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.
IN THIS ISSUE
»» North Star Homes – A Shining Star in
»» HVAC for Multi Unit Residential
»» Tool for Residential Wall Design
»» Exploring Alternative Housing Forms
»» Options for Homes- Creates More
»» Six Storey Wood is Coming to Ontario
the builder’s source
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
A b r e a t h o f f r e s h a i r .
All mechanical and electrical components are
accessible from the front of the unit.
Heating coil and fan/motor slide out for easy
One of the most extensive warranties in the
business:1-year parts & labour,2-years on parts
With the increased efﬁciency of this optional
Electronically Commuted Motor (ECM),
homeowners will be free to cycle air continuously
with a minimal increase in electricity cost.
Continuous fan operation helps improve
ﬁltration,reduce temperature variations,and
helps keep the air clear of dust and allergens –
making your customers’ homes more comfortable.
Mini Ducted Hi-Velocity Air Handling System
Optional Prioritizing of Comfort Levels with Energy Savings
MAX SPACE SAVER
The MAXAIR fan coil is so compact that it ﬁts
anywhere:laundry room,attic,crawl space,you
can even place it in a closet.
It can be installed in new or existing homes.
It takes less than 1/3 of the space of a conventional
heating and air conditioning unit.
MAX ENERGY SAVINGS
Energy savings,temperature control and comfort
levels are achieved in individual levels of the home
by prioritizing the requirements.This is achieved
by installing optional space thermostats. If any
area calls for heating or cooling, the individual
thermostat allows the space it serves to achieve
optimum comfort and still maintain continuous
air circulation throughout the home.
This method of prioritizing is a great energy
savings measure while offering an increased
comfort level to the home owner.
The supply outlets can be placed in the wall,
ceiling or ﬂoor.
Each unit has four choices of locations for the
return air connections.
The FLEXAIR™ insulated 2½" supply
duct will ﬁt in a standard 2"x 4" wall cavity.
Can be mounted for vertical or horizontal airﬂow.
Can be combined with humidiﬁers,high efﬁciency
air cleaners or ERVs / HRVs.
Snap-together branch duct and diffuser
MAX ELECTRICAL SAVINGS
ECMs are ultra-high-efﬁcient programmable
brushless DC motors that are more efﬁcient than
the permanently split capacitor (PSC) motors used
in most residential furnaces.This is especially true
at lower speeds used for continuous circulation in
many new homes.
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For distribution of Air Max Technologies products call
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16 North Star Homes – A Shining Star in Markham
BY ALEX NEWMAN
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
02 Publisher's Note: Form and Function
BY JOHN GODDEN
03 Is Affordability a Goal or an Objective?
BY LOU BADA
04 Straight From the Hart: Is the Future As Good As
It Used to Be?
BY LEN HART
06 Multi-family HVAC Opportunities
BY GORD COOKE
08 New Online Tool For Residential Wall Design
BY MICHAEL LIO
10 Saugeen First Nation
Form Does Follow Function with Low-Energy Buildings
BY LEN HART
13 Exploring Alternative Housing Forms – Whole Village
BY AARON KOTHIRINGER
22 Options for Homes – Creating More Affordable Homes
BY TRACY HANES
26 Sustainable Housing Foundation Event
BY JORDAN LANE
31 Is Wood Good? You Bet! – Six-Storey Wood Is Coming to Ontario
BY DOUG TARRY
the builder’s source
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
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Form and Function
Years ago while attending urban planning school at the University of Waterloo, I
learned of American architect Louis Sullivan. In 1896, while designing one of the
first tall office buildings/skyscrapers, he coined the phrase “form ever follows
function.” This principle suggests the shape of a building or object is based upon
its intended function or purpose.
The physical form of post-war housing was very simple. The 1950s Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)-planned home housed an average
of 3.37 people, where each member had roughly 297 sq. ft. of living area. The
increased use of automobiles affected the urban form and it began to sprawl.
By 1975 suburban bungalows increased in size to 1050 sq. ft. Fast-forward to the
year 2010. The average Canadian home was 1950 sq. ft., according to a Globe
and Mail report written by Ben Rabidoux. The Globe report also indicates while
floor areas were increasing, the average number of residents was in decline. In
1971 there were 3.5 people per household. This number declined to 2.5 in 2010
giving each person 780 sq. ft. of living space. CBC News Canada gives us
interesting information. Currently in Toronto this trend is reversing as more first-
time buyers can only afford condos that average in size of 2 bedrooms and
approximately 829 sq. ft.
The Places to Grow Act of 2005 was intended to direct and manage growth through
land use planning, optimizing existing infrastructure and maximizing government
investment. The unintended consequence has been escalating land costs due to a
shortage of developable land. Moving toward urban core intensification begins to
transform housing form. Single-family homes are expensive to build and service,
whereas sky-high condos allow for maximum yield on a relatively small footprint. It
seems the effort to control lateral development has resulted in vertical sprawl.
What we seem to be lacking is a balance that the scale of buildings provides. I
really noticed the impact of building scale on a trip a few years back to Copenhagen.
Residential buildings are up to six storeys high and in close proximity to work and
play. These buildings are a great example of a housing form that strikes a balance
between density and quality of life, affordability and efficiency, community and
In this issue of Better Builder, we showcase Canada’s largest LEED-certified project
built by North Star Homes. All 78 units were awarded LEED silver certification. The
finished product is a shining example of how integrated design and informed
project management and execution can be achieved.
Jordan Lane reports on the Sustainable Housing Foundation’s
dinner event where representatives of North Star proudly
received the first LEED certificate for the development. In his
regular column, Lou Bada explores the differences between
goals and objectives as they apply to the building industry.
Doug Tarry proudly announces that six-storey wood frame
construction is coming to Ontario. This is a building form that
is truly functional. And last but not least, Len Hart challenges
us with his article “Is the Future As Good As It Used to Be?”
I’ll let you decide. Happy reading. JOHN GODDEN
Is Affordability A Goal or an Objective?
The distinction between a goal and an objective is not a matter of semantics. I learned early in my career from a great
mentor to distinguish between the two. Simply put, goals are ideals we strive toward, but are distant and not yet possible.
Objectives are the achievable and reasonable things we plan and design for today.
Public policy sets many laudable goals for our industry, but rarely assigns them an order of magnitude the way you would
if you were looking at objectives. In fact, they are often contradictory. Governments may set goals, but industry must deal
with objectives. Bridging the gap reveals a necessary tension that should inspire creativity. Stated public policy goals of
intensification (curbing urban sprawl), coupled with environmental conservation and sustainability through the implementation
of the Greenbelt, demonstrate what happens when you believe goals are objectives without dealing with them as such.
