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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 42 / Summer 2022

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 42 / Summer 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.

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

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 42 / Summer 2022

  1. 1. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 WINNERS OF THE 2022 CROSS BORDER CHALLENGE
  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 42 | SUMMER 2022 1 32 ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 34 18 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 The Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Why Competition Is a Good Thing by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 The Hybrid House Approach A Production Builder’s Best Strategies for (or Before) 2030 by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 Spring Training Camp 2022 by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 8 Regal Crest Promotes Choice in Achieving Energy Efficiency by Marc Huminilowycz BUILDER NEWS 11 Lindvest Homes “Doing It Differently” by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 14 ICON Homes An Iconic Cross Border Builder Challenge Award by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 16 Resourceful Conservation by Rob Blackstien BUILDER NEWS 18 Continuous Improvement Mandalay Homes’ constant process of education by Rob Blackstien INDUSTRY NEWS 22 Uncertain Times for Homebuilding in Ontario by Paul De Berardis BUILDER NEWS 27 Country Homes Built with Hands, Heart and Care for the Planet by Marc Huminilowycz BUILDER NEWS 31 Empire Communities Five Years of Continuous Improvement  by Better Builder Staff BUILDER NEWS 32 The 2022 Cross Border Builder Challenge Golf Tournament BUILDER NEWS 33 Cross Border Challenge Honourable Mentions by Better Builder Staff FROM THE GROUND UP 34 Why Indoor Air Quality Matters by Doug Tarry Cover, awards, event and golf photos by Mike Day, theartofweddings.com The 2022 Cross Border Builder Challenge
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 The Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Why Competition Is a Good Thing “Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.” — Nancy Pearcey I n a rapidly changing world of politics, codes, programs and technologies, compe­ tition creates a level playing field and provides superior outcomes. Single-minded government policies, programs and agendas need to be vetted with transparency and standard forms of measurement. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index and software recognized in the Ontario Building Code (OBC) draw a line where the industry can objectively determine, through a standard-based approach, which builders are winners when it comes to energy efficiency. In this issue, we tell the important background stories of all our Canadian RESNET/ CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge winners: BK Couper Custom Homes, Country Homes, Dietrich Homes, Empire Communities, ICON Homes, Lindvest Homes and Regal Crest Homes. We were able to stack them up against American home builders in a friendly competition using HERS scores. They show us the leadership that comes from a competitive, yet collaborative homebuilding industry. In the U.S., there are many competing software providers, so HERS-based software is very accurate, user-friendly and under continuous improvement. In Canada, ERS software for energy modelling has no competition and, therefore, some parts of it have not been updated for over 30 years. In his article about spring training camp, Gord Cooke refers to a discussion of this by Jeff Baker. Baker is a window expert, and he says that even the window algorithms within the ERS software that he wrote need to be updated to include low solar heat gain windows. Read more in Gord’s article about other timely issues like the resiliency of net zero homes during blackouts (page 5). Many are rethinking net zero or balanced energy. Lou Bada introduces the concept of the hybrid house, where batteries are utilized for peak shaving before panels go onto roofs (page 3). Paul De Berardis helps us understand what business may be like in Ontario under a provincial mandate to build 1.5 million more houses amidst the challenges of municipal overreach, affordability, labour shortages and supply chain issues (page 22). Lastly, Doug Tarry reminds us that homes are built for occupants (page 34). In the quest to reduce carbon emissions when building and operating houses, we need to provide healthy living environments and educate people around their choices for finishes. When we can measure to the same standard, we can all begin striving to do better. Currently, the OBC offers builders choices for how to enhance their brand while satisfying code requirements for energy performance. A single rating system cannot foster this same spirit of continuous improvement. Competition is good and mono­ polies don’t work – just remember what happened with Rogers this summer. BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN 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.
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 ASHRAE Standard 90.2 (Energy- Efficient Design of Low-Rise Residential Buildings), we will see that a HERS rating of 46 is a “Zero Energy Ready Home,” which is a 35% improvement from the NBC Tier 1. This American approach by the Department of Energy (DOE) deliberately omitted the word I f the current energy shock – and, more importantly, the enormous human suffering caused by the war in Europe – hasn’t been an eye- opener, then I’m not sure what is. The extent of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and its economic weaponization should feel like a punch in the mouth. It’s a reasonable reaction to the war to call for the more rapid decarbonization of our lives and economies. It’s not a matter of if we decarbonize, but a matter of when and how. As should be evident, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. My friend Paul De Berardis’ explanation and analysis of the tiered approach to energy conservation in the upcoming building codes in the last issue of Better Builder was excellent. Essentially, the upcoming requirements for section SB-12 in Part 9 of the 2024 Ontario Building Code (OBC) will be what our current A-1 prescriptive package is, with the addition of an airtightness test. This represents a 20% improvement of the National Building Code’s (NBC) Tier 1. It will be the OBC’s baseline for 2024 (or NBC’s Tier 3). As Paul also explained, more ominous are municipal governments’ pushes to move ahead of the OBC and implement their own municipal green standards. If we guess at what the next step may be or what municipalities will foist on us, we need to look at a Net Zero-Ready requirement. A 40% improvement in energy efficiency from Tier 1 is required for a Tier 4 home in the NBC. If we look to the “net.” DOE has a defined threshold of 50% better than International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2006. A HERS 46 rating is very close to the 40% improvement required for Tier 4 in the NBC. Again, I will reiterate the importance of a recognized standard (such as ASHRAE) and a rational scale (such as HERS) for measurement of energy efficiency in homes. How would we get to “Net Zero Ready or Zero Energy-Ready” or Tier 4? John Godden’s elaboration of a hybrid house in previous issues made a lot of sense, and I briefly touched on it in the futureproofing issue of Better Builder (winter 2021). To understand the hybrid house principle is to understand that the home will use multiple energy sources. The wise use of natural gas with combination heating and the 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA A Production Builder’s Best Strategies for (or Before) 2030: The Hybrid House Approach BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson ELECTRIC MOTOR NATURAL GAS PETROL/ DIESEL TANK OFF-PEAK ELECTRICITY ICE REGEN- ERATIVE BRAKING BATTERY Hybrid House is like a plug-in hybrid car that uses two or more energy sources – natural gas and off-peak electricity with battery storage. 90.2 COMPLIANCE ERI SCORES BY CLIMATE ZONE CLIMATE ERI SCORE ZONE 1 43 ZONE 2 45 ZONE 3 47 ZONE 4 47 ZONE 5 47 ZONE 6 46 ZONE 7 46 ZONE 8 45 In ON, low carbon homes are ERI/HERS 46.
