery ventilators also became mandatory, thermal U and RSI values were increased and credits for reducing air leakage were added. Industry was being pushed through Building Code requirements to rapidly drive climate change policy, which thrust Ontario to be a North American leader with respect to energy efficiency in new homes. Meanwhile, at the local government level, climate change policy had trickled down to municipal councils whereby numerous cities and towns began introducing their own unique and more ambitious requirements on the development and building industry. Irrespective of the fact that the OBC already required very high levels of energy efficiency, municipalities couldn’t help but meddle in this space, almost creating a culture of which municipality could differentiate itself as the “greenest.” What seemingly started in 2010 when Toronto introduced its mandatory Toronto Green Standard for all new developments has become an ever- evolving “standard” that continues to push the boundaries of energy efficiency in new homes and build­ ings. Municipal green standards and energy efficiency mandates became entrenched into planning department development approvals (typically subdivision agreements for low-rise projects), and this practice spilled over into numerous Greater Toronto Area municipalities (you can read first-hand builder accounts describing these events in the other articles in this edition of Better Builder). 9 A Decade of Perspective industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS Figure 3. Total Canadian GHG emissions and projections (with no further govern­ment action): 2010–2020 (Mt CO2e, incl. LULUCF) 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 MEGATONNES CO2e 730 700 694 2020 2015 2010
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 10 While no one argues the merits of combating climate change, the pace of progressive new energy efficiency requirements, both in the OBC and at a municipal level, had industry grappling with the evolving landscape as new housing development timelines are not nimble and measured in years. As time went on, municipal energy efficiency initiatives advanced, especially as municipal governments all wanted to join the who’s who list of jurisdictions to declare a climate emergency, as if the term “global warming” doesn’t already imply that climate change is not a municipally isolated occurrence. While the intent is well meaning, municipal green mandates just create an extra layer of geographically varying requirements that industry must navi­ gate – ultimately adding even more costs that are just passed on to new homebuyers already grappling with housing affordability challenges. Under the current Doug Ford Con­ servative government, the previous advancements to the OBC allowed Ontario to rest on its laurels for the last few years and still be a leading jurisdiction, even though municipal green requirements just continued to further upward spiral. However, with the provincial government signing on to the Reconciliation Agreement on Construction Codes back on August 27, 2020, Ontario committed to harmonizing the OBC with the National Construction Codes. As of March 28, 2022, the 2020 National Model Codes were finally released (that’s not a typo – the 2020 National Codes were two years overdue), which introduced energy performance tiers for the first time. The Tier 1 requirements are similar to Section 9.36. of the National Building Code 2015, whereas Tiers 2 through 5 approximate the energy savings targets of ENERGY STAR, R-2000, Net- Zero Energy Ready and Passive House programs. Under the performance path (modelling energy performance), Tiers 1 through 5 represent improve­ ments of 0%, 10%, 20%, 40% and 70%, respectively. By contrast, the prescriptive path utilizes a point-based Scan for more product information gsw-wh.com • Flexible installation - saving time and money • Energy Efficient - .90 UEF = $ savings • Outstanding condensing performance - providing continuous hot water* Take the guesswork out of hot water! Introducing the GSW Envirosense® SF *2.8 GPM based on 65̊ temp rise.
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 system with Tier 1 as the baseline and Tier 2 requiring a minimum sum of 10 energy conservation points, with Tiers 3 through 5 being “reserved,” as these higher levels are still under development. As you progress through the higher tiers, compliance with Tier 5 will demand electrically heated homes. The new tiers created a predica­ ment for Ontario, as the 2017 require­ ments of SB-12 already exceeded the just-released Tier 2 equivalency in the National Building Code (NBC). As a result, for Ontario to not backslide, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing consulted on a proposal to only adopt Tier 3 of the NBC as the new baseline for the OBC as part of the harmonization process. This speaks to the rapid pace of energy efficiency improvements industry was faced with meeting under the OBC updates of the former Liberal government, as the 2017 OBC amendments still make Ontario a leader across Canada to this date. Where do I see things headed for Ontario in the next 10 years? As part of the harmonization requirements, the next edition of the OBC must be released by March 2024. Assuming a five-to-seven-year code cycle, and the current oversight of the federal government in transforming the national code development system as part of the Reconciliation Agreement on Construction Codes, I see it being very plausible that Ontario will be the first province to regulate net zero energy ready homes by 2030 or sooner. The reason I think net zero energy ready homes may come even sooner than 2030 is attributed to the wild­ card in this equation, which is municipal governments and their much-beloved desire to meddle with their own green standards. While federal and provincial governments have committed to harmonized construction codes across Canada, meaning reducing variations in technical requirements, municipal governments tend to operate in silos as planning departments concoct new policies which create geographically divergent technical requirements. Before net zero energy homes can be embraced by industry and consumers, there are some very real implementation obstacles that must first be overcome. With government policies pushing the electrification of homes and vehicles, electrical demand loads are expected to double or triple as a result. Electric utility companies responsible for distribution will require profound capital infrastructure upgrades and the large-scale adoption of net metering capabilities. Furthermore, Ontario’s electrical grid needs to be decarbonized; otherwise, would it really make sense to preemptively push towards mass electrification before we have a carbon-free grid? A report by the Independent Electricity System Operator found that to replace natural gas power generation capacity by 2030 would require more than $27 billion to install new sources of supply and upgrade transmission infrastructure. This translates into a 60% increase on the average monthly residential bill. These high electricity costs may deter consumers from willingly investing in carbon reduction, such as through electric vehicles or all-electric homes. In the meantime, low-carbon homes with battery storage capacity may represent a more moderate approach until net zero energy homes can be more feasibly achieved (an example of this is Country Homes’s low-carbon HERS discovery home covered in the last issue). Obviously, the political winds of change and housing market conditions will have an influence, but for those working in the development and building industry, get ready for the next 10 years. I remember the perspective a seasoned builder once instilled: “Remember, tomorrow may be worse than today, and 10 years from now today will be considered the good old days. So enjoy today!” 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 While federal and provincial governments have committed to harmonized construction codes across Canada, municipal governments tend to operate in silos as planning departments concoct new policies which create geographically divergent technical requirements.
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 That said, McBurney didn’t just wake up one day and decide to go into construction – he was born into it. His father was an architect; his grandfather was a builder in North Bay. And at 15, McBurney started working construction from the ground up – literally – with shovels and hammers. After university, he worked for contractors and then took a position with Options for Homes, a non-profit housing developer. He was also involved with Habitat for Humanity. Recognizing the need for solid business practices, he returned to school for an MBA. After that, he was “seduced” by the pace of the internet economy and worked for several agencies. “But all I kept thinking about was housing and cities,” he says. In 2005, a colleague introduced him to EnerQuality, a “fledgling” company created in 1998 as a joint venture between the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, a public advocacy group. It was designed to create and deliver programs for builders of high- performance homes, McBurney says. One of the programs was ENERGY STAR for New Homes, which was created by EnerQuality together with energy advisors, builders and manufacturers. At that time, energy efficiency was a slow sell, and fewer than 100 homes were certified R-2000 each year. As McBurney explains, “in 2005, there were few builders pushing the efficiency agenda. It was anything but mainstream. But the launch of ENERGY STAR brought together building science and advanced building systems like heat recovery ventilators, exterior insulation and air barrier systems, and introduced them to the industry on an unprecedented scale.” “It was transformative,” McBurney says, “and a way to shift sustainability into standard building practice.” Within a few years, Ontario was certifying about a quarter of all new homes – one of the only regions in North America to reach such a high percentage of energy-efficient new builds. That 25%, McBurney says, was “pretty consistent” over the next 15 years, and effectively pushed energy efficiency into the mainstream. “ENERGY STAR wasn’t the last word in energy efficiency,” McBurney says, “but it became the standard for your regular, 2,400 square foot single family home.” It had a leap-frogging effect – as builders began to adapt, the Code changed to keep up. As EnerQuality’s president, McBurney had a ringside seat: “Through this, I observed how government and industry can work together when their interests align. Energy efficiency was a case of public goals, like reducing carbon and saving people money on energy, working in concert with builders’ goals to build better quality homes.” In 2021, McBurney joined the Rino­ mato Group of Companies (Country Homes is part of the company). “I was impressed with their desire to be leaders in sustainability and their excellent track record of getting things done to move that forward,” he explains. The founder’s grandson, Christian Rinomato, had already been advanc­ ing building standards. For example, Country Homes adopted Enbridge’s 13 Projects A Look From Both Sides of the Fence sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN Corey McBurney, Country Homes C orey McBurney got a degree in political science from the University of Toronto before heading into the building industry. It’s not as big a leap as one might think. “I see housing as both a private and public good,” says McBurney, who is managing director of sustainability for Country Homes. “In fact, housing is an important determinant of a healthy, just society and a functioning economy.”
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 14 Rather than why, McBurney prefers to look at how. Thanks to his work at EnerQuality, he knows how other builders are doing it – and how to help Country Homes do it. “I have some good insights into what makes most sense to a builder – how to manage a program of action when dealing with all these changes and issues beyond energy efficiency like stormwater management, indoor air quality, even neighbourhood planning.” But thanks to his role as managing director, sustainability for Country Homes, he sees the unique builder challenges, such as cost management, supply chain issues (especially since COVID-19) and how to integrate sustainability into the demands of a business. In November 2021, one of his first challenges was to manage the Milton discovery homes open houses. Over time, these houses will be monitored for the impact of occupants on energy consumption. The study involves analyzing the two side-by-side homes from construction, cost and performance perspectives and comparing an all- electric approach to a hybrid gas- electric one. “We’re looking at what it takes to build a home whose space and domestic hot water heating come 100% from electricity. And we want to see how that home performs in terms of energy consumption and cost to the homeowner compared to its natural gas-heated counterpart.” The study also considers a “hybrid approach” – using natural gas supplemented by off-peak electricity storage and air source heat pump technology. One unit of electricity can produce up to three units of heat and maintain comfort when outdoor temperatures are above freezing with air source heat pumps. This is a promising avenue to pursue where cost benefit analysis must determine outcomes with escalating costs of electricity. Admittedly, electricity costs four times what natural gas does, but generates one-fifth the harm. And that’s where advances in building science come in: “In its more holistic view it isn’t just about reducing energy but also quality, durability and occupant health, such as how to manage moisture in the structure or consider indoor air quality and thermal comfort. In the old days, electric heat was inefficient, but current heat pump technology has improved to the point where it can be utilized more efficiently.” The purpose of the Country Homes Demonstration Project, when monitored with actual occupants, will show us how to approach the future in residential home building. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. McBurney doesn’t like to waste time on “why” we should do these things. “Most builders realize that if they don’t think ahead, they’ll be left behind when codes ramp up more,” he says. Savings by Design and Optimum Home programs to meet the ENERGY STAR standard. It also undertook an ambitious research project: the construction of two discovery homes in its West Country Milton project. Working both sides of the industry has given McBurney a unique perspective. While still a huge proponent of “decarbonizing” housing, he can also appreciate the challenges builders face in their efforts to do so. But at heart, the adoption of sustainability is really about management – that is, finding a cost- effective way to achieve upgrades. “Constructability and the ensuing costs are key issues,” McBurney explains, noting that these are practical and not abstract matters. Introducing a new technology or building practice – HVAC systems, windows or air sealing – is disruptive and can cost more than current practice. “Builders are looking for cost-effective ways to meet higher standards, particularly when that cost cannot be passed on to the homebuyer and can negatively impact the success of a project.” Economies of scale will help change that. When more builders start using specific methods – taught and encouraged by consultants – things become cheaper. McBurney cites the R-2000 program as an example: “Only a handful did it. It was expensive. But we’ve moved the needle much farther now, looking at Net Zero. Only a handful of builders are doing that, but it will change too.” As such, McBurney doesn’t like to waste time on “why” we should do these things. “Most builders realize that if they don’t think ahead, they’ll be left behind when codes ramp up more,” he says.
