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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 11 / Fall 2014

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

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 11 / Fall 2014

  1. 1. 1 BETTER BuilderMAGAZINE the builder’s source ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA The Healthy House Issue Good Health Starts at Home Some Lessons Learned Building Healthy To Have an HRV or Not Living in the Clear Daylight and Air Quality Become Standard Tighter Homes with More Insulation – Where Did the Water Go? Publicationnumber42408014 IN THIS ISSUE
  2. 2. 2 ISSUE 10 | SUMMER 2014 A b r e a t h o f f r e s h a i r . MAX SERVICE All mechanical and electrical components are accessible from the front of the unit. Heating coil and fan/motor slide out for easy service. One of the most extensive warranties in the business:1-year parts & labour,2-years on parts only,where applicable. MAX COMFORT 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. FLEXAIRTM DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM MAX FLEXIBILITY 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 connections. 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. 1-800-453-6669 905-951-0022519-578-5560613-966-5643 416-213-1555 877-254-4729905-264-1414 For distribution of Air Max Technologies products call www.airmaxtechnologies.com209 Citation Drive, Units 5&6, Concord, ON L4K 2Y8, Canada Airmax ad with Prioritizing AMT 12430 AD FPG 09_HR.pdf 1 2013-04-18 8:46 AM
  3. 3. FEATURE STORY 16 People Like Us: Some Lessons Learned Building Healthy BY HILTON TUDHOPE 18 +House: Sustainability and Contemporary LEED Gold-Targeted Home BY DALJIT BASAN INSIDE THIS ISSUE 02 Publisher’s Note: Thinking Inside the Box BY JOHN GODDEN 03 The Bada Test: To Have an HRV or Not BY LOU BADA 04 Industry News: Engaging Sustainable Communities: Driving the Future of Homeowner Engagement BY ALEX NEWMAN 06 Industry Expert: Five Key Elements of Healthy Homes BY GORD COOKE 08 Builder News: Living in the Clear BY ALEX NEWMAN 13 Industry News: New Research for Healthier Homes BY MICHAEL LIO 22 David Kelly Receives Dow Pinnacle Award for Selling Excellence BY THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY 24 Builder News: Follow the Leader: Daylight and Great Air Quality Become Standard in Subdivision Housing BY ALEX NEWMAN 27 From the Ground Up: Tighter Homes, More Insulation, Less Energy, but Where Did the Water Go? BY DOUG TARRY 31 Builder News: for High Performance and Healthy Housing BY BROOKFIELD RESIDENTIAL AND BETTER BUILDER BETTER BuilderMAGAZINE the builder’s source 1 20 ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 25 13 Cover: Hilton Tudhope PHOTO:WWW.DESIGNPICS.COMPHOTO©FOTOGRAFTORBENESKEROD
  4. 4. 2 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 Publisher Better Builder Magazine 12 Rowley Avenue Toronto, ON M4P 2S8 416-481-4218 fax 416-481-4695 Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of Publishing editor John B. Godden managing editor Wendy Shami To advertise, contribute a story, or join our distribution list, please contact Feature Writers Tracy Hanes, Alex Newman ProoFreading Janet Dimond creative Robert Robotham Graphics This magazine brings together premium product manufacturers and leading builders to create better, differentiated homes and buildings that use less energy, save water and reduce our impact on the environment. Publication number 42408014 Copyright by Better Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the authors and assumed to be original work. Better Builder Magazine cannot be held liable for any damage as a result of publishing such works. trademark disclaimer All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. undeliverable mail Better Builder Magazine 12 Rowley Avenue, Toronto, ON M4P 2S8. Better Builder Magazine is published four times a year. C anada Mortgage and Housing Corpo- ration (CMHC) recognizes builders for constructing healthier homes in Canada. To receive this honour builders must embrace five principles – occupant health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environ- mental responsibility and affordability. I am pleased to tell you that I received this recogni- tion in 1997 as I incorporated these five prin- ciples into every custom home I was involved in building. The interplay between occupant health/ safety and affordability has been a discussion in residential housing for almost 30 years. The central issue is that a healthy, more durable box (house) costs more money to build. The very chemi- cals that make building materials inexpensive, and quick to market, contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that adversely affect hu- man health. So what’s the answer? It has been my experience that the more educated both builders and homebuyers are about the building materials used in construction, the more empowered both parties are to choose materials that assure both occupant health and environmental sustainability. It is the educated selection of building materials and mechanical systems that results in a win-win situation. The builder can still turn a profit and the homeowner receives the value they are paying for. Brookfield Homes is a great example of a builder that has embraced the healthy home approach to building. In this issue we have included an article regarding Brookfield Homes receiving the CMHC recognition at their LEED Gold-certified model home in Niagara. Brookfield has successfully sold homebuyers on healthy home features and upgrades through education, allowing the homebuyer the full understanding of the ben- efits they are paying for. In this issue Lou Bada explores the why of cost in his article “To Have an HRV or Not.” His company has decided to balance efficien- cy and occupant health by building Package J for building permits. Michael Lio reminds us of the growing concern about radon in housing and that a closer investigation is required. Key to the discussion of healthy homes is not only who builds them, but how they are designed. The two homes featured in this issue, +House and the Active House, were both designed by superkül architects. superkül is pushing the boundaries of the definition of green and sustainable homes. Their work with private clients and builders like Great Gulf help us all rethink what is healthy, durable and affordable. Alex Newman gives us two perspectives on healthy building in this issue. The first is of Great Gulf in her article on benefits and building strategy behind the Active House. The second is of a homeowner in her article about a couple who has experienced the ben- efits of living in a healthy home for years. Gord Cooke has practical advice on how builders can plan and integrate healthy hous- ing into their programs. Doug Tarry raises key questions about moisture management in our current building practices. As houses become more airtight and in- sulated, the clear way to proceed is to think, design and build both inside and outside the box. Hopefully this issue opens up that pos- sibility for you. BB Thinking Inside the Box publisher’snote By J oh n G o dden 2 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 The very chemicals that make building materials inexpensive, and quick to market, contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that adversely affect human health.