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 weather heat pumps don’t work well enough. They still require electrical resistance heating to be comfortable in the home. Electricity is still produced from natural gas at peak on the coldest days. The home may be “net zero,” but the grid isn’t. It’s not an energy efficient way of going about things, especially since PV systems without batteries could not generate electricity during the Ottawa blackout. We also need to choose the right windows for our climate. We need windows that keep heat in during the winter and keep heat out during the summer. We should use affordable double-glazed windows with U-values lower than 1.6 and solar heat gain lower than 0.3. This can reduce cooling loads by up to 30%. Why not go all the way and build “Net Zero” homes? Mandating Net Zero homes now will be costly and ineffective in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases new homes produce until the energy grid is also decarbonized. Municipalities need to rethink mandating Net Zero housing before it’s practical, tried and true, and affordable. Also, Net Zero is not a standard but a program. My recent article on affordability is even more pertinent now with rising interest rates and inflation taking hold. Economic hardship has very real social consequences. It’s one thing to be aspirational and set goals for the future; it’s another to get punched in the mouth right now. 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). according to some manufacturers’ literature), without backup electrical resistance heat, the temperature rise and delivery of warm air is not satisfactory to the occupants of the home. I visited a home we built with this system and it was uncomfortable – it felt like a cool breeze was being delivered through the ductwork. We had to reset the trigger point for the electric resistance heating to turn on at about 0° C to deliver a level of comfort that the homeowners could stand when it was cold. I’m afraid that the electricity bills will be a shock to the homeowners of an “energy efficient home” and rates will only increase in the future. Quite frankly, right now, cold 4 use of off-peak electricity can reduce carbon emissions by up to 50%. A standard air source heat pump air conditioner can provide 40% of the space heating in shoulder months using electricity, a non-carbon-based fuel in Ontario. Shoulder seasons are months where we have low heating loads and moderate temperatures and where gas-fired “peaker-generating plants” aren’t working much. Why not use a “cold weather” heat pump and go all electric then? Our experience with cold weather heat pumps was less than ideal. Although they are rated to work somewhere down to −10° C (and lower
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 W e were so pleased to be able to host Spring Training Camp in person once again in April 2022. Officially, this was the ninth annual event, albeit the last two were hosted in the virtual realm. As always, we felt there were many important technical lessons offered for residential new homebuilders. For a start, as always, we were privileged to have Dr. John Straube speak for a few hours, offering compelling yet simple details for improving the resiliency of new homes. Interestingly, both he and Jeff Baker of WestLabs (one of Canada’s foremost authorities on window performance) spoke about the importance of appropriate window coatings with respect to solar gain. John spoke about the dangers of high solar gain glazing in ever-more efficient buildings and the possibility of dramatic overheating in the event of electrical grid interruptions with no air conditioning. Jeff spoke about the overall energy efficiency opportunities in choosing lower solar gain glazing to balance winter versus summer energy use. There were a number of sessions and even a debate on the progress of “counting carbon” (both embodied and operational) with a goal of finding the appropriate balance between reducing energy use while optimizing the carbon emitted in the production of more insulation or additional panes of glass in high-performance windows. Of importance, there are now resources available to builders, such as carbon simulation tools – not unlike the energy efficiency simulation software that has now become a common code compliance tool. It can be expected that the same consultants who provide energy performance assessments will soon be able to advise on cost-effective carbon optimization choices. (The link at the end will provide more information on some of the technical topics discussed at Spring Training Camp.) To me, however, one of the most enlightening sessions was what I would consider a process lesson that was delivered by Jim Moore and Joe Starr of Beazer Homes. Jim is the senior vice president of operations and Joe is the senior director of national accounts and innovation at Beazer. Beazer’s head office is in Atlanta, and they currently build in 16 markets across 12 states. As one of the largest builders in the United States, Beazer defines their difference in three corporate pillars. The first is tremendous flexibility in 5 The Important Lesson Learned from Spring Training Camp 2022 industryexpert / GORD COOKE The same consultants who provide energy performance assessments will soon be able to advise on cost-effective carbon optimization choices. Jim Moore of Beazer Homes (left), Joe Starr of Beazer Homes (centre) and Gord Cooke.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 6 the choice of house plans. The second is the opportunity for homebuyers to choose their own mortgage financing (this is not something all national builders provide). The third pillar, “Surprising Performance,” was the focus of Jim and Joe’s presentation to the 160 campers – the builders, designers, energy advisors, manufacturers and utility representatives – at Hockley Resort this year. Always a leader in technical performance, Jim recounted that in spring 2020, he asked industry influencers where the technical performance of houses was headed over the next seven to 10 years. Jim and Joe were intrigued to hear from those experts about the inevitability of net zero energy construction over the next 10 years. With the help of my partners at Construction Instruction and the energy modelling team of Building Knowledge Canada in running a common American energy design software, Beazer executed a virtual integrated design process over a six-month period with a multi-disciplinary internal team supplemented with a few external subject matter experts (such as solar system designers) to map out a path to net zero energy construction. The process laid out was so surprisingly simple that Jim and Joe were able to show a cost-effective and timely plan that will empower all divisions to meet the corporate mandate of net zero energy-ready for every home delivered in 2025, rather than the original goal of 2030. While many builders in Canada have implemented net zero energy construction in demonstration homes or even in specific developments, I feel the unique difference in Beazer’s process was to have every division implement very specific construction details in each of the years in the four- year plan. For example, in the first full year of the process (2022), every one of the approximately 7,000 homes closed will be airtightness tested and achieve a level of no more than 3.0 air changes per hour at 50 pascals (3.0 ACH50) – even in states where testing is not required. Also included in year one is the installation of energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) in every home; they will be the first national builder in the U.S. to do so. Notice the building science synergy of build tight, ventilate right. That theme extends into each year of the plan. The focus of year two is improving window performance; appropriately selecting more efficient, smaller-sized air conditioning systems; and moving airtightness to 2.5 ACH50. Each year, there are also elements that are simpler to implement – such as water heating efficiency, lighting, appliances and attic insulation upgrades. The more complex implementation of high- performance walls and getting all ducts out of attics and into conditioned space are being worked on now but targeted for execution in the final year of the program. In that final year, the airtightness target moves to 1.5 ACH50. All measures have been fully costed, and manufacturing and supply partners have been engaged to provide appropriate product innovation and training for smooth implementation. For example, a national arrangement with AeroBarrier has been provided to every division. AeroBarrier provides the technology that empowers all builders to achieve airtightness levels under 1.5 ACH50 with one process or phone call. (For more information, visit www.aerobarrier.ca.) Jim Moore was candid in his explanation that about a third of the building divisions were enthusiastic supporters and are already ahead of schedule. Another third of the divisions have expressed challenges with local contractors, suppliers and even building officials. However, head office is providing them with additional resources and support rather than backing off on the corporate mandate. An additional challenge was that the corporate sales and marketing team initially struggled with how to present this stepped approach. However, they were intrigued that Beazer will adopt the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy-Ready (ZER) label as homes become qualified on or before 2025. The ZER program includes a requirement for homes to also be labelled under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor airPLUS program. When Jim and Joe committed to the sales team that all new homes would be labelled to this indoor air quality program’s requirements within the first year of the program, the sales team quickly became excited to focus on this as the “Surprising Perform­ ance” feature of their homes. Again, they are the first national builder to adopt this helpful air quality require­ The building science community has always shown that the same things done to make a home more energy efficient simultaneously make them healthier, safer, more comfortable and more durable.