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Become a VIP builder! Ask us how.
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 16 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN Intriguing Developments I t’s amazing how much can change over the course of a decade. Just think back to 2012, when we were all swept up by Psy’s ridiculous but catchy hit song “Gangnam Style.” Today, he’s just a footnote in history. All industries are affected by this dynamic, and the land development and homebuilding sector is no exception. One of the biggest trends our industry has experienced over the last 10 years is the dramatic increase of municipalities enforcing much stricter requirements to obtain approvals for developing new Stricter municipal standards over the last decade have made navigating the development process more challenging.
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 17 housing within their communities. These standards generally focus on energy and water benchmarks, but more recently have spilled into agendas that are not related to the Building Code, some of which have prompted much head scratching and disbelief. It’s a tendency that has frustrated many a builder and prompted some creative solutions to adapt to this new normal. There have been countless discussions between builders and various municipalities to break through this “my way or the highway” stance and show these communities that there’s always more than one way to achieve a specific mandate. The prime example of this scenario occurred around seven years ago, when East Gwillimbury enacted its Sustainable Development Incentive Program (SDIP), which commanded more energy efficient development with reduced water demand and wastewater as a requisite to building in the town. The goals were commendable, but the method to get there – the SDIP specifically mandated ENERGY STAR – is what rankled builders. Rosehaven Homes (a veteran of using the HERS label to rate homes) took it upon itself to convince East Gwillimbury that there was a better, less prescriptive manner to achieve what the munici- pality was seeking and that it’s incum- bent on municipalities to remain agnostic, rather than endorsing a specific brand. Taking on City Hall Long story short: It took building a discovery home to clinch it, but Rose­ haven took on City Hall and ultimately convinced them to change the SDIP’s previously prescriptive language (see “Leading Edge” from the winter 2018 issue). While this is the most notable instance, this story has played out in several municipalities, says Rosehaven architecture and engineering manager Joe Laronga. In fact, it’s been exactly a decade since Rosehaven shifted from ENERGY STAR to HERS, and the company has been dealing with prescriptive language within municipal standards since. However, Laronga says, this is not the reason why the builder began developing its own brand for energy efficiency using the Better Than Code platform. “Rosehaven has been voluntarily building its residential units to exceed the minimum energy efficiency levels prescribed in the Ontario Building Code for many years,” he explains. The goals here were to add value for homeowners, to differentiate At the 2018 open house of Rosehaven Homes’ discovery home in East Gwillimbury. From left: Joe Laronga, Architecture and Engineering Manager, Rosehaven Homes; Marco Guglietti, Owner, Rosehaven Homes; homeowner Mary Jafarpour; and Nick Sanci, Contracts Manager, Rosehaven Homes. Photos by Rodney Daw courtesy of Enbridge Gas.
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 18 high, and programs that promote sustainability should be voluntary – not prescriptive – and should not endorse brands.” These types of municipal programs must be flexible and easily altered to include new options as the technology becomes available, Laronga stressed. Unfortunately, as municipal requirements grow more onerous over time, they are adding to approval time­ lines, which has a compounding effect. Longer Timelines “More paperwork, more challenges, more scrutiny, [thereby] creating longer timelines to get permits,” Laronga explains. He says that as approvals take longer, he has subdivisions sitting in municipal planning departments for years while customers are lining up to buy these houses. Small wonder there’s a housing shortage. “What I don’t like is that munici­ palities try to force their agendas,” he says. Laronga suggests that municipalities have builders who desperately want their subdivisions approved “by the balls” because they’re an “easy target.” Amazingly, this has gone past municipalities simply asking for above- Building Code enhancements related to energy or water, Laronga says. In Caledon, for instance, they have a concern about aging in place because they claim that a lot of their older population moves away. As a result, the municipality is asking builders for the company in the industry and – most importantly – to embrace sustainability. A couple of years after the East Gwillimbury SDIP situation, Rose­ haven ran up against the same thing in Oakville, where the municipality was mandating ENERGY STAR. Thankfully in this instance, the subdivision agreement had yet to be finalized, so Rosehaven was able to talk to the city representatives in advance and convince them to change their language; in fact, Laronga wound up writing it for them. A Tissue or a Kleenex? The same situation occurred in Caledon as well, and Laronga says it didn’t surprise him because, at the time, everyone was gravitating towards ENERGY STAR. In fact, he thinks it almost became a generic term in the way people ask for a Kleenex when they really want a tissue. “They didn’t understand that actually was a brand versus a method,” he explains. So the challenge here was multi- fold, Laronga stressed. While municipalities have created their own green building standards, they’ve done so without third-party consultation (for instance, working with a company such as Clearsphere) and, in some cases, municipal planning departments have unintentionally used prescriptive language in these standards, perhaps not recognizing that there were alternative methods within the Building Code that could be applied to achieve the same goal. “I believe in responsible municipal leadership,” he says. “Our Building Code minimum standard is already Rosehaven Homes (a veteran of using the HERS label to rate homes) took it upon itself to convince East Gwillimbury that there was a better, less prescriptive manner to achieve what the municipality was seeking. Marco Guglietti (left), East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson, and Bruce Manwaring of Enbridge (background).
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 “universal design,” which is focused on helping people age in place in their homes. This means blocking for future grab bars, lower light switches, higher floor plugs, larger doorways and even some homes with elevators – all designed to allow the house to be easily retrofitted. Beyond the interior requirements, Caledon has imposed urban design guidelines that mandate Gothic design on one of the three elevations Rosehaven is building there. It’s Not the 1800s Anymore “They’re trying to hang onto the character,” Laronga says. “Sure, Caledon in the 1800s had some Victorian feel to it, but it’s 2022.” Oakville, Caledon, Vaughan – everybody’s doing it, he says, and a lot of it’s non-negotiable. “You shouldn’t be dictating design; the market doesn’t want that. I’ve tried to tell them that, many times.” Laronga says some municipalities have also asked them to catch rainwater into barrels so that water can be used for watering plants. Given the cost and time involved with increased municipal demands, “all of this has contributed to the problems we’re having now in terms of availability and affordability.” To Caledon’s credit, town staff engaged Laronga and other builders to get their feedback. The result is a checklist that offers more choices for water conservation and energy performance labelling programs. Looking forward, Laronga envisions municipal demands heading towards battery storage, electricity/gas/battery combination systems, plus greywater reuse and water conservation. These last two issues are near and dear to the heart of Greyter Systems, manufacturer of greywater recycling systems capable of reducing home water usage by 20% to 25%, and one of the companies that partnered with Rosehaven to help create the Total Water Solution featured in the East Gwillimbury discovery home. Awareness Shift Greyter co-founder and chief commercial officer John Bell has seen a major awareness shift over the last decade related to the importance of water conservation. “In the last 10 years we’re just talking about water now and how valuable it is, how important a resource it is,” he says. Thanks to climate change, drought, access, scarcity, population growth and the pressures on agriculture, water has become more top of mind than at any time he’s ever seen. The result? A much greater need for water efficiency – especially in growing communities that are further away from traditional water sources. While we’ve seen this manifest itself much more in the United States (which is where Greyter is mostly focused now, including California, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, among other places), Canada is not immune, and the situation will only grow more prolific in time, Bell predicts. Certain Ontario municipalities have sanitary capacity challenges or concerns to meet growth. For example, Toronto has had well-documented challenges with storm water, and any municipality with combined storm- water and sanitary infrastructure will have a massive issue with stormwater “because it seems with climate change we have a 100-year storm every four months,” he says. Homebuilders who are already dealing with the challenges of going above Code to make homes even more energy efficient will soon need to have water on their radar, if they don’t already. Deal With It “I think now every land developer and every builder that’s looking to secure 19 Looking forward, Laronga envisions municipal demands heading towards battery storage, electricity/gas/battery combination systems, plus greywater reuse and water conservation. John Bell, Greyter Systems
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 20 lots moving forward has to deal with water in some capacity,” Bell suggests. Given the costs associated with retrofitting a greywater recycling system in an existing home, it’s a much more viable option for the new home market. Unfortunately, unlike in the U.S., the incentives to add such a system within Ontario are mostly targeted at homeowners as opposed to builders. “That incentive really needs to go to the developer,” Bell maintains. Greyter’s HERSH2O WaterSense pilot should help seed the market. It involves a variety of builders installing the Total Water Solution (see “Go with the Flow, Saving Water Makes Sense” in the spring 2020 issue) in 10 homes followed by a year of monitoring. Unfortunately, the pilot is in a holding pattern because of supply chain issues with the system’s flow leakage detection component, he explains. Still, there’s no stopping the truism that water’s importance will only grow as it relates to land development requirements, Bell says. When Greyter was incorporated in 2012, very few people understood the concept of greywater. A decade ago – even five years ago – it just wasn’t on the radar, but especially in the last two years, the awareness level has shot through the roof, he says. Greywater Interest Is Increasing “Today, it’s not far from a stretch [to say] that I receive at least one email every day from someone in North America inquiring about a greywater recycling system,” he says. Given that you can’t squeeze much more efficiency out of fixtures – toilets are as low as they can go; showerheads are about as low as anyone wants them to go; and faucets, dishwashers and laundry machines are all high efficiency – Bell explains that leaves one logical avenue. “The only way to really make a difference now is to start reusing that water.” This is vital for builders to under­ stand. “I think it’s the future. Of all building technologies that builders have at their disposal, water is going to be their biggest trump card going forward,” he says. Bell explains that a high-efficiency furnace won’t get you much in terms of negotiating with municipalities, but reducing water and sanitary consumption will get their attention, because municipalities either already are or are soon going to be faced with significant water shortages and infrastructure costs. Advice to Builders So his advice is that builders take on this knowledge and bring it with them when it comes time to have those discussions. Find out what could be on the table and what leverage you may have – especially in cases where municipalities have challenges on their water side, whether sanitary or supply. When you’re seeking subdivision approvals, this may be the ace up your sleeve to help alleviate all those frustrations, because if you can show a fussy municipality that you can help solve their challenges, that’s going to go a long way towards ensuring your success. Instead of resistance, builders can present a future-proofing solution to maintain housing affordability. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 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.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 industryexpert / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ I t all started over 10 years ago in Richmond Hill, when Heathwood Homes partnered with Ryerson University to build an eco-house – known as the Green Home – that would demonstrate to homeowners the many benefits of efficient building and compare that home to Heathwood’s standard specifications at the time. Packed with a long list of green features, Heathwood’s Green Home included solar panels, superior insulation, greywater recycling, a high-efficiency gas furnace, a heat recovery ventilator, LED lighting (expensive at the time), PET carpets, enhanced exterior water drainage, zero VOC paints and more. “We were building to ENERGY STAR at the time but decided to adopt our Green Home philosophy to add other sustainability features to our homes,” says Bob Finnigan. Finnigan is the past President of both the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and has been a valuable part of Heathwood Homes since 1988. He led the demonstration project and is now President of Heathwood. “These two occupied homes [the ENERGY STAR home and the Green Home] were monitored by a third party for the usage of water and gas [furnace, hot water] over six months. Two engineering grad students from Ryerson provided the detailed analysis of all the monitoring, and the results of the additional money spent on sustainability were very well worth it – with 20% to 30% in energy savings” for the green home. In 1992, Heathwood Homes was created when Herity (Heathwood’s parent company) joined forces with the Daniels Financial Group. Their first major project was a 650- unit residential development in Mississauga. Since then, the company has completed over 30 successful projects in the province. Heathwood has continually added sustainability elements into its homes since that time. Opting to venture beyond the strict labelling restrictions of ENERGY STAR, the company decided to adopt the Better Than Code approach to homebuilding, Home at Last Heathwood Homes continues its commitment to sustainability 21 “We were building to ENERGY STAR at the time but decided to adopt our Green Home philosophy to add other sustainability features to our homes.” A model kitchen for Heathwood Homes’ The Trails of Country Lane in Whitby, Ontario.