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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ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
HORSESHOE RIDGE HOMES
BUILDING LEADERSHIP IN
HORSESHOE RIDGE HOMES
BUILDING LEADERSHIP IN
Better Building Through Integrated Design
The End of ecoEnergy
Cross Border Challenge Goes West
Best Wall Study
Better Building Through Integrated Design
The End of ecoEnergy
Cross Border Challenge Goes West
Best Wall Study
IN THIS ISSUEIN THIS ISSUE
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WWW.BETTER BUILDER.CA | ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
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BETTER BUILDER MAGAZINE IS
PUBLISHED FOUR TIMES A YEAR BY
15 Horseshoe Ridge Homes takes LEEDing Role in Barrie Area
BY TRACY HANES
2 LEADERSHIP — Evolution Rather
Than Revolution - Editor’s Note
BY JOHN GODDEN
03 LEEP/TAP and the Road to Package J
BY LOU BADA
04 Enbridge Program Encourages Better Building Through Integrated Design
BY TRACY HANES
06 A Brief History of EcoEnergy
BY GREG LABBE
08 The Journey Down FairHaven Lane
BY LARRY OTTEN
10 Cross Border Challenge Goes West
BY JOHN GODDEN
12 The Best-Wall Study
BY RICK ROOS
20 “Low Cost, Low Energy House” by Canadian Architecture Firm Wins
New Orleans Passive House Competition
BY GILLIAN LIND
22 Leaders in Green Home Building Honoured at ENERQUALITY
2011 Awards of Excellence
BY BETTER BUILDER
24 SB12’s Policy Playmates
BY DEREK SATNIK
26 A Low-cost Solution to Make Homes More Airtight
BY TRACY HANES
High Performance Basements
BY MICHAEL LIO
32 A More Forgiving Basement Wall
BY DOUG TARRY
LEADERSHIP — Evolution Rather
I think all would agree that the last special issue of Sustainable Builder Magazine; “The “Sustainability of
Empire” under Leonard Hart’s creative direction was of extreme quality. I would like to congratulate him on
this. Currently, Leonard has hung up his hat as “Publishing Editor “ and is taking a break from the magazine
and pursuing other interests - he will be sorely missed. Guilio Marinescu has decided to pursue his own brand
with another magazine. I wish them success in their new endeavors. With this changing of the guard, a new
magazine is born; Better Builder Magazine. The task of maintaining the high quality of content falls on my lap
and as always I welcome help from all who would like to contribute.
There have been changes in the magazine; there have also been a few more changes in recent years that I
would like to take the time to acknowledge. As of January 2012, a new "performance based" building code
has arrived in Ontario. Six years has passed since the birth and subsequent success of the ENERGY STAR
for New Homes program. The first Rodeo LEED Platinum home is four years old and thirty-three more have
been rated and occupied. On a sad note a dear friend and colleague Bruce Gough, passed away last summer
followed by the untimely death of Steven Depuis. These two men will always be remembered as trusted and
knowledgeable leaders helping the Ontario building industry change for the” better”.
This landmark issue’s cover story features Horseshoeridge Homes. The builder is constructing sustainable homes
around a ski resort that represent the next stage of resource efficient home building. Additionally, we feature the
usual suspects. Lou Bada’s column addresses the divergence between the new building code and government
programs. Michael Lio talks about the importance of better basements from a building science perspective. Doug
Tarry starts a “practical” four part series on insulating and moisture management in basements. Changes in the
building code prompted Rick Roos to share his research on the best wall study. Providing valuable information to
builders about how to choose wall construction. Last but not least, Greg Labbe comments on the end of Eco-energy
grants from the government and the opportunities that exist in the marketplace as a result.
Real change comes from education and awareness. Because of the current events in financial markets we know
that unfettered capitalism does not work. Like wise, government programs only last as long as the funding does.
Social enterprise is the spirit of getting businesses together to change things for the “better”. The philosophy
behind Better Builder is to use advertising that supports the content of telling
the story of “better” building. The 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. This, I believe embodies the idea of the “’green economy”.
We invite you, to join with us at Better Builder in our pursuit of environmental
integrity and sustainability. I am reminded of a Dr. Seuss movie that I saw
with my children called The Lorax. The movie chronicles the plight of the
environment and ends with a strong message from the Lorax.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get
better. It’s not. “ JOHN GODDEN
3ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
So, some may wonder how do
decisions get made in the “real world”
of the Homebuilding business? Of
course, most would think that it’s
simple; cost versus benefit. Then the
salient point here becomes how does a
large production low-rise homebuilder,
confronted with the new requirements
of SB-12 in the Ontario Building Code
come up with the more costly
Compliance Package J? Is there
some benefit from a building science
perspective in the end product?
Actually, possibly the opposite. Is
there a compelling value proposition
for our customer? Not really. Permit
me to digress for a moment.
I participated in CanmetEnergy’s
Local Energy Efficiency Partnership
(LEEP) and Technology Adoption
Pilot (TAP) for new homes. In short,
it was a worthwhile process. Builders
in a leadership role scrutinized
and assessed current and emergent
building processes and technologies.
They chose a few and built a “discovery
home” that targeted the next level of
energy efficiency (in my case an
EnerGuide 83, HERS 44). We
participated for a variety of reasons;
gained considerable knowledge,
wanted to demonstrate some leader-
ship in the field and were successful
in achieving our goals. So given the
knowledge we gained and willingness
to be ahead of the curve, how do we
come up with something different
(e.g. not using insulated sheathing to
reach R-24) than what we used in
our successful “Discovery Home” and
some of our Energy Star projects? The
In a production builder’s decision
making process we need to consider
projects that are going to be built to
Ontario Building Code standards,
and/or Energy Star Ontario Common
Specification, and/or will eventually be
built to the next version 2012 Energy
Star Specifications, and/or whatever
the current planning climate of the day
dictates in any given municipality. What
regulators fail to understand is that
new home projects, house designs,
sales, marketing and documentation for
building permit applications do not
appear overnight. This disparate
regulatory process forced us to choose
a “base” set of specifications
(assumptions) that are the most
flexible and can be easily built upon.
Our business has a lot of “moving
parts” and we need to get through an
increasingly complex process dealing
with many Ministries and departments
from all four levels of government.
From approvals and design to sales
and delivery of a community of new
homes, we have a regulatory process
that is constantly moving beneath our
feet. The reality is that far too many
agencies have jurisdiction over us and
they often are tripping over each other
to regulate us. Over- regulation does
not lead to innovation and leadership,
it forces you down the path of least
resistance. Not exactly what was
envisioned by the LEEP/TAP initiative,
possibly the opposite.
LOU BADA IS THE CONSTRUCTION & CONTRACTS MANAGER FOR
The Cross Border
* Benchmarked to OBC 09
Builder: Starlane Homes
Estimated Annual Energy Usage
Average Monthly Bill:
TAP Discovery Home
TAP (TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION PILOT)
Empowering ‘next generation’ energy-s aving technologies
Breaking Ground on Discovery Homes
This summer and fall, an exceptional group of Ontario builders have been breaking ground on the construction of 40 ‘Discovery Homes’ that will
introduce innovative, energy e cient technologies into new homes, as part of EnerQuality’s Technology Adoption Pilot (TAP). Builders worked
together to review and choose the technologies that would work best in their particular region.
The London, BILD-GTA, Sudbury, Hamilton-Halton and Niagara Home Builders’ Associations have supported the process and recognize that TAP
‘Dis covery Homes ’ will ultimately make it easier for builders to introduce energy-e cient technologies into the production of new homes.
TAP builders will build at least one ‘Discovery Home’ and work with a consultant to document the lessons learned in their case study.