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 ment as a standard. I found this to be rewarding as well, as the building science com­ munity has always shown that the same things done to make a home more energy efficient simulta­ neously make them healthier, safer, more comfortable and more durable. It is therefore gratifying to see that the Canadian Home Builders’ Asso­ ciation’s Net Zero Energy labelling program is planning to add an indoor air quality checklist requirement to their specifications as well. Beazer’s success in outlining a process for a clear, cost-effective path to net zero energy-ready well ahead of most regional or state code regulations could serve as a useful lesson for large Canadian builders as well. After all, Jim and Joe both noted how pleased they were to find common challenges and processes with the many Canadian builders they spoke to at Camp. The rigour of a specific plan that allows for small, incremental steps (just ahead of codes) – and with clear collaboration amongst internal teams, supply partners and energy advisors – allows Beazer the opportunity for a proactive, reasoned and controlled implementation. Perhaps Beazer’s three pillars of difference, including their “Surprising Performance” promise implementation, were part of the reason they were ranked as number one in the construction industry on Newsweek’s list of America’s Most Trusted Companies for 2022. This first year back in person highlighted again why we have been so pleased that Spring Training Camp continues to foster the sharing of successes and challenges between high-performance builders from across North America. This willingness to collaborate is, in my opinion, one of the best aspects of our industry. BB For more information, stay tuned to buildingknowledge.ca/spring-camp. Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 7 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
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 8 I n 1965, a group of 17 Ontario trades­ people got together with a shared vision: to build better homes and communities through hard work, innovation and a commitment to quality. Today, despite its small size, builder Regal Crest Homes in Concord remains a competitive player in the province’s homebuilding industry by constructing 400 to 500 quality homes every year. “We can strike and bang with the best,” says Regal Crest contract and costing manager Mike Rubino. The company is a graduate of the Savings by Design program from Enbridge Gas which, through building science and energy modelling, helps builders design and construct energy-saving homes that offer maximum comfort with minimal environmental impact. It also took part in an Enbridge monitoring study in integrated combination systems. Since then, Regal Crest has created its own builder brand using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and the Better Than Code third-party label. As a result of the company’s commitment to energy-efficient building through the Savings by Design program, Regal Crest received the President’s Award in the 2022 CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge for its Anchor Woods subdivision in East Gwillimbury, Ontario. “Anchor Woods put us on the map,” says Rubino. “Although this project was built to Energy Star to comply with a municipal subdivision agreement, it gave us a platform to go beyond the confines of the program – with the same savings, energy efficiency and value – and create customized building solutions instead of following a label.” Rubino and the Regal Crest team believe that decisions regarding energy efficiency should be left to the builder. “There should be checks and balances,” he says. “It’s really about affordability. A municipality tells us that we have to build to Energy Star, but we can achieve the same or better in many other ways. Because we’re small, we know what’s going on, and we work lean, from breaking ground to closing. I wish municipalities would reach out to builders more, in order to create better communities. We say to them, ‘Are you getting the best value? Give us options instead.’” When it comes to dealing with the long arm of local municipal overreach, Regal Crest is leading the way by promoting builder choice and creating its own technical requirements and green standards for developers to follow. As for the federal government’s commitment to developing a Net Zero emissions model Building Code for provinces by 2024, Mike Rubino claims that Regal Crest is prepared for what is to come. “Most builders today are unfamiliar with Net Zero,” he says. “We prefer to use the term ‘zero energy- Ontario Builder Promotes Choice in Achieving Energy Efficiency industrynews / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ Regal Crest Homes — Winner, 2022 President's Award, presented to Art Rubino (right) by Paul Lowes, President of CRESNET.
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 ready’ in our building practices, meaning that we can build 20% better than Building Code. We won the President’s Award averaging a score of HERS 42 at our East Gwillimbury subdivision for over 100 homes.” Currently, all of Regal Crest’s new homes boast an impressive average HERS score of 46, which, according to Rubino, makes them well on their way to being “zero energy-ready.” A new development in Markham, Ontario – a municipality with “some of the toughest energy efficiency standards in the business” – comes with a set of stringent specifications. “They are expecting zero energy performance from us, meaning that we will need to reach a HERS score of 46,” says Rubino. “We don’t have a problem meeting this goal, as long as we can have a say in how it’s done. This will help us achieve what the municipality wants, at a lower cost, by following standards like HERS instead of programs like Net Zero.” Rubino strongly believes that builders should be given a choice in reaching home energy efficiency goals and a say in the future of greener homebuilding. “Price is everything now,” he says. “Municipal governments need to listen to the opinions and concerns of builders on how to achieve their goals in a more cost-effective way.” 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. 9 45 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE 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
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 they already were. To push that, the company wanted to achieve greater efficiencies and build better brand recognition.” For Martelli, this was a great “opportunity to introduce things that would help us succeed. Even with COVID’s restrictions on delivery, we continue to pursue progress.” The pandemic resulted in delivery issues and corresponding construction This past year, Lindvest won the Cross Border Builder Challenge for energy efficiency in the low-volume category for lowest HERS score under 50. With an average score of 45, every house is zero energy-ready. Their paths crossed when Lindvest was looking to restructure. As Martelli says, “they wanted to build an even better product and, ultimately, be a more prominent builder than cost increases. But there were some silver linings, Martelli says, “such as how the pandemic really brought home the importance of inside air quality.” In turn, that influenced which category the company competed in for the Cross Border Builder Challenge. Even though the Klein Estates project is one of their biggest (with 500 units once it’s completed), it didn’t qualify for the high-volume category because of how COVID-19 slowed down delivery of homes. “We pride ourselves on moving people into completed homes, even though it may take a bit longer,” Martelli says. At the moment, about 50 homes are 11 Lindvest Homes “Doing It Differently” buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN Lindvest — Winner, 2022 Lowest HERS Score for Low Volume Builder, presented by Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY (right) to Jason Morin (centre) and Dan Lacroix of Lindvest Homes. E verything that rises eventually converges. And so it was for Anthony Martelli and Lindvest, who joined forces almost four years ago. Lindvest, a family-owned development and construction company established in the 1990s, had been steadily rising as a leader in energy efficiency construction, using the EnerGuide Rating System.
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 12 occupied and another 240 units are under construction. Thus, they were a perfect fit for Tier 1 of Savings by Design. Martelli is no stranger to the Cross Border Builder challenge, having won in 2016 with Liv Communities when he was their Chief Operating Officer. “Winning is a gratifying experience for the whole team, especially when you are competing against builders from all over Canada and the United States.” It’s a healthy experience, he adds, because it pushes a company to keep up the high standards. When Martelli started with Lindvest, the company was eager to improve in efficiencies. For the chal­ lenge, they knew they were competing with other builders who weren’t in the Better Than Code program and “we wanted to distinguish ourselves. ‘Do it differently’ is our current slogan.” For example, some builders use Energy Star at 15% better than Package A-1. Most Lindvest homes are 25% better than code. Staying ahead of Building Code changes is always a challenge. But going better than code now prepares you for that eventuality and is a great way to test the team and its abilities, Martelli says. Lindvest began using the Better Than Code program through Clear­ sphere almost four years ago and, since then, each of their homes targets a minimum of 20% better than code with airtightness at Energy Star levels. Some achieve 25% while others come close, Martelli says, and “it depends on the house. With some of the smaller units, we had a little more control of the product specifications and construction features, which got our numbers up even better. Each month we review our scores to help us focus on continuous improvement.” However, each home has certain standards, such as a power pipe, increased R-values in insulation, the highest efficiency mechanical appliances available, and advanced systems in domestic hot water, heating and cooling. They also added right- sized conditioning to their HVAC. Most importantly, they made a change to their windows. Using passive coding strategies with high-performance double-glazed windows with low U-values and low solar heat gain, heat gain calculations went down by 30% or one ton of cooling on large models. Another feature well worth the investment, Martelli says, was insulating the basement walls with Rockwool and incorporating insulation under the slab. “With the price of real estate today, the basement is no longer just for storage – it’s for living too.” These finish-ready basements not only increased comfort but have moisture management built in. While many of the features were obvious, some items that didn’t have great return on investment were incorporated anyway. “We looked at the whole package to figure out what was worthwhile to include. If you stick with items that are merely cost-effective and a better return, you miss out on providing items that work together as a whole package for occupant comfort and durability.” Despite winning the Cross Border Builder Challenge, and the fact the units are performing well above code, Lindvest continues to look for other opportunities to reduce consumption. “It’s great that we’ve reached these milestones, but evolution is necessary, especially in today’s environment. We continue to look at what is coming next, what else we can add to our program and how we can prepare for a code change in 2024.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. 41 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE Staying ahead of Building Code changes is always a challenge. But going better than code now prepares you for that eventuality and is a great way to test the team and its abilities, Martelli says.