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 22 which provides homebuyers with a certified HERS (Home Energy Rating System) report on energy performance – typically at least 20% better than Building Code. On its website, Heathwood showcases its Green Home Energy Program, which lists all the details of its homes’ sustainability features under three headings: energy conservation, water conservation and the environment. In its early demonstration home, Heathwood emphasized the importance of water conservation. Heathwood is currently building in Kitchener, a municipality with a very strong regard for its water supply. “Kitchener has a five-point wish list for sustainability, and with the components we will be putting in our next phase of homes, we will be hitting all the buttons,” says Finnigan. As an example, Heathwood installs an infiltration gallery under the sod and topsoil in each backyard – a structure made of gravel and rock that acts like a horizontal drain that allows natural drainage to get back into the native groundwater faster and more efficiently. Combined with low-flow toilets and faucets, ENERGY STAR dishwashers and washing machines, drain heat recovery and roughed-in greywater systems, Heathwood’s commitment to reduce water consumption is a big priority. “We keep building better, more sustainable homes. But it’s a challenge communicating to homebuyers all the wonderful benefits of what we put into them – such as superior construction, energy savings, conservation and carbon reduction,” says Finnigan. “We can design and build a better box, but we need to educate people about it.” To educate consumers about all the advanced features of its homes, Heathwood introduced its proprietary TOTALHOME+ branding, which is described on its website as “future-proofed homes that are technologically integrated, use less energy, are more cost-efficient, and offer homeowners total confidence, security, and peace of mind.” Included in the TOTALHOME+ web content is a complete list of home features under five categories – water conservation, energy conservation, the environment, the smart home and energy savings – listing the specific details and benefits of each. For its Kitchener project, Heathwood provides a homeowners’ package containing a Better Than Code label (indicating the home’s HERS score and percentage rating above Code), a water conservation feature checklist, a HERSH2O water efficiency rating certificate and a glossary of terms for homeowner awareness. Because technology is ever- changing in the homebuilding industry, Finnigan believes that two- way communication with consumers is vital to the success of his company’s TOTALHOME+ branding. “Residents need to understand how much they’re saving, the smart details of their home, and the better mechanicals, insulation and construction tech­ niques that go into them,” he says. As to the future of sustainable building, Finnigan believes the next step for Heathwood and other builders is looking at the carbon footprint of the homes they build. “When you look at things like triple-glazed windows and under-floor insulation, for example, you need to consider the carbon cost of the energy and materials needed for their manufacture,” he says. “It’s all about learning, listening and adopting. Everything we hear from the good builders is exactly what we’re talking about. We all need to rise to the challenge.” 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. Bob Finnigan
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 24 G lenview Homes, a successful family-run business opened in 1966, has earned a reputation as one of Ottawa’s most established and respected builders and managers of commercial and residential real estate. Today, guided by its “homeowner first” philosophy, the company builds 100 to 125 homes per year in many of the National Capital Region’s most desirable communities. The key to the success of Glenview Homes is the company’s unique approach to building and marketing. Glenview calls it Start With More – listening to homebuyers, catering to the way that people want to live, and being unique among competitors by offering premium standard features and finishes that other builders typically offer as upgrades. Patrick Daniels, residential construction manager at Glenview Homes, began his homebuilding career as an architectural technician 24 years ago. Working with various companies in different roles, including project management and land development, he possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in virtually every aspect of new home building. In addition to his role at Glenview, Daniels is currently vice president of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) and will be taking on the position of president of the association in 2023. In his dual role with Glenview and the GOHBA, Daniels, like other Ottawa homebuilders, is planning and preparing for a significant change in the way new homes are to be built in his market. While Ontario’s Building Code has the distinction of being one of the most energy efficient in North industryexpert / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ Gearing Up for Greening As the City of Ottawa prepares to adopt a High-Performance Development Standard in its new Official Plan, local homebuilders and the regional homebuilders’ association ponder the best route to meeting the city’s green building goals. While Ontario’s Building Code has the distinction of being one of the most energy efficient in North America, the City of Ottawa, like other municipalities in Ontario, has embarked on a plan to make its new homes even greener. ISTOCKPHOTO
  25. 25. BetterThan Code BetterThanCodeUsestheHERSIndextoMeasureEnergyEfficiency TheLowertheScoretheBetter–MeasureableandMarketable OBC 2012 OBC 2017 NEAR ZERO 80 60 40 20 betterthancode.ca Email info@clearsphere.ca or call 416-481-7517 45 Low Cost Code Compliance with the Better Than Code Platform This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Building Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change happened in 2017 which is causing some confusion. A new code will be coming in 2024. How will you comply with the new requirements? Let the BTC Platform — including the HERS Index — help you secure Municipal Subdivision Approvals and Building Permits and enhance your marketing by selling your homes’ energy efficiency. This rating is available for homes built by leading edge builders who have chosen to advance beyond current energy efficiency programs and have taken the next step on the path to full sustainability.
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 America, the City of Ottawa, like other municipalities in Ontario, has embarked on a plan to make its new homes even greener. The High Performance Develop­ ment Standard (HPDS) was adopted by Ottawa as a tool to reach its climate change target of net zero emissions by 2050. According to the City, buildings in Ottawa represent one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions (46% in 2020). The goal of the HPDS is “building capacity in the building industry to advance sustainability and resiliency in new developments.” In order to give local builders time to adopt and adapt to the new standards, Ottawa’s HPDS is being set up as a phased approach, with a Tier 1 metric scheduled to take effect as a municipal bylaw on June 1 of this year. It will apply to all new development applications requiring a site plan and plan of subdivision but will not include smaller infill or low- to mid-rise projects, or development projects already in pre-consultation regarding planning applications with the City. The Tier 1 Community Energy Plan, a key component in the design of new communities, will use quantitative analysis to develop targeted strategies that reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. With respect to new buildings in a development, specific Tier 1 metrics include building energy efficiency (including energy modelling), fresh air intake, sustainable roofing (green roofs, solar-ready design) and electric vehicle parking. An action requirement of the HPDS building energy efficiency metric is for builders to design their homes to meet one of three energy criteria: 1) total energy use intensity (TEUI) and greenhouse gas emission intensity (GHGI); 2) 25% carbon reduction above the Ontario Building Code; 3) a commitment to pursue a certification program such as ENERGY STAR for Multi-Use Residential Buildings or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The latter detail of Ottawa’s plan has Glenview Homes’ Patrick Daniels concerned. Having been a participant in several Net Zero and ENERGY STAR home projects over his career (which he describes as a “tremendous educational experience”), he is no stranger to energy-efficient building. 27 “The problem with labelling programs like ENERGY STAR is twofold: they are not well known or established in Ontario, and they are more about meeting goals and numbers and less about an important aspect of the home – occupant comfort,” says Daniels. Rather than adhering to the strin­ gent standards of existing labelling programs, Daniels would like to see other options, such as Better Than Code, that would better serve Ottawa homebuilders and homeowners alike. “As a builder’s organization, GOHBA and its builder members are all part of the City’s HPDS plan,” he says. “We want to look at different ways of meeting the targets, not just through a labelling program. Technology is undergoing huge changes and continually introducing new products. It’s a learning curve for us. We need to bridge the gap between the City and its constituents.” “If you want to force builders into building better than the Build- ing Code, you need to allow them to achieve the directed goals with- out handcuffing them to labelling programs or any sort of prescribed methods,” says Daniels. “There needs to be competition, fair pricing, prod- uct development and a process that can be achieved by having options. Patrick Daniels, Glenview Homes In order to give local builders time to adopt and adapt to the new standards, Ottawa’s HPDS is being set up as a phased approach. “We want to look at different ways of meeting the targets, not just through a labelling program,” says Patrick Daniels.
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 28 Every builder will need to achieve a certain goal with the HPDS. Let them choose how they want to get there.” As for how his company plans to go greener, Daniels says that Glenview Homes is looking into building better than code on an upcoming project to prepare for what is to come. “We have already been planning for this, as we know that the Building Code was already heading towards a more aggressive green direction,” he says. At the time of this writing, Daniels says that builders will need to present certain requirements once the HPDS is passed into law on June 1. He is concerned about how the City will be able to handle the information, claiming that the process is still evolving, as there are several issues with the program and how it will be utilized. 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. 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 Glenview Homes is looking into building better than code on an upcoming project. “We have already been planning for this, as we know that the Building Code was already heading towards a more aggressive green direction.”
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 30 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY The Code specifies three areas where you must install radon mitiga- tion/soil gas measures. It also states that, in regions of Ontario where radon is known to be a problem, you need to install radon mitigation/soil gas measures unless you can demon- strate that it is not required (Supple- mentary Standard SB-9). To date, the Code has remained silent on how to test for radon. It is because of this that the “logical” conclusion many builders are reaching is “radon is not an issue in my area, so I don't require soil gas control.” That is the logic trap – it gets you to the wrong answer and exposes you to potential liability. Let’s look at it another way. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive noble gas. It’s a soil gas that is present everywhere, including in every home at some level, be it acceptable or problematic. The only way you can test for high levels versus safe levels within a home is by using a long-term, 90-day test after the home has been closed in. The trouble is that testing is not part of the Ontario Building Code, but it is part of the Health Canada guidelines1. Therefore, you cannot demonstrate that radon is not a problem during construction, or even before permit, which means that soil gas controls are [actually] required under Section 9.13.4.2.(2) of the OBC. The remainder of Canada has varying degrees of radon detailing requirements based on the National Building Code (NBC). Ontario has not yet harmonized with the NBC radon requirements, or taken any further action on the matter, so builders and municipalities have had to make their own decisions on how to deal with this liability. For the purposes of this article, I am going with the assumption that builders are already installing a soil gas barrier. So, the question is: if you are already incurring the material and labour expense of installing a soil gas barrier, can you get it to do double duty? What’s the Benefit? The answer here is simple: installing subslab insulation that doubles as a soil gas barrier will result in a drier, warmer floor. This will reduce comfort complaints, especially as we see an increase in the number of homeowners finishing basement space to improve the home’s affordability. By reallocating the soil gas barrier costs to an insulated foam detail, we increase homeowner comfort while maintaining occupant safety. Of course, it is still advisable to have the homeowner test their home for radon, and to include a soil gas collector loop underneath the soil gas layer (if radon is present, it can be remediated more quickly and cost effectively than if the loop is not present). Remember, if vapour can get through, so can radon. That is why continuity of the air barrier/soil gas barrier is critical for an effective deterrent to radon entering the home. Bleeding Edge Learning Outcomes At Doug Tarry Homes, we have experi­ mented with numerous soil gas barrier options over a number of years. We realized we had to have a detail that was easy and quick to install, durable enough to hold together until the concrete could be poured and effective in providing us with our desired results (low incidence of radon intrusion and a warm, dry basement floor). We tried poly on its own and got a dry floor, but it was not warm. We tried laying sheets of rigid insulation and taping them together, but it was susceptible to cracking (at the time, we were only using one inch of rigid insulation board). We even had one of our building inspectors bring his own roll of tape to fix the cracks that occurred when he walked on it. While his efforts were appreciated, we knew we had to do better. The Radon Logic Trap An excerpt from Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes by Doug Tarry 1 canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/radiation/radon/government-canada-radon-guideline.html T here is a fair amount of confusion around radon in the province of Ontario – specifically, where it is and if we need to deal with it during construction. Part of that confusion comes from what I consider to be the “radon logic trap” contained within the Ontario Building Code (OBC) that we, as builders, follow when constructing our homes.