EnerQuality Corporation facilitated the TAP initiative with support and funding provided by Natural Resources Canada’s CanmetENERGY, the
Ontario Power Authority, Enbridge and Union Gas. www.enerquality.ca
3,175 sq. ft.
Combination Heating and Domestic Hot Water
High Efﬁciency Energy Recovery Ventilator
with ECM motor.
Starlane Homes Corporation
8600 Dufferin Street
Vaughan, Ontario L4K 5P5
LEEP/TAP and the Road to Package J
Enbridge Program Encourages Better
Building Through Integrated Design
As one of the first Energy Star builders in Ontario, the Mason Homes team is very familiar with how to construct an energy
efficient home. The builder has also gone beyond Energy Star to create its own Green for Life brand, encompassing
aspects such as water conservation, indoor air quality, resource management and effective land use planning .
Even so, Sean Mason, vice president of sales and marketing for Mason Homes, says a new townhouse site in Barrie
presents the company with some ‘green’ dilemmas. The company also had concerns about trying to build to the new,
more stringent Energy Star guidelines (25 per cent above the current Energy Star standards).
Thanks to a new Enbridge Gas program that targets Ontario residential home builders that are leaders in energy efficiency,
Mason Homes will get expert feedback on how to address those challenges as one of 21 builders pre-selected to participate
in the program, says Enbridge marketing program manager Mary Harinck.
“We are using an integrated design process and looking at the house as a system,” explains Harinck. “This hasn’t been
widely done among residential
builders, it’s been primarily done in
the commercial field.”
Mason has already participated in a
half-day internal session to identify
the problems it sees. Next, comes
a full day, charette-style session for
each builder, where representatives
from various factions of the industry
(eg. HVAC, insulation, windows)
and a modeler will help the builders
come up with an integrated home
design and provide information
about technologies they might
consider, such as solar panels or
geothermal. Enbridge is facilitator
and sponsor for the sessions.
“We’ve already gone quite energy
efficient with our homes,” says
Mason. “However, sitting down
with people with more extensive
knowledge in those areas is always
a smart thing to do. At heart, we’re builders and developers and we know a little bit about a lot of things, but we will be
sitting down with experts who have deep knowledge.”
One of the issues Mason is facing is how to deal with small sites: how to right-size heating plants and where to install gas
meters and vent HRVs in townhouses and stacked townhouses, where many of the walls are shared.
“Now Enbridge is at the table with us and we can work this out together,” says Mason.
“The goal will be to design a house that will be 25 per cent more efficient than Ontario Building Code 2012,” says
Harinck. “We want to show builders that doing this doesn’t have to be expensive. We will have a modeler there who will
establish OBC 2012 as a baseline, then we’ll be demonstrating to the builder what can be done to improve on that.”
The 25 per cent energy savings can be achieved through gas, electricity or a combination of both. The program is label
5ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
neutral, so builders are free to use Energy Star, GreenHouse or LEED or their own brand, says Harinck.
Builders in the program will have to make a three-year commitment to build at least one home to the improved standard
(eg. such as a Discovery House) and if they continue to build to that benchmark, Enbridge will pay them $2,000 for each
Mason will be building all 155 townhouses at its Barrie site to the standard. Sean Mason says the development is perfect for
it, as he’s noted the younger, first-time buyers it will be geared to are keenly interested in all things such as yoga, organic
foods, etc. and enjoy the health and comfort benefits such a home offers, as well as the utility bill savings.
The Enbridge program has helped to convince the builder to strive for the next level of Energy Star, says Mason. “We’ve
also thought about solar panels and there will be some experts (at the charette) that we can consult with about that.”
“It helps builders realize the potential for what they can do and I’m really excited about this,” says Harinck.
maRtinoHeating • air conditioning • indoor air Quality • HVac design
A Brief History of EcoEnergyEnerGuide for Houses had its roots pre-Kyoto
protocol but started in 1998 after the
Federal Liberal government dragged its feet
in its pledge to reduce CO2 emissions under
the Kyoto Protocol. That year they rolled out
EnerGuide for Houses as a pilot program in
Ontario and by the fall every province was up
and running. In the early years there were no
incentives to make upgrading their homes
more appealing to homeowners. The
clientele of the day were largely motivated
by either environmental concerns or the
desire to save money and improve comfort.
Initially the service was largely provided
by NGOs who received two payments for
each audit: one from the client and a subsidy
from the feds. The software used at the time
was called ”HOT2000 Express”, or simply
In 2003 the Federal Liberals introduced
homeowner retrofit incentives into the
equation based on the energy performance
of the house before and after upgrades. Many thought this system was too unpredictable because you never knew
exactly how much incentive you were going to get back. Add to that the frequent software version changes which
caused point scores to shift and frustration was felt. For the client a few points meant the loss of a significant portion
of incentive money, for the auditor and their Service Organization (SO) it meant a lot of wasted time explaining point
disparities. The reasoning for using this point system had a lot of merit; it meant people who completed deep retrofits that
provided larger energy savings - like insulating walls - got higher points and therefore more money. The old scheme rewarded
comprehensive, thorough upgrades based on performance.
In 2006 the newly elected Federal Conservatives wasted no time cancelling the EnerGuide for Houses program giving
participants and SOs less than a day to wrap the program up. Over the summer the public reaction to the canceled
incentive program was too hot to handle and by the following spring they had rebranded and launched the “ecoEnergy for
Houses” program. It ran on an upgraded software platform called HOT2000 and doled out prescriptive incentives of fixed
amounts for completed measures. The new incentive system eliminated discrepancies in scores, but its binary nature
had downsides too. Under this flat rate system, every retrofit got the same rebate regardless of the overall efficiency of
the house. The other big change was the elimination of the subsidy to the SO which meant the homeowner paid more for
By this time, many provinces had introduced their own parallel incentive programs matching Federal government incentives.
The whole country was starting to see lots of work being done on homes. Sadly many referred to ecoEnergy as the
“Furnace change-out” program, which came about as a result of the new prescriptive structure of the incentives making it
attractive and reliable program for heating contractors to promote sales to customers. The self-sustaining program was
doing what it was supposed to do; give people scientific, unbiased third-party advice on what the best upgrades were for
their homes. The taxes generated through sales and services from these upgrades surely helped feed the economy and
keep the trades working. In 2009 the province of Ontario started matching the federal incentive.
In early 2010, the feds canceled the program only to revive it in the federal budget leading up to last year’s election as a
promise to Jack Layton’s NDPs. Again, by the summer of 2011, the Conservatives announced that the program was ending
VETERAN ENERGY MODELER SHERVIN AKHAVI OF BLUEGREEN CONSULTING GROUP AIR TIGHTNESS TESTING A NEW HOUSE.
McLellan Group created an outstanding
website for Clearsphere.Their innovative
P3 videos really made a difference."
– John Godden, CEO, Clearsphere
The Sustainable Housing Foundation
now has a highly professional image
thanks to McLellan Group.They created
our Brand, our Visual Identity and our
Sales and Marketing Strategy."
– John Bell,
HtO Water Technologies
SHF Board Member & President,
7ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
“as planned” this past March. The province of Ontario has not committed to further funding and with the release of the
Drummond Report, homeowners are unlikely to see further provincial incentives as the program ends.
The industry that surrounded the programs was taking root and the capacity built, namely in the form of the energy advisors.
These gainfully employed, newly trained and skilled people will have to find other career paths as both the private and
non-profit sectors suffered with the yo-yo like indecision of the federal government. No way to run a business.