Artificially constraining the supply of land has resulted in intensification in the GTA, but has also led to our industry being
criticized for vertical sprawl – the building of tall buildings to make housing more affordable.
Affordability is another stated public policy goal. Make no mistake. One of our industry’s objectives is to make homes
affordable. To be sure, we are trying to increase the size of our addressable market and this is not for some higher purpose,
though it does serve one – housing is a basic necessity. Every additional dollar spent on a roof over someone’s head is
one less dollar spent in the wider economy. A healthy and vibrant economy produces all the things we take for granted.
The high cost of housing affects the most vulnerable the most. The land supply imbalance created has helped drive land
prices into the stratosphere. Higher low-rise density targets
have forced builders to build more attached and semi-detached
homes. This category of housing traditionally deemed as
starter homes has become an orphaned product. They are
now too expensive to be considered a starter home, and
are also not in demand by move up buyers looking for more
space for a growing family and who have an existing home
to sell. We are paradoxically building homes that few can
either afford or otherwise want. Compact and complete new
developments presuppose density to make rapid transit and
commercial and employment land uses viable. This denser
form of low-rise housing must be affordable to work.
Homebuilders have helped champion the push for the
approval of six-storey wood frame construction with mixed
results so far. At the moment, this seems the most likely way
we can move forward on creating an affordable product that
addresses many concerns. It will be essential that those who
have jurisdiction take a holistic view of development and the
benefits accrued by more affordable housing – environmental,
social and economic. Some other policy goals may need to
be tempered for the cause. Life and safety concerns are
paramount and need to be carefully and objectively considered.
It must be recognized that without some concessions from
all stakeholders, affordable housing will be a goal that never
becomes an objective.
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
LOU BADA IS THE CONSTRUCTION & CONTRACTS MANAGER FOR STARLANE HOMES
Straight From The Hart
IS THE FUTURE AS GOOD AS IT USED TO BE?
How we see the future strongly affects how we deal with the present. When asked to consider the future of green home
building for this issue, it struck me that the collective future most people envision for the industry does not seem as
positive as it once appeared. In the early days of the Energy Star program, many medium-sized builders embraced the
idea of improving their product beyond what the code required to sell energy savings and quality improvements to
customers. Since then, I assumed that market-driven opportunity would continue to dominate our visions of the future of
green building in Ontario. But, that may be a wrong assumption.
At a recent Sustainable Housing Foundation event, I was seated at a table with a veteran old-school builder who was
perplexed at how builders can meet the new Energy Star standard and still make any money on the home. This perspective
I have heard many times before. My friend Lou Bada, who writes for this magazine, is a champion of this sort of site-level
realism, and it’s no secret that production home builder margins are quite slim.
However, what I did find interesting was the resignation with which this builder approached the Energy Star standard and
coming code changes, not as a positive opportunity, but as a negative inevitability.
The Ontario Building Code has now become the dominant driver shaping future insulation levels, HVAC efficiency, water
and appliance efficiency, and electrical load levels in new homes.
BUILDER NEWSBUILDER NEWS
LEN HAR T
2017 ONTARIO BUILDING CODE SB-12 FUTURE REQUIREMENTS
For this builder the future is not as good as it used to be. He is facing a challenge, not with an eye to market innovation as
previous builders have, but with a resigned sense of mandatory compliance. While it’s clear he is not a “believer” in the green
agenda, he is a builder who wants to continue to make his business successful and profitable by offering customers what
they want. For him the future of green building is not motivated by consumers seeking better quality and better energy
savings. Rather, his future was one of unwilling compliance to regulators, and added cost demands that stifle sales and
evaporate profits. Not an inspiring picture.
The actual future is unknowable, but what our vision of what that future will look like and how it inspires our activities in
the present can vary significantly. So, what can a builder do to turn a negative-looking future into a positive one?
I think the innovators will always find a reason to see the future in a positive way, but innovation is a more risky path than
compliance. The challenge is to lead your market toward innovation by letting people know what is possible, rather than
waiting for them to ask. Innovation for affordability is the key driver behind energy conservation, but more needs to be
done to make upfront costs more palatable. Better building envelopes are a builder’s real lasting legacy in a way better
HVAC can never match because they last so much longer. I think consumers are beginning to embrace two-way smart
connections to power utilities, smart appliances, and smart home mechanicals that are internet connected, greater density
and better quality of construction (including the greater precision of prefabrication).
The code may make the future of green building more predictable, but it does not have to make it less inspiring or innovative.
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
LENARD HART IS THE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR AT GREENSAVER A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATION FOCUSED ON RESIDENTIAL
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS. HE WAS ONE OF THE DEVELOPERS OF THE ENERGY STAR FOR NEW HOMES PROGRAM IN ONTARIO AND THE
FORMER PUBLISHING EDITOR OF SUSTAINABLE BUILDER MAGAZINE.
In previous articles we have highlighted the compelling opportunities now available to high performance home builders
regarding downsizing of heating and cooling systems. You can imagine the opportunity in multifamily buildings (low rise
and high rise), with fewer outside walls and ceilings is even more pronounced. In fact, it can be a challenge to find
appropriate, cost-effective HVAC systems for multifamily suites that meet the lists of expectations from builders, developers,
homeowners and the condo boards that represent them. These lists may include at least the following:
Many of these items seem to be in direct conflict with each other. For example, resolving the desire for each individual suite to
have its own separately metered HVAC system while minimizing the costs and number of penetrations for vents, meters and
The chart below is a quick summary of HVAC loads in an 800 sq. ft. two-bedroom suite in Southern Ontario. Notice how the
ventilation load is bigger than the simple conduction heat loss in at least interior units, and ventilation load is a significant
summer load as well. Note too the cooling loads are larger than heating loads, and the significant variation in cooling loads
based on orientation exposure of even moderate glass areas with full shading of the windows.
This quick analysis hints at a change in focus when designing ventilation systems. For example, since the mid-1960s multiunit
residential buildings with common corridor entries were equipped with corridor ventilation systems and in-suite, or central,
bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to meet ventilation needs. In theory, corridor ventilation systems provided fresh air indirectly
to individual suites, and created a positive pressure in hallways to control odours and provide some measure of smoke control
in hallways in case of fire.
However, research by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) showed this ventilation strategy is neither
effective nor efficient, undermines smoke and fire control strategies, and does not provide predictable apartment ventilation.
Highlights of these studies concluded that up to 30% of the corridor ventilation air never makes it into individual suites.
Moreover, this outdated central ventilation strategy offered no opportunity for energy recovery from exhaust air appliances.