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Finally, during the planning for our Project Hope build, we worked with our insulation contractor, Great Northern Insulation, on how we could deal with the soil gas and improve the basement floor performance. We ultimately decided to use a two-pound closed cell foam (BASF Walltite), which we found gave far better overall results for our customers and was less work in the overall construction schedule. The one downside was that we needed to wait until the floor deck was on before we could spray the floor and pour the concrete. Closed basement slab pours are more of a challenge than open pours, but the overall results are worth it. Even with good detailing of all the penetrations under the slab, there was one other issue we noticed. After you have dealt with the obvious penetrations, you must also detail any sleeves used around the penetrations. Our plumber used to put cardboard around the shower pipe rough-in for the basement bath so that he could adjust it slightly, without busting up the floor. 31 This picture shows the sleeve around the water service pipe. It is there to protect the pipe from the concrete finisher’s equipment. In this case, it ended up being the source of the radon entering into a home that tested at 651 Bq/m3 — over three times the acceptable limit in Canada. Once we filled in the hole, we would have solved the problem, but it was found during the remediation of the home, resulting in $3,000 in remediation versus $10 of bathroom caulking!
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 This work has evolved into our current radon mitigation detail, which is shown in Figure 1 (above). Here are the basic steps we follow to ensure an effective soil gas detail installation: 1. Install continuous rigid wall insulation from top of foundation to top of footing. 2. Install a Big ‘O’ loop with a capped vertical rough-in pipe as the soil gas collector. Allow approximately 16 feet of lineal feet of Big ‘O’ for every 500 square feet of total basement floor area. Ensure the capped pipe is labelled as a soil gas collection pipe, not a plumbing stack. 3. Install continuous soil gas layer across entire foundation. 4. Caulk or tape around any penetrations of the soil gas layer prior to pouring the concrete floor. 5. To avoid a thermal bridge at the footing, the subslab insulation needs to extend over the footing to connect with the continuous rigid wall insulation. What Now? Work with your energy advisor and your insulation provider to determine the best course of action to deal with soil gas and add the insulation requirements for above-Code construction, such as the ENERGY STAR or Net Zero energy programs. Depending on the type of continuous insulation your foundation wall system utilizes, you may have to do additional detailing to connect the subslab foam to the foundation wall air barrier system. As noted, the continuity of the air barrier/soil gas barrier is critical. The overall challenge is one of detailing in the field and getting trades on board. It does no good to put in a soil gas barrier if you permit your concrete finisher to go on site with a pitchfork. Yep, that’s right, a pitchfork. A soil gas barrier changes the concrete from bi-directional drying to one- directional drying. That slows down the trades. When they get annoyed with the added time, the pitchfork comes out, the holes go in the soil gas barrier, and excess water can drain into the aggregate. But now, you have lost the continuity of your soil gas barrier. So, getting your concrete finisher on board with why this is important is critical. You also want to limit the amount of accelerant they use, as this can result in excess cracking and surface pops, which are destined to be a pain in the warranty department. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. 32 Figure 1: SB-9 RADON COMPLIANT SECTION DETAIL
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Trailblazer Continuous stone wool insulation that improves thermal performance Trailblazing requires confidence, expertise and a desire to do things right. High performance Builders use 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. ROCKWOOL Comfortboard® 80 is a Type 1 CCMC product, complying with CAN/ULC S702 and has CCMC validated product acceptance as continuous insulation for multiple applications. For more information visit rockwool.com/comfortboard
  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 © 2022 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. ENB 822 02/2022 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 41 | SPRING 2022 ISSUE 1… …ISSUE 40 YEARS OF 1O
  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 41 | SPRING 2022 16 1 FEATURE STORY 16 Intriguing Developments Stricter municipal standards over the last decade have made navigating the development process more challenging. by Rob Blackstien 3 ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 24 13 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 A Decade of Better Builder 10 Big Topics and 10 Big Points of View by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 The Crisis of Housing Affordability and Challenges of Building Affordable Homes by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 6 10 Changes In 10 Years by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 A Decade of Perspective by Paul De Berardis SITE SPECIFIC 13 Projects A Look from Both Sides of the Fence by Alex Newman INDUSTRY EXPERT 21 Home at Last Heathwood Homes Continues Its Commitment to Sustainability by Marc Huminilowycz INDUSTRY EXPERT 24 Gearing Up for Greening by Marc Huminilowycz FROM THE GROUND UP 30 The Radon Logic Trap An Excerpt from Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes by Doug Tarry On our cover: 10 covers from Better Builder’s 10 years of publication.
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 A Decade of Better Builder 10 Big Topics and 10 Big Points of View 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. “There is nothing new under the sun.” — Ecclesiastes 1:9 T he sun is the source of all energy on the planet. Whether stored as fossil fuels like oil and natural gas or in biomass like the rainforests, these sources have not changed. The “what” that we get our energy from is static. The “how” in which we satisfy our energy and shelter needs depends on our ingenuity. I started Better Builder 10 years ago on a challenge. A partner and colleague from Sustainable Builder told me that I did not have what it takes to carry on solo with a new magazine. Ask anybody that knows me: suggesting I can’t do something is the first step of me working to make that thing a reality. Wendy and I conceived, edited and laid out the first issue of Better Builder in Liverpool, New York, in a coffee shop named Freedom of Espresso in spring 2012. My hope is that the magazine has created a positive change over the last decade. On December 31, 2012, energy performance standards were codified under SB-12, where an EnerGuide Rating System ERS 80 appeared as a benchmark as Package J (the archetypal R-2000, ENERGY STAR version 4 house). In 2017, that threshold improved by 15% in Package A1 to exceed the Paris Agreement reductions of 37% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since then, on a global scale, COVID-19, direct challenges to democracy, and the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and now Ukraine have distracted us from dealing with climate change in sectors other than housing. The mandate of this magazine, then and now, is to bring together premium product manufacturers and leading builders to create better, differentiated homes that use less energy, save water and reduce the impact on the environment. Real change comes from motivation, education and awareness – not what we need to change, but how we are going to do it. In this 10th anniversary issue, we present and discuss 10 big topics and 10 big points of view. We have our regular crew of contributors, but we’ve also included interviews from five other influencers. The 10 big topics we review are zero energy as a goal, change in codes, housing supply and affordability, municipal overreach and red tape, water efficiency, moisture and radon in basements, integrated design through Savings by Design, skilled labour shortages, global warming potential (GWP) of building materials and, lastly, changing mechanical systems. Lou Bada discusses the irony of policy creating the challenge of housing afford­ ability (page 3). Gord Cooke discusses the process of road testing the Net Zero energy approach (page 6). Paul De Berardis counters with municipal overreach and challenges with Net Zero energy and Code harmonization changes (page 9). And on page 30, Doug Tarry comes full circle and ends up where he started in the very first issue: in the basement, as he explains approaches to dealing with radon. In closing, I will also finish off where I started – there is nothing new under the sun, only the promise of becoming better at building sustainably by approaching tomorrow in new and creative ways. Here’s to the next 10 years. BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 now present are the only way to meaningfully address the crisis. It is useful to look at some of the issues that are external to builders and their effect on our internal decisions. Externally, in a nutshell, govern­ ment land-use policies inadvertently created a mismatch in the supply and demand for housing. Federal policy to increase immigration levels, T he Oxford Dictionary defines a crisis as “a time of danger or great difficulty or a decisive moment; turning point,” originating from the Greek meaning of “decision.” I don’t believe you can find anyone today that would argue that it’s not a time of great difficulty for housing affordability in the Greater Toronto Area (or Canada, for that matter). The term “affordability crisis” is so easily spoken of now and no longer a contested subject. How this came to be is no longer a matter of great debate either: it was a series of short- sighted government policy decisions at all levels. Which decisions do we make now, as both the government and industry, to improve affordability? Blaming each other won’t help, but understanding the origins of the problem and the challenges they which are necessary for Canada to continue to grow, was not paired with provincial and municipal policies to increase land development approvals to develop housing to accommodate an expanding population. Federal immigration policies are of great consequence. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, approximately 400,000 new residents were brought into Canada in 2021. Between 100,000 and 150,000 have settled in Ontario (predominantly the GTA) each year since 2001. This obviously created increased demand for housing. Although desirable, government policies for increased immigration are flawed in their implementation. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for new Canadians created a problem: few recent immigrants are matched to the increasing requirement for new 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA The Crisis of Housing Affordability and Challenges of Building Affordable Homes BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 ISTOCKPHOTO Externally, in a nutshell, govern­ment land-use policies inadvertently created a mismatch in the supply and demand for housing.
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 where someone buys a home (usually a new home) and sells (assigns) the agreement to another purchaser for a profit before closing. This form of speculation is rampant in our industry, and although the profit should be taxed, it rarely is. I would go further and make it so that it is not permitted unless the original purchaser is suffering some form of extreme hardship. This would be a good use of government’s legislative powers. I must admit it has been frustrating for builders. We have been pointing out these challenges for years only to be shouted down and shut out. By no means is my list of misguided government policies and programs exhaustive either. One thing is for sure: If we don’t change our approach towards the affordability crisis, it will only get worse. When you’re in a hole and you want to get out, you should stop digging. It’s time to make a decision. 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). or streamlining and digitizing the process for approvals. This has produced few results so far but we are eternally hopeful. Advocating for the expansion of urban boundaries (not necessarily into the Greenbelt) to accommodate population growth, when properly done, can be sustainable. Densification, even when permitted, won’t solve all of our problems. On its face, it should be apparent we can’t have more people and not expand our communities. On the immigration file, we are lobbying the federal government along with our organized labour partners LiUNA Local 183 to bring in more immigrants as construction labourers. These are good paying jobs with pensions and benefits. Technology and innovation are builders’ most important tools when confronted with affordability chal- lenges. Panelized and modular build- ing are starting to take greater hold. We advocate for intelligent solutions based on recognized standards for energy conservation and low-carbon housing (not government programs), which will allow the cream to rise to the top and keep an eye on costs and benefits. I would also advocate for the federal and provincial governments to clamp down on the assignment sales of homes. Assignment sales are labour to build the homes they need to live in when they get here. Very few young people born in Canada want to become bricklayers, cement finishers or form workers. Older workers in these important fields are retiring quickly. This work was traditionally done by new immigrants in the past. This mismatch has created a large labour shortage, greatly increased the cost of labour and spurred costly delays. In terms of housing supply, rather than governments allowing more land development, they have curtailed and delayed approvals at the same time in which they were supposed to increase them. The 2005 Places to Grow Act began this attempt to curb urban sprawl in favour of greater sustainability, but it also set out to deal with government budget deficits for new infrastructure. The policies were very short-sighted. All levels of government also decided it was a good time to over­ reach with regulations and add more costs to building. This was often in the name of sustainability but just as often done for some obscure and circumspect planning goals. Pandering to NIMBYism (“not in my backyard”) was also in governments’ political self-interest and has also helped curtail supply and slow intensification. Scarcity of supply spurred rampant speculation in housing and thus created a vicious cycle of price growth. So, what can builders do? Well, we have been lobbying government for years to make changes by cutting the red tape 4 I would also advocate for the federal and provincial governments to clamp down on the assignment sales of homes …where someone buys a home and sells (assigns) the agreement to another purchaser for a profit before closing. This form of speculation is rampant in our industry.