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 14 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN I CON Homes is known for building energy-efficient attached homes – stacked townhomes, row housing and semis. In fact, all homes operated at a minimum of 15% better than code. That was thanks to standard features – such as low-carbon concrete, drain water and greywater recovery system, and the Panasonic energy recovery ventilator (ERV), which improves interior air quality by maintaining humidity levels in winter and summer – and offering new technologies such as AeroBarrier. Better insulation in the walls and ceiling, full insulation under the slab and high-performance, double-glazed windows also upped the R-values considerably. ICON uses the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) for its creativity in achieving better than code. While Energy Star is a good system, Kevin Watt, Vice President of Construction, says there are different ways to build a better house. Because Energy Star is very prescribed, it’s harder for builders to build a package that is specific to their energy efficiency goals. He finds the HERS rating allows for them to create a whole package that delivers high-performance homes while enhancing the ICON brand. Watt says using HERS allowed the company to do performance-based permit applications. “It allows you to be very creative in the way you build a better house.” Achieving 15% better than code using a HERS package also qualified them for Enbridge incentives and the Savings by Design (SBD) program. The first project was Market District, which garnered the builder a Civic Award for Sustainability from the City of Pickering in 2019. At Market District Towns, they qualified a mid-rise building by using an alternative approach rather than following a Part 3 approach to energy rating and verification. HERS allowed them to qualify a four-storey building on a unit basis, rather than a whole building, by modelling under ANSI/ RESNET/ICC 301-2019. The second SBD project that ICON built was Forest District, ICON Homes An Iconic Cross Border Builder Challenge Award ICON Homes — Winner, 2022 Lowest HERS Score by Mid-Volume Builder, presented to Kevin Watt (left) by Brian Cooke of AeroBarrier.
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 where 100 units qualified for Tier 2 Savings by Design. The super-semi demonstration was inspired by the integrated design process (IDP) approach in the Savings by Design workshop. With Forest District, they had their next opportunity for innovation: meet Savings by Design at 15% better than code but build a super-semi with one side “better” with a HERS 44 (23% better than code) and the other side “best” with a HERS 38 (39% better than code) and give AeroBarrier a try. They built a winner, with the lowest score of 38, in their category of 50 to 100 homes. This is well below zero energy-ready at a HERS 46. While ICON builds across the GTA, Watt says the company focuses more of its attention east of Toronto, especially in Pickering. The reason for this, he says, is that “Pickering is one of the most progressive municipalities, and its staff is forward thinking. I’ve been in the industry 24 years and worked in a lot of regions, but this is the best. It’s why we love working in Pickering.” Two more stacked sites in Pickering are in the works: Central District (located on Kingston Road east of Whites Road with 88 stacked towns) and Park District (on Brock Road North, with 197 units in a combination of four-storey and three-storey stacks, and three-storey regular towns). Because of the negative impacts of the pandemic across the industry, homebuyers are more conscious of the benefits of better indoor air quality and are more interested in ensuring a good living experience, Watt says. And certainly, sales in the past year reflect that – the two new sites in Pickering are nearly sold out, despite higher costs to cover the materials and the energy-efficient features. The biggest thing a green builder can do for potential purchasers is to educate them, Watt adds. “Education is a big deal when it comes to building houses in a sustainable way. It’s critical to provide enough info to homeowners so they know why these homes are better.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. 15 39 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE 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. “Education is a big deal when it comes to building houses in a sustainable way. It’s critical to provide enough info to homeowners so they know why these homes are better.”
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 16 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN To achieve this level, Dietrich says, first and foremost the company focused on energy efficiency, with an assist from Clearsphere: “The draw for energy is considerably less than the average newly built home today.” And while these homes will be ready to receive solar panels as needed in the future, it’s really all about the basics here – a very tight building envelope, one that will require less heating and cooling power than most houses. “So really, you’re not consuming a lot of histor­ ically traditional types of energy sources,” he explains. Dietrich says the company employs advanced materials and products such as insulation, vapour barrier, high-effi­ ciency gas furnaces, energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) and tankless water heaters to ensure the highest possible energy efficiency in its homes. It’s All About Quality At the end of the day, he says it’s all about quality materials, superior insu­ lation and quality control inspections. “My homes take slightly longer to build because of the detail and building pro­ cess that’s so efficient and effective.” The process clearly works, given that these homes were 30% better than code, Dietrich says, owing to a “design process [that] was meticulously thought through.” He explains that building homes with this level of energy efficiency on a production level is what makes Dietrich Homes stand out as a regional rarity, as you’ll only find this in custom-built houses within the Peterborough area. While zero energy-ready homes are still a niche offering (Dietrich estimates that fewer than 2% of new Resourceful Conservation Peterborough builder bags an award by helping the municipality and homeowners save water Dietrich Homes — Winner, 2022 HERS H2O Award presented to Paul Dietrich (right) by Paraic Lally of Gretyer. D ietrich Homes has a simple but effective approach: build sustainable homes today… for tomorrow. A long-time leader in the Peter­ borough market, the company’s efforts have been recognized in the form of the 2022 RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge HERSH2O Award for Canada. An industry veteran of 35-plus years, Paul Dietrich owns the recently rebranded company that innovated by building zero energy-ready homes (rated HERS 46) within its award-winning 75-home (phase one) development in Peterborough, Trails of Lily Lake.