Energy retrofit programs like these were good for the awareness they brought to conservation opportunities and the spin
off benefits to the economy through retrofits and keeping people employed. Conservation is about greater social good;
from energy security to reducing our environmental impact on the planet. Alas the ecoENERGY incentive program will not
be resurrected for some time and now the homeowners with existing houses will have to dig out of their pockets to find
energy advice and savings as delivered by the private sector likely using the same software platforms developed by the
Feds, unless other rating programs like the US styled HERs scale can be successfully launched in this era of austerity.
Newly constructed homes will have to rely on the private sector to drive performance tested homes given that builders in
Ontario still can get away with prescriptive built homes.
Meanwhile the Ontario Liberals inevitably have to raise electricity prices to pay down the debt and replace a crumbling
infrastructure it could be argued that keeping conservation programs going would be worthwhile and cost effective for
both the electricity rate and tax payer. Can the private sector deliver on efficiency without the support of either the province
or the feds; time will tell.
GREG LABBE IS A VETERAN ENERGY RATER AND A PRINCIPAL AT BLUEGREEN GROUP.
The Journey Down FairHaven Lane
A few years ago I asked myself “What will the houses we build look like in 20 years?”.
Truthfully our houses had not changed much in the last 15 years. I felt we were well above
what a minimum code house was. A busy economy had us scrambling to meet closing dates
and it was all I could do to look far enough forward to ensure that jobs and projects were in
place to start when the builds under construction were completed. As a small builder I am
not deep in staff so I wear many hats. We deliver product in a way that is very inclusive of
purchasers. My goal is to build houses that compliment and benefit their lifestyle needs. This
is my greatest sense of reward with what I do . I often wonder how many people are as
blessed to enjoy their job as much as I do ? In spite of all the challenges and pressures of
trying to balance family, life and work. Our current project is The Towns at Orchard Park.
This is a 39 townhouse condo development in Goderich and is in part a result of these dynamics. Goderich is a small
town one hour west of where I live in Stratford. It’s a unique opportunity in a community that only issues 8 - 10 houses
permits per year. My target market is the 55 plus age group. With the disadvantage of coming into an area as an unknown
builder I felt it was important to offer product in a way that tangibly defines and measures good building practice. Enter
CLEARSPHERE. I know the value, quality, attention to detail of our homes and how GOOD they are compared to existing
housing stock. Any one can say they are good but everyone has a different way they measure “good”. I felt it important
to have a third party define and measure the standard and performance of “good”. I like the simplicity of the HERS scale
CLEARSPHERE provides. It compares our houses to the existing housing stock, building code houses and even new
homes built in the USA with their cross boarder challenge.
We had permits in late 2011 but I decided to build to the new 2012 code requirements for a couple reasons. I wanted
every unit in our development constructed to the same standards and felt there were advantages in keeping ahead of the
new code changes. I discovered it is much easier to follow than lead. I spent a lot of time and energy educating trades
and suppliers to source different products and change some construction practices and methods. With Clearsphere’s
guidance and insight into building science, we addressed our wall assemblies and decided to offer as standards, items
such as (2 stage furnace, 14 SEER ultra quite AC and Energy
Recovery Ventilators (ERV) and Panasonic bathroom fans).
These items are usually offered as upgrades. Add a two hour fire
separation and high sound rating of 66 made possible by Roxul
insulation. These units truly stand out in the market because they
surpass building code. They are well appointed layouts with a
high quality of finish and they will have low utility bills.
As interesting result of a desire to offer our customers better,
high quality homes is how much my personal motivation,
enjoyment and pride in the job I do has increased. I believe
that as our purchasers move into these units the new seasons
of their lives will be greatly enhanced by this development.
The Towns at Orchard Park are located on a private road
we named Fairhaven Lane In Greek, Fairhaven comes from
a word meaning good harbour. Goderich is located on the
beautiful shores of Lake Huron and is a port for all sizes
of boats and ships, making the name an obvious choice.
Fairhaven also means virtuous and valuable in appearance
and use. My journey down Fairhaven Lane, with a goal to deliver high quality, energy efficient homes, has me wondering.
As builders is it possible to bring change to the standards we build to? Don't we as builders have a great responsibility to
be leaders in delivering this change?
LARRY OTTEN FROM LARRY OTTEN CONTRACTING WITH TRUDY PULS FROM ROXUL INC.
11ISSUE 01 | SUMMER 2012
for today’s high
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To learn more about Panasonic WhisperGreen™ ventilation fans email VentilationFans@ca.panasonic.com,
visit panasonic.ca or call 1-800-669-5165.
Cross Border Challenge Goes West
Steve Baden’s connection to the R-2000 Program was an Alaskan
low-energy home program in the mid 80’s. Almost singlehandedly from
that point Steve has built up Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET);
an organization that is responsible for labeling one million American Energy
Star homes on the HERS Scale. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the
founding of the Canadian Residential Energy Services (CRESNET) and it’s
international partnership with RESNET. This same period represents rapid
change in residential homebuilding in Ontario. In 2006 the Ontario Building
Code (OBC) referenced energy performance as an Energuide 80 for each
new home in 2012. A relatively small group of builders began experimenting
and marketing Energy Star over that same period. These early adopters were
ready for recent code changes but the majority of builders (85-90%) were
not, and thus challenged to change quickly.
Lately, most of the work in my consulting business has been securing
building permits for current Energy Star builders. Even with these builders,
there has been much chaos and confusion obtaining building permits. Each
local building department has their own interpretation of SB-12 and it is
complicated to say the least. The majority of builders don’t understand Energy Star and the building code and have defaulted
to Package J which is considered the “best deal”. Recent offerings for high efficiency furnaces and heat recovery ventilators
mean it is cheaper to use mechanicals to meet performance in the code. Unfortunately, the momentum for Energy Star has
been lost and early adopters have lost their investment in the brand. We all agree that building better envelopes is the
way to go. For example, using insulated
sheathing improves the envelope. The tragedy is most of the leading Energy Star builders are walking away from that
option for economic survival.
The code as it is, has boiled things down to the lowest common denominator; Package J. This minimum standard
approach does not foster any leadership or innovation. Energy Star and R-2000 are threshold labels. When legislation
forces builders to change radically the industry witnesses the resulting chaos. The real success of R-2000 was the element
of challenging builders to do their best voluntarily. Computer software set a target and any recipe could be used between
envelope, mechanicals and air tightness to reach this target. The failure of the program was having a mandatory level of
air tightness (1.5 ACH), which was not attainable by most builders. Energy Star dropped this requirement to 2.5 ACH
and added a prescriptive marketing label. Each builder had a choice as to how to offer Energy Star performance. It was
successful because it allowed builders to choose. Both thresholds, Energy Star and R-2000, have now become obsolete.
The unintended outcome is that the industry associates Energy Star as only meeting the code minimum. R-2000 has
moved to such a high level of performance (Energuide 86) that very few houses will be built to this standard. A long time
R-2000 builder stated to me he was unwilling to spend $25000.00 more to save $25.00 on his gas bill.
It’s easy to look back and see the wrong turns policy makers have made on the road to energy efficiency. One approach
for successfully moving forward is examining how change takes place in nature and human systems. Webster defines
evolution as a process of continuous change from lower, simpler, or worse case to a higher, more complex or better state.
Conversely, revolution is a process in which change happens abruptly and brings about chaos and damage. When legislation
forces builders to change radically, the industry witnesses the ensuing chaos. Before the 2012 code only 10% of builders
evolved. Builders using Energy Star in the greater Toronto area, East Guillbury, Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan were
forced to evolve by planning departments requiring something better than code to get sub-division agreements. If current
code is Energy Star how will builders achieve this? How do builders evolve to the next level?
Energy Star version 6 is not ready yet. The government has not met it’s own deadlines for implementation (10 months late).