  5. 5. 3WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 T o paraphrase Os- car Wilde: A cynic is a man [person] who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Despite my last column, for which I’ve received much- appreciated and varied feedback, I believe most new homebuilders are not cynical. The decision- making process for me has always considered value rather than cost. What you pay and what you receive in exchange rather than focusing on what something costs. The very first question that needs to be asked, before you get to what and how and how much, is Why? Indoor air qual- ity (IAQ) is one of the most important compo- nents of any building, especially a residential building. “Build it tight and ventilate it right” is one of the first principles of energy-efficient housing. Moisture control is also important for building durability – an often overlooked com- ponent of sustainable housing. In an earlier article, I alluded to the decision-making process around insu- lated exterior sheathing and our deci- sion to embrace Package J for SB-12 compliance. I believe I also stated that Package J was not the least expensive method of construction. One of the more costly components of Package J is a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). The cost per unit is +/- $1,000. For an average-sized subdivision of 200 detached homes, this cost for a single building component is very significant. This is something that could have been omitted with a different compliance package (A to D, K, L or M). So, why do it? Value. Although homes can be ventilated through a principal fan, we know our custom- ers rarely run them adequately. HRVs [and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) more so] are great pieces of equipment and provide a healthier in- door environment for our homeown- ers. Granted they must be cleaned and maintained regularly, but they also provide heat recovery and energy savings. Blowing expensive conditioned air out through a vent or window nev- er made sense to me. Living in a home with poor air quality makes even less sense. Control systems for HRVs also provide for relative hu- midity control, and as such can reduce customer calls to our office regarding window condensation in cold weather. I understand that some exhaust fan suppliers are integrating new technologies to make exhaust fans more HRV-like. Although I currently have no firsthand experience with these products, I welcome the in- novation and if I see the value, may use them. It is true that some things cannot have a price assigned to them. Their value is just too great. Our health is obviously one of them. Adoption of good technologies, at a cost, pro- motes their evolution into a better product. It eventually drives costs down through competition and econ- omies of scale. It inspires competing products to innovate and get better. The result is very much win-win. HRVs were not mandated by SB-12, but through some flexibility, allowed to builders in choosing a builder option package, were facilitated by crafting some good government regu- lation. No cynicism here. BB Lou Bada is construction & contracts manager for Starlane Homes. To Have an HRV or Not thebadatest By L ou Ba da PHOTO:WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM(SKUNK) If a house is not properly ventilated, its air quality will suffer.
  6. 6. WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 20144 A t the day-long Engaging Sustain- able Communities event held in Toronto on June 26, a diverse roster of speakers delivered a con- sistent message. Because being green is not top of mind for homeowners, the way to create sustainable housing and communities is for builders, govern- ment, banks and academics to collaborate. As keynote speaker for the event, Ronn Stevenson said achieving col- laboration would require a change of thinking. “So many of us work on the same thing, have the same ideas, but because we work in silos we are not aware of each other. Amazing things could be accomplished if only groups could get connected.” The answer, Stevenson believes, lies in accessible knowledge maps that would enable groups to see who is working on what. Not only would this avoid reinventing the wheel, but it makes collaboration a realizable goal. When he attends meetings around the city, he’s amazed at how easily ties could be made if only each group and organization knew what the others were up to. He cited a few examples. Recently, a large unused west end lot was able to realize its potential once interested neighbourhood parties were brought together. Research and neighbour- hood studies conducted two decades ago about the Woodbine Racetrack redevelopment is valuable info that could be used now to great benefit for groups working in the area. But it’s also necessary to have a “champion” to drive info and groups forward to realize their goals, Ste- venson adds. When Mary Pickering of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, for example, pushed for better ways to implement rebates in sustain- able energy programs, she paved the way for the City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan program (HELP). That program has made $10 mil- lion available through long-term loans for homeowners to make energy-efficient retrofits on existing homes. Attached to the property, and not the owner, the loan is passed on to the next homeowner. John Godden of Clearsphere noted this kind of program “is a powerful mechanism to finance improvements for people who have reached the lim- its of their lines of credit or mortgage lending.” Sonja Persram, president and CEO of Sustainable Alternatives Consult- ing, says loans like these (aka local improvement charges or LICs) are beneficial because they provide longer terms, more security, and lower rates that in turn encourage deeper green upgrades and greater improvements. She said these loans allow the munici- pality to achieve energy use reduc- tion, increase the quality of existing housing stock, create jobs and protect homeowners from future energy poverty. Encouraging people to apply for up to 5 per cent of their home’s current value, HELP aims to reach a thousand homes. Phase one was launched in the Beaches, Riverdale and South Scarbor- ough, with expectations of rolling out a second phase in soon-to-be-deter- mined additional neighbourhoods. To avoid getting snarled in com- plicated procedure, the City has kept things simple with five easy steps: prequalification, home energy as- sessment and fund request, property owner agreement, complete the im- provements, repay- ment. The aim is to reduce energy con- sumption by 25 per cent. The hard part, says Godden, is pounding the pave- ment to get individual homeowners to “buy in.” Godden sees a role for business – and banks – to play since government doesn’t have the resources to con- tinue funding this. He recently worked with Scotiabank – and Enbridge – on retrofits for existing homes to garner a 25 per cent reduction in energy use, and then again on the EcoLiving Awards event. Engaging Sustainable Communities: Driving the Future of Homeowner Engagement industrynews By Al e x Ne w m a n Ronn Stevenson “Amazing things could be accomplished if only groups could get connected. ” PHOTO:WWW.SUSTAINABLEPOWERPLANTS.COM
  7. 7. 5WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 Government’s role, says Godden, would be better used for giving tax in- centives, because with programs and rebates the government is “really just giving us our own money back. What I’d prefer to see is giving tax breaks to people who spend money on their energy reduction.” For example, the Home Energy Rat- ing System (HERS) is another standard recognized by ANSI (American Na- tional Standards Institute) – and now by Enbridge and the Ontario Building Code (OBC). But Godden would like to see the LIC type of programs do the same. Godden also recognizes a need for greater general literacy about energy. “Homeowners, builders and renova- tors need to be better informed about what we’re trying to sell, which means more education and awareness of what the choices are.” Dr. Dan McGillivray, executive director of Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy, agrees that “energy literacy is a real challenge.” Recognizing the power in narrative storytelling, he is trying to get journalism students at Ryerson engaged in writing about it. McGillivray also sees other challenges – mainly in ex- pectations. We have rapid urban growth and an aging infrastructure. There’s also the disparity between rural and urban centres in supply of and demand for energy. For example in rural areas, there’s a rising supply and falling demand for power, meaning they will have a surplus of power in the future. However, in the city the demand for power is rising to the point of exceed- ing supply. Add in a consumer raised on a “culture of plenty [who] expects cheap, limitless, reliable power,” but is reluc- tant to put a generator in the backyard. McGillivray also sees an upcoming shortage of skilled workers in the sustainable field, and an even greater knowledge gap with the aging work- force. For every two people leaving the sustainability sector, he said, only one is coming in. The whole purpose of the event was to engage a variety of responses to sustainability and carry those into a meaningful dialogue in the public sphere. Many conversations were started that day. The hope is they will continue. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at “Homeowners, builders and renovators need to be better informed about what we’re trying to sell, which means more education and awareness of what the choices are. ”