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 homes meet this level), he says it’s a growing market that is becoming more popular with homebuyers. Dietrich says that such homes are more durable, featuring high- performance windows, ultra-efficient heating and cooling systems, and better insulated walls – all of which adds up to a better-built home that won’t bring warranty concerns. That, in a nutshell, is a big part of its business model: “superior business techniques and quality inspections,” Dietrich summarizes. “We are a large builder and have the ability to create a positive impact to reduce our homes’ energy use dras­ tically,” he says in explaining the com­ pany’s motivation to build this way. Dietrich Homes’ sustainability philosophy hinges on not just talking the talk, but actually walking the walk. Don’t Just Talk About It “It’s a conversation that is occurring all of the time,” Dietrich says. “Con­ versation is great; it brings awareness to the topic. But one truly does need to engage action to make a positive commitment or positive attribute to improve the quality of [the situation].” He says even the smallest of endeavours can pick up steam and snowball into a very large movement. Going through Enbridge’s Savings by Design program – an “integral part” of this project’s success – not only helped the company win this award, but it also created plenty of local buzz. For starters, Dietrich says he found the charrette very valuable from an educational standpoint and, given how many people wanted to attend the session, he certainly wasn’t alone in that regard. When word got out that Dietrich Homes was working on a project through the program, they received a ton of requests from Peterborough and adjacent municipalities’ building and planning staff that wanted to participate or observe the session. It’s probably not a surprise that Dietrich’s project garnered so much attention. After all, he’s a bit of a legend in Peterborough – whenever anyone needs a local recommendation or testimonial, they come to him. One of the keys to earning the CRESNET honour was water conservation measures – both indoor and outdoor on each property. Dietrich was able to accomplish this by applying the lessons learned from building three discovery homes that featured greywater recovery systems and HERSH2O labelling. Stormwater management was top of mind in the design of each house in the Trails of Lily Lake. Every home features a soak-away water device, either in the front or back, that transfers rainwater from rooftops through the downspouts to an underground system that’s unique to each house. The system is not much more difficult to build than a rear deck, he says. And There’s More But Dietrich Homes didn’t stop there. Greywater recycling systems were offered as an upgrade, and each Perfor­ mance Plus Series home has a rough-in for this device, making future retrofits 17 HERSH2O® Water Efficiency Rating Certificate Property Address: 56 York Drive City: Peterborough, ON Builder: Dietrich Homes Rating Information HERSH2O Index: 69 Rating Date: 10/28/2021 Rating Provider: Better Than Code HERSH2O Index: 69 This home, compared to the reference home: 31 % more water efficient 95,218 litres annual water savings much simpler. Given that the munici­ pality charges occupants for every litre of water they receive, those opting for inclusion of the system are benefitting. “It’s definitely reducing the water consumption and the water load that the home is consuming,” Dietrich says. All told, these solutions “helped dissipate water shed on a lot-by-lot basis” within the community. How big an impact is this having? “If every home being built was incorporating this system, in theory, sewage treatment plants that exist today would never need to be increased in size,” he suggests. “In theory, they would only need to be maintained and perhaps could be decreased in size.” Dietrich says he’s a big believer in “integration,” meaning that everything in the house works as an ecosystem – from the foundation to the roof, it’s all designed to function as a whole. The result? Comfortable and Healthy “A comfortable, healthy indoor environment.” At the end of the day, the Green Builder Member of the Year for the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Home Builders Association understands that it has a responsibility to do whatever it can to help alleviate climate change. “Our goal is to do our part to tackle the serious impact of buildings on our climate and work toward reducing our carbon footprint for the environment,” Dietrich says. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 18 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN T o say that Arizona-based Mandalay Homes owner Dave Everson was surprised to learn that his company won the 2022 RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge President’s Award is an understatement. In fact, he wasn’t even aware that they had entered the competition – maybe because he’s so focused on continuously improving his company’s capacity to build healthy, energy-efficient houses. The 23-year-old company’s initial foray into healthy, sustainable home­ building dates back to 2010, when it was approached by the City of Phoenix to be a consortium partner in a federal grant program designed to “push the envelope on home performance,” Everson says. The program mandated minimum sustainability requirements to qualify for the funding, but to the city’s credit, he says, it didn’t want to just comply with those requirements – it wanted to exceed them. Everson explains that Phoenix was keen on learning new construction practices that could be adopted going forward, so it was willing to pour a lot of time, energy and money into training Mandalay. He immersed himself for six to nine months, sucking up all the knowledge he could from raters, mechanical companies and city consultants. The most fun exercise was a boot camp at Harvard, where they really got to understand the influence of certain practices, plus the durability and sustained value of high-performance homes. Dropping that nugget definitely has some legs at a cocktail party. “I can say I went to Harvard… I was only there for three and a half days,” Everson chuckles. Continuous Improvement Arizona builder’s reputation and accolades have grown thanks to a constant process of education
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 Rewarding and Fun But at the end of the day, all this edu­ cation put its fingerprints on every­ thing that is now Mandalay. And the experience was not just rewarding, but highly enjoyable, he says. “It was super fun and I just learned so much.” Ultimately, all this knowledge manifested itself in the award- winning Jasper development. In 2021, the discovery home there had a dual gas-electric environment, but Mandalay took it to the next level this year by going all electric, thanks to Mitsubishi heat pump technology. “That was a massive step towards carbon neutrality,” he says. Another big addition to this year’s home involved creating an intelligent environment. Mandalay wrote its own code, and the supplier incorporated it into the battery firmware. “It’s effectively an optimized envi­ ronment where it’s managing its clean energy, so the lowest cost and the lowest carbon footprint [is achieved],” Everson explains. Basically, the soft­ ware manages the state of charge and discharge on an hourly basis based on specific variables like production, con­ sumption, time of use, orientation, etc. Incredibly Detailed The beauty of this solution is that it’s incredibly detailed and specific to each individual home but takes occupant behaviour out of the mix. “We didn’t want the consumer to be tied down or have their behaviour changed; we wanted to have an intelligent environ­ ment that manages for them,” he says. Mandalay is a big proponent of the zero energy-ready movement, having won the Zero Energy Inno­ vation Award from the Department of Energy every year. “It’s really the North Star for home performance builders,” Everson explains. “We look to the program and its builders as those wanting the absolute best for our environment and the people that live in our homes.” Because the program challenges all participants and offers collaborative opportunities that allow builders to learn from others and adopt those techniques into their own offerings, it’s a win-win. “It’s really rewarding and addictive,” Everson says. Among the sustainability features in the Jasper homes that helped Mandalay earn the President’s Award were R-15 wall insulation, R-4 exterior sheathing insulation (cooling climate), AeroBarrier air sealing insulation, Mitsubishi variable-speed heating and cooling systems, Broan ERV and REMI Halo air purification (optional with iOn Plus). Massive Energy Demand Reduction Mandalay’s offerings range all the way to its iON Solar Zero home, which employs enough solar panels to reduce energy demand by around 90% and rate 0 on the HERS scale. While all the company’s homes boast excellent air quality, these models also feature an additional layer of air purification. Everson has specific philosophies about what constitutes a healthy house. “A healthy home is both the sum of its parts and how it functions over time,” he explains. The journey begins with an awareness of the materials that will be used in construction. Next, they evaluate the envelope and mechanical systems to ensure the home will 19 Mandalay Homes — Winner, 2022 President’s Award, presented at the RESNET conference by Steve Baden. 20 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE PHOTO COURTESY MANDAL AY HOMES
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 20 What’s Possible in Production It’s for this reason Everson refused to submit a net zero home for any award competitions. His goal was to show what is possible in homes that can actually be duplicated on a production level. To that end, Everson likes the fact that the focus has shifted from net zero to zero energy-ready, “because that to me means you’ve assembled, designed and constructed a home that can be calibrated, and you can enhance it with renewables and storage to be zero energy.” This varies from region to region based on specific climates. He believes the house is the vehicle and the goal is “getting that home where it’s ready to adapt to its local environment.” Despite all the technology and knowledge it pours into its homes, Mandalay’s prices remain highly competitive with Code builders. Everson says consumers value what the company is doing, so there is a bit of a premium, but they do such a great job of costing that the price difference is negligible. Sounds impossible? Think again, he says. “This is all achievable. Our homes are not expensive in our marketplace.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca actively manage indoor air quality. While tighter envelopes create more energy efficiency, they can also trap contaminants, Everson warns, so Mandalay ensures the home addresses this issue. Other factors of a healthy home include comfort and natural light, each of which can benefit health and enhance livability. He says once the home has synergy with the local grid and climate, you have an opportunity to launch into indoor air quality and healthiness for the occupants. Everson believes net zero was always going to be difficult to achieve, but it did make some sense to have this as the target. Having said that, a continuous improvement environment is the most logical approach. 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.