CHRIS WILLIAMS OF AVALON MASTER BUILDERS SHOWS OFF "DISCOVERY 5"
Energy Star version 6 represents a 25% increase in
performance costing between 4 and 5 thousand dol-
lars per home. Rodeo Fine Homes in Newmarket six
years ago used the HERS Scale as the way to evolve
forward. It provides a stable continuum to allow
builders to show they are better than code. Without
mindful evolution we are stuck with revolution as a
means of change.
On the drawing board ENERGY STAR “Version 6”
(EnerGuide 83) is supposed to represent the next
code change in 2017. Policy makers are declaring
net zero homes by 2030. Recently Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation(CMHC ) has cut funding
for the Equilibrium program which produced a dozen
homes across Canada in the last five years. The
Eco-Energy program has come to a halt and armies
of “raters” or energy advisors are looking for “other work” and we are losing a valuable delivering system.
In my mind, ENERGY STAR had its birth place in Barrie with Mason Homes. In 2005 the Building Canada Program
successfully bought building consultants together with builders to benchmark houses and integrate building practice.
Building Canada Teams matched these on-site experiments with specifications developed by Bruce Gough and
EnerQuality to create a successful marketing program. Builders had the “packaging” to sell low energy housing. In
Alberta, Jayman Master Builders bought Built Green from Colorado and merged it with the EnerGuide rating system to create
a local homegrown flexible builder friendly program. Unfortunately market down turns severely damaged its implementation
and government funding was at its core so in the end it was not sustainable.
During this process one builder in Calgary came forth in a leadership position. Avalon Master Builders has been at the forefront
of experimenting with equilibrium and net zero creating interest in “commercially” available “very low energy” housing. They
have also worked with Mike Holmes to create branding around durability and quality in current offerings. Including features
like long life roof shingles, blue wood and flash and batt insulation systems. In an absence of any market driven third party valida-
tion systems like ENERGY STAR, EnerGuide and
LEED for homes are being used.
Consensus in the industry is an “ envelope
first approach”. On this aspect, Avalon’s
entry into the Cross Border Challenge is a
winner. The project scores a HERS 35 using
higher insulation values, high performance
windows and air tight building design. These
are matched with a Viessman Vitodens 100
condensing boiler and a high efficiency HRV
(see Table 1 above). The addition of solar PV
panels and evacuated solar tubes for domes-
tic hot water heating, brings the HERS score
down to a 15. A Zero represents a true Net
Zero Home. The house also has a green roof
with rain water harvesting. Congratulations
go to Avalon Master Builder for achieving
the second lowest HERS score in Canada
on record next to the HERS 8 for “Minto
JOHN GODDEN IS THE PRESIDENT OF CLEARSPHERE AND PUBLISHING EDITOR
OF BETTER BUILDER MAGAZINE.
Built by: Avalon Master Builder
Conditioned floor area: 3056 sqf
• Green roof with rain water harvesting
• Wall Tite-Eco 2lb foam & stone wool
- R66 roof, R44 wall and R36 basement
• Triple Glazed Low E Argon windows
• Veissman condensing boiler c/w radiant floors
• PV Electric & passive solar chimneys
Avalon Master Builder
Rated by: Clearsphere Consulting
Rating Conducted: Jan. 23rd, 2012
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.
110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Your Home is
IECC CBC 2009-83 Estar-64 Roxul 41
This house is rated using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), property of RESNET of Oceanside,
CA. The Green is 50 Builders’ Challenge is a Pilot Program sponsored by CRESNET and delivered by
* Cost of Natural Gas for Space and Hot Water
TABLE 1: AVALON MASTER BUILDER'S DISCOVERY 5 "BEST IN THE WEST" Versus CALGARY BUILDING CODE
COMPONENT CBC 2009
AVALON DISCOVERY 5
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
The Best-Wall Study
The SB-12 supplement to the Ontario Building Code, effective January 1st, 2012, presents builders with new challenges
in delivering cost-effective and high performance housing for the Ontario market.
The Best-Wall study, conducted through Ryerson University and
supported by Clearsphere, BP Canada and Roxul Inc., assessed 12
above-grade wall assemblies that are currently used by production
builders to meet the compliance packages of SB-12. The wall
assembly deemed to be the strongest overall performer achieved the
highest number in a normalized scoring process, which considered
performance in heat transfer, moisture safety, environmental impact
and cost. The category weightings were determined through a survey
of builders’ priorities. The 12 walls selected for analysis were divided
into 8 case categories as shown in Table 1.
Nominal R-Value Système Internationale (RSI) were compared to
whole-wall thermal resistances, including the effects of thermal
bridging. The bar colours in Figure 1, indicate the compliance package j RSI thresholds (green – RSI 3.87; purple – RSI
4.23; blue – RSI 4.75), whereas the heights of the bars indicate the nominal RSI values. Thermal bridging related reductions
from the nominal RSI values are shown by reduced height of the adjacent red bars. Two-dimensional heat transfer
modeling in THERM showed thermal resistance reductions ranging from 35% for Case 1aii (2x6 framing, RSI 3.87
batt insulation), to 9%, as for the Case 7 with insulated concrete form (ICF) construction. Advanced framing and higher
RSI-value insulated sheathing played prominent roles in
reducing thermal bridging losses.
Moisture safety was determined through 3-year hygrothermal
modeling in WUFI-Pro version 4.2 that considered the rates of
vapour diffusion into the wall assemblies from both the interior
and exterior, as well as each wall’s ability to allow drying to
occur. For the purposes of clarity, Figure 2 shows four
illustrative cases that display the range of relative humidity
(RH) levels at the inboard surface of the sheathing as well
as the durations over the critical 80% RH threshold. Case 5
experiences dangerously high RH levels for extended periods
of time. The combined use of very low permeance materials
the interior (polyethylene vapour retarder) and near the exterior
of the wall assembly (foil faced insulation) effectively eliminates
drying potential in both directions. Some important conclusions
were drawn concerning the relationships between materials,
permeabilities, RSI values, and the building code:
• The Ontario Building Code explicitly forbids excessive condensation within wall cavities, but does not articulate the need to
allow for sufficient drying potential (towards the interior as well as exterior) that would allow for safe relative humidity levels
over extended periods.
• Low permeance insulated sheathings applied in accordance to Table 188.8.131.52, 1995 NBC do, indeed, prevent condensation
at the inboard surface, but do not guarantee sufficiently low relative humidity levels for safe and durable wall assemblies.
• High permeance sheathings offer the best drying potential, but at the expense of reduced whole-wall heat transfer
performance due to low RSI values.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) of the greenhouse gas contributions of the various wall assemblies, as modeled in ATHENA
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
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LCA software, indicated very high levels of CO2 output for wall
assemblies using brick, steel and concrete. Insulation materials had
a lower impact than expected. As seen in Figure 3, Case 7 with ICF
construction and Case 8 with steel framing with sprayed polyurethane
insulation, produced markedly higher CO2 output over the other wall
types. Exterior insulated finish system (EIFS) contributed the least
global warming potential due to the absence of brick cladding.