  8. 8. 6 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 A t the Spring Training Camp, an advanced building science symposium our company co-hosted this April, I was reminisc- ing with two great builders, Stephen Tobey of Gordon Tobey Developments in eastern Ontario, and Vic Pongetti of Thomas Cochren Homes in south- western Ontario, about the Healthy Housing recognition sponsored by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corpo- ration (CMHC) since the early 1990s. Both companies were early recipients of the program’s recognition of build- ers and renovators having the knowl- edge and skills necessary to construct and renovate a healthier home in response to client needs. Many of the skills and principles of the Healthy Housing initiative have in subsequent years become either building code requirements or at least common practice for most professional build- ers. Let’s look at the five key elements identified by CMHC as characterizing a healthy home and you can score your skills and knowledge in each. The actual checklist can be found at heho/heho_003.cfm 1. Occupant Health: Healthy Hous- ing promotes superior quality of indoor air, water and lighting. The checklist for this element includes effective and efficient ven- tilation provided by a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV), a predominance of hard surface flooring and sealed combustion appliances. I suspect you would easily meet these requirements. Foundation moisture control is also on the list and this is nicely addressed by professional builders with drainage products. The checklist also requires use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) coatings, adhesives and seal- ants. These products too, although not necessarily code requirements, are now in common use. Work is still to be done on the requirements for solid wood or formaldehyde-free cabinets, subfloor and trim products, but they are widely available. Healthy Hous- ing reduces energy use for space and water heating, and appliances and lighting. With energy efficiency firmly engrained in Part 12 of the Ontario Building Code (OBC), most builders would get an A+ for the checklist items in this element. Always room for improvement, of course, as we head toward net-zero homes. Healthy building materials and reduces construction waste. Durability of building components is essential. Here, in my opinion and from my travels, is where work is needed, Five Key Elements of Healthy Homes industryexpert By G ord Cooke Top 10 Water Management Details Checklist: Done This Year 1–3 years 01. 02. 03. 04. Drainage gap behind all exterior claddings 05. 06. Capillary break between footings and foundation 07. Below-grade exterior drainage layer 08 09. ERV v. HRV for ventilation 10. Eavestroughs and downspouts
  9. 9. 7WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 both to the CMHC checklist and in building practices. The checklist speaks to simple items like set-back thermostats and efficient water fix- tures. However, that doesn’t address the “essential” durability objective. Remember that the number one thing that destroys buildings and building materials is moisture. Moreover, the very elements that make homes more efficient, like higher levels of insula- tion, reduce the drying potential of building assemblies. Having done dozens of indoor air quality audits under the CMHC Indoor Air Quality Investigators’ protocol (a protocol CMHC has inexplicably dropped from its information resources), I can confidently say builders need to reas- sess flashing details at windows and doors, roof to wall interfaces and at decks. Red tape, goops of foam and faced sealed caulking of exterior ele- ments don’t withstand the rigours of more complicated designs, reduced drying potential and the higher expectations of consumers. A full and comprehensive weather barrier should be the next action item for every professional builder. Recent ex- periences across the U.S. and Canada indicate it can take 5 to10 years for exterior moisture issues to show up and none of us need that risk hang- ing over us. Especially since proper water management details represent less than 1 per cent of total con- struction costs, while water damage represents 80 per cent of construc- tion defects and litigation. On this specific issue I highly recommend readers check out the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS construction specifications. They have a great air quality check- list that highlights comprehensive and cost-effective water management details. It can be found at www.epa. gov/indoorairplus. 4. Environmental Responsibility: Healthy Housing encourages site planning that reduces land require- landscaping and considers broader community planning issues such as transportation. The fact that as many as 50 per cent of new homes built in Ontario the last few years have been multifamily speaks to this principal element. The check- list for this element also identifies waste reduction, reuse and recycling of building materials as a requirement of healthy homes. There is always room for improvement and diligence in this regard, as it pays off in lower material and waste disposal costs. Many features of - able, and its design makes it easily adaptable to its occupants’ chang- ing needs. Again, while land costs are still rising in Canada, the lower energy bills and wider range of innovative multifamily projects is evidence the industry has an eye to maintaining affordability. Having been connected to indoor air quality from the early days design- ing the second generation of HRVs in 1984, it is wonderful for me to see the commitment to improvement the homebuilding industry has made with respect to truly healthier homes. No doubt you can proudly score yourself well in this regard, and then immedi- ately recognize the opportunity to re- duce risks and liability, and offer cost effectively an even healthier, more durable, and therefore more sustain- able home by putting an emphasis on water management. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada.
  10. 10. 8 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 O n typical Toronto summer days – muggy and still with only the sound of crickets interrupting the silence – the home of Chungsen Leung and Deborah Chute is unaf- fected by the heat, even though the façade is almost entirely glass. Several things make it quite unlike the other houses on this Richmond Hill street. For one, there is a 4 ft. overhang from the steel roof which enables a deep shadow to be cast over the up- per floor, keeping it cool. The roof of the house next door with its standard 12” soffit, for example, doesn’t throw a shadow large enough to hit even the top of the small traditional windows on the second floor. The overhang has also eliminated the need for gutters and downspouts. Instead, rainwater pours directly off the roof into a drainage system just below the ground around the home (but above the frost line). This ir- rigates the backyard where a bed of smallish river rocks wends its way through the butterfly-friendly garden. It’s a standard design for an Asian home, says Leung. The drains have a semipermeable lining to keep pebbles from sinking into the ground while al- lowing water to irrigate. Since seepage is slow, the excess water runs into the collection pond in the back of the yard and follows the swale as it drains into the city sewage system during a deluge. The Asian drains around the house have a 6” permeable pipe to allow faster drainage away from the building, and they work for melting snow as well. The garage too is different. Because Leung and Chute both suffer from en- vironmental allergies, it was decided to separate the garage from the home to prevent gas fumes from leaking inside. Those allergies drove all construc- tion decisions – from mechanical sys- tems and building materials to finish- es and paints – in efforts to make the indoor air as pure as possible. And so natural or very low volatile organic compound (VOC) finishes were used, floors are either ceramic tile or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) hardwood, and the HVAC system is forward thinking even by today’s standards. The wood finishes were tested out to see which ones gave the least odour and least offensive chemical com- pounds, using ECOLOGO products in some cases. Along the way, it was discovered that a healthy home can also be an energy-efficient one and the couple has enjoyed lower energy bills. Leung figures they’ve shaved about 50 per cent off their energy bills over the past 11 years. Built to R2000 standards, the 2,200 sq. ft. house (above ground, and below is an additional 1,100 sq. ft.) is both airtight and well ventilated. Fresh air is drawn in from the outside through a super high efficiency, fully ducted heat recovery ventilator (HRV), then purified by high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that remove pollen, dust and pollutants. That system is also energy efficient – warm air is exhausted to preheat incoming air, which keeps the air fresh and reduces the energy required for heating and cooling. As well, the couple opted for two HRVs, one for the main house- hold, and the other to vent closets be- cause of Chute’s allergies to perfumes and dry cleaning solutions. Also nontoxic and odour-free is the home’s 6” of polyicynene foam insulation sprayed in on both sides of the steel studs, between the drywall and the brick exterior. The insulated sheathing was covered in an exterior air barrier system, one of the first times it’s been used in Ontario. A blower door test done – before drywall – revealed the house surpassed R2000 standards. Even on the exterior, builder John Godden of Clearsphere was mindful of chemical use, the only one being caulking. All the rest of the glues and finishes are natural – made from wax Continued on page 10 buildernews By Al e x Ne w m a n Living in the Clear SUPPLIEDPHOTO