The research results and comprehensive energy load calculations has prompted leading multifamily builders to switch to
two complementary strategies. First, compartmentalize suites by enhancing the air sealing measures already in place for water
Multi-family HVAC Opportunities
BUILDER / DEVELOPER LIST HOMEOWNER / CONDO BOARD LIST
Minimize space usage and bulkheads Very low noise, both internal & from neighbors
Minimize penetrations / vents to outside Odour control, both internal & from neighbors
Meet fire and smoke control separation requirements Assign HVAC operation fees directly to suite owners – lower common fees
Optimize equipment and servicing costs Minimize common maintenance fees
Match the requirements for taller, more complicated,
tighter, better insulated buildings with far more glass
Optimize operational costs
Envelope Heat Loss
(BTUs/Hr / kW)
6,050 BTUs/Hr or 1.8 kW 2,870 BTUs/Hr or 0.84 kW
Cooling (BTUs/Hr / kW)
West facing unit
North facing unit
7,044 BTUs/Hr / 2.1 kW
5,510 BTUs/Hr / 1.63 kW
5,408 BTUs/Hr / 1.6 kW
3750 BTUs/Hr / 1.1 kW
Ventilation (BTUs/Hr / kW)
3,465 BTUs/Hr / 1 kW
1485 BTUs/Hr / 0.44 kW
3,465 BTUs/Hr / 1 kW
1485 BTUs/Hr / 0.44 kW
intrusion and smoke control, and weatherstripping suite entry doors, and second by providing
individual energy recovery fresh air ventilation (ERVs) in each suite.
These two strategies, air sealing emphasis and stand-alone ERVs, simultaneously help
control the significant stack effects in tall buildings, reduce odour and noise concerns,
reduce overall peak load demands (specifically cooling tonnage) on the building and
offload ventilation control and consumption to suite owners. The air sealing techniques are
similar to those used in low-rise construction with a specific emphasis on party walls and
walls adjacent to common corridors. The application of ERVs in multifamily buildings and
specifically in mid- and high-rise buildings does require special considerations. Equipment,
while needing to be compact enough to fit in ceiling spaces or small closets, does have to
have special fans to provide consistent airflows in spite of significant seasonal and even
day-to-day building pressure changes due to wind and temperature stack effects.
For example, in low-rise buildings ERVs with static pressure capabilities of 0.3” to 0.4”
static pressure are sufficient. In high-rise applications, static pressure capabilities that
provide consistent airflows between 0.2” and 0.8” static pressure are required. Another
significant consideration is the location and style of exterior vents for the ERV. Specifically,
air intakes must be able to avoid water intrusion without restricting airflow and, of course,
meeting the aesthetic needs of the architect. In this regard, Venmar Ventilation worked with
building science specialists to create a side-by-side flush-mount vent termination able to
meet the same water intrusion standards as windows.
In future articles we will explore air conditioning and heating options to match the small
but variable loads in high performance multifamily buildings. However, in the short term
designers and builders should recognize the great opportunities for new ventilation strategies
that complement the advancements in building envelope air tightness with systems that
increase homeowner satisfaction while reducing overall energy consumption and capital
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
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New Online Tool For
Residential Wall Design
The Canadian Wood Council has created an interactive website that enables you to explore options, compare features,
and determine the exact wall assembly that can perform across the range of Canadian climates. For the first time as an
online format, the Wall Thermal Design Calculator offers the information builders, architects, trades, and building officials
need to quickly access the suitability of wall assemblies for low-rise housing. It provides designers with prescriptive wall
assembly solutions through an interactive online portal.
The website, developed by buildABILITY Corporation together with the assistance of Building Knowledge Canada Inc.
and Christopher Timusk, currently contains over 150 wall assemblies. Each assembly includes a hygrothermal and energy
analysis. The new CWC tool includes an electronic catalogue of assembly components, energy and thermal performance,
and notes that address ease of construction, affordability, aesthetics and potential moisture concerns. The tool provides
wall thermal design information regarding compliance with the energy efficiency requirements of the National Building
Code of Canada.
Wall assemblies are included that are built with:
• 2x4, 2x6, and 2x8 studs
• R19, R22, R24, and R28 batt insulation
• expanded and extruded polystyrene, mineral
wool insulation and OSB (oriented strand
• brick or vinyl cladding, and
• light- and medium-density spray-foam cavity
More assemblies will be developed in 2014 to
include plywood sheathing and other cladding
types. This image is an example of one of the
The interactive online portal allows builders,
architects, building officials, and other housing
professionals to access the information from their
offices, a meeting or even on-site. It represents a
new form of reference material for the construction
An advisory committee comprised of housing
and building envelope experts provided guidance
and many insights during the development of the
The Wall Thermal Design Calculator can be found
on the CWC website: cwc.ca/resources/wall-
MICHAEL LIO IS PRESIDENT OF BUILDABILITY CORPORATION, MICHAEL@BUILDABILITY.CA
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while damage-causing moisture is brought under control.
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Saugeen First Nation
FORM DOES FOLLOW FUNCTION WITH LOW-ENERGY BUILDINGS
About a half hour west of Owen Sound, in an idyllic setting on
the shores of Lake Huron, is not where you would expect to find
some of the most advanced low-rise green building in Canada.
Eight low-income rental townhouses were constructed on the
Saugeen First Nation Reserve by the band’s building agency.
From lofty goals a set of practical objectives and execution has
resulted in success at Saugeen First Nation. The goal of the
most efficient housing form using the least amount of materials
for roughly 24 residents was realized. The 8-plex shares walls
and reduces exposed exterior walls by over 25%.
On the coldest day of the year, polar vortex aside, 9600 sq. ft. of
living space only requires 62,570 BTUs/hr to maintain an interior
temperature of 72° F. Homes a third of the size built to current
codes would exceed this demand for only 2 or 3 people.
This row townhouse housing form also allows for maximized
exposed roof area for solar electric, solar air and hot water
energy generation. Just recently under the Ontario Power
Authority Feed-in Tariff program (OPA FIT), the development
installed 10 kW of solar photovoltaic panels (PV). At 54.9 cents
per kWh, the income of $7500 from selling the electricity
generated by the solar PV will cover the electric heating
costs of $6694 (calculated at a cost of 12 cents per kWh).
Currently, Saugeen is undertaking occupant education as plug
loads are exceeding space and hot water heating costs are
estimated at $6927.
Chief Randall Kahgee Jr. said the band wanted to take a leadership position on green building, not just within the on-reserve
housing community, but with conventional off-reserve homes. They also had much broader goals than building green. “We are
not just building houses here. We are creating jobs through our Youth Employment and Training Centre, and we are producing
healthy, affordable homes for families to live in,” Kahgee explained.