The RS-Means analysis, performed by David Twiddy from George
Brown College, yielded a range of costs from $153.12/m2 to $343.22/
m2 for Case 3 (EIFS) and Case 8 (steel framing with sprayed
polyurethane) respectively, as seen in Figure 4. Other higher cost
wall designs include Case 7 (ICF) and Case 4c (wood framed
construction with sprayed polyurethane insulation). The major-
ity of the wood framed wall designs incurred similar costs,
with decreases associated with the use of less expensive
cladding options than brick. Lower costs can be seen in
Cases 1b and 4b that use less expensive wood and vinyl
sidings. Although Case 4b had relatively low costs, it can be
seen however, that Case 3 (EIFS) was the most cost effective
As shown in Figure 5, each coloured bar indicates the analysis
category and the overall valuation is shown in black. As each
analysis category component is seen to be a negative attribute
(eg. large number of dollars per square meter is deemed to be
sub-optimal), the overall score line is shown as an inverse
value, so as to display better overall performance as a
higher score. Case 3 (EIFS) was determined to be the best
overall performer due to having the lowest costs, lowest
global warming potential, minor thermal bridging related RSI
reductions, and short periods of excessive relative humidity.
The Best-Wall study considered heat transfer, environmental
impact, moisture safety and cost in assessing twelve wall as-
semblies. Many wall assemblies fared well in individual catego-
ries, but due to the weighting scheme determined by builders,
did not score highest overall. Case 3 (EIFS) was determined
to be the best overall performing wall due to attributes of least
cost, lowest environmental impact, effective control of thermal
bridging and safe moisture management capabilities.
RICK ROOS IS AN INSTRUCTOR AT GEORGE BROWN COLLEGE.
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
Horseshoe Ridge Homes
takes LEEDing Role in
Barrie Area WATER-CONSERVING
FEATURES WILL PUT
LESS STRESS ON
BY TRACY HANES
The folks at Horseshoe Ridge Homes
didn’t have to build their houses in ski
country to LEED’s (Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design) high standards
for energy efficiency and resource
conservation. There is little new home
building in the area, thus little competition,
so they didn’t feel compelled to do it to
gain market share.
But the members of the Horseshoe team share a
passion and committed belief to sustainable living
and felt it was important to potential buyers as well.
In addition to saving homeowners substantially on
utility bills, with the water-conserving features they
decided to include, the homes will also put less stress
on existing sewage facilities and future infrastructure.
Horseshoe Ridge Homes, launched in January 2011,
includes owners John Boville (former owner of the
next door Horseshoe Valley Ski Resort) and his wife
Julie, project manager Kevin Dymond and interior
designer Christy Bremer. Dymond, who had previously
built Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) homes in the
area and introduced the Bovilles to the concept of
eco homes – an idea they enthusiastically embraced.
Bremer put the Bovilles in touch with John Godden of
Clearsphere, who helped the Horseshoe team devise
a process to get to their goals and supplied the science
they’d need to do so.
The model home that recently opened on the site just
north of Barrie, adjacent to Horseshoe Valley Ski
Resort and its four-season amenities, and overlooking
a golf course, is a G50 (Green is 50 home, which uses
50 per cent less energy than a Code-built home) and
is registered as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design) candidate, as will all homes in
“I’m surprised how many people are well versed
and appreciative of the features we used,” said Julie
Boville. “They are familiar with things like ICFs and
Dymond found that many people want ICF foundations
and don’t want conventional building techniques.
Bremer speculated that Horseshoe Ridge’s location,
surrounded by nature, may attract people more in
touch with the environment which may be one reason
their potential buyers are so well educated about
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
Eventually, Horseshoe Ridge will include 530 homes, including
singles and townhouses. Three homes are in various stages of
completion and currently on offer are 16 detached homes on
golf course lots one third acre in size.
The model home is built on a Nudura ICF foundation with R24
insulation value; walls are insulated with Roxul R22 batts
and BP "R4" insulated sheathing. Due to the superior insula-
tion and air tightness of the house, the mechanical system
could be downsized (from a typically built home of that size) to
handle the reduced load. A Lifebreath Clean Air Furnace (CAF)
combination with condensing gas-fired hot water heater was
A Power Pipe drainwater heat recovery unit further reduces
the cost of heating water by up to 40 per cent by drawing heat
from hot water going down the drain and doubles hot water tank capacity.
With Net Zero homes coming in the not-too-distant future, solar will be an important solution to get people off
conventional energy sources and the hydronic fan coil can be adapted to take advantage of energy collected from the sun.
“It represents the next evolution of where we need to go and there’s no magic required,” said Dymond.
The Bovilles, Dymond and Bremer felt it was important to incorporate water-conserving features into the house, even
though it was not mandated by the municipality. A Brac greywater system recycles and filters shower and bath water
which is used to flush the toilets.
“Sewage is an issue here (in Oro Medonte) and water is important to
the municipality,” Dymond said. “These houses will use 40 per cent
less water which is a huge savings. The builder pays for this (the
greywater recycling unit), the home owner gets it. It’s an incredible
win-win situation. And there’s less cost to the municipality to maintain
Horseshoe Ridge is served by a private sewage treatment facility
which only has capacity for 100 additional homes, said Andria
Leigh, development director for the municipality of Oro-Mendonte.
“There will have to be additional capacity for more development
to proceed,” she pointed out. “The private operator is looking at
expanding that facility, but there is a benefit to the municipality in that
there is less waste water that doesn’t have to be deal with.”
The Horseshoe Ridge team and their specialists met with municipal
staff and politicians to explain what it was they are striving to do and
the features they were incorporating.
“The builder did a lot of research in terms of what was marketable
and what was unique to the municipality,” said Leigh. “LEED was not
being constructed here. There is a niche in Oro-Medonte that wasn’t
being addressed and there is a segment in the market that wants
Leigh said the meetings were educational for staff and council and
will be useful in setting guidelines for future residential development
in the township.
“As the homes get occupied and residents move in and see the success of the LEED features, we’ll be interested in their
comments,” said Leigh. “This was the first development of this type and council is still trying to understand the benefits
to the municipality as a whole. When we see the benefits for residents and see how it works, this will be beneficial on a
go-forward basis. We haven’t seen many of these proposals, being a rural municipality, but it’s the direction all municipalities
are starting to go.”
Although the Horseshoe Ridge houses cost about $20,000 more than other new homes in the area (yet still much less
than resale homes of comparable sizes), buyers seem to recognize the value in the sustainable features and that the
houses include more expensive products and finishes, said Julie Boville.
Prices range from $365,900 for 1,300 square feet to $485,900 for 2,340 square feet – a bargain compared to new home
prices in most of the GTA.
“We are looking to build about 20 homes a year,” said Boville. “The first house is the model and we intend to build every
house like this.”
As interior designer, Bremer looked at the exterior components and interior finishes and investigated where they were
coming from, using local sources as much as possible. She also selected low VOC finishes and products that offer durability.
“Kevin and I talked about energy efficiency and durability,” she said, while Dymond added that the shell of the house
being energy efficient helps to maintain the systems inside the house and has created an environment that is cleaner and
more regulated. Because a lot of wood is used in the homes, it’s important to make sure it stays properly hydrated to last.
“Our whole philosophy is that it’s not just how it looks, but the quality and the durability,” he said.
TRACY HANES IS A FREELANCE FEATURE WRITER FOR THE LARGEST DAILY NEWSPAPER IN CANADA AND SEVERAL MAGAZINES. WWW.TRACYHANES.CA
“Our whole philosophy is that
it’s not just how it looks, but the
quality and the durability”
“Low Cost, Low Energy House”
by Canadian Architecture Firm
Wins New Orleans Passive House
A passive house designed by Toronto
firm Sustainable TO shot past the
competition this spring as winner of
the international New Orleans Passive
House competition. Their vernacular
“shotgun” style, elegantly simple design
called “Low Cost, Low Energy House”
was praised as “an incredibly thoughtful
and viable response to the goals of
this challenge” by competition partner,
David Fano, CASE.