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 22 industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS S ince my article in the last issue, there have been several significant geo­ political, economic and electoral developments, all poised to have significant impacts on the new housing industry in Ontario. On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, initiating a deplorable war which has continued to this day. The conflict has triggered a global commodity crisis as countries grapple to institute economic sanctions on Russia, which happens to be a leading exporter of crude oil, refined petroleum, natural gas, coal, wheat, iron, and the list goes on. The move to restrict the import of Russian commodities has created an energy crisis in many European Union (EU) countries, threatening the goals of their climate strategy and the 2030 Paris Agreement targets. For the EU to meet the Paris Agreement targets, the phase-out of coal power plants is needed by 2030. While Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom had set phase-out goals that would have achieved this target, they are now questioning this timeline. Meanwhile, Germany and Poland have already stated they will need more time. Several EU countries have indicated they intend to increase the usage of dirtier coal-fired power plants in the short- and mid-term while they more slowly transition to cleaner natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy. Fossil fuel commodity prices in Europe have jumped and fluctuated wildly in the last few months as the EU seeks to reduce its heavy dependence on fuels from Russia. While these events may be occurring far away on another continent and seem somewhat external to our way of life and business operations here in Ontario, that is far from the case. Canada is somewhat more sheltered from the impacts of the economic sanction- induced commodity crisis than the EU, but the cost of fuel at the pumps has spiked to record-high levels, and the global demand for alternative sources of natural gas and wheat has put a strain on Canadian supply. The surging cost of fuel and other commodities has a direct cause-and- effect relationship with inflation, which measures the overall rate of price increases across the economy, so the high fuel costs have contributed to Canada’s new 31-year high of 6.8% inflation. The cost of consumer goods continues to rise at the fastest pace in decades, with the homebuilding industry also feeling these effects through ongoing construction material price escalations, which have been compounded by the existing pandemic-related supply chain issues. To combat inflation and temper both the rising demand and cost of new housing in Canada, the Bank Uncertain Times for Homebuilding in Ontario The cost of consumer goods continues to rise at the fastest pace in decades, with the homebuilding industry feeling these effects through ongoing construction material price escalations, compounded by pandemic-related supply chain issues.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 of Canada has been increasing interest rates by adjusting the target for the overnight rate with increases announced in March, April, June and July 2022, with further increases expected in the coming months. History has demonstrated that increasing interest rates typically puts downward pressure on home prices and inflation. However, the current environment and economic situation we find ourselves in cannot be described as typical, with the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine both contributing to escalations in inflation/ material prices and labour wages. As a matter of fact, my colleagues at RESCON who work in the realm of labour relations just wrapped up the latest three-year cycle of collective bargaining for the various trade groups that work in the new home building industry, where considerable labour wage increases were negotiated. These conditions are creating an economic “scissor effect” in the new home building sector, whereby interest rates are putting downward pressure on new home prices, but costs (construction materials and labour) to build new housing are going up. In Ontario, the latest provincial election was held June 2, 2022, whereby the governing Progressive Conservatives (PC), led by Premier Doug Ford, were re-elected to a second majority government. Housing affordability is a major issue facing Ontarians, and this was a pillar in the party’s election platform. Ford’s plan includes 23 The next major challenge is the actual construction, which has become increasingly difficult since the start of the pandemic with persistent labour short­ ages plaguing the industry.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 24 measures to reduce the costs of housing, primarily by increasing housing supply to make sure that everyone in Ontario can find a home that meets their needs and budget. One specific pledge laid out by the party is a commitment to facilitate the delivery of 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years. Just prior to the election, the PC government passed legislation to work towards this target, building off recommendations from a housing task force report. The party said it is committed to implementing the task force recommendations but needs more time to engage with municipalities to meet the stipulated 1.5 million new home target. The government’s plan also includes getting more homes built faster by reducing red tape in the approvals and permitting process as well as delivering a housing supply action plan every year for the next four years. This is where we are hoping for some stability, as it is likely that the next edition of the 2024 Ontario Building Code will adopt only Tier 3 of the latest 2020 National Building Code as part of the harmonization process, instead of permitting all five of the proposed tiers. While it is unclear how municipalities will react to this proposed change by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, we are hoping this will not spur further municipal overreach as it relates to municipal green standards. So, when you look at what’s ahead for the building industry, new home sales are slumping as interest rates have diminished consumers’ borrowing capacity, leading to downward pressures on the cost of housing, although material and labour costs to build new homes have increased substantially. At the same time, the municipal development approvals process is lagging and has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels for processing applications, all while GTA municipalities are also in the process of raising their development- related charges for new housing units. These market conditions will inevitably lead to cancellations of existing housing projects that are no longer financially viable as well as new potential projects being shelved until project pro formas are once again feasible. This is coming at a time when our newly elected provincial government is pressuring industry to deliver record levels of new housing starts to meet their 1.5 million new homes target. The market conditions will make this task extremely chal­ lenging, with municipal and federal government policies that are counter­ intuitive to increasing housing supply. As if there weren’t already enough challenges for developers and builders in the new housing sector, getting a project through the approvals process in a timely manner and then securing sales to move forward only represents the initial hurdle. Now, the next major challenge is the actual construction, which has become increasingly difficult since the start of the pandemic with persistent labour shortages plaguing the industry. This problem will only be exacerbated by the fact there are an estimated 50,000 construction workers in Ontario (or 20% of the sector’s labour force) expected to retire within the coming decade, so we must find replacements. Canada- wide, BuildForce Canada reports that the residential construction sector will need to recruit 107,900 workers by 2031 to meet changing industry demands and replace retiring workers. RESCON is also part of a coalition known as WorkForce 2030, which is a group of stakeholders seeking to fast-track the recruitment and training of the workforce needed to build the future low-carbon Ontario. The time is now for government to collectively work with industry to attract more people to work in the sector, whether it be via targeted immigration or training new prospective talent. While this article is a departure from my typical coverage of tech­ nical matters, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss these broader industry issues as they are all very interconnected with the new housing sector. For that matter, if the new housing market were to face a significant and prolonged decline, technical issues could become a moot point if new housing projects are not able to be developed, sold and constructed. 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 The time is now for government to collectively work with industry to attract more people to work in the sector.
  24. 24. Offer your customers the freshest, cleanest air possible with Breathe Well, The Only Complete Air Quality Solution™ by Panasonic. Learn more at PanasonicBreatheWell.com Become a Breath Well Partner today. Scan the QR code below to register today!
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 W oodbridge, Ontario builder Country Homes, part of the Rinomato Group of Companies, is a third-generation GTA builder with 50 years’ experience that recently began focusing on designing, building and marketing the next generation of eco-friendly homes. This year, Country Homes won two prestigious awards at the RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge for its green focus: Canadian Net Zero Builder and the Canadian Enbridge Innovation Award. “We’ve always had a lot of pride in our buildings and our communities, so we took the first step in building more sustainably by enrolling in the Savings by Design program from Enbridge Gas,” says Country Homes head of sustainability Christian Rinomato. This step resulted in building 50 homes to Better Than Code in Innisfil, Ontario, to be completed by the end of 2022, and an upcoming project in Brampton. The company’s Net Zero Builder award was won thanks to the con­ struction of two discovery homes in a Milton, Ontario development. “We chose Milton because we wanted to get started by discovering what Net Zero homes were all about and looking at what would be sustainable in the marketplace,” says Rinomato. “With a Net Zero goal, we set out to explore the concept of including renewable energy by pushing the capabilities of the buildings, the building envi­ ronments and the new technologies involved in an all-electric home.” According to Rinomato, the project presented several challenges: 1) System integration: how the HVAC systems work together in the home and syncing various components; 2) Cost upgrade and marketing: how to sell the benefits of a more expensive Net Zero home; and 3) Electricity cost: the higher cost of all-electric compared to gas, the largest consumer being the cold- weather air source heat pump. In order to address climate change by reducing the carbon emissions of its discovery homes, Country Homes continues to work with the Endeavour Centre, a sustainable building school in Peterborough, Ontario. Materials such as blown cellulose insulation in the attics and Rockwool insulation in the walls were used, while the use of XPS foam insulation was decreased and the thickness of the concrete in foundation walls was reduced. In addition, Country Homes is looking 27 Built with Hands, Heart and Care for the Planet buildernews / MARC HUMINILOW YCZ 38 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE Country Homes — Winner, 2022 Canadian Enbridge Innovation Award, presented to Christian Rinomato (right) by Kain Allicock of Enbridge.