The key to the project’s conservation claims is its building envelope. With triple-paned windows, insulated concrete-form
foundation walls, near R50 above-grade walls, straightforward design, no thermal bridging and extreme air tightness, the
buildings are reminiscent of German passive houses. The
walls are made with 11” studs, basically a 2x6 joined to
a 2x3, but separated by 3” of rigid insulation, providing a
nonengineered stick-framed wall with an 11” cavity on 24”
Housing director Ron Root chose to upgrade to two layers
of R22 Roxul batts in the 24”-wide cavities and sheath
the building with insulated wallboard. “This is an affordable
housing project and we are building on a very tight budget,
but Roxul, Uponor, VanEE, Enerworks and SolarSheet
all stepped up to make sure we were able to build these
LEN HAR T
INSTALLATION OF PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS ON THE ROOF – 10 KW REQUIRED FOR NET ZERO
EXPANDED WALL CAVITY R-45 +WALL PROVIDES THERMAL BREAK, INCREASED LEVELS OF INSULATION,
ALLOWS INSTALLATION OF SERVICES WITHOUT CREATING AIR VOIDS IN INSULATION
homes with the industry’s most advanced materials,” Root said.
The band’s building crews are R-2000 certified and have built
energy-efficient homes in the past, so were prepared to build to
high levels of air tightness and open to addressing thermal bridging
issues. Saugeen First Nation set up a mini-assembly plant for this
project. The studs were built by local workers on the reserve.
The project had some planning support from the Sustainable Housing
Foundation, who did an integrated design charette with all key trades
and players to redesign the HVAC system to deal with such low levels
of heat loss. The middle units had a designed heat loss of less than
7000 BTUs, so low that a typical furnace would be ridiculously
oversized. Additionally, the homes are off the natural gas grid, so the
heating fuel had to be propane, wood or electric. Electricity was the
most affordable and reliable heating solution, because of an innovative
method of off-peak storage that works in combination with solar panels.
With the support of Hydro One, CMHC, and Uponor, dense-looped
radiant tubing was added to the overpoured crawlspace slabs to
provide an off-peak thermal heat sink for the homes’ electric hot water
tanks to charge at night. Additionally, solar air panels were used to feed
warm air into the fully ducted heat recovery ventilator (HRV) system.
Project manager Derek Laronde, CEO of Aboriginal Building Construction
Services Inc., is looking to promote this kind of high-efficiency, healthy
home construction to other local governments and builders.
“We are dealing with families who often do not have much in the way
of disposable income, so whatever we can do to lower their utility
costs and improve their living conditions we need to consider, and
in this case we are also lowering their environmental footprint, and
providing them with homes that are among the most energy efficient
in the country,” Laronde said.
The homes have been officially rated, achieving an EnerGuide rating
of 86 on exterior and 87 on interior units. When solar PV panels are
added, it is likely these homes will be near net zero.
Introducing Amdry, the only insulated
LENARD HART IS THE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR AT GREENSAVER A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ENVIRONMENTAL
ORGANIZATION FOCUSED ON RESIDENTIAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS. HE WAS
ONE OF THE DEVELOPERS OF THE ENERGY STAR FOR NEW HOMES PROGRAM IN ONTARIO AND THE FORMER
PUBLISHING EDITOR OF SUSTAINABLE BUILDER MAGAZINE.
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Nestled within the rolling hills and green
pastures of Caledon Township just
northwest of Toronto is a small farm
known as Whole Village. Built upon the
principles of creating a community with
a commitment to sustainability and land
stewardship, Whole Village is a great
example of alternative living and sustainable building practices.
It all started over 20 years ago, when a group of parents
and supporters of the Waldorf School in Toronto began
discussing a plan to buy a piece of rural land outside the
city – a place where they could develop their vision of
organic farming and sustainable living. Over the next decade
obstacles arose that slowed the process, but by the early
2000s the group had found the perfect parcel of land. The
property included a four-bedroom brick farmhouse with
multiple additions, a large 1800s barn, a steel chicken
barn, a tractor barn and a small garage.
Despite some early local resistance the 200-acre property
was purchased in 2002. Two years later the main living
complex was completed. Known today as Greenhaven,
the 1-storey building covers over 15,000 sq. ft. and has 11
individual units of varying size, from 1 to 3 bedrooms. The
common areas (kitchen, dining, living room and recreation
area) are the bulk of the building with each individual living
quarter spread around the building’s perimeter. Residents
have the luxury of socializing, eating, cooking and cleaning
together, but also the option to retreat to their unit for peace
“My quality of life has definitely improved,” said Mairy Beam,
who moved from Toronto in 2002. “I like being embedded in
community. We have a shared vision, we are all environmentally
conscious and working to live together in harmony.”
Dubbed “a farmhouse for the 21st century” by its architect
Denis Bowman, Greenhaven incorporates many facets of
sustainability in its design.
The building is 1 level, set on a 20cm-thick structural thermal
floating slab with a perimeter grade beam of concrete as
its foundation. The walls were built using structural insulated
panels and have an insulation value of R40. Passive
solar lighting and heating through large bay windows and
skylights provide the majority of ambient light and heat.
Additional heating and cooling is supplied by electrically
powered ground source geothermal heat pumps, which
take heat or cold (depending on the season) from the ground
and feed it to the in-floor hydronic radiating system. The main
living room also has a masonry heater fireplace that disperses
heat throughout the common areas and corridors for about 12
hours per bushel of wood. Ventilation is supplied by a Life-
breath HRV (heat recovery ventilator) that operates at 1,200
cu. ft. per minute.
High efficiency appliances as well as low flow toilets can
be found in the complex, which empty into septic beds
and a biological wastewater treatment system that uses
engineered wetlands. Nontoxic paints were used on interior
and exterior walls.
Just recently a solar hot water heating system was integrated,
which takes water from the well and heats and collects it
for everyday use. The system consists of 10 collectors,
one 600-gal. unpressurized tank, one 120-gal. pressurized
tank with an electric element and two 120-gal. pressurized
tanks with no electric element. The solar energy heats the
120-gal. pressurized tank with the electric element. A pump
Exploring Alternative Housing
Forms -Whole Village
IT TAKES PEOPLE TO BUILD A COMMUNITY
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
then circulates this heat to the other two 120-gal. tanks. The
600-gal. storage tank is used as a heat dump and to preheat
the water from the well, dispersing the heat from the solar
collectors at lower temperatures.
Organic farming is another important aspect of Whole Village.
They produce a large amount of organic vegetables, a
percentage of which is doled out amongst members while
the rest is taken to market and sold. There are a dozen or so
chickens that produce eggs for both members and the market
that roost in the big colonial barn.