The challenge spearheaded by Design
By Many, prompted the international
design community to design affordable,
low-energy, single-family homes for
communities in New Orleans that are
still recovering from the devastation by
Hurricane Katrina. The competition was
in response to the Architecture 2030
report that notes the building sector
consumes two-thirds (77%) of all
electricity produced in the U.S., nearly half of the CO2 emissions in 2009 and the Obama Administration’s Better Building
Initiative which states that “building energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce our energy consumption and
dependence upon fossil fuels.”
The competition organizers selected the Passive House Standard as an overlay to meet the extremely low energy targets
since the standard has shown measured reductions in space heating and cooling energy consumption up to 90% in
Europe. The passive house standard combines an extremely airtight building shell of <0.6 ACH @ 50 pascals, an annual
heating and cooling requirement of <15 kWh/m2/year, and primary energy requirement of <120 kWh/m2/yr. To achieve
these requirements the building minimizes thermal-bridging, has a super-insulated building enclosure, and is designed
to take advantage of passive internal and solar gains with balanced energy recovery ventilation. The climate zone cannot
be ignored when designing a passive house and New Orleans offers a locale that is particularly suitable for the Passive
Further competition requirements included, affordable to build and purchase, long-lasting, with minimal impact on the local
environment, and affordable to heat and cool throughout the life of the building. Homes had to meet post-Katrina building
codes, guidelines and best practices, designed in a shotgun typology and conducive to cohesive neighbourhoods, be +5’0
from grade and 1000 sq. ft. to 1250 sq. ft. depending on the number of bedrooms and baths.
Prior to starting the design phase, the team at Sustainable TO, led by architect Paul Dowsett, researched the traditional
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
southern United States residential style home called shotgun
houses. Popular from the end of the American Civil War
to the 1920’s, the shotgun house is typically a rectangular
structure, usually no more than 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with
doors aligned at each end, consisting of three to five rooms
in a row with no hallways. The term “shotgun house”, is
said to come from the concept that if a shotgun was fired
from the front door when open, the bullet would fly cleanly
through the house and out the back door. It is not surprising
that this style became popular with the heat in New Orleans
as its compact footprint, high ceilings and lack of hallways
allow for efficient cross ventilation and cooling in each room.
Some variations include a wraparound porch called north
shore shotgun style. All of these features lend themselves
perfectly to a passive house design.
Reinterpreting the shotgun style, Sustainable TO’s design
mirrors two bedroom and bathroom units on either side of the
main living space located in the center of the home. Oriented
on the east/west axis, the spaces are organized linearly along
the south face circulation corridor containing a series of sliding doors that open onto a covered side porch providing shaded
outdoor living that wraps around the east, south and west elevations. The roof sloping up from the north side of the house
and the south facade’s deep roof overhang over the side porch which provide passive solar protection for the building’s
interior in the summer, while allowing passive solar heat gain in the winter. Along the railing of the side porch, large sliding
wood slat panels are designed to offer flexibility and protection from the sun, rain and wind when required. Windows on
the north façade provide abundant daylight and allow for cross ventilation and natural cooling while limiting solar heat
gain thereby reducing air conditioner needs. Many of the same benefits can be achieved for a north/south long axis
orientation by positioning the large sliding panels on the west façade.
Materials and mechanical systems were selected to both compliment the design layout as well as incorporate other
strategies to meet the passive standard. Increased insulation with R47 Roxul walls and triple glazed, thermally broken
fiberglass wood clad Pazen-manufactuered windows complete the super-insulated building enclosure. Highly reflective,
recyclable galvalume cladding was selected for the exterior since it is a ‘lifetime’ lasting material and its reflective qualities
minimizes heat gain in the summer. Two Ultimate Air Recoup Aerator Energy Recovery Units were specified to supply
fresh air for occupants and exchanging stale air. Every room contains a reversible ceiling fan which helps to draw the hot
stale air up to the high part of the cathedral ceiling and out through operable vents. Split-zoned Misubishi Electric M-Series
heating and cooling units above the bathrooms are both energy efficient and allow the occupant to operate each zone
separately. Each bathroom contains its own ultra high efficient on-demand water heater to reduce primary energy needs.
The floor has radiant heating in the concrete topping for low energy supplementary heating while also absorbing the heat
from the sun’s rays in winter months and re-radiates it back into the space. In summer, the shaded concrete floors are
The competition required that the building be constructed at least 5’0 from grade, a code requirement in New Orleans
to minimize potential flooding damage. Sustainable TO decided to lift the main floor to 7’0 above grade, providing both
extra security from flooding and an outdoor living space that has storage and shaded parking for vehicles beneath it.
At the outset of the project, the team agreed that the winning entry was likely to be the most simple, and they were right.
“We relied on using the design to first solve the problems, and the simplest technology we could find second,” said Paul.
These days we often see a mixture of building styles from all over the world in our North American cities even though we
live in a particular climate zone. Perhaps we need to get back to first principles by considering vernacular architecture
and the features that our ancestors used in a particular climate. Like Sustainable TO, we may find some very simple
strategies that can assist us in designing and building lower energy homes.
GILLIAN LIND IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE SUSTAINABLE HOUSING FOUNDATION.
Leaders in Green Home Building
Honoured at ENERQUALITY 2011
Awards of Excellence
The EnerQuality 2011 Awards of Excellence recognize leaders in construction who have
demonstrated an exceptional commitment to building high-performance, energy-efficient,
sustainable new housing.
According to EnerQuality President Corey McBurney, "nominees and finalists are true leaders in
sustainable building, which is important to today’s knowledgeable homebuyers. We congratulate
the winners, in particular, for their outstanding contributions as industry role models.”
EnerQuality’s Green Builder of the Year was awarded to Empire Communities. Saluting them
for demonstrating innovation and excellence through labeling, marketing and sales, and for their
work in raising consumer awareness. Empire Communities was also recognized as EnerQuality’s
ENERGY STAR® for New Homes Builder of the Year.
A strong commitment to environmentally friendly living is an integral part of Empire Communities. Executive Vice President
Paul Golini Jr. believes that “the homebuyers of today want that to be a feature of their new home.” An ENERGY STAR
participant builder since 2007, Empire raised the bar once again this past year with the launch of their ECO2 package in
EnerQuality’s Best Green Marketing Campaign and Building Innovations and Excellence Award (in the large volume builder
category) were awarded to Eastforest Homes. “Marketing energy efficiency and green is a challenge for many builders. Eastforest
has done a tremendous job,” said EnerQuality’s Director of Client Relations Michelle Cote. “The Eastforest Discovery Home is an
excellent education tool. Visitors leave educated and inspired to buy an energy-efficient home.”
EnerQuality’s ENERGY STAR® for New Homes Builder of the Year (small volume builder category) is Doug Tarry Homes who
builds ENERGY STAR qualified homes as standard. Doug Tarry is committed to being an industry leader, "we're on a path of
continuous improvement to Net Zero ready. At Doug Tarry Homes, we are committed to building affordable and custom built
homes that perform above and beyond.”
The awards for EnerQuality R-2000 Builder of the Year and Building Innovation and Excellence (in the small volume
builder category) went to Marshall Homes. “All homebuyers want to save energy and make a reasonable return on
investment with little or no effort,” says Craig Marshall, founder of Marshall Homes. “Energy modeling and pricing for
the individual homebuyer assures them they will receive a positive return on their energy savings investment. This was key
towards transforming our market.”
Kitchener-Waterloo area builder Stonecroft Homes is the GreenHouse™ Certified Construction Builder of the Year in
recognition of their commitment to building GreenHouse Certified Homes. GreenHouse Certified Homes are ENERGY STAR
qualified and include stringent standards for water conservation, materials/resource management, and indoor air quality.
EnerQuality’s EnerGuide Rating Service Builder of the Year Award was won by Haldiman and Norfolk Counties area builder
Prominent Homes. Prominent Homes is also an ENERGY STAR participant builder.