  11. 11. 9WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014
  12. 12. 10 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 or tree sap – and paints are all organic. Silicone used in the bathrooms was low VOC. Chute researched grouts and found a method of natural tile grout commonly applied over a hundred years ago, as well as the company that still uses it today. “Our Italian tile setter said this was the same process used by his ances- tors, and uses mostly sand and a little cement for the base. So far we have experienced no shifting of the floors,” Leung says. The couple is very happy about the home. No longer do they struggle with allergies, their utilities are lower, and the house has tons of natural light. Light coming in through the floor to ceiling windows of the solarium saturates the back of the house. Plus it provides sweeping views of the natural wild garden. At the front, daylight – as well as moonlight – stream in through the large modern Inline fibreglass win- dows that span both floors. The 4 ft. exterior overhang serves a vital purpose that can be seen from inside. It drastically reduces the amount of direct summer sun that comes in. But in winter, when the sun is lower on the horizon, the slanting rays are able to penetrate the interior. So much light has one drawback – few window coverings will stand up to it, especially if they are made of all-natural fibres like hemp and silk, and without fire retardants which give off fumes. Chute will be having new ones made by a local seamstress in the same material. The couple is also replacing the hot water system. A solar panel on the roof heats water, which is then drawn through a 90,000 BTU condensing gas boiler to raise the temperature – to 30°C for the radiant floors and 60°C for regular domestic use such as showers and dishwasher (although these are on separate loops). The main source of heat for the house is the radiant floors. Hot water for the system is warmed through the high efficiency gas boiler and then de- livered via pipes buried in a 2” cement subfloor that emits neither fumes nor dust. Supplemental heat, if Chute and Leung want it, comes from the airtight EPA-rated fireplace in the living room, which is a steel-enclosed fire box that retains all the heat. By building the fireplace inside the walls of the house, and enclosing the chimney in a cavity that heats up and provides radiant heat to the upstairs, Leung says they have been able to capture more of its heat. During last winter’s ice storm when electricity was off for 72 hours, the house lost only 10°C due to the home’s air tightness. But the boiler heats only 3.5 gal. of water a minute, not enough to fill the huge Japanese soaker tub in the upstairs bath. Godden says the boiler is a good one, but provides water on demand – as opposed to a storage type – which is a feature designed to save energy. That means water needs warm- ing up a few minutes before showers or baths. One solution would be to install a storage hot water tank that will store the water heated through the boiler. Leung and Chute have done just that so they have a continuous supply of hot water. Continued from page 8 High performance windows and roof overhangs help manage solar gain on the south elevation. PHOTO:JOHNGODDEN
  13. 13. 11WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 The solar hot water heater that preheats the water is first generation, Godden says, and the technology has certainly been improved in the 11 years since the house was built. It could easily be updated as well. The high velocity heating and air distribution system is used mostly for the air con- ditioning. Air doesn’t need to be moved around with radiant floors, but it does for cooling the air. It’s done via a distri- bution system large enough to counteract the temperature increase that comes from so many windows. After reduc- ing the amount of windows by about half, Godden selected special coatings for the glass to help with the home’s ther- mal insulation. In 2003, Inline windows was only one of a few manufacturers offering these selective coatings, which reject heat when not needed – like when the AC is on. Even so, the AC had a sub- stantial cooling load to deal with. The cool air is circulated through insulated ducts and to each room via small ceiling vents. The downside of such a large system is the sound lev- els that go with it – the steady hum of white noise – so Leung and Chute have resized the air handler to compensate for such a large air conditioning unit. They have invested in a new fan motor that operates at two speeds – when set on low the air movement isn’t audible. At the higher speed it’s audible, but necessary in the summer for cooling. At the same time they switched the system from AC to DC. At the time of its construc- tion, the house had one-half the heat loss and used one- third the energy of an equiva- lent house constructed to building code standards. It also produced about half the greenhouse gas emissions of a regular house to code. Even with today’s far more stringent code, the house is still further ahead in energy efficiency. An exquisite element of the home is its backyard. Extend- ing 190 ft. back, Chute has reclaimed it for a completely natural indigenous garden, with plants that attract bees and butterflies, and require little maintenance in terms of fertilizer or watering. “To my surprise and de- light,” Chute says, “planting native species has brought lots of welcome activity to this garden. Goldfinches enjoy the seed heads of pale purple cone- flower and prairie smoke. The red and yellow flowers of wild columbine attract humming- birds in late spring. The Ameri- can lady butterfly appears ev- ery spring to pussytoes where she lays her green-striped eggs. Monarchs especially enjoy blaz- ing star and swamp milkweed. Eastern tiger swallowtails, red and white admirals and ques- tion marks appear later in the summer.” On warm sunny days dragonflies appear, and throughout the summer bees come to feed on pollen and nectar from Chute’s blooming plants. “Their numbers are severely declining in North America because of pesticide use so I use none here, mak- ing it safe for them.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at
  14. 14. 12 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014
  15. 15. 13WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 R adon is seen by many as a looming public health concern. Radon is a soil gas that infil- trates new and old buildings through cracks in the foundation and gaps in the air barrier. Long-term exposure to radon increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Some estimates place the number of radon-induced lung cancer deaths in Canada at over 3,000 per year.1 Recent data from Public Health Ontario suggest radon is attributable to almost 850 lung cancer deaths per year just in Ontario – more than two deaths per day.2 That is equivalent to two jumbo jets going down every year at Pearson Airport. Tackling radon in- filtration through changes in construc- tion is key to creating healthier homes. While many may be familiar with the soil gas infiltration provisions in the National Building Code (NBC 9.13.4.), there is a community of radon professionals and civil servants, led by Health Canada, who are contin- ually working toward new methods of lowering radon levels in buildings. “One of the pillars of Health Canada’s National Radon program is support for radon research to mini- mize radon exposure to Canadians,” said Jeff Whyte, who runs the radon technical operations section at Health Canada’s Radiation Protection Bureau. “The program has been involved in ef- forts to reduce radon in new construc- tion, which began in late 2007 when I was part of a task group which led to changes to the 2010 National Build- ing Code (NBC). The result was the incorporation of a rough-in for active subslab depressurization, the most ef- fective method of radon reduction. “Health Canada also partners with the National Research Council (NRC) to support mitigation research. Most re- cently, this partnership has resulted in construction of the RIBETS (Radon Infil- tration Building Envelope Test System) test bed facility at NRC,“ continued Whyte. “RIBETS will allow for the evalu- ation of various construction elements such as subslab membranes, concrete slabs and gas permeable layers.” “As the public becomes more aware of radon, the research will help to present effective and efficient solu- PHOTO:WWW.DESIGNPICS.COM New Research for Healthier Homes industrynews By Mi c h a e l Li o It is wise for home- owners to check their homes for radon. 1 CBC News. Radon linked to more lung cancer deaths than previously thought. deaths-than-previously-thought-1.1209858 2 Illness.aspx#.U6goLPldW4I