For Brenda Dolling, a member since 2001, Whole Village
offered her the opportunity to live a much more sustainable
lifestyle removed from the urban sprawl that saw her rural
home encroached upon “I finally feel like I am ‘walking the
talk,’ ” she said. “I spend time growing and sharing food, I get
lots of exercise working on the farm. I am learning so much
about farming, preserving and community development.” Her
enthusiasm for community and green living is shared by all
members of Whole Village, who hope the example they have
set will inspire and encourage others to find ways to live their
lives in harmony with one another and the natural world.
For more information about Whole Village, volunteer
opportunities, membership and educational programs, you
can find them on the web at wholevillage.org
AARON HAS BEEN A FREELANCE WRITER/JOURNALIST FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS. HE HAS
WORKED FOR SEVERAL COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS INCLUDING THE EAST YORK OBSERVER
17ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
rhvca.com | email@example.com | 905-264-9967
Don’t leave the health of your home’s
most valuable asset to chance. Trust only
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North Star Homes
A Shining Star in Markham
BY ALEX NEWMAN
To date, one of the largest LEED for homes certification projects in Ontario is located
in our back yard - in Markham's Old Kennedy Rd. area. Developed and built by North
Star Homes, and certified by Clearsphere, the project of 78 stacked luxury townhouses
is currently sold out.
The journey for North Star Homes, which recently received an award from the local
chapter of Canada Green Building Council, which runs the LEED for homes program,
began in 2006 when they purchased the site.
HAZEL FARLEY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CANADA GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL PRESENTS
THE LEED CERTIFICATE TO NORTH STAR REPRESENTATIVES TONI PRIORI AND PHIL CALVANO
17ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
Two challenges faced them as they prepared the site, which lies north of Steeles Ave. on Old Kennedy Rd. – complying
with the city’s secondary plan required medium density on the site as well as a mixed commercial-residential use component,
and a requirement to build to LEED silver.
If a developer wants to increase a site’s density, they must build to LEED silver. And since most project sites in Markham are
in designated low-density areas, it’s pretty much a given that new developments must build to that LEED specification.
The requirement isn’t an arbitrary one, says senior urban planner Marina Haufschild. It’s because of increased pressure on
available land, and specifically on the sewage capacity limitations in York Region, which are currently being upgraded.
North Star didn’t view the LEED requirement as a challenge, but rather as an opportunity to continue with green initiatives
it started some years ago. The company began in 1990, but its president Frank Dodaro has been building mostly low-rise
homes since the 1970s.
“The company has always promoted sustainable building practices,” says marketing manager Phil Calvano. “The timing is
now right for builders to improve their green energy practices. Not only is the buying public aware of, and willing to embrace
energy efficiency, but costs are at their lowest yet. That’s partly because of low interest rates, and partly because the
demand for green technology has increased supply. But it’s also that the technology has improved so significantly that it’s
possible to build even higher levels of energy efficiency into a project for less cost.”
And while buyers want to do the right thing for energy efficiency, “They also don’t want to spend huge amounts of money,
so it’s up to the developer to build in energy efficiency from the outset,” Calvano says. “Although energy efficiency costs a
little more for a whole project, the cost spread out over all the units is such a slight price increase that it’s not noticed.”
During the sales process customers are educated about the sustainable features, “putting them at ease that they’re buying a
good quality, energy-efficient home,” Calvano adds.
Improved green technology and its lower costs have also made it easier for builders to go green. John Beresford,
STACKED UNITS AND PRIVATE ENTRANCES INCREASE DENSITY
WHILE ALLOWING FOR EASY ACCESS BY OCCUPANTS
architect for the Pacific Villas project, points out, “The
availability of very efficient heating and cooling systems,
modern building materials and products, and more care in
construction [makes] it not difficult to achieve this standard.
Conventional exterior materials (brick, stone) and exterior
design are not affected at this level of energy efficiency for
residential construction. You can still have pretty and pretty
Recent Ontario Building Code (OBC) changes have increased
standards on green building, he adds. “Most of the energy
efficiency achieved is through building envelope technology,
building material and product improvements, efficient interior
climate control and energy-efficient appliances. It would
be challenging to go beyond the current requirements and
methods of measuring energy efficiency in single buildings to
an application of energy efficiency in communities with net
Years ago buyers didn’t understand what any of this meant,
Calvano says, “but they’ve become so much more educated
as to what goes on in their homes.”
Working with a certified energy advisor – Clearsphere
president John Godden – North Star mostly targeted
mechanical elements in their LEED list. As construction got
underway items were added or dropped as they became
more feasible or not, says North Star’s project manager
Although the company has long practised sustainable
building methods – waste diversion of construction
materials, soil erosion controls, recycling construction
materials, advanced framing and water conversion – Pacific
Villa’s list is even more rigorous:
• Insulation: roof R50, walls R24, basement wall R20 and
exposed floors R31
• Ice and water shield (6 feet) from edge of eaves,
30-gauge steel at all valleys and rubber flashing at all
• Complete air barrier between attic and conditioned
space, and all penetrations sealed
• Energy-efficient windows and doors
• Pest management control features
• Low-flow water consumption plumbing fixtures
• Drain-water heat recovery pipe with insulation
• Individually controlled AIRMAX high-velocity fan coil
unit with electronically commutated motor (ECM) and
measured efficiency reporting value (MERV) 10 filter,
integrated with EnviroSense gas-fired hot water heater
provides heating, cooling and domestic hot water at
• Energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to provide fresh air
with dehumidification control, with exhaust ducting to
all bathrooms. (While rare to have ERV connected to
bathrooms, it eliminates the need for exhaust fans.)
• Testing to ensure capacity of the ERV system
• Install drain pans to capture leaks under water heaters
• Refrigerant type: R-410a (eco-friendly)
PRE DRYWALL INSPECTIONS BY GREEN RATERS ENSURE COMPARTMENTALIZATION THAT REDUCES AIR LEAKAGE, NOISE TRANSMISSION AND INCREASES FIRE SEPARATION BETWEEN UNITS
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
• Air seal and pressure test ductwork to minimize leakage
(performed on both the air distribution and ventilation
systems, and a high-velocity AIRMAX system)
• ENERGY STAR appliances
• ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs
• Surface water management system – final grade
tamped and sloped away from foundation
• Third-party energy modelling and air testing of each unit
• All units minimum of 10% better than code with a home
energy rating (HERS)
• Drought-tolerant plants and turf
Clearsphere tested each individual townhouse – as opposed to
the customary block test – and then demonstrated to the City
of Markham building department why it was better than code.
When it came to density issues on the site, Priori says they
were aware the site was in a medium-density zone, and had
stacked townhouses in mind pretty much from the beginning.
Land constraints since the province’s Greenbelt policy was
implemented in 2005 isn’t news – but it is a reality of doing
construction business in the GTA.
“With less land to build on and other constraints from MOE
(Ministry of the Environment), the conservation authorities and
so on, most available developable land … requires remediation
or engineered fill or other improvement,” Priori says. “Land
has become very expensive, so development feasibility
requires more density in our projects. Every other builder is
facing this trend in the GTA.”
That’s not to say there weren’t some challenges building that
kind of density on this size parcel of land (2.8 acres).. “Sound
and fire separations required by the building code make it
hard to achieve compliance from paper to reality,” Priori says.
For example, Godden explains it was challenging to pass air
tightness requirements without using spray foam insulation
– Roxul had to be used. In residential housing spray foam is
allowed, but in stacked towns it’s considered combustible.
Pacific Villas is a two-phase project, the first being the 78
stacked towns. The project’s second phase – condo units
above 44,000 sq. ft. of commercial ground-level space
– will have even more stringent land use. Because the
City of Markham’s secondary plan calls for a main street
design along Old Kennedy Rd., with a focus on mixed use,
commercial on the ground floor and residential above,
they will build condo apartments above a commercial
“It’s quite innovative in this site,” says urban planner Haufschild,
“because this is not typical for Markham.”
When the city re-examined its official plan and looked at ranges
of housing – including an affordable component – one focus
was along the Old Kennedy Rd. frontage, Haufschild says.
“[Creating mixed use commercial-residential ] in our view is a
sustainable development in that it provides commercial close to
where people live, plus high walkability with the walking options
to get to the park.”
The project is also within walking distance to Pacific Mall,
a variety of neighbourhood amenities such as schools,
community centre and parks, as well as the GO Train station.
ALEX NEWMAN IS A WRITER, EDITOR AND RESEARCHER
IDP a Key to
One of the most important components of
LEED is the integrated design process (IDP).
This process assures that plans and designs
are executed and that systems perform as
intended. More than four years ago, North
Star’s Cottonlane project in Markham was on
the drawing board. Since then, there have
been two code changes and the Canadian
version of LEED for homes came into play,
circa 2009. Due to proactive planning, the mechanical designs did not have to change. More importantly, the integrated design
process; working with the architect, mechanical design, builder and HVAC contractor has allowed the homeowner to get a
system that is both efficient and works. Proper sizing of equipment, duct-work, and envelope optimization means that the
system delivers when it is commissioned. Most residential
systems are not balanced properly and leak air. Therefore,
not surprisingly, these systems are not operating as designed.
Measurement is the key to the design process as a feedback
mechanism. A third party checking things via air balancing
equipment usually reveals deficiencies that can be used to
improve future designs and installations by subtrades.
Most current building code inspections are visual checks on
plans and do not reveal the true performance of these systems.
In past articles, attention has been drawn to this issue regarding
air barrier detailing and blower door tests. How airtight is a
house? Why not simply measure it, rather than have endless
debates about details and building science. Debates and
discussions don’t lead to concrete outcomes. The same is
true about HVAC systems. Let’s look under the hood and see
what the engine is really doing.
Unfortunately, the industry’s perception is that all this is too
time consuming and expensive. How can it pay for itself
when margins are so small for HVAC contractors?
LEED encourages integration by offering project merit
points to the builder for the certification of the home. In
the Cottonlane project in Markham, a total of 15 LEED
points were secured towards their LEED-Silver target, based
on integrating and measuring mechanical systems. Some of
these features, or components, are used by other green rating
systems like, Project FutureProof, BuiltGreen and Greenhouse.
They can be offered and packaged independently to support
the builder’s brand or the municipality’s own sustainability
AWARENESS AND EDUCATION SCORES LEED POINTS AND RESULTS IN HAPPY HOMEOWNERS
LEED POINTS FOR HVAC
EQ MEASURE COMMENT POINTS
No carbon monoxide 2
3.0 MOISTURE LOAD
ERV's reduced air
HRV/ERV Balanced with
4.3 THIRD PARTY
Occupant control/sensor 1
5.3 THIRD PARTY
(IE. Exhaust fan)
6.2 RETURN AIR FLOW Verify flows 1
Verify delivery and reduce
leakage to 20%
7.0 AIR FILTERATION
#10 filter or better 1
Cover vents during
8.3 PRE OCCUPANCY
distribution for off gasing
EA MEASURE COMMENT POINTS
No HCFC 1
TOTAL POINTS 15
City of Markham
Donia Aluminum & Roofing
Flanagan Beresford &
Roxul Canada Inc.
Strybos Barron King
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our hardworking trades
who have all made their own unique contribution to our success.
We couldn’t do it without you!
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
For more than two decades, Mike Labbe and Options
for Homes, the Toronto-based nonprofit organization
he founded, have been putting home ownership within
the grasp of thousands of low- to moderate-income
individuals and families.
Until the early 1990s Labbe used to work in the
nonprofit co-operative housing sector, which depended
on government subsidies. He saw the need to continue
with a similar model when the government cut funding
for those projects – and says the Options model could
go a long way to solving Ontario’s affordable housing
Labbe, the nephew of well-known author and social
activist June Callwood, started Options for Homes
in 1994. Since then, the organization and its affiliates
across Canada and abroad have provided ownership
opportunities to more than 3,700 households – without reliance on government funding. There are 8 to 10 Options affiliates
in Ontario, others in Montreal and Vancouver, and in 5 other countries internationally.
In the GTA, Options for Homes sells its condos for 35 to 40 per cent less than comparable units (or at $300 to $350 per sq.
ft.), and its Toronto-area builder partner is Deltera, the construction arm of Tridel. Options has completed 9 communities in
the GTA, providing homes to more than 2,500 people.
Options is able to sell its suites at substantially less cost because it takes a no-frills approach to development. It builds on
less expensive peripheral land, keeps marketing costs minimal by using flyers, a website, newsletters, word of mouth and
information meetings. It doesn’t build model suites, buy expensive advertising, or include costly condo amenities such as
fitness centres or swimming pools.
Options defers taking a profit until the homeowner’s unit is resold. That deferred profit accounts for about one-third of the
initial cost savings to the purchaser.
“We produce housing at a cost way below the norm and no matter what happens in the market, our condo values are more
secure,” says Labbe.
Labbe says Options for Homes pays market value for its land, and while sites can be expensive in certain Toronto
neighbourhoods, reasonably priced property can still be had. “Some of the cheapest land in Ontario is in Scarborough,” he
Buyers of the units form a co-operative housing corporation, and hire Options as the development consultant to provide
expertise to build the project. Each condo owner has clear title to their individual unit.