Commitment, leadership, advocacy, and innovation were all recognized in Awards categories. Industry Partner of the Year,
which went to Reliance Home Comfort; two Leader of the Year Awards, won by Andy Goyda of Owens Corning and Sean
Mason of Mason Homes Ltd; and Evaluator of the Year, presented to Building Knowledge Inc. The Hall of Fame Award
honours David Horton, Executive Director of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association who recently celebrated 25 years
with the organization. Added McBurney, “All winners represent Ontario’s best and brightest in sustainable building, and are
making exciting things happen across the industry. We are privileged to work in an industry with so many true innovators
and leaders guiding sustainable building now and for the future.”
ISSUE 01 | SUMMER 2012 23
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SB12’s Policy Playmates
“THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN”, AND THE RULES OF HOMEBUILDING HAVE CHANGED, AGAIN.
Many of us have been watching the building code for a long time, and the 2006 code gave us warning
of changes that would take affect this year, so I suppose we should all have seen it coming. Somehow,
SB-12 still seems like a moving target that has left the industry with more questions than answers.
SB-12, the supplemental building standard that helps “simplify” compliance with the energy effi-
ciency requirements now included in part 12 of the Ontario Building Code, was released last year and
updated in Dec. to give builders a set of recipes, or prescriptive roadmaps, to comply with the new
energy requirements of the code. All told, there are over 6200 different ways to comply now, from
EnerGuide 80 to ENERGY STAR to a collection of tables that have many different pre-configured
compliance packages: blessed by the Ministry of Housing and ready for use.
It’s a mixed story really. The tables in SB-12 were developed by reputable consultants under se-
vere time constraints, and although there is room to argue that the tables are not “simple”, and are perhaps not the best
reflection of what the industry actually needs, they are at least helpful, and the Ministry deserves some commendation
for producing them so quickly. Still, one wonders whether the end product might have been much better if the consulting
work of creating these tables had been properly bid out to the consulting industry and developed with a more comprehensive
stakeholdering process. Afterall, like the rest of us, they’ve known this was coming since 2006.
For example, it’s noteworthy that the SB-12 tables are entirely silent on some technologies like drainwater heat recovery,
which is used in nearly 20% of new homes in Ontario. One would think that the Ministry and the consultants they work
with would have known that. And useful as the tables are, they’re so tightly defined that it will only be a matter of time
until other product suppliers are hounding the government to revise the tables to include other options.
Personally, I’d prefer to see SB-12 replaced with a shopping list more like what France has developed, where builders
can read a list of different energy efficiency features like improved insulation, HRV’s, etc, that are each allocated a certain
number of points which represent the impact they have on the home’s energy performance, and each home is required to
add a certain number of features from the list that add up to a minimum performance. This would enable builders to make
a list of their preferred options, and would give the government all the room it needs to re-assess the products on the list
over time, to add or remove features and edit the points accorded to various items as the industry changes.
In the mean time, there are tools like www.SB12.ca that at least help to make this process easier, and there are tons
of consultants making money off of training. It will be interesting to look back a year from now and see what lessons
DEREK SATNIK IS THE PRESIDENT OF MINDSCAPES INNOVATIONS AND A LEED PROVIDER.
["In the mean time, there are tools like www.SB12.ca that at least help to make this process easier"
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012 25
uses outgoing warm
drain water to pre-heat
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in Residential, Commercial
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A Low-cost Solution to Make
Homes More Airtight
The model home at Horseshoe Ridge near Barrie isn’t just beautiful to look at – it is
a LEED Silver candidate that includes a host of sustainable features. Durability of the
model home and the others to be built at the development was important to the builder
(and a way to earn LEED points) and an innovative air barrier made by Henry, a Cana-
dian company, helped accomplish that objective. The Blueskin®
WB window and door
flashing was used on the home.
“Horseshoe Ridge Homes was focused on energy efficiency and durability and looking to
differentiate itself,” said Martin Kuypers, Henry’s residential business development leader.
“Blueskin can help with all that and the result is fewer callbacks. Anytime you can prevent
water from damaging a building (or house), it improves its durability. Protecting a building
from water makes it last longer.”
Henry’s origins date back to the 1930s as a supplier of construction coatings and cements. It introduced air barriers more
than three decades ago and has continued to develop a world-class line of building envelope systems and products.
The Blueskin membrane has been in existence since the early 90’s and has been used extensively on condominium towers
and on commercial and institutional buildings, such as the Iroquois Centre in Whitby and on the Canadian Museum of
Human Rights in Winnipeg.
Fifteen years ago, the company started to recognize a demand in the residential sector for better built homes and felt
Blueskin would be an asset. Initially, it was used on roofs, then in basements and now the Blueskin line has expanded
with specialty products for a broad variety of applications and structures.
One of Henry’s exciting new products, Blueskin VP™, is a vapor permeable building “skin”, designed to replace
traditional house wraps in residential applications. Like the name suggests, it’s blue in color. It is fully adhered to sheathing
using a peel and stick system which requires no fasteners and has excellent adhesion. Because there are no staple holes
or tears, it provides a continuous plane of air-tightness to block moisture and air movement.
Traditional house wraps provide a rain barrier but are often not effective as air barriers unless extensive detailing,
fastening, taping and sealing have been done. Consequently, they allow uncontrolled air movement, resulting in reduced
thermal performance of the wall assembly, as well as the potential for moisture and mold problems.
Large production builders throughout Ontario are now using Blueskin VP, as well as numerous custom builders and
renovators. The benefits that Blueskin VP provides to homeowners include greater comfort due to elimination of drafts,
improved insulation performance for lower energy costs, better air quality and a healthier indoor environment.“With
homes getting more expensive to heat and cool, contractors are getting the fact that homeowners are interested in
future-proofing for long-term savings,” said Dawn Nigro, president of Henry Company Canada, Inc.
]["With homes getting more expensive to heat and cool, contractors are getting the fact
that homeowners are interested in future-proofing for long-term savings"
Next generation technology
for wood frame construction
Drawing on decades of commercial air barrier experience, Henry
Company has created Blueskin VP™ – a fully-adhered Building
that functions not only as a water resistant
barrier and rain barrier, but stops uncontrolled air leakage to
improve building comfort, safety and energy efficiency.
• Provides superior moisture and water protection
• Eliminates drafts to improve comfort
• Reduces energy costs
• Improves insulation performance
• Simple to install
Fully adhered means:
Picks up where traditional house wraps leave off!
For more on how BlueskinVP™
contributes to an effective
Building Envelope System®
, visit us at www.henry.com
Project by Build Urban (buildurban.com)
27ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
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Kuypers said homeowners who initially spend more on energy efficient upgrades for their homes will recoup that in energy
savings and in the resale value of their home if they sell in future. There is a myth that most people change homes in three to
five years, but it’s actually eight to nine years, he said, thus they are there long enough to reap a return on their investment.
“This is a low-cost solution to make homes more airtight,” said Nigro. “We’ve always had residential products, such as flashing
and the waterproof membrane, but they were sold to the residential market through retailers. We weren’t dealing exclusively
with builders per se.” Retailers such as Tim-Br Mart, The Home Depot Canada, Turkstra, Lowe’s and Home Hardware carry
But with the recent code changes and builders having to achieve greater energy efficiency with the homes they build, Henry
Canada is increasingly working directly with builders to help them understand these changes and how to address them by
choosing the right products. A recent example is an event held by the company to host a HERS (Home Energy Rating
System) training session at its Scarborough offices.