  16. 16. 14 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 tions,” said Dr. Liang Grace Zhou, who is leading radon research at the NRC. Her team at NRC is researching practi- cal and cost-effective solutions at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technol- ogy twin house, and the Indoor Air Research Laboratory and the RIBETS facility in Ottawa. Specifically her team will answer the following questions: Will radon discharged from mitiga- tion exhaust fans re-enter neigh- bouring buildings? This aspect is especially important for densely built developments, where outdoor air intakes, windows and doors usu- ally are close to discharged air. By how much can improved mem- branes and concrete assemblies featuring reduced permeability for radon reduce concentrations in basements or first floors? Will an adjustable speed drive (ASD) fan or ventilation system triggered by the detection of indoor radon concentration and air pressure reduce indoor concentrations in basements or first floors, and save energy at the same time? Will the negative pressure created by a radon fan increase the risk of back drafting of harmful exhaust gases from combustion appliances in the basement? “This research will benefit both home builders and the public,” she said. Dr. Zhou also recently completed testing on Radon Guard, a new structural underslab ventilation panel designed for radon mitigation. Randi Fox, principal of Fox Architecture and inventor of Radon Guard, said, “Radon Guard acts as a 1:1 replacement of the requirement for a gas permeable layer in the code. It acts as a capil- lary break for moisture, and the clear channels along the bottom of the panel allow for easy radon mitigation. The expanded polystyrene panel also provides underslab insulation.” The panel was designed to replace the gas permeable layer for areas of Canada where clean granular fill is hard to obtain or prohibitively expensive. Fox participated in the recent Brit- ish Columbia Building Code (BCBC) revision process. The modifications, currently out for public comment, propose a change of wording from “clean granular fill” to “gas permeable layer” to allow for products such as Radon Guard. “The proposed BCBC changes also include a change from the rough-in stub requirements of the National Building Code (NBC) to the installation of a full passive-stack radon mitigation system,” Fox contin- ued. “In the code revision discussions, the building community was happy to include a system that could reduce radon levels from the day of installa- tion, instead of a stub that may not be used by the homeowner. The number of homeowners who will test their homes for radon is still low, and the number who will mitigate high levels is lower, but a passive system can proactively reduce radon levels and better protect homeowners. And if there is no radon problem, then there is no harm done.” Two new national radon standards are under development. “Health Canada has recently partnered with the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) to create two national stan- dards on radon mitigation, one for existing construction and one for new construction,” mentioned Whyte. Annie Joannette, senior advisor, media and public relations at Pub- lic Works and Government Services Canada, provided the objectives of these standards: To provide requirements, specifica- tions, guidelines and characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services used in the radon mitigation of low-rise residen- tial homes are fit for their purpose. To harmonize technical specifica- tions of products and services with the goal of making the radon industry more efficient by applying standard practices in mitigation. To provide organizations and radon mitigation professionals in the industry a measure/tool to ensure their products and services are con- sistent, compatible, effective and safe. To ensure conformity to standards so that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality for Canadians. “There are two working groups that are responsible for drafting each of the two standards, which will then be re- viewed by the full technical committee,” mentioned Joannette. “These working groups have held numerous teleconfer- ences in the last year to advance the work on the draft standards. The first full committee meeting was held on March 24 and 25, 2014 in Ottawa. The next technical committee meeting is planned for September 2014.” “These standards will provide guid- ance to builders and renovators re- garding reducing radon levels in both new and existing construction, and will be finalized in 2015,” said Whyte. Health Canada has also begun col- laborating with builders across Canada on radon research initiatives. “It is truly exciting to work with so many organizations and individuals who are all working so passionately to reduce radon exposure in order to protect the health of Canadians,” he said. BB Michael Lio is president and Ceara Allen is manager, technical services, at buildABILITY Corporation. industrynews By M ichael Lio For more information: technical operations section, Health Canada, 613-957-1926 environment, NRC, 613-990-1220 - ture, 250-681-3691
  17. 17. 15WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 Features
  18. 18. 16 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 featurestory By H i l t on Tu dh ope People Like Us: Some Lessons Learned D on’t be surprised if more people with health concerns are showing up at your offices or pre- sentation centres these days. The total chemical load in our environment is increasing every year and taxing our bodies’ ability to deal with it. We adapt, but our bodies get overloaded, and the detoxifica- tion systems of some people simply cannot keep up with eliminating the toxins. Acquired sensitivity to electromag- netic fields (EMF) and cell phone radiation often makes the impact of these problems much worse. While these topics are controversial, one thing is certain – to individuals experiencing the health impacts of chemi- cal or electromagnetic pollution, the effects can be very real and debilitating. For those like my wife Barbara, who endured years when her immune system was so compromised by toxic chemi- cals and poor function that it attacked almost everything in her body, a healthy living environment is a necessity of life. Ensuring that she would not slide backwards after several years of hard-won gains in her vitality is what led us to build our own healthy house, a LEED Gold-targeted sanctuary near the Bruce Trail in Mulmur, Ont. If you need to – or want to – deal with people like us, there are a few lessons we learned building healthy that may help you through the process. And help your clients get the healthi- est house possible for the money they have to spend. Believe in your clients’ health issues or aspirations. Don’t bother going down the healthy building route unless you’re open to embracing your clients’ health issues – or at least their importance to clients. As my wife succinctly put it early on, “We need to find people who are open to the possibility that I experience my environment differently.” We were fortunate to be introduced to superkül (www., a small and highly regarded architectural firm in Toronto, who in turn introduced us to our even- tual choice as contractor, Toronto-based Wilson Project Management ( We threw down the challenge – design and build us a contemporary home on a demanding site, and ensure it will not make Barbara sick when we move in. We gave them Paula Baker-Laporte’s Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders & Homeowners (New Society Publishers, 3rd Edition, 2008), a detailed guide to healthy building, and insisted it be the touchstone for virtually every deci- sion to be made about the design and materials. Whatever skepticism the architect and contractor had about meeting our requirements, we never knew. Both were willing to fight the inertia of the status quo and trust in the process of finding the right answers when nothing seemed to be right. What bound us, beyond the client- supplier relationship, was the common intention to create something great and healthy. It’s mostly about the materials. While there are ele- ments of design that contribute to the health of a house – passive and active ventilation, how light enters the home, water diversion, minimal dust-collecting surfaces – we found that healthy building is mostly about the materials used in construction. Prescriptions for a Healthy House identifies a great num- ber of healthier, alternative products. But what was newer or might work for Barbara’s specific sensitivities? Finding out put the onus of initial product research squarely on superkül’s shoulders. Andre D’Elia, the lead architect, told us, “We always wanted more than one product – three, in fact – in case all three failed. Overall, I’d say the house was 65 per cent new product for us.” By “failed” he meant a product that did not pass my wife’s “sniff test.” Prior to construction, she literally sniffed every material that went into the interior of the house to gauge her reaction, from headache to sneezing. We don’t necessarily recommend this procedure for ev- eryone, especially the very sensitive, but we knew it would work for Barbara despite her discomfort. Even before the testing phase, superkül rejected dozens of potential construction components they knew would not react well with my wife. It was a process they later claimed taught them as much about healthy building as the prod- ucts they eventually specified for the house. In the end, there were only a few materials used in the construction that didn’t test well, and most of those were on the exterior,