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Learn more at  PanasonicBreatheWell.com Create spaces for living, feeling and breathing well. Build with air in mind.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 6 industryexpert / GORD COOKE In an industry often cited for being slow to change, these first 10 years in the life of Better Builder coincided with many compelling industry developments that have impacted the performance of houses and those involved in building them. Here, then, are 10 changes that undoubtedly have impacted your business and that I feel the building science community can help with in new home construction and renovation. Perhaps the most obvious initia­ tives in the building science realm were the ever-more comprehensive energy efficiency measures in both the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) and the Ontario Building Code (OBC) since 2012. I find it interesting that insulation of walls and attics was a requirement in the first NBC published in 1941, but it was in the “Health and Sanitation” section of the Code, to ensure the life safety of occupants and to avoid condensation on surfaces in cold weather. The 2010 NBC and the 2012 OBC created new sections that ramped up the require­ ments to include a comprehensive accounting of all enclosure elements and mechanical systems. One helpful aspect of the two Code changes in Ontario since 2012 was that up to five years of advanced warning of future energy efficiency measures were given. The newest version of the NBC (2020) continues this helpful approach by publishing future tiers of energy efficiency requirements, allowing the industry time to contemplate and innovate new cost-effective approaches. A very interesting aspect of the energy requirements is that the Code includes both a prescriptive and performance path for meeting energy requirements. This provides excellent flexibility for builders, but it does create stress for manufacturers, building officials and trade suppliers in trying to satisfy the many solutions builders want to try. It has raised the profile of the energy advisor or rater profession as they become an important consultant to help builders optimize the cost and buildability of the ever-increasing energy efficiency requirements. One compelling change in the last decade was complementary to the advancing energy codes, including the tiered approach – it was the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s development of the entirely industry- driven, voluntary Net Zero Energy program. The enthusiasm from the building industry across the country for this program is due in part, in my opinion, to the simple definition and straightforward objectives of the program. Builders, manufacturers, energy advisors, local home builders’ associations and even utilities are encouraged to work together to provide a simple choice to homebuyers for a home that uses only as much energy as it is able to produce itself on-site. Unlike other energy programs, the good folks at Natural Resources Canada are encouraged to play just a supporting role in this industry-driven program – hopefully a change that develops into a trend or path going forward. It is useful to highlight that, over the last decade, mechanical equipment specifications have been bumped up either by the federal government minimum efficiency regulations or within provincial building code options. In many cases, the new efficiency requirements nudge up against the theoretical or at least practical limits of traditional technologies. For example, the 95% federal annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) requirement and the 96% AFUE requirement for gas furnaces within the most commonly chosen OBC compliance packages don’t leave much room for future advancements with this familiar and reliable technology. The regulations for furnace fan motor efficiency (FER) enacted in 2019 also offered not only a significant improvement to the electrical efficiency of air handling 10 Changes In 10 Years One compelling change in the last decade … was the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s development of the entirely industry- driven, voluntary Net Zero Energy program. C ongratulations to the publishers and staff of Better Builder on the 10th anniversary of the founding of this publication. Thank you for chronicling the passion, the challenges and the accomplishments of committed high- performance builders and their industry partners over the last 10 years.
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 equipment, but also improved air distribution capabilities and lowered noise levels in houses. Hot water heating equipment and heat or energy recovery ventilation system minimum efficiency levels were also increased over the last 10 years. The most commonly used water heater in 2012 would have been either a natural draft or a power vented water heater with an energy factor (EF) of 0.67. Now, condensing tank water heaters and tankless water heaters or boilers with EFs of over 0.80 are a cost-effective way for builders to eke out the overall energy performance requirements of their homes under either prescriptive or performance path approaches. Drain water heat recovery systems have similarly become a useful measure for optimizing energy performance. However, it does mean that other than adopting heat pump technologies, we can’t expect to rely on mechanical system improvements to drive future energy efficiency gains. One other intriguing mechanical change in the last few years was the requirement for duct sealing in the Code. In houses where all or even some of the duct work is located in unconditioned spaces, there can be significant energy losses related to duct leakage. Ducts in chases on outside walls, ducts in garage walls and ceilings, and ducts in attics all present risks of large energy losses. But even duct leakage into the conditioned space, which wouldn’t be considered to be a direct energy efficiency loss, may impact comfort control. For example, our random measurements of duct leakage both before and after the 2014 Code change upping duct sealing requirements have shown an improvement from typically 25% to 35% duct leakage down to under 20%. This has definitely improved the accuracy of air flow distribution in homes, but a 20% loss in delivery of air to a room over the garage is still a significant factor to keeping that room warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In my experience, the duct sealing requirements in the Code have also raised the expectations of HVAC designers, building officials, home inspectors and homeowners for even higher levels of performance. If we use the United States’ experience as a guide, the International Energy Conservation Code since at least 2012 has required an objective test of duct leakage. At least 30 U.S. states have adopted this code requirement, in part because it avoids the ambiguity of subjective inspections and determination of whether the duct sealing is adequate. The two Code changes, the addition of the Net Zero Energy program and at least the five mechanical equipment changes outlined above were all taken pretty much in stride by the partner- ship and cooperation of builders, man- ufacturers, trade suppliers and energy advisors/raters. Moreover, there is a clear path and process moving forward to achieve net zero-ready levels of energy efficiency over the next decade that I am confident the industry can respond to cost effectively. That confidence is in part due to the fact that the sum of the incre­ mental costs of the energy efficiency improvements required above were in the ballpark of $4,000 to $6,000 per house (at least in Ontario). However, the resulting energy savings per household were in the range of $300 to $600 per year or $25 to $50 per month. At current interest rates of 3% to 4%, this means the utility savings actually make 2022-built homes slightly more affordable per month than 2012-built homes, and the affordability crunch is, of course, a much bigger agent of change than all the Code and technical changes listed above. Affordability is a much bigger topic than a building science writer is qualified to discuss; however, the building science community and the professional builders they serve have 7 POSITIVE PRESSURE 1000 900 100 SUPPLY AIR RETURN AIR RETURN DUCT LEAKAGE (Testing duct work outside heated boundary.) Pulling 900 cfm from the house and putting 1000 cfm into the house. The pressure is higher inside the house than the pressure outdoors. We say the indoor pressure is positive. That extra air’s gotta go somewhere, so it leaks out. We get more exfiltration from the house when this system is running than when it’s off. — Energy Vanguard website
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 been impacted by the dramatic house price increases. Specifically, with each price increase, the expectations of the buyers of million-dollar homes seem to increase exponentially. These rising expectations, coupled with the changes to the new home warranty process and builder licensing, are making the phones ring in our building science realm. Small temperature differences between rooms or spaces, minor drafts around windows, modestly high relative humidity levels, and minor differences in floor layouts or specifications that used to be easily rationalized now require exhaustive research and explanation to homeowners. The coincidence of rapidly increasing prices and rising expectations has been documented before in the industry, and new home builders may wish to “design-out” what are now seen as defects or be ready to quickly address them in early customer service meetings before they escalate into very expensive and time- consuming processes. Fortunately, there is good evidence that the same measures undertaken to make houses more efficient simultaneously make houses healthier, quieter, more comfortable, more durable and, as noted above, more affordable. From a building science perspec­ tive, it’s been a decade of helpful advancements along a path of continual improvement with the end goal clearly in sight – and it’s attainable and cost effective. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 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 At current interest rates of 3% to 4%, the utility savings actually make 2022-built homes slightly more affordable per month than 2012-built homes.
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 a mechanism for the provincial government to achieve certain climate change policy objectives through energy efficiency improvements in new homes and buildings. Still under the 2006 OBC at the time, a notable leap in regulating the performance of new homes took effect on January 1, 2012, with the intro­ duction of Supplementary Standard SB-12: Energy Efficiency for Housing. The concept of choosing a prescriptive compliance package (A through M) was permitted along with the perfor­ mance compliance path that utilized energy modelling. Not long after, SB-12 was revised effective January 1, 2017 to provide a further minimum 15% energy efficiency improvement with new packages (A1 to A6), drain water T his being the 10-year anniver­ sary edition of Better Builder, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide some per­ spective on how the homebuilding industry has evolved over the last decade, and where things might go in the next 10 years. Looking back 10 years, the term “global warming” started to become more prominent in the media and people were becoming cognizant of the effects of climate change and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All levels of government were working on different policies and initiatives to combat climate change. The Canadian government signed the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon pollution and limit global average temperature rise, later adopting the enabling roadmap known as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. At the provincial level, combating climate change was paramount for the reigning Liberal government under former Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. It was during this era that government policies truly began to permeate into the mechanics of the building industry. As an example, the Ontario Climate Change Action Plan from that era intended to update the Building Code to require net zero carbon emission (all-electric) homes by 2030 or sooner, while planning to keep electricity rates affordable for homeowners through subsidies from the proceeds of the cap-and- trade program. As a result, the Ontario Building Code (OBC) became heat recovery became mandatory, heat/energy recovery ventilators also became mandatory, thermal U and RSI values were increased and credits for reducing air leakage were added. Industry was being pushed through Building Code requirements to rapidly drive climate change policy, which thrust Ontario to be a North American leader with respect to energy efficiency in new homes. Meanwhile, at the local government level, climate change policy had trickled down to municipal councils whereby numerous cities and towns began introducing their own unique and more ambitious requirements on the development and building industry. Irrespective of the fact that the OBC already required very high levels of energy efficiency, municipalities couldn’t help but meddle in this space, almost creating a culture of which municipality could differentiate itself as the “greenest.” What seemingly started in 2010 when Toronto introduced its mandatory Toronto Green Standard for all new developments has become an ever- evolving “standard” that continues to push the boundaries of energy efficiency in new homes and build­ ings. Municipal green standards and energy efficiency mandates became entrenched into planning department development approvals (typically subdivision agreements for low-rise projects), and this practice spilled over into numerous Greater Toronto Area municipalities (you can read first-hand builder accounts describing these events in the other articles in this edition of Better Builder). 9 A Decade of Perspective industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS Figure 3. Total Canadian GHG emissions and projections (with no further govern­ment action): 2010–2020 (Mt CO2e, incl. LULUCF) 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 MEGATONNES CO2e 730 700 694 2020 2015 2010
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 10 While no one argues the merits of combating climate change, the pace of progressive new energy efficiency requirements, both in the OBC and at a municipal level, had industry grappling with the evolving landscape as new housing development timelines are not nimble and measured in years. As time went on, municipal energy efficiency initiatives advanced, especially as municipal governments all wanted to join the who’s who list of jurisdictions to declare a climate emergency, as if the term “global warming” doesn’t already imply that climate change is not a municipally isolated occurrence. While the intent is well meaning, municipal green mandates just create an extra layer of geographically varying requirements that industry must navi­ gate – ultimately adding even more costs that are just passed on to new homebuyers already grappling with housing affordability challenges. Under the current Doug Ford Con­ servative government, the previous advancements to the OBC allowed Ontario to rest on its laurels for the last few years and still be a leading jurisdiction, even though municipal green requirements just continued to further upward spiral. However, with the provincial government signing on to the Reconciliation Agreement on Construction Codes back on August 27, 2020, Ontario committed to harmonizing the OBC with the National Construction Codes. As of March 28, 2022, the 2020 National Model Codes were finally released (that’s not a typo – the 2020 National Codes were two years overdue), which introduced energy performance tiers for the first time. The Tier 1 requirements are similar to Section 9.36. of the National Building Code 2015, whereas Tiers 2 through 5 approximate the energy savings targets of ENERGY STAR, R-2000, Net- Zero Energy Ready and Passive House programs. Under the performance path (modelling energy performance), Tiers 1 through 5 represent improve­ ments of 0%, 10%, 20%, 40% and 70%, respectively. By contrast, the prescriptive path utilizes a point-based Scan for more product information gsw-wh.com • Flexible installation - saving time and money • Energy Efficient - .90 UEF = $ savings • Outstanding condensing performance - providing continuous hot water* Take the guesswork out of hot water! Introducing the GSW Envirosense® SF *2.8 GPM based on 65̊ temp rise.