“When the building code changes, builders will have to look at how they put in air barriers,” said Kuypers. “Builders look at
the quality, the ease of application and the price. That’s how they make their decisions. One of the things that drew me to
Henry was that this company has very good to great products and years of standing behind them.”
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
High Performance Basements
Today’s homebuyers are more aware of how
space is used in their homes and increasingly
expect that their basements provide the same
level of comfort, livability, and moisture control as
above grade spaces. Homebuyers are not willing
to accept the damp, cold, wet, moldy basements
of the past. As one of the major sources of heat
loss within a home, basements are now required
to be insulated near full height. For builders,
basements have traditionally been the source
of frustration as they are often constructed with
serious defects. Creating a healthy, comfortable
living space in the basement is a challenge for
them. Getting it right begins by understanding
materials, components, and systems that are
used in the basement and how they work
together. It also means not missing the important
air sealing details in the basement.
A high performance basement protects the
interior environment and maintains a high level
of comfort for the occupant. High performance
basements are not only healthier to live in, but
are also well insulated and cost less to maintain.
This means healthier interior environments,
reduced energy consumption, and a more
durable and effective product. For most builders,
building a high performance basement means
keeping it dry and free of moisture. Controlling
moisture from getting into the basement from
all its sources continues to be a big challenge.
Air leakage and soil gas control have now been
added to this list of concerns builders need to
A crucial step to high performance is ensuring
basement air barriers are continuous to minimize
vapour movement from air leakage. Air infiltration
is of extreme importance to a builder designing a
high performance basement, as it is the cause of
many problems. A high performance basement
reduces the exfiltration and infiltration of air and
other harmful gases from the surrounding soils.
The 2012 Code requires the entire envelope air
barrier be continuous from basement slab to top
Header areas are a very significant source of air
Header wrap sealed
to concrete wall
sealed at top
No gaps in insulation
keyed to footing
Granular backfill min.
150 mm (5-7/8'')
Detailed Section of a Typical Foundation Wall
with Near Full Height Basement Insulation
and Best Practice Techniques
Full Height Blanket System
fastened into the wall
MaRtinoHeating • air Conditioning • indoor air Quality • HVaC Design
leakage as the air barrier is often damaged during construction, or is not properly sealed. Header air barriers need
to be continuous. This means that the header wrap will no longer be permitted to dangle without connecting to the
foundation wall or to a sheet air barrier over the foundation wall. A leaky header allows warm moist air during hot
summers to be pumped against the interior polyethylene, which is often cooled by an air conditioner, allowing excess
water vapour to condense. Substantial volumes of moisture can condense on the poly in summer due to this mechanism.
At the bottom of the wall, a simple seal along the junction of the slab and foundation wall will reduce soil gases from getting
into the basement. Alternatively, sealing the interior poly air vapour barrier to the
slab can also seal out the soil gases. The new Code also requires penetrations into
the basement be sealed, for example with regards to drains and service, sump pit
covers must be sealed.
The tools and techniques builders need to achieve high performance basements
are often simple and inexpensive, but require planning, know-how, and dedication
to deliver a quality home. With the new provisions for housing and small buildings
coming into effect, builders need to respond by exploring high performance systems
to improve energy efficiency and occupant comfort, creating a more marketable
product. For smart builders, the new Code requirements present an opportunity to
perfect their craft and to deliver the high performance living space that their home
MICHAEL LIO IS THE PRESIDENT OF LIO & ASSOCIATES, A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR, THIS ARTICLE WAS SUBMITTED BY A COLLEAGUE JANELLE DAY.
33ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012
You can build on BP innovations
One big panel, two huge advantages:
strength and insulation
R-4 Insulsheathing’s two-layer construction
delivers cost-effective energy efﬁciency plus a
highly effective acoustics and weather barrier.
> 4’x 9’x 1 1/8”composite board
> Stronger structural strength –
no bracing required
> High insulation value with
> Excellent acoustic performance
> Lightweight, quick and easy to install
> Great value, low-cost
> Meets standards and building code
For more information, visit www.bpcan.com
Keep the weather
out and your costs down
A More Forgiving Basement Wall
(PART 1) INWARD BOUND VAPOUR DIFFUSION
A couple of years ago we were going into a site that had particularly moist soil conditions and
were concerned that we could end up with problems of moisture in our basement walls.
As builders we know that basements can be a major challenge. This is especially true today as
our clients’ expectations have changed significantly. They expect basements to be as liveable
as the rest of their home. And as builders we all dread that call from a client saying they have
moisture in their basement.
In discussing the idea with other builders, I have heard more than one say "Don't ever open up
a basement wall. You know what you are going to find there." They mean mould of course. And
I understand their point. We make homes much tighter than we used to, we insulate them more
and we follow what the building code says and then.... it doesn't always work.
So we knew there was a fairly good chance that we were going to have moisture problems and
decided to try and design a more forgiving basement wall. We began to research the problem
and talked to Gord Cooke, John Godden and pretty much anybody that would return an email. The more we researched
the more we realized that the real potential problem would be inward bound vapour diffusion. (That’s when water is
sucked up from the ground, through the footing and into the foundation wall then the sun hits the concrete and pushes
the moisture into the home where the vapour condenses when it hit the cooler basement air).
Try explaining that to a customer who thinks their foundation is leaking and you get the idea of why we wanted to avoid
Once we understood the major challenge, we decided to redesign our basement wall detail. Affordability was a major
consideration as our community has suffered a major loss of manufacturing jobs. We decided to redesign the foundation
wall detail to isolate the foundation wall from the surrounding soil moisture. We
were already using full height fibreglass insulation, a header wrap through the
belt, tar on the foundation as our damp-proofing and ROXUL drain clad on the
outside. We kept the tar damp-proofing, changed out the ROXUL for the Delta
Membrane on the exterior then added the Cosella-Dorken Delta Footing Barrier
and a cold joint caulking between the footing and the foundation wall.
I then met with my building inspector Leon Bach and reviewed the new details.
Leon was very helpful in reviewing the building science of the problem. This
was critically important as there were others in the building industry and other
inspectors that felt it was just latent moisture still coming out of the curing
concrete. Leon understood my point that if this were the case, then every home
with this situation should have the same challenge. He was in agreement with
the concept and agreed to work with us to monitor the installation and performance
of the wall.
Once we understood the problem and had worked out our detail, we implemented
the change for all homes under construction. And it has worked very well. By
eliminating the ability of the foundation wall to wick moisture from the soil, we
limited the amount of potential moisture that could be forced into the home.
Since we changed this detail we have had only very minor instances of conden-
sation on our basement poly during the warmer months. And it was a great first
step to a more forgiving basement wall.
DOUG TARRY JR., IS THE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AT DOUG TARRY HOMES IN ST. THOMAS , ONTARIO.
ISSUE 01 | SPRING 2012 31
Why choice renovators stand behind
Better ﬁt. Fewer call-backs. More satisﬁed customers.
When your customers demand quality, start with the better quality
insulation. Fire-resistant and water repellant, Roxul insulation is easy
to work with, cuts with a serrated knife and ﬁts snug without sagging.
Choose Roxul ComfortBatt™
for thermal insulation of exterior walls and
attics, and Roxul Safe‘n’Sound™
for soundprooﬁng interior walls and
ceilings to make your next renovation professional grade.
With a retail value of over $600, a Drain Water Heat Recovery
unit is easy to install and helps homeowners reclaim water
heat that is lost down the drain. Other benefits include:
Maintenance free system
Reduce water heating costs by up to 40%
Reuse heat energy which is good for the environment
Contact your Enbridge Channel
Consultant for more information.
By installing a Drain Water Heat Recovery
system in your clients’ new homes, you are
one step closer to meeting Ontario’s new
building codes for 2012.