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 28 director of sustainability at Rinomato Group of Companies, believes that it was a commitment to a disciplined and managed innovation program that led to his company’s Cross Border Builder Challenge Enbridge Innovation Award. “In Milton, we built a low-rise containing two semi-detached homes through Enbridge’s Optimum Homes program (now Savings by Design) in order to understand more advanced homes, energy efficiency, carbon and how to get to Net Zero,” he says. “We used two different approaches: one all-electric Net Zero home including a solar array and a cold-weather air source heat pump, and the other a hybrid home with a combination natural gas/electric on-demand system with a lower-cost air source heat pump air conditioner and battery storage.” This home scored a HERS 38. “We set out to understand these two options from several perspectives, including constructability and cost compared to Code-built and, with input from the tenants, study how these homes performed over one year,” says McBurney. “From an operational perspective, factoring carbon reduc­ tion, both building options were geared at energy efficiency, but the Net Zero energy home was more important to us.” Why is Net Zero important? “Because we, as an industry that is a large source of carbon, are trying to decarbonize,” declares McBurney. “As such, it behooves us to innovate. We’re helping to create a recipe that is cost effective and feasible. Others will take note, and they will influence manufacturers.” From a marketing perspective, McBurney hopes that his company will use the RESNET awards it received to gain recognition for its innovative efforts and managed approach to building better. “We went all the way with our Net Zero home, scoring a HERS 8. As we grow, we learn, and we’re always looking into the future,” he says. 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. into new, greener construction materials such as Hempcrete walls. “The most important takeaways from the project are that, instead of following guidelines, you need to go through the process yourself. You have to understand new building practices, educate your entire staff on the importance of building sustainably, and bring together builders and manufacturers to work towards a common goal,” says Rinomato. He adds that Country Homes is considering including a discovery home in every new project. “It’s a great opportunity.” Corey McBurney, managing 6 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE Country Homes — Winner, 2022 Net Zero Award, presented to Christian Rinomato (right) by Sonny Pirrotta of Panasonic.
  27. 27. BetterThan Code Better Than Code Uses the HERS Index to Measure Energy Efficiency The Lower the Score the Better – Measureable and Marketable betterthancode.ca Email info@clearsphere.ca or call 416-481-7517 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.
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 31 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF W ith six Cross Border Builder Challenge awards to their name in the last five years, Empire Communities is truly manifesting their goal of building better homes for the next generation. A review of the homebuilder’s accolades is in order. At the 2018 Cross Border Builder Challenge awards, Empire was recognized as the winner of the Enbridge Innovation Award and the Net Zero Award with a HERS score of 19 for their hybrid house at the Empire Riverland community in Breslau, Ontario. The hybrid home was constructed with the latest sustainability innovations, newest insulation materials and experiments in energy efficiency, including solar PV with battery storage. This home produces two metric tonnes less CO2 than its Code counterpart. The 2019 Cross Border Builder Challenge awards saw Empire recognized with the President’s Award for having the lowest average HERS score (44) across 284 homes. It also received an award for the lowest HERS score for a Canadian production builder with a score of 38. In 2020, after building and labeling 918 houses at 20% Better Than Code in 2020 using HERS, Empire won the lowest production builder with a HERS score of 38. In 2021, during COVID, Empire built and labelled 670 Better Than Code houses, and using HERS, they continued to produce the Lowest HERS Score for a production builder at 42 at this year’s 2022 Awards. Having won multiple Cross Border Builder Challenge awards, Empire is clearly a believer in the initiative. With homebuilding traditionally lagging behind other industries, when it comes to advancement of innovation and research, Empire proudly embraces new learnings and has devoted a portion of its resources to develop new skills, test new products and techniques, and learn for the future. Having turned 29 this year, the homebuilder now proudly operates in two countries and six regions with 90 communities and more than 28,000 homes to their name. As a family- owned and operated company, they are currently building high-rise and single-family homes in Toronto, Ontario; Houston, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina. BB Empire Communities Five Years of Continuous Improvement 42 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE Empire — Winner, 2022 Lowest HERS Score by Production Builder, presented to Steve Doty (right) by Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY.
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 buildernews 32 BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 Jennifer Hurd, Paul Dietrich, John Godden, Wendy Shami. Sarah Southwick, Robin and Brian Couperthwaite, Emma Culbert. Jason Morin, Dan Lacroix, Sonny Pirrotta, William Russell. Awards ceremony. Matthew Howard, Chris Watt, Ian Walker, Brian Cooke. Grace Russell, Christian Rinomato, Sanjeet Bhoola, Kain Allicock. Art Rubino, Paraic Lally, Mike Day, Paul Lowes. Nick Samavarchian, Steve Doty, Rod Buchalter. The 2022 Cross Border Builder Challenge Golf Tournament
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 C ongratulations to BK Couper Custom Homes for winning the Vince Naccarato Memorial Award. This award is given to a custom/production builder who demonstrates Vince’s spirit of excellence, quality and dedication to customer satisfaction in their homes. BK Couper completed an infill project in Markham where 9 houses scored 25% Better Than Code or lower than a HERS 43 on all homes. The lowest score was a HERS 39. The homes also featured finished basements with ROCKWOOL’s finish-ready approach to moisture management. BB 33 Cross Border Challenge Honourable Mentions buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF A Tribute to Tribute H onourable mention goes to Tribute Communities for being a runner up in two important categories. For the President’s Award, the winning score was 45. They were edged out by one quarter of a HERS point on their fleet average, in a tie breaker, with Regal Crest Homes. In the Lowest Score category, with a HERS 42, Tribute was narrowly defeated by Empire Communities with a slightly better air test on the winning home. Tribute Communities won the custom category at the 2020 Awards. A score of HERS 40 was achieved under the direction of the late, great Frank MacPhee. Like Vince Naccarato, Frank demonstrated a commitment to excellence and is well- remembered among his peers. To his credit, Frank was an early adopter of Savings by Design which has allowed Tribute Communities to maintain its commitment to building and labeling high-performance homes. BB BK Couper Homes — 2022 Vince Naccarato Memorial Award recipient, presented to Brian Couperthwaite by Sarah Southwick (left) and Emma Culbert (right) of ROCKWOOL International. 39 2017 SB-12 REFERENCE HERS 57 HERSSCORE
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 34 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY However, as with the physics principle “for every action there is a reaction” (in builder terms, we’ll call it the Law of Unintended Consequences), building a home super tight means we have to really consider how we ventilate our homes and the products we select to put inside them. That old leaky farmhouse had plenty of drafty outside air entering the home. We also used lead paints, had mould on our windows, and experienced a host of other challenges. The good old days of “we don’t build them like we used to” were really a romanticized version of reality. While people may long for a simpler time, the homes of today have the potential to be much healthier. It is also important to note that the great majority of the fresh air entering a new home now comes from two controlled sources: windows that open and a fresh air machine (energy recovery ventilator [ERV] or heat recovery ventilator [HRV]). While tightening the homes and providing sources of controlled ventilation greatly improve indoor air quality (dilution is a solution), it is not a universal answer. We still have to be very aware of carbon and pollutant levels within our homes and of the chemical makeup of the products we install. This is important not just for our customers, but also for our trades and employees that are in these new homes every day. When conversing with other builders about indoor air quality (IAQ), I recommend they ask themselves two questions about the products – both those that are seen and hidden – they specify for their homes: 1) Does the product increase/decrease the chemical loads within a home? 2) Does the product increase/decrease the carbon intensity of the home? Carbon Dioxide, VOCs and Why Indoor Air Quality Matters A s our building codes contemplate ever-higher levels of energy performance, there reaches a point where we, as builders, have to deal with tightening our homes. I mean making them super tight, as in less than 1.5 ACH. This is not space station-tight or submarine-tight – we’re still looking at a combined hole the size of a postcard – but for practical purposes, future homes will be extremely tight. You just can’t let conditioned air wander out of the house uncontrolled. Firenzza mortar by Graphenstone, shown in Cinder Grey and done using the Pure Pressed technique to create a monolithic stacked stone effect.
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 Decreasing Chemical Loads How you cook matters While controlled ventilation is important, it cannot completely compensate for the sources of indoor pollutants and chemical loading. Studies are very clearly showing that cooking on a gas stove does release potentially dangerous chemical particulates that are not captured by either the range hood or the ERV. Induction cook tops are not only a better-performing choice – they are a safer choice for IAQ and they reduce our operational carbon intensity. What’s on your walls matters Not all zero-VOC paints are created equal. European standards for zero-VOC products are far more stringent than their North American counterparts. In reality, zero-VOC paints manufactured in North America can contain preservatives such as formaldehyde and methylisothiazolinone (MI), as well as microplastics and a host of other chemicals. For people who are asthmatic or have high allergen intolerance, these chemicals can make them extremely sick and can potentially be deadly. I recently received this comment from Dylan McAteer, business development lead for Graphenstone Canada: “We’ve had cases where children were too chemically intolerant to even live in their home properly without an MI-free product on the walls. Cases like these are starting to become far too common and we’re so relieved to have found a solution.” This exposure extends beyond our customers. Think of all those workers on your job sites that enter the home after it’s been painted, up until the time of closing. They are all exposed on a daily basis to pollutants that are potentially harmful to them. At Doug Tarry Homes, we’ve made the decision to change our wall paints to Graphenstone for this specific reason. We were worried about the chemical exposure to our clients, trades and staff. The Graphenstone paint lines are compliant with European standards for zero-VOC products, do not contain microplastics and are mineral based with graphene nanotechnology as the binding agent. I was so impressed with the difference in IAQ that my wife and I became the principal distributor for Canada. Several decades ago, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) developed four main proces­ ses for improving indoor air quality: 35 Remove the Pollutants Selecting products that limit VOCs and other harmful chemicals is a critical step in reducing dangerous chemicals. Occupant behaviour and education can also play a key role in improving IAQ. Filter If you have a ducted mechanical system, it can be used to capture the particulate that floats in the air. Use a minimum of a MERV 11 filter. Control the Source Air barriers, water- resistant barriers (WRBs) and soil gas barriers all play a role in limiting dangerous toxins from growing or accumulating in your home. Ventilate Cooking, bathing, pets, cleaning products and other sources can all accumulate indoors. Replacing stale indoor air with good, clean, outdoor air on a regular basis greatly improves IAQ. We still have to be very aware of carbon and pollutant levels within our homes and of the chemical makeup of the products we install. This is important not just for our customers, but also for our trades and employees that are in these new homes every day.
  33. 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 2022 Given that Canada does not have a strong IAQ program such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor airPLUS program in the U.S., the CMHC guidance is still relevant and a great place to start. Decreasing Carbon Intensity Carbon is the new kid on the block. While codes look at ever-tightening energy performance, I believe they are like a physician treating a side effect and not curing the disease. In the last three years, since I began writing my book, From Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes, the conversation around embodied carbon has gone from non-existent, to being on the radar, to being actively measured by leading-edge builders using products such as the BEAM Calculator developed by Chris Magwood. The great concern is that the National Building Code is pushing to move to Passive House levels of energy performance, at the expense of – or without the consideration of – either cost or carbon intensity. We should be concerned. What’s in your walls matters A simple change from a fiberglass batt insulation to a blown cellulose insulation can help decrease your carbon intensity. Rigid foam insulation used to be a major culprit as a source of embodied carbon, but this has improved with the regulated change from a hydrofluorocarbon blowing agent to a hydrofluoroolefin blowing agent (the stuff that makes the foam puff up with air holes). However, there are wall insulation products available that can further reduce our carbon footprint, such as a rigid mineral wool insulation. We can also look to reduce carbon intensity by using a composite siding on our walls rather than brick, which has the double benefit of being able to reduce the thickness of our foundation walls. All of these options are now being looked at by leading-edge builders working on the challenge. And it doesn’t immediately mean increased cost or a loss in performance, but the products are different and do require a mind shift, without having to move to straw bale construction on a mass scale. What’s on your walls matters (part 2) There is also the potential to look at the products we are applying and their impact on carbon intensity. Imagine using a paint that has no off-gassing, is zero-VOC to European standards and also absorbs CO2. Petroleum- based products with chemicals and microplastics will inherently have a higher embodied carbon footprint than materials that are mineral or organic based. At Doug Tarry Homes, we have had the opportunity to work with the Graphenstone line of paints and specialty coatings, which are mineral based. While we made our original choice due to improved IAQ, there are also several products that absorb CO2 as they cure (generally over the first 12 to 18 months). This is unique to limestone-based products, including paints, Venetian stuccos and specialty mortars used for feature walls. At the end of the day, each builder is inundated with different products and materials to choose from, and we each have to make a great number of decisions on how we put our homes together. As you move to building tighter homes, I urge you to consider the products you are putting into your homes and how they impact your overall carbon intensity, as well as the health and safety of your customers, trades and employees. To me, that’s a sound investment. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.  36 [New options don’t] immediately mean increased cost or a loss in performance, but the products are different and do require a mind shift.
  34. 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 42 | SUMMER 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
  35. 35. Building beyond code gives Dietrich Homes an edge — Savings by Design | Residential Visit enbridgegas.com/SBD-residential to get the most out of your next project. * Projected savings based on energy modelling simulations from the Savings by Design Integrated Design Process workshop. Terms and conditions apply. Visit enbridgegas.com/SBD-residential for details. © 2022 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. ENB 822 04/2022 Success Story | Dietrich Homes BycollaboratingwithSavings by Designexperts,DietrichHomes wasabletodesigntheirTrailsofLilyLakehomestomaximize energyandenvironmentalperformance.Improvedwallinsulation andairsealing,high-efficiencyfurnaces,andotherenhancements willhelpbuyerssaveenergyandlivecomfortably. TrailsofLilyLake Peterborough, ON — By the numbers Projected annual natural gas savings 22% Projected annual electricity savings 24% Projected GHG reduction* 1,521kg CO2e

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