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 system with Tier 1 as the baseline and Tier 2 requiring a minimum sum of 10 energy conservation points, with Tiers 3 through 5 being “reserved,” as these higher levels are still under development. As you progress through the higher tiers, compliance with Tier 5 will demand electrically heated homes. The new tiers created a predica­ ment for Ontario, as the 2017 require­ ments of SB-12 already exceeded the just-released Tier 2 equivalency in the National Building Code (NBC). As a result, for Ontario to not backslide, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing consulted on a proposal to only adopt Tier 3 of the NBC as the new baseline for the OBC as part of the harmonization process. This speaks to the rapid pace of energy efficiency improvements industry was faced with meeting under the OBC updates of the former Liberal government, as the 2017 OBC amendments still make Ontario a leader across Canada to this date. Where do I see things headed for Ontario in the next 10 years? As part of the harmonization requirements, the next edition of the OBC must be released by March 2024. Assuming a five-to-seven-year code cycle, and the current oversight of the federal government in transforming the national code development system as part of the Reconciliation Agreement on Construction Codes, I see it being very plausible that Ontario will be the first province to regulate net zero energy ready homes by 2030 or sooner. The reason I think net zero energy ready homes may come even sooner than 2030 is attributed to the wild­ card in this equation, which is municipal governments and their much-beloved desire to meddle with their own green standards. While federal and provincial governments have committed to harmonized construction codes across Canada, meaning reducing variations in technical requirements, municipal governments tend to operate in silos as planning departments concoct new policies which create geographically divergent technical requirements. Before net zero energy homes can be embraced by industry and consumers, there are some very real implementation obstacles that must first be overcome. With government policies pushing the electrification of homes and vehicles, electrical demand loads are expected to double or triple as a result. Electric utility companies responsible for distribution will require profound capital infrastructure upgrades and the large-scale adoption of net metering capabilities. Furthermore, Ontario’s electrical grid needs to be decarbonized; otherwise, would it really make sense to preemptively push towards mass electrification before we have a carbon-free grid? A report by the Independent Electricity System Operator found that to replace natural gas power generation capacity by 2030 would require more than $27 billion to install new sources of supply and upgrade transmission infrastructure. This translates into a 60% increase on the average monthly residential bill. These high electricity costs may deter consumers from willingly investing in carbon reduction, such as through electric vehicles or all-electric homes. In the meantime, low-carbon homes with battery storage capacity may represent a more moderate approach until net zero energy homes can be more feasibly achieved (an example of this is Country Homes’s low-carbon HERS discovery home covered in the last issue). Obviously, the political winds of change and housing market conditions will have an influence, but for those working in the development and building industry, get ready for the next 10 years. I remember the perspective a seasoned builder once instilled: “Remember, tomorrow may be worse than today, and 10 years from now today will be considered the good old days. So enjoy today!” 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 While federal and provincial governments have committed to harmonized construction codes across Canada, municipal governments tend to operate in silos as planning departments concoct new policies which create geographically divergent technical requirements.
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 That said, McBurney didn’t just wake up one day and decide to go into construction – he was born into it. His father was an architect; his grandfather was a builder in North Bay. And at 15, McBurney started working construction from the ground up – literally – with shovels and hammers. After university, he worked for contractors and then took a position with Options for Homes, a non-profit housing developer. He was also involved with Habitat for Humanity. Recognizing the need for solid business practices, he returned to school for an MBA. After that, he was “seduced” by the pace of the internet economy and worked for several agencies. “But all I kept thinking about was housing and cities,” he says. In 2005, a colleague introduced him to EnerQuality, a “fledgling” company created in 1998 as a joint venture between the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, a public advocacy group. It was designed to create and deliver programs for builders of high- performance homes, McBurney says. One of the programs was ENERGY STAR for New Homes, which was created by EnerQuality together with energy advisors, builders and manufacturers. At that time, energy efficiency was a slow sell, and fewer than 100 homes were certified R-2000 each year. As McBurney explains, “in 2005, there were few builders pushing the efficiency agenda. It was anything but mainstream. But the launch of ENERGY STAR brought together building science and advanced building systems like heat recovery ventilators, exterior insulation and air barrier systems, and introduced them to the industry on an unprecedented scale.” “It was transformative,” McBurney says, “and a way to shift sustainability into standard building practice.” Within a few years, Ontario was certifying about a quarter of all new homes – one of the only regions in North America to reach such a high percentage of energy-efficient new builds. That 25%, McBurney says, was “pretty consistent” over the next 15 years, and effectively pushed energy efficiency into the mainstream. “ENERGY STAR wasn’t the last word in energy efficiency,” McBurney says, “but it became the standard for your regular, 2,400 square foot single family home.” It had a leap-frogging effect – as builders began to adapt, the Code changed to keep up. As EnerQuality’s president, McBurney had a ringside seat: “Through this, I observed how government and industry can work together when their interests align. Energy efficiency was a case of public goals, like reducing carbon and saving people money on energy, working in concert with builders’ goals to build better quality homes.” In 2021, McBurney joined the Rino­ mato Group of Companies (Country Homes is part of the company). “I was impressed with their desire to be leaders in sustainability and their excellent track record of getting things done to move that forward,” he explains. The founder’s grandson, Christian Rinomato, had already been advanc­ ing building standards. For example, Country Homes adopted Enbridge’s 13 Projects A Look From Both Sides of the Fence sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN Corey McBurney, Country Homes C orey McBurney got a degree in political science from the University of Toronto before heading into the building industry. It’s not as big a leap as one might think. “I see housing as both a private and public good,” says McBurney, who is managing director of sustainability for Country Homes. “In fact, housing is an important determinant of a healthy, just society and a functioning economy.”
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 14 Rather than why, McBurney prefers to look at how. Thanks to his work at EnerQuality, he knows how other builders are doing it – and how to help Country Homes do it. “I have some good insights into what makes most sense to a builder – how to manage a program of action when dealing with all these changes and issues beyond energy efficiency like stormwater management, indoor air quality, even neighbourhood planning.” But thanks to his role as managing director, sustainability for Country Homes, he sees the unique builder challenges, such as cost management, supply chain issues (especially since COVID-19) and how to integrate sustainability into the demands of a business. In November 2021, one of his first challenges was to manage the Milton discovery homes open houses. Over time, these houses will be monitored for the impact of occupants on energy consumption. The study involves analyzing the two side-by-side homes from construction, cost and performance perspectives and comparing an all- electric approach to a hybrid gas- electric one. “We’re looking at what it takes to build a home whose space and domestic hot water heating come 100% from electricity. And we want to see how that home performs in terms of energy consumption and cost to the homeowner compared to its natural gas-heated counterpart.” The study also considers a “hybrid approach” – using natural gas supplemented by off-peak electricity storage and air source heat pump technology. One unit of electricity can produce up to three units of heat and maintain comfort when outdoor temperatures are above freezing with air source heat pumps. This is a promising avenue to pursue where cost benefit analysis must determine outcomes with escalating costs of electricity. Admittedly, electricity costs four times what natural gas does, but generates one-fifth the harm. And that’s where advances in building science come in: “In its more holistic view it isn’t just about reducing energy but also quality, durability and occupant health, such as how to manage moisture in the structure or consider indoor air quality and thermal comfort. In the old days, electric heat was inefficient, but current heat pump technology has improved to the point where it can be utilized more efficiently.” The purpose of the Country Homes Demonstration Project, when monitored with actual occupants, will show us how to approach the future in residential home building. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. McBurney doesn’t like to waste time on “why” we should do these things. “Most builders realize that if they don’t think ahead, they’ll be left behind when codes ramp up more,” he says. Savings by Design and Optimum Home programs to meet the ENERGY STAR standard. It also undertook an ambitious research project: the construction of two discovery homes in its West Country Milton project. Working both sides of the industry has given McBurney a unique perspective. While still a huge proponent of “decarbonizing” housing, he can also appreciate the challenges builders face in their efforts to do so. But at heart, the adoption of sustainability is really about management – that is, finding a cost- effective way to achieve upgrades. “Constructability and the ensuing costs are key issues,” McBurney explains, noting that these are practical and not abstract matters. Introducing a new technology or building practice – HVAC systems, windows or air sealing – is disruptive and can cost more than current practice. “Builders are looking for cost-effective ways to meet higher standards, particularly when that cost cannot be passed on to the homebuyer and can negatively impact the success of a project.” Economies of scale will help change that. When more builders start using specific methods – taught and encouraged by consultants – things become cheaper. McBurney cites the R-2000 program as an example: “Only a handful did it. It was expensive. But we’ve moved the needle much farther now, looking at Net Zero. Only a handful of builders are doing that, but it will change too.” As such, McBurney doesn’t like to waste time on “why” we should do these things. “Most builders realize that if they don’t think ahead, they’ll be left behind when codes ramp up more,” he says.
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Become a VIP builder! Ask us how.
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 16 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN Intriguing Developments I t’s amazing how much can change over the course of a decade. Just think back to 2012, when we were all swept up by Psy’s ridiculous but catchy hit song “Gangnam Style.” Today, he’s just a footnote in history. All industries are affected by this dynamic, and the land development and homebuilding sector is no exception. One of the biggest trends our industry has experienced over the last 10 years is the dramatic increase of municipalities enforcing much stricter requirements to obtain approvals for developing new Stricter municipal standards over the last decade have made navigating the development process more challenging.
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 17 housing within their communities. These standards generally focus on energy and water benchmarks, but more recently have spilled into agendas that are not related to the Building Code, some of which have prompted much head scratching and disbelief. It’s a tendency that has frustrated many a builder and prompted some creative solutions to adapt to this new normal. There have been countless discussions between builders and various municipalities to break through this “my way or the highway” stance and show these communities that there’s always more than one way to achieve a specific mandate. The prime example of this scenario occurred around seven years ago, when East Gwillimbury enacted its Sustainable Development Incentive Program (SDIP), which commanded more energy efficient development with reduced water demand and wastewater as a requisite to building in the town. The goals were commendable, but the method to get there – the SDIP specifically mandated ENERGY STAR – is what rankled builders. Rosehaven Homes (a veteran of using the HERS label to rate homes) took it upon itself to convince East Gwillimbury that there was a better, less prescriptive manner to achieve what the munici- pality was seeking and that it’s incum- bent on municipalities to remain agnostic, rather than endorsing a specific brand. Taking on City Hall Long story short: It took building a discovery home to clinch it, but Rose­ haven took on City Hall and ultimately convinced them to change the SDIP’s previously prescriptive language (see “Leading Edge” from the winter 2018 issue). While this is the most notable instance, this story has played out in several municipalities, says Rosehaven architecture and engineering manager Joe Laronga. In fact, it’s been exactly a decade since Rosehaven shifted from ENERGY STAR to HERS, and the company has been dealing with prescriptive language within municipal standards since. However, Laronga says, this is not the reason why the builder began developing its own brand for energy efficiency using the Better Than Code platform. “Rosehaven has been voluntarily building its residential units to exceed the minimum energy efficiency levels prescribed in the Ontario Building Code for many years,” he explains. The goals here were to add value for homeowners, to differentiate At the 2018 open house of Rosehaven Homes’ discovery home in East Gwillimbury. From left: Joe Laronga, Architecture and Engineering Manager, Rosehaven Homes; Marco Guglietti, Owner, Rosehaven Homes; homeowner Mary Jafarpour; and Nick Sanci, Contracts Manager, Rosehaven Homes. Photos by Rodney Daw courtesy of Enbridge Gas.