  19. 19. 17WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 or isolated in one way or another from the living space. Look for the unseen. For the environmentally sensi- tive person, it’s often what you can’t see in a house that has the most potential for harm. Our home may look like a typically constructed contemporary home, but every precaution was taken to reduce or eliminate material off- gassing, electromagnetic radiation and airborne pollutants. Where we could not avoid a material that off-gassed, we treated it with an AFM Safecoat product to lock in the gases. The interior walls are finished in plaster-like American Clay. Millwork panels were double sealed and heat treated before fabrication, and every exposed edge was then resealed to minimize off-gassing. Broadloom was out of the question. A hospital-grade Lifebreath air cleaner removes nearly all airborne allergens and pollutants. EMFs were also a major concern because of their poten- tial impact on sleep. Our demand was clear – limit average EMF readings to less than 1 milliGauss. As a result, much of the wiring runs through flexible metal conduit. Three-way switches were checked and double checked for correct con- nections. The main supply, smart meter and internet modem are isolated from the house. The result of these and numer- ous other strategies? An EMF reading of about 0.5 milliGauss and a relieved electrical contractor. So how do you deal with people like us in a production home environment in which costs and margins are impor- tant considerations? Do your research so you can become an ally, not an adversary. Prescriptions for a Healthy House is a great place to start. Focus on what you and your trades can deliver at a reasonable cost, like substantially reduced volatile organic compounds (VOC) and better air filtration. And pay extra attention to air quality and EMFs in the most important rooms – the bedrooms. It’s where we regenerate each night, and they should be the healthiest part of any house on which you put your name. BB Hilton Tudhope is a business writer based in Dallas, Texas and Mulmur, Ont. A healthy living environment is a necessity of life. Hilton and Barbara Tudhope built their own healthy house in Mulmur, Ont. Building Healthy PHOTO: HILTON TUDHOPE
  20. 20. 18 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 featurestory By Da l j i t Ba sa n a n d Be t t e r Bu i lder C ombining contemporary design principles with sus- tainability and environmental sensibilities, +House located in Mulmur, Ont., was awarded the 2012 Design Excellence Award by the Ontario Association of Architects. The +House is equally unique and sustainable. Mindscape Innovations collaborated with superkül to provide consult- ing services in pursuit of acquiring LEED Gold certification. The home was designed with a keen eye toward environ- mental sensitivities by carefully selecting each component in the building design. Project Summary Project Goal: LEED for Homes gold certification Project Type: Single-family residential on previously devel- oped land, 2150 sq. ft. Project Partners: superkül Inc. Sustainable Metrics Annual energy consumption: 25,378 ekWh Energy density: 126.89 ekWh/m2 +House: Sustainability and Contemporary LEED Gold-Targeted Home Continued on page 20 The +House is healthy inside and out with maximized natural light, a green roof, and is built on a sustainable site with natural landscaping. 18 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 ALLPHOTOS:HILTONTUDHOPE
  21. 21. 19WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 1-800-567-2733 WARM AIR GAS FURNACE DESIGNED, RIGHT-SIZED, AND MANUFACTURED IN CANADA FOR HEATING AND COOLING CANADIAN RESIDENCES Full line 15,000 to 120,000 BTU Coming in January 2015 Modulating outdoor condensing variable speed units for central air system. Making Dettson the first residential HVAC manufacturer offering a variable speed / right sized central system for comfort year round. Ultra compact size, featuring the industry’s smallest footprint Ideally suited to the replacement market Designed with a gas laboratory and builders’ input Stainless primary and secondary heat exchanger 95 % AFUE and above Right-sized for today’s tighter homes and new codes
  22. 22. 20 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 201420 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 Environmental and Healthy Design In creating this healthy home design, the architect careful- ly secured materials, systems, and finishes to ensure there would be no adverse physical reaction by an environmen- tally sensitive client. Working with the client in selecting the materials was a key step in ensuring the house is truly safe for the homeowner. +House has targeted LEED Gold certification by reduc- ing the cost and environmental impact of the home. To learn about some of the innovative features of the home, see photos and descriptions below. BB Daljit Basan, BES, is sustainable design specialist at Mindscape Innovations Group Inc. Continued from page 18 Geothermal System (above left): clean and safe source for heating and cooling, reduced utility costs, enhanced comfort, low maintenance. In pond, not trenched or drilled. Environmentally Preferable Products (above right): inert concrete blocks that produce no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and inhibit the growth of fungi and moulds, natural clay plaster for interior wall Green Roof (below): ALLPHOTOS:HILTONTUDHOPE
  23. 23. 21WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 wood used from forests that are responsibly managed and meet strict environmental and social standards. greater insula- natural daylighting across 100 per 21WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014
  24. 24. 22 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 sitespecific By The Dow Chemical Com pa n y M idland, Mich. – June 30, 2014 – David Kelly has been named a 2013 recipient of The Dow Chemi- cal Company’s prestigious Pinnacle Award, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the Dow Building Solutions business. Dave has worked at Dow for 25 years and currently holds the position of senior account manager for the Ontario residential market. This is Dave’s 4th Pinnacle Award. The Pinnacle Award, established in 1995, pays tribute to Dow professionals who continually make strategic think- ing, creativity, innovative problem solving and customer satisfaction their inspiration for success. The results of their efforts are unsurpassed customer loyalty and out- standing results. Those receiving the award represent the top 5 per cent of Dow’s global organization. “Customer loyalty evolves through outstanding service, responsiveness, creativity and innovation, and the Pinnacle recipients demonstrate the ability to reach beyond their boundar- ies and identify exceptional ways to ensure long-term customer satisfaction. Their pas- sion and efforts are a critical component of Dow’s growth strategy and an inspira- tion to us all,” said Heinz Haller, executive vice president, chief commercial officer and president of Dow Europe, Middle East and Africa. About Dow Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines the power of science and technology to passionately in- novate what is essential to human prog- ress. The company is driving innovations that extract value from the intersection of chemical, physical and biological sciences to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, clean energy generation, con- servation and increasing agricultural pro- ductivity. Dow’s integrated, market-driven, industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to cus- tomers in approximately 180 countries and in high growth sectors such as packaging, electronics, water, coatings and agriculture. In 2013, Dow had annual sales of more than $57 billion and employed approximately 53,000 people worldwide. The company’s more than 6,000 products are manufactured at 201 sites in 36 countries across the globe. References to “Dow” or the “company” mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at BB Kathleen Davis, communications, The Dow Chemical Company. David Kelly Receives Dow Pinnacle Award for Selling Excellence David Kelly (r) has worked at Dow for 25 years and has just received his fourth Pin- nacle Award. SUPPLIEDPHOTO
  25. 25. 23WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 ®™The DOW Diamond Logo is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company © 2014 Dow’s full house of insulation, air sealants and adhesives work together to create an air- tight, moisture resistant structure from roof to foundation, helping builders and contractors meet or exceed building codes, reduce callbacks and create a comfortable, durable, energy efficient structure for their customers. DOW BUILDING SOLUTIONS 1-866-583-BLUE (2583) Whole-House Solutions THAT HELP BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS OUTPERFORM