Options’ sister organization Home Ownership Alternatives (HOA), a nonprofit financial corporation, offers any buyer the
opportunity to take the Options Contribution (second mortgage), a loan offered to boost a downpayment by 13 per cent of
the purchase price of a suite. The buyer must qualify for the loan, but makes no payments until he or she rents out or sells
their suite. The loan appreciates by the same percentage as the resale value of the home and must be paid back in full. The
repaid loans go to create new cost-effective homes for other buyers.
Since its inception HOA has helped numerous families purchase homes. It began in 1998 when Options for Homes completed
Options for Homes
CREATING MORE AFFORDABLE HOMES
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the 95-unit St. Lawrence Co-operative in the Distillery District and HOA financed second mortgages for the development.
Since then, HOA has supported 11 developments (2,350-plus units) in the Greater Toronto Area and Kitchener-Waterloo
regions. In 3 recent projects, 75 per cent of homebuyers had annual incomes below $60,000.
New Canadians form a significant portion of Options’ buyers.
“The immigrant group is our most important client group,” says Labbe. “They are working two to three jobs and will do
almost anything to get into a home.”
Options’ buildings are built to the same standards and with the same quality as other Tridel condominiums, even though
they are substantially lower priced.
Take for instance Cranbrooke Village in the Bathurst/Lawrence neighbourhood, where prices for one-bedroom suites started
at less than $200,000. Only a few units remain and buyers have just started moving in. The sleek glass tower with large
balconies is well served by public transit, and within walking distance to grocery stores, restaurants, shopping and banks.
It has a rooftop garden, multipurpose room with kitchen, lounge, library and boardroom, and has a car sharing program.
Options’ other current Toronto projects include the Village by Main Station and Danforth Village Estates. Suite prices at
both developments start at about $150,000.
Options for Homes has incorporated leading green technologies in its buildings since 2006, including solar hot water
heating, heat recovery ventilators and timed lighting in underground parking areas that help save on homeowner energy
Labbe believes getting those who wouldn't normally be able to afford a home off the rental treadmill is key to easing the
need for affordable housing. Currently, the average wait time for rent-geared-to-income housing in Toronto is five years
and close to ten years in Peel Region.
By using the nonprofit Options model to oversee the development process, surplus profits could be reinvested to address
not only housing issues, but larger social issues as well, according to Labbe.
“Toronto needs a large-scale permanent housing solution to deal with its increasing population,” he notes.
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Housing development generates $25,000 to $40,000
surplus per unit, says Labbe. Nonprofit organizations
could generate 5,000 homes per year in Toronto by
using the Options model. Labbe says government
controls about 150,000 units worth of land in Toronto
that could be used to create more affordable housing.
“A portion of that land is all that is needed to
generate $125 to $200 million a year to begin
addressing the housing needs in the city,” says
Labbe. “The impediment is directing a portion of
the land exclusively to nonprofits and waiting a
year and a half to close on the land.”
Ownership housing is more cost efficient than
building rental housing, he points out. “Certain
capital costs are less and operating costs are less
than in an ownership building. People take more
responsibility for their own units and taxes are less.”
For example, in rental buildings landlords must pay
for repainting and repairs to units when tenants
move out – not the case in ownership buildings.
Labbe says ownership housing provides a reward for
honesty and penalizes dishonesty, while the opposite
is true for social housing. To qualify for mortgages
or the Options Contribution downpayment help, it is
in Options’ clients’ best interest to show their actual
income, while with social rental housing there’s the
temptation for people to understate their income to
get a lower rent, he points out. And ownership allows
those with even modest incomes to gain wealth by
The Options model could be used to allow 50 per
cent of Toronto Community Housing tenants to
become homeowners, he says. “Home ownership
offers pride and security that elevates people to a
different level in society, and therefore changes the
nature of Toronto.
“We could do 20,000 units a year if people would
give us support – right now, we barely do 1,000
– and could generate $500 million in mortgage
proceeds,” he says. “But we don’t have any policy
support in Toronto.”
Labbe says Options receives more support outside
Canada’s borders and has established an affiliate in
Cameroon, Africa and is working to implement its
model in Bangladesh, Peru, Colombia and Kenya.
TRACY HANES IS A FREELANCE FEATURE WRITER FOR THE LARGEST DAILY
NEWSPAPER IN CANADA AND SEVERAL MAGAZINES. WWW.TRACYHANES.CA
25ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
BUILDER NEWS BUILDER NEWS
The Sustainable Housing Foundation’s annual Builder/
Manufacturer dinner on January 28, 2014 was an industry
success, bringing together some of Ontario’s best product
manufacturers with some of the city’s most prominent builders.
During the reception, guests had a chance to examine the
manufacturers’ booths while speaking with representatives
about their impressive product lines – and some of the great
prizes to be won during the night.
Presentations from Doug Tarry on right-sized furnaces, John
Bell on Project FutureProof and John Godden on the changing
EnerGuide rating system provided some food for thought during
the evening’s dinner.
Amy Burke, sustainable development co-ordinator for the
Municipality of Clarington, spoke to the attendees about the
future of growth and the official plan. At the core of all these
presentations was the emphasis on efficient design and
better building practices. Whether it is LEED, ENERGY STAR
or the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), people and rating
systems are evolving, while the expectations for builders and
their products are becoming more demanding. But industry
professionals are out there, many of whom were at the dinner,
discussing experiences with furnaces, house wraps, rating
systems, old and new government programs, and innovative
THE EVENT WAS WELL ATTENDED BY BUILDERS, MANUFACTURES AND MUNICIPAL REPRESENTATIVES
JORDAN LANE IS A LEED & PROJECT FUTURE PROOF COORDINATOR AT CLEARSPHERE
JOHN GODDEN AND JOHN BELL ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SHF - JOVIAL MC’S OF THE EVENT
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projects such as George Brown College/Evergreen Brick’s Applied Research Green Innovation Lab Experience (ARGILE).
Tony Priori and Phil Calvano of North Star Homes were on hand to receive recognition for LEED Silver Certification on 78
townhomes as part of the Cotton Lane development. To date this has been the largest LEED for homes project in Canada.
Hazel Farley, executive director of the Canada Green Building Council, Greater Toronto Chapter, joined us to help present
North Star Homes with recognition of their achievement.
With a chance to meet industry associates, learn about the newest products and potential projects, I am sure we will see
more Builder/Manufacturer dinners from the Sustainable Housing Foundation in the future.
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
LENARD HART ENGAGES PARTICIPANTS OF THE SHF EVENT GLEN PLEASANCE AND AMY BURKE OF PRIORITY GREEN WITH JOHN GODDEN
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I love wood. I love the smell of it on the jobsite. I love watching a house being framed. I love the strength, durability and
environmental sustainability of using wood. So I have been following the conversation about six-storey wood frame
construction with great interest.
Over the past year I had the privilege of serving former OHBA president Leith Moore as his past president. And Leith was
very interested in the progress of six-storey wood frame construction, which was one of my files. Every time I saw him, Leith
asked for an update. I would explain the progress to date, but that it was still not in the Ontario Building Code. I felt progress,
while slow, was progress. Not Leith, who kept reminding me, “They have it in B.C. We need it! Get it done!” I think Leith gave
me a bit too much credit for my abilities to do so, but I completely agreed with him that the need for six-storey wood is both
real and urgent.
The good news is six-storey wood is coming. The National Research Council study is nearing completion (they are conducting
burn and code research tests for the model National Building Code of Canada). The Ontario government is financially
contributing to this research. This should enable six-storey wood frame buildings to be included in the 2015 model National
OHBA has been actively working on this file as noted from a recent OHBA technical committee update. “OHBA is advocating
for the provincial government to amend the Ontario Building Code to allow wood frame buildings to be constructed to a
maximum of six storeys to provide more design options for developers while realizing cost savings for new home construction
The changes to the Ontario Building Code would be similar to changes made to the British Columbia Building Code in 2009,
which had an immediate impact on the local economy. With B.C. as a case study, Ontario can expect increased job creation
and tax revenue from the addition of new residences, more affordable options for new homebuyers, and a minimized carbon
footprint in the construction of these buildings.
When I first started working on this
file, I really thought of six-storey wood
frame construction as being some-
thing that would work well in larger
municipalities, particularly in older
established neighbourhoods, where
high-rise construction would not blend
with the existing neighbourhood. I
didn’t originally see it as applying to
small town Ontario.
But the more I learned, the more I
came to realize the opportunity for
small town Ontario might be more
significant than in larger centres.
ishigh-rise buildings, but a 30-, 40- or
50-unit cost-effective wood frame struc-
ture could have wide-ranging appeal.
We are so excited about the possibilities
that we are now in the process
Is Wood Good? You Bet!
SIX-STOREY WOOD IS COMING TO ONTARIO
DOUG TARRY OUTLINING THE 2017 CODE AND RIGHT SIZING AT THE SHF EVENT
ISSUE 09 | SPRING 2014
MaRtinoHeating • air Conditioning • indoor air Quality • HVaC Design
developing our own mid-rise project for St. Thomas. It has been quite a journey of discovery so far. We’ve attended
seminars and webinars, presentations and code meetings all to better prepare ourselves to bring this project to market.
One of the most interesting concepts is panelization. Recently, I had the opportunity, along with my brother Bill and
our lead designer Sandy Lale, to watch the roof being installed at the Great Gulf building HOT in Mississauga. It was
amazing to see the crane lifting section after section with finishers setting them in place. I later found out the building
was being constructed at about a floor per week. This ability to quickly create the structure of the building is one of the
greatest benefits for wood frame construction. Another key benefit is the quality control aspects of building in a factory
setting where every step is monitored.
Our next major challenge has been finding engineering and architectural firms in our area qualified in wood frame design.
Many architects would not even return our calls. But we finally did find an architect and an engineer who have years of
experience. So it looks like our plans are finally coming into place.
From my perspective, it has been an amazing journey so far and I am really looking forward to bringing this product to
market. If you are looking for more information on getting started on a mid-rise wood project, a great resource is the
Canadian Wood Council.
DOUG TARRY JR., IS THE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AT DOUG TARRY HOMES IN ST. THOMAS , ONTARIO.
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
It’s fitting that this edition is dedicated to future proofing. This is a concept that
I have been discussing and designing into my homes for many years. Why? Be-
cause I believe that rising energy costs over the next generation will continue
to make energy efficiency a greater priority for our consumers. As an industry,
we continue to build ever more energy efficient homes. However, there is one
major challenge that we face: our customers!
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all of my customers and I hope to build
for many more. It’s just that today’s consumer is much more demanding than
even a few years ago. They want longer showers with multiple showerheads
just like they see on the TV shows; they want their home to be uniformly cool
all summer, even with that big bank of windows facing the sun. The expecta-
tion of performance is that their utility bill will go down, or at least not change,
even though they continue to use their personal car wash (that’s what I call the
full body wash shower) and run that AC right through the day.
At some point in our customers’ future their thoughts will change from conserva-
tion to generation. That’s where future proofing comes in. So I thought I’d share
my insights on Solar Ready, the ultimate future proofing for the homes we build.
In 2007, Doug Tarry Homes was contracted by Natural Resources Canada to conduct the Solar Ready pilot project.
This included writing the first Solar Ready technical specifications. Since 2007, we have
continued to build all of our homes with Solar Ready design as a standard feature. In that time we have also installed
several solar thermal water heating systems. In October 2012, NRCan published the revised Solar Ready Specifica-
So here’s the good news. Solar Ready is fairly easy and inexpensive to include in a home provided you put some
thought into it during the design process. OK, so two storey homes can be a bit harder because of the popularity of
open concept main floors even on two storey homes. It has been our experience that it costs an additional $350-$450
per home for the Solar Ready rough in.
SO WHAT IS A SOLAR READY HOME?
There are two key components. First, space on the roof at a viable solar angle, and second, a conduit from mechanical
room to accessible attic space. Roof orientation for solar installations is considered viable from Southeast around to
West for solar thermal systems. South is most efficient for Photo Voltaic systems. Here are some important points to
• The solar conduit needs to run from the mechanical room to the attic. I prefer to install two – 2” conduits, rather than one
4”. If you ever have to bend the conduit slightly, there is no give in the 4”. Also the 4” requires a 2x6 wall which
may not be otherwise necessary for the home.
• It is important to avoid plumbing or mechanical runs in the dedicated location of the conduit, or it may be almost im-
possible to find later on. Whatever conduit type you choose, it is important that they be capped at both the top
and bottom, otherwise you can have a condensation loop into your attic as well as a fire chase. I don’t trust tape
as the glue will diminish over time.
• Location of the future solar hot water tank should be shown on the basement plan so that the appropriate amount of
space is available. It is also good practice to show the roof elevation that the panels are intended to be installed
on, so that there is appropriate space available.
• It is not a requirement, but it is a rec-
ommended best practice that
the trusses intended to carry
the solar panels be designed
and built with an additional 5
lb. dead load to account for the
• Installation of panels should not be
directly into the top chord of the
truss. Rather it is better practice
to attach scab lumber to the
side of the top chord and attach
into the scab.
• The existing Domestic Hot Water
Heater needs to have plumbing
valves and “T”s installed and
an electrical outlet needs to be
located beside the unit. This is
to permit quick connection at
the time of installation.
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