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 18 high, and programs that promote sustainability should be voluntary – not prescriptive – and should not endorse brands.” These types of municipal programs must be flexible and easily altered to include new options as the technology becomes available, Laronga stressed. Unfortunately, as municipal requirements grow more onerous over time, they are adding to approval time­ lines, which has a compounding effect. Longer Timelines “More paperwork, more challenges, more scrutiny, [thereby] creating longer timelines to get permits,” Laronga explains. He says that as approvals take longer, he has subdivisions sitting in municipal planning departments for years while customers are lining up to buy these houses. Small wonder there’s a housing shortage. “What I don’t like is that munici­ palities try to force their agendas,” he says. Laronga suggests that municipalities have builders who desperately want their subdivisions approved “by the balls” because they’re an “easy target.” Amazingly, this has gone past municipalities simply asking for above- Building Code enhancements related to energy or water, Laronga says. In Caledon, for instance, they have a concern about aging in place because they claim that a lot of their older population moves away. As a result, the municipality is asking builders for the company in the industry and – most importantly – to embrace sustainability. A couple of years after the East Gwillimbury SDIP situation, Rose­ haven ran up against the same thing in Oakville, where the municipality was mandating ENERGY STAR. Thankfully in this instance, the subdivision agreement had yet to be finalized, so Rosehaven was able to talk to the city representatives in advance and convince them to change their language; in fact, Laronga wound up writing it for them. A Tissue or a Kleenex? The same situation occurred in Caledon as well, and Laronga says it didn’t surprise him because, at the time, everyone was gravitating towards ENERGY STAR. In fact, he thinks it almost became a generic term in the way people ask for a Kleenex when they really want a tissue. “They didn’t understand that actually was a brand versus a method,” he explains. So the challenge here was multi- fold, Laronga stressed. While municipalities have created their own green building standards, they’ve done so without third-party consultation (for instance, working with a company such as Clearsphere) and, in some cases, municipal planning departments have unintentionally used prescriptive language in these standards, perhaps not recognizing that there were alternative methods within the Building Code that could be applied to achieve the same goal. “I believe in responsible municipal leadership,” he says. “Our Building Code minimum standard is already Rosehaven Homes (a veteran of using the HERS label to rate homes) took it upon itself to convince East Gwillimbury that there was a better, less prescriptive manner to achieve what the municipality was seeking. Marco Guglietti (left), East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson, and Bruce Manwaring of Enbridge (background).
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 “universal design,” which is focused on helping people age in place in their homes. This means blocking for future grab bars, lower light switches, higher floor plugs, larger doorways and even some homes with elevators – all designed to allow the house to be easily retrofitted. Beyond the interior requirements, Caledon has imposed urban design guidelines that mandate Gothic design on one of the three elevations Rosehaven is building there. It’s Not the 1800s Anymore “They’re trying to hang onto the character,” Laronga says. “Sure, Caledon in the 1800s had some Victorian feel to it, but it’s 2022.” Oakville, Caledon, Vaughan – everybody’s doing it, he says, and a lot of it’s non-negotiable. “You shouldn’t be dictating design; the market doesn’t want that. I’ve tried to tell them that, many times.” Laronga says some municipalities have also asked them to catch rainwater into barrels so that water can be used for watering plants. Given the cost and time involved with increased municipal demands, “all of this has contributed to the problems we’re having now in terms of availability and affordability.” To Caledon’s credit, town staff engaged Laronga and other builders to get their feedback. The result is a checklist that offers more choices for water conservation and energy performance labelling programs. Looking forward, Laronga envisions municipal demands heading towards battery storage, electricity/gas/battery combination systems, plus greywater reuse and water conservation. These last two issues are near and dear to the heart of Greyter Systems, manufacturer of greywater recycling systems capable of reducing home water usage by 20% to 25%, and one of the companies that partnered with Rosehaven to help create the Total Water Solution featured in the East Gwillimbury discovery home. Awareness Shift Greyter co-founder and chief commercial officer John Bell has seen a major awareness shift over the last decade related to the importance of water conservation. “In the last 10 years we’re just talking about water now and how valuable it is, how important a resource it is,” he says. Thanks to climate change, drought, access, scarcity, population growth and the pressures on agriculture, water has become more top of mind than at any time he’s ever seen. The result? A much greater need for water efficiency – especially in growing communities that are further away from traditional water sources. While we’ve seen this manifest itself much more in the United States (which is where Greyter is mostly focused now, including California, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, among other places), Canada is not immune, and the situation will only grow more prolific in time, Bell predicts. Certain Ontario municipalities have sanitary capacity challenges or concerns to meet growth. For example, Toronto has had well-documented challenges with storm water, and any municipality with combined storm- water and sanitary infrastructure will have a massive issue with stormwater “because it seems with climate change we have a 100-year storm every four months,” he says. Homebuilders who are already dealing with the challenges of going above Code to make homes even more energy efficient will soon need to have water on their radar, if they don’t already. Deal With It “I think now every land developer and every builder that’s looking to secure 19 Looking forward, Laronga envisions municipal demands heading towards battery storage, electricity/gas/battery combination systems, plus greywater reuse and water conservation. John Bell, Greyter Systems
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 20 lots moving forward has to deal with water in some capacity,” Bell suggests. Given the costs associated with retrofitting a greywater recycling system in an existing home, it’s a much more viable option for the new home market. Unfortunately, unlike in the U.S., the incentives to add such a system within Ontario are mostly targeted at homeowners as opposed to builders. “That incentive really needs to go to the developer,” Bell maintains. Greyter’s HERSH2O WaterSense pilot should help seed the market. It involves a variety of builders installing the Total Water Solution (see “Go with the Flow, Saving Water Makes Sense” in the spring 2020 issue) in 10 homes followed by a year of monitoring. Unfortunately, the pilot is in a holding pattern because of supply chain issues with the system’s flow leakage detection component, he explains. Still, there’s no stopping the truism that water’s importance will only grow as it relates to land development requirements, Bell says. When Greyter was incorporated in 2012, very few people understood the concept of greywater. A decade ago – even five years ago – it just wasn’t on the radar, but especially in the last two years, the awareness level has shot through the roof, he says. Greywater Interest Is Increasing “Today, it’s not far from a stretch [to say] that I receive at least one email every day from someone in North America inquiring about a greywater recycling system,” he says. Given that you can’t squeeze much more efficiency out of fixtures – toilets are as low as they can go; showerheads are about as low as anyone wants them to go; and faucets, dishwashers and laundry machines are all high efficiency – Bell explains that leaves one logical avenue. “The only way to really make a difference now is to start reusing that water.” This is vital for builders to under­ stand. “I think it’s the future. Of all building technologies that builders have at their disposal, water is going to be their biggest trump card going forward,” he says. Bell explains that a high-efficiency furnace won’t get you much in terms of negotiating with municipalities, but reducing water and sanitary consumption will get their attention, because municipalities either already are or are soon going to be faced with significant water shortages and infrastructure costs. Advice to Builders So his advice is that builders take on this knowledge and bring it with them when it comes time to have those discussions. Find out what could be on the table and what leverage you may have – especially in cases where municipalities have challenges on their water side, whether sanitary or supply. When you’re seeking subdivision approvals, this may be the ace up your sleeve to help alleviate all those frustrations, because if you can show a fussy municipality that you can help solve their challenges, that’s going to go a long way towards ensuring your success. Instead of resistance, builders can present a future-proofing solution to maintain housing affordability. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 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.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 industryexpert / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ I t all started over 10 years ago in Richmond Hill, when Heathwood Homes partnered with Ryerson University to build an eco-house – known as the Green Home – that would demonstrate to homeowners the many benefits of efficient building and compare that home to Heathwood’s standard specifications at the time. Packed with a long list of green features, Heathwood’s Green Home included solar panels, superior insulation, greywater recycling, a high-efficiency gas furnace, a heat recovery ventilator, LED lighting (expensive at the time), PET carpets, enhanced exterior water drainage, zero VOC paints and more. “We were building to ENERGY STAR at the time but decided to adopt our Green Home philosophy to add other sustainability features to our homes,” says Bob Finnigan. Finnigan is the past President of both the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and has been a valuable part of Heathwood Homes since 1988. He led the demonstration project and is now President of Heathwood. “These two occupied homes [the ENERGY STAR home and the Green Home] were monitored by a third party for the usage of water and gas [furnace, hot water] over six months. Two engineering grad students from Ryerson provided the detailed analysis of all the monitoring, and the results of the additional money spent on sustainability were very well worth it – with 20% to 30% in energy savings” for the green home. In 1992, Heathwood Homes was created when Herity (Heathwood’s parent company) joined forces with the Daniels Financial Group. Their first major project was a 650- unit residential development in Mississauga. Since then, the company has completed over 30 successful projects in the province. Heathwood has continually added sustainability elements into its homes since that time. Opting to venture beyond the strict labelling restrictions of ENERGY STAR, the company decided to adopt the Better Than Code approach to homebuilding, Home at Last Heathwood Homes continues its commitment to sustainability 21 “We were building to ENERGY STAR at the time but decided to adopt our Green Home philosophy to add other sustainability features to our homes.” A model kitchen for Heathwood Homes’ The Trails of Country Lane in Whitby, Ontario.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 22 which provides homebuyers with a certified HERS (Home Energy Rating System) report on energy performance – typically at least 20% better than Building Code. On its website, Heathwood showcases its Green Home Energy Program, which lists all the details of its homes’ sustainability features under three headings: energy conservation, water conservation and the environment. In its early demonstration home, Heathwood emphasized the importance of water conservation. Heathwood is currently building in Kitchener, a municipality with a very strong regard for its water supply. “Kitchener has a five-point wish list for sustainability, and with the components we will be putting in our next phase of homes, we will be hitting all the buttons,” says Finnigan. As an example, Heathwood installs an infiltration gallery under the sod and topsoil in each backyard – a structure made of gravel and rock that acts like a horizontal drain that allows natural drainage to get back into the native groundwater faster and more efficiently. Combined with low-flow toilets and faucets, ENERGY STAR dishwashers and washing machines, drain heat recovery and roughed-in greywater systems, Heathwood’s commitment to reduce water consumption is a big priority. “We keep building better, more sustainable homes. But it’s a challenge communicating to homebuyers all the wonderful benefits of what we put into them – such as superior construction, energy savings, conservation and carbon reduction,” says Finnigan. “We can design and build a better box, but we need to educate people about it.” To educate consumers about all the advanced features of its homes, Heathwood introduced its proprietary TOTALHOME+ branding, which is described on its website as “future-proofed homes that are technologically integrated, use less energy, are more cost-efficient, and offer homeowners total confidence, security, and peace of mind.” Included in the TOTALHOME+ web content is a complete list of home features under five categories – water conservation, energy conservation, the environment, the smart home and energy savings – listing the specific details and benefits of each. For its Kitchener project, Heathwood provides a homeowners’ package containing a Better Than Code label (indicating the home’s HERS score and percentage rating above Code), a water conservation feature checklist, a HERSH2O water efficiency rating certificate and a glossary of terms for homeowner awareness. Because technology is ever- changing in the homebuilding industry, Finnigan believes that two- way communication with consumers is vital to the success of his company’s TOTALHOME+ branding. “Residents need to understand how much they’re saving, the smart details of their home, and the better mechanicals, insulation and construction tech­ niques that go into them,” he says. As to the future of sustainable building, Finnigan believes the next step for Heathwood and other builders is looking at the carbon footprint of the homes they build. “When you look at things like triple-glazed windows and under-floor insulation, for example, you need to consider the carbon cost of the energy and materials needed for their manufacture,” he says. “It’s all about learning, listening and adopting. Everything we hear from the good builders is exactly what we’re talking about. We all need to rise to the challenge.” 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. Bob Finnigan
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 24 G lenview Homes, a successful family-run business opened in 1966, has earned a reputation as one of Ottawa’s most established and respected builders and managers of commercial and residential real estate. Today, guided by its “homeowner first” philosophy, the company builds 100 to 125 homes per year in many of the National Capital Region’s most desirable communities. The key to the success of Glenview Homes is the company’s unique approach to building and marketing. Glenview calls it Start With More – listening to homebuyers, catering to the way that people want to live, and being unique among competitors by offering premium standard features and finishes that other builders typically offer as upgrades. Patrick Daniels, residential construction manager at Glenview Homes, began his homebuilding career as an architectural technician 24 years ago. Working with various companies in different roles, including project management and land development, he possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in virtually every aspect of new home building. In addition to his role at Glenview, Daniels is currently vice president of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) and will be taking on the position of president of the association in 2023. In his dual role with Glenview and the GOHBA, Daniels, like other Ottawa homebuilders, is planning and preparing for a significant change in the way new homes are to be built in his market. While Ontario’s Building Code has the distinction of being one of the most energy efficient in North industryexpert / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ Gearing Up for Greening As the City of Ottawa prepares to adopt a High-Performance Development Standard in its new Official Plan, local homebuilders and the regional homebuilders’ association ponder the best route to meeting the city’s green building goals. While Ontario’s Building Code has the distinction of being one of the most energy efficient in North America, the City of Ottawa, like other municipalities in Ontario, has embarked on a plan to make its new homes even greener. ISTOCKPHOTO
  25. 25. BetterThan Code BetterThanCodeUsestheHERSIndextoMeasureEnergyEfficiency TheLowertheScoretheBetter–MeasureableandMarketable OBC 2012 OBC 2017 NEAR ZERO 80 60 40 20 betterthancode.ca Email info@clearsphere.ca or call 416-481-7517 45 Low Cost Code Compliance with the Better Than Code Platform This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Building Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change happened in 2017 which is causing some confusion. A new code will be coming in 2024. How will you comply with the new requirements? Let the BTC Platform — including the HERS Index — help you secure Municipal Subdivision Approvals and Building Permits and enhance your marketing by selling your homes’ energy efficiency. This rating is available for homes built by leading edge builders who have chosen to advance beyond current energy efficiency programs and have taken the next step on the path to full sustainability.
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 America, the City of Ottawa, like other municipalities in Ontario, has embarked on a plan to make its new homes even greener. The High Performance Develop­ ment Standard (HPDS) was adopted by Ottawa as a tool to reach its climate change target of net zero emissions by 2050. According to the City, buildings in Ottawa represent one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions (46% in 2020). The goal of the HPDS is “building capacity in the building industry to advance sustainability and resiliency in new developments.” In order to give local builders time to adopt and adapt to the new standards, Ottawa’s HPDS is being set up as a phased approach, with a Tier 1 metric scheduled to take effect as a municipal bylaw on June 1 of this year. It will apply to all new development applications requiring a site plan and plan of subdivision but will not include smaller infill or low- to mid-rise projects, or development projects already in pre-consultation regarding planning applications with the City. The Tier 1 Community Energy Plan, a key component in the design of new communities, will use quantitative analysis to develop targeted strategies that reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. With respect to new buildings in a development, specific Tier 1 metrics include building energy efficiency (including energy modelling), fresh air intake, sustainable roofing (green roofs, solar-ready design) and electric vehicle parking. An action requirement of the HPDS building energy efficiency metric is for builders to design their homes to meet one of three energy criteria: 1) total energy use intensity (TEUI) and greenhouse gas emission intensity (GHGI); 2) 25% carbon reduction above the Ontario Building Code; 3) a commitment to pursue a certification program such as ENERGY STAR for Multi-Use Residential Buildings or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The latter detail of Ottawa’s plan has Glenview Homes’ Patrick Daniels concerned. Having been a participant in several Net Zero and ENERGY STAR home projects over his career (which he describes as a “tremendous educational experience”), he is no stranger to energy-efficient building. 27 “The problem with labelling programs like ENERGY STAR is twofold: they are not well known or established in Ontario, and they are more about meeting goals and numbers and less about an important aspect of the home – occupant comfort,” says Daniels. Rather than adhering to the strin­ gent standards of existing labelling programs, Daniels would like to see other options, such as Better Than Code, that would better serve Ottawa homebuilders and homeowners alike. “As a builder’s organization, GOHBA and its builder members are all part of the City’s HPDS plan,” he says. “We want to look at different ways of meeting the targets, not just through a labelling program. Technology is undergoing huge changes and continually introducing new products. It’s a learning curve for us. We need to bridge the gap between the City and its constituents.” “If you want to force builders into building better than the Build- ing Code, you need to allow them to achieve the directed goals with- out handcuffing them to labelling programs or any sort of prescribed methods,” says Daniels. “There needs to be competition, fair pricing, prod- uct development and a process that can be achieved by having options. Patrick Daniels, Glenview Homes In order to give local builders time to adopt and adapt to the new standards, Ottawa’s HPDS is being set up as a phased approach. “We want to look at different ways of meeting the targets, not just through a labelling program,” says Patrick Daniels.
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 28 Every builder will need to achieve a certain goal with the HPDS. Let them choose how they want to get there.” As for how his company plans to go greener, Daniels says that Glenview Homes is looking into building better than code on an upcoming project to prepare for what is to come. “We have already been planning for this, as we know that the Building Code was already heading towards a more aggressive green direction,” he says. At the time of this writing, Daniels says that builders will need to present certain requirements once the HPDS is passed into law on June 1. He is concerned about how the City will be able to handle the information, claiming that the process is still evolving, as there are several issues with the program and how it will be utilized. 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. 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 Glenview Homes is looking into building better than code on an upcoming project. “We have already been planning for this, as we know that the Building Code was already heading towards a more aggressive green direction.”
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 30 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY The Code specifies three areas where you must install radon mitiga- tion/soil gas measures. It also states that, in regions of Ontario where radon is known to be a problem, you need to install radon mitigation/soil gas measures unless you can demon- strate that it is not required (Supple- mentary Standard SB-9). To date, the Code has remained silent on how to test for radon. It is because of this that the “logical” conclusion many builders are reaching is “radon is not an issue in my area, so I don't require soil gas control.” That is the logic trap – it gets you to the wrong answer and exposes you to potential liability. Let’s look at it another way. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive noble gas. It’s a soil gas that is present everywhere, including in every home at some level, be it acceptable or problematic. The only way you can test for high levels versus safe levels within a home is by using a long-term, 90-day test after the home has been closed in. The trouble is that testing is not part of the Ontario Building Code, but it is part of the Health Canada guidelines1. Therefore, you cannot demonstrate that radon is not a problem during construction, or even before permit, which means that soil gas controls are [actually] required under Section 9.13.4.2.(2) of the OBC. The remainder of Canada has varying degrees of radon detailing requirements based on the National Building Code (NBC). Ontario has not yet harmonized with the NBC radon requirements, or taken any further action on the matter, so builders and municipalities have had to make their own decisions on how to deal with this liability. For the purposes of this article, I am going with the assumption that builders are already installing a soil gas barrier. So, the question is: if you are already incurring the material and labour expense of installing a soil gas barrier, can you get it to do double duty? What’s the Benefit? The answer here is simple: installing subslab insulation that doubles as a soil gas barrier will result in a drier, warmer floor. This will reduce comfort complaints, especially as we see an increase in the number of homeowners finishing basement space to improve the home’s affordability. By reallocating the soil gas barrier costs to an insulated foam detail, we increase homeowner comfort while maintaining occupant safety. Of course, it is still advisable to have the homeowner test their home for radon, and to include a soil gas collector loop underneath the soil gas layer (if radon is present, it can be remediated more quickly and cost effectively than if the loop is not present). Remember, if vapour can get through, so can radon. That is why continuity of the air barrier/soil gas barrier is critical for an effective deterrent to radon entering the home. Bleeding Edge Learning Outcomes At Doug Tarry Homes, we have experi­ mented with numerous soil gas barrier options over a number of years. We realized we had to have a detail that was easy and quick to install, durable enough to hold together until the concrete could be poured and effective in providing us with our desired results (low incidence of radon intrusion and a warm, dry basement floor). We tried poly on its own and got a dry floor, but it was not warm. We tried laying sheets of rigid insulation and taping them together, but it was susceptible to cracking (at the time, we were only using one inch of rigid insulation board). We even had one of our building inspectors bring his own roll of tape to fix the cracks that occurred when he walked on it. While his efforts were appreciated, we knew we had to do better. The Radon Logic Trap An excerpt from Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes by Doug Tarry 1 canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/radiation/radon/government-canada-radon-guideline.html T here is a fair amount of confusion around radon in the province of Ontario – specifically, where it is and if we need to deal with it during construction. Part of that confusion comes from what I consider to be the “radon logic trap” contained within the Ontario Building Code (OBC) that we, as builders, follow when constructing our homes.
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Finally, during the planning for our Project Hope build, we worked with our insulation contractor, Great Northern Insulation, on how we could deal with the soil gas and improve the basement floor performance. We ultimately decided to use a two-pound closed cell foam (BASF Walltite), which we found gave far better overall results for our customers and was less work in the overall construction schedule. The one downside was that we needed to wait until the floor deck was on before we could spray the floor and pour the concrete. Closed basement slab pours are more of a challenge than open pours, but the overall results are worth it. Even with good detailing of all the penetrations under the slab, there was one other issue we noticed. After you have dealt with the obvious penetrations, you must also detail any sleeves used around the penetrations. Our plumber used to put cardboard around the shower pipe rough-in for the basement bath so that he could adjust it slightly, without busting up the floor. 31 This picture shows the sleeve around the water service pipe. It is there to protect the pipe from the concrete finisher’s equipment. In this case, it ended up being the source of the radon entering into a home that tested at 651 Bq/m3 — over three times the acceptable limit in Canada. Once we filled in the hole, we would have solved the problem, but it was found during the remediation of the home, resulting in $3,000 in remediation versus $10 of bathroom caulking!
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 This work has evolved into our current radon mitigation detail, which is shown in Figure 1 (above). Here are the basic steps we follow to ensure an effective soil gas detail installation: 1. Install continuous rigid wall insulation from top of foundation to top of footing. 2. Install a Big ‘O’ loop with a capped vertical rough-in pipe as the soil gas collector. Allow approximately 16 feet of lineal feet of Big ‘O’ for every 500 square feet of total basement floor area. Ensure the capped pipe is labelled as a soil gas collection pipe, not a plumbing stack. 3. Install continuous soil gas layer across entire foundation. 4. Caulk or tape around any penetrations of the soil gas layer prior to pouring the concrete floor. 5. To avoid a thermal bridge at the footing, the subslab insulation needs to extend over the footing to connect with the continuous rigid wall insulation. What Now? Work with your energy advisor and your insulation provider to determine the best course of action to deal with soil gas and add the insulation requirements for above-Code construction, such as the ENERGY STAR or Net Zero energy programs. Depending on the type of continuous insulation your foundation wall system utilizes, you may have to do additional detailing to connect the subslab foam to the foundation wall air barrier system. As noted, the continuity of the air barrier/soil gas barrier is critical. The overall challenge is one of detailing in the field and getting trades on board. It does no good to put in a soil gas barrier if you permit your concrete finisher to go on site with a pitchfork. Yep, that’s right, a pitchfork. A soil gas barrier changes the concrete from bi-directional drying to one- directional drying. That slows down the trades. When they get annoyed with the added time, the pitchfork comes out, the holes go in the soil gas barrier, and excess water can drain into the aggregate. But now, you have lost the continuity of your soil gas barrier. So, getting your concrete finisher on board with why this is important is critical. You also want to limit the amount of accelerant they use, as this can result in excess cracking and surface pops, which are destined to be a pain in the warranty department. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. 32 Figure 1: SB-9 RADON COMPLIANT SECTION DETAIL
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 41 | SPRING 2022 Trailblazer Continuous stone wool insulation that improves thermal performance Trailblazing requires confidence, expertise and a desire to do things right. High performance Builders use 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. ROCKWOOL Comfortboard® 80 is a Type 1 CCMC product, complying with CAN/ULC S702 and has CCMC validated product acceptance as continuous insulation for multiple applications. For more information visit rockwool.com/comfortboard
  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 © 2022 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. ENB 822 02/2022 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

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