  26. 26. 24 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 E veryone knows climate change is occurring much faster than origi- nally expected. We know that homes and vehicles are responsible for about a third of all carbon emissions. We also know that when people are motivated, change happens – witness the closing of the gaps in the ozone layer thanks to global initiatives. In spite of this knowledge, the environment is no longer top of mind for most homebuyers, so builders, developers – and even climate change experts – have taken a different tack. Appeals to being socially responsible don’t work, but offering comfortable, light-filled homes that happen to be energy efficient do. Enter the Active House. Not unique for a custom home, the Active House is unusual for subdivi- sion/tract developers and builders. Great Gulf decided to take a risk and build such a home in a Thorold, Ont., subdivision because they believed buy- ers would be interested in paying for a home that was environmentally sus- tainable as long as it was also healthy on the inside – light filled, open and with good air quality. Tad Putyra, Great Gulf’s president and COO of low rise and a trained architect, explains the company’s inter- est in being green since building one of the first R2000 homes, and since then trying various green systems. The chal- lenge has been getting buyers to pay extra, even as little as $1 per square foot, for energy efficiency. In 2009 during a trip to Europe, when Putyra saw the Active House concept, he realized the pitch was all wrong. What was different about this concept, he says, is addressing the buyer. “We’d always addressed en- ergy efficiency and appealed to social responsibility, which is good and may create awareness, but it doesn’t create demand. Now we look at comfort. The product has to improve quality of life with a holistic approach. This house does that, providing an indoor climate that promotes well-being through good air distribution and daylighting. Stud- ies prove that daylight is critical to our well-being, so we decided to measure and design for it.” Around the Active House was an alliance of scientists, designers and builders who were taking energy re- duction in a serious way, Putyra says. When it came time to test the concept here, Great Gulf collaborated with ar- chitects Meg Graham and Andre D’Elia, principals of the firm superkül. That collaboration, says D’Elia, mar- ried the best of skills – Great Gulf’s vast experience in developing, con- struction and design, which resulted in knowing exactly what could be built and for how much, and superkül’s esthetics in design and understanding of what makes a house healthy – excel- lent indoor air circulation, daylighting and natural materials. Through many meetings the designs went back and forth, with comments on the proportions, material, con- structability (money and time, durabil- ity), and decisions having to be made based on a certain set of criteria. The community of Thorold too had some guidelines which dictated some of the form and materiality so there would be some kind of cohesiveness. The result is a home that estheti- cally fits with the surrounding neigh- bourhood – its roofline, exterior profile and material palette are not dissimilar from neighbouring homes. But that’s where the similarities end. “This is a very modern house built in a traditional residential develop- ment that looks, feels and behaves completely differently from the normative model,” says Graham. “It’s a watershed in Canadian suburban development.” Inside, the home is modern, spa- cious and airy, with high ceilings under a gable roof that allowed for large skylights that, along with the many windows, flood the interior with so much natural light that it’s rarely necessary to turn on lights during the buildernews By Al e x Ne w m a n Follow the Leader: Daylight and great air quality become standard in subdivision housing. HISTORY: Energy concerns have waxed and waned over the past 40 years, starting with the oil crisis of the 1970s which caused builders to look at an increasingly tight building envelope. But once you seal houses that tightly, Graham points out, all the advances in building materials – plastics, resins, composites – conspire to create bad indoor air quality. “There’s a growing sense not just in the building industry, but - dants, that the farther we get along the technological path with chemicals and products, there’s a corollary question to what are we putting in and around our bodies?” Graham says. “Now that people are generally more health conscious, that also changes the consumer demand for better, healthier and more sustainable construction, but it’s an evolving kind of conversation as we get to know more about what’s available to use, and we understand that some things aren’t as good or healthy as we initially thought.”
  27. 27. 25WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 day. With white walls, floors a pale hardwood and glass stair railings, it looks and feels breathable. What drove the design was the desire for natural daylight and ventila- tion, made possible through an open cross-axial plan, operable VELUX roof skylights, and many windows that re- duce the need for artificial light during the day. “When you bring the outside in through so much glazing, the spatial quality is very different and the house is going to feel different, and bigger.” What enabled such an open plan, Graham says, was the gabled roof. “It allowed for lots of natural light and superior environmental performance, removing barriers between living spac- es which helps make the home seem larger than its 3200 sq. ft. In addition, the two intersecting axes maximize crossbreezes and natural ventilation, thereby minimizing reliance on air conditioning.” “Off the bat, we knew we had to do a pitched roof, either gable or hip, and we reinterpreted in order to get a double height space plus skylights to bring light deep into the home,” D’Elia says. At the ground level you can see almost the entire house with gables and skylights. To complement this, the HVAC system includes zoned heating, heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and a high efficiency furnace. The HRV is a cop- per pipe that acts as a heat exchanger within the stack, which recovers the heat energy from warm to hot waste- water. It requires no maintenance and is a passive form of energy. An ERV heat exchanger exhausts warm air that heats up outside winter air coming in from outside, and does the reverse in summer, reducing the amount of elec- tricity to heat the home. A second HRV is located in the attic to keep fresh air circulating at all times. The south-facing windows are triple glazed to maximize solar heat gain in winter, while overhangs and shades keep it cooler in summer. There’s also a solar water heating system, all lights are light-emitting diode (LED), and all finishes and paints are low volatile organic compound (VOC). The home also includes a water conservation system, unusual in a sub- division home considering water is not on the radar of most buyers. “We take water for granted. We’re the land of lakes, and we grew up wasting water,” D’Elia says. The system includes a means of rainwater collection, capturing rain from the roof as well as the weeping tile, and channeling to a cistern, which then circulates the water for use in the garden and in flushing toilets. This allows the house to achieve a 35 per cent reduction in water us- age based on the annual rainfall in Ontario, and complements the whole Active House philosophy to have as little impact on the environment as possible, D’Elia says. The construction of the Active House is also unique. Built entirely off-site in Brockport’s Kitchener-Waterloo factory, the house is flat packed and assembled on-site. The prefab panels – roof, floors and walls – are insulated – above-grade walls at R35, basement walls at R22, and ceiling (which has no attic) at R40. As a baseline all homes should be built to this Active House standard, Graham says. What’s held most buyers back are the extra costs. But Putyra believes that once people try out a home that feels this good, and with this much natural daylight, “It’s like a smartphone – you get addicted to it and can’t give it up.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at EcoLiving Awards Finalists superkül received an honourable mention for this home in the very tight race between designed the chemically sensitive home featured in this same issue. In the brochure accompanying their entry, the Active House was described as “being designed to push the boundaries of green residential building … stressing en- - sign, neither of which contributes to human or environmental health,” while working within a tight budget and creating a heavily insulated building envelope. The house also includes a solar domestic hot water system, drainwater heat recovery, rainwater Active House design maximizes daylighting with skylights and windows. PHOTOS©FOTOGRAFTORBENESKEROD
  28. 28. 26 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 Nothing effects how a home feels like natural light and fresh air. Offer your customers both without sacrificing privacy with The VELUX No Leak Skylight™ . Our exclusive No Leak system is backed by an industry leading warranty and superior customer service to help you install with confidence. Ask about our solar powered products. No wiring makes installation quick and simple! Call us today to learn about our Builder Program 1 800-888-3589 Stand apart with the ultimate natural lighting experience!
  29. 29. 27WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 fromthegroundup By Dou g Ta rry A s an industry we are building much tighter homes than even a few years ago, increasing the amount of insulation in the walls, put- ting vapour barriers on the inside and oriented strand board (OSB) or rigid insulation on the outside of our walls. Basically we are building a selection of large, ready to fill water containers made of wood and plastic, and then we wonder why they fail when we let moisture into these spaces. This never used to be much of an issue when we built drafty houses that were poorly insulated, because heat loss and air flow through the walls provided a great deal of dry- ing potential. That does not mean we need to go back to leaky houses with little insulation. It means we have to figure out how to build walls that are more forgiving and durable. This past spring I had the oppor- tunity to attend the Building Science Spring Training Camp put on by John Straube, Gord Cooke and Tex McLeod. It was great fun and very informative. I was honoured to be asked to pres- ent on the Optimum Basement Wall, and the need to rethink basement wall designs and the use of poly. I’ve written about this extensively, so I thought it was time to get out of the basement and share some thoughts about above-grade walls. During the camp we discussed challenges of building tighter homes with more insulation and the result- ing performance issues we have seen over the last two decades. One of our presenters was Mark Gauvin, a builder based in Vancouver, B.C., who has done extensive research on walls and why they fail. Not to oversimplify it, but moisture, moisture, moisture. Mark was so frustrated by what he saw happening in B.C., he offered to work with Dr. John Straube and Dr. Joe Lstiburek on a test hut to study the performance of a variety of wall types under a variety of conditions over what turned out to be a number of years. Mark discussed the challenges with building tighter walls with more insulation during his presentation at the spring training sessions. Some of the key takeaways from his studies that we need to consider as we design tighter, more energy-efficient wall as- semblies are: Drying is slow in any modern insu- lated wall assembly. Therefore, rainwater management is critical for all assemblies. In Vancouver rainscreen cavity walls provide a drainage space, capillary break and ventilation to assist dry- ing. Wetting is also caused by interior and exterior relative humidity. (Remember that wood moisture content increases with increasing relative humidity.) In a given environment, decreasing temperature will increase relative hu- midity and condensation potential. More stud cavity insulation de- creases the temperature of exterior sheathing, pushing relative humid- Tighter Homes, More Insulation, Less Energy, but Where Did the Water Go? New homes are well insulated, but that can create water and moisture problems. PHOTO:WWW.DESIGNPICS.COM
  30. 30. 28 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 ity and wood moisture content higher, and increasing condensation potential. Exterior insulation has the opposite effect, raising wintertime sheathing temperatures – and helps reduce: running wood moisture content condensation potential due to air leakage. Ventilation is important – for con- trol of indoor relative humidity. These points certainly verify what we’ve been noticing with some of the home performance issues we’ve been observing. Here are some of the solu- tions we have implemented at Doug Tarry Homes to help control moisture within the home: 24” overhangs with eaves, down- spouts and splash blocks whole home Tyvek HomeWrap with window and door flashing details, and Tyvek StuccoWrap behind stucco and cement board siding air conditioning and energy recov- ery ventilators (ERV) in all homes along with providing a dehumidifier for the shoulder seasons ongoing education of our home- owners about the need to control humidity levels within the home commercial dehumidification units during construction to reduce con- struction moisture levels within the home R5 rigid insulation on the exterior walls along with advanced framing details to allow for more insulation in the walls basement poly replaced with smart membrane (as described with the Optimum Basement Wall). For me, moisture management of wall assemblies has become an ongo- ing journey of discovery as we try to understand how to build a more durable home and reduce costly war- ranty callbacks. It is time for a major rethink of how we build wall assem- blies for our homes and install vapour barriers. It is comforting to know there are other builders out there like Mark Gauvin doing some really great work on our behalf. More information is available about the Vancouver Test Hut project at www. BB Doug Tarry Jr. is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ont. fromthegroundup By Doug Tarry
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  33. 33. 31WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 N iagara: July 14, 2014 – Brook- field Residential was honoured to receive three outstanding recognition certificates at their leader- ship in energy and environmental design (LEED) gold presentation centre and model home at The Village, Niagara-on-the-Lake. First, the Healthy Housing Recognition from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for their efforts in building healthier homes, second for exceed- ing the required points scored, and third for winning the Cross Border Challenge for building the highest performing houses rated on the home energy rating system (HERS) index in both Canada and the United States. CMHC’s Healthy Housing Recogni- tion program honours builders and others in Ontario who put their knowl- edge of CMHC’s five Healthy Housing principles into practice. These five prin- ciples include occupant health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environ- mental responsibility and affordability. The program recognizes housing indus- try professionals who demonstrate their knowledge by building, renovating or designing a home that meets criteria under the principles. Brookfield’s presentation centre and model home at 24 Norton Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s The Village is the only LEED for Homes project that has achieved gold certification in the Niagara region. In terms of its energy efficiency, the house performs 27 per cent better than a comparable house built to to- day’s building code. The model home boasts the highest efficiency furnace with a zoned system to maximize oc- cupant comfort, and incorporates the latest ventilation technology using a Vanee ERV (energy recovery ventilator). To reduce water demand, Brookfield installed a greywater recycling system buildernews By Brookfi e l d Residential an d Be t t e r Bu i l de r Brookfield Receives Accolades for High Performance & Healthy Housing Front Row, left to right: John Hawley, Lord Mayor Dave Eke, Brian Couperthwaite, Steve Jacques and William Grieg. Back Row, left to right: John Godden, Anthony Competiello, Bob Stewart, Rolf Wiens and Jamie Shipley. PHOTO:JORDANLANE
  34. 34. 32 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 RELIABLE, CONSISTENT, MARTINOHeating • Air Conditioning • Indoor Air Quality • HVAC Design www.martinohvac.com1-800-465-5700 ™ integrated with drainwater heat recov- ery, lowering water usage and heating costs by up to 35 per cent. The house has an extremely durable building envelope comprised of a drainage layer of Henry Blueskin and ROXUL [COM- FORTBOARD] IS (insulated sheath- ing). To top off the list of sustainable features, the house is landscaped with draught-tolerant grass and a specially designed irrigation system. “We are so honoured to be recog- nized for doing what we absolutely love doing – creating the best places to call home – and what better back- drop for the presentation than this high performance model home in Ni- agara-on-the-Lake,” said Brian Couper- thwaite, vice-president of construction at Brookfield Homes. “This model is inspiring and provides our homeown- ers with a glimpse of how they might take advantage of space, see great design ideas, and also learn about the benefits of living in a healthier and more energy-efficient home.” Brookfield is dedicated to creating the best places to call home and has built more than 25,000 homes in On- tario since 1956. Brookfield’s ongoing commitment to quality, design, and customer service has earned the com- pany several highly coveted industry recognitions including the J.D. Power and Associates Award for Highest in Customer Satisfaction and Ontario Builder of the Year from the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) and Tarion. Brookfield currently has active communities in Alliston (Treetops), Aurora (Arbors), Bradford (Grand Cen- tral), Bowmanville (BrookHill), Caledon East (Pathways), Mono (Fieldstone), Niagara-on-the-Lake (The Village) and Tottenham (Willow Glen). For more information about Brookfield, please visit BB
  35. 35. 33WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 2014 With residential building codes changing across Canada you need an exterior insulated sheathing that measures up. In the move from nominal to effective R-values, ROXUL® COMFORTBOARD™ IS provides a stable solution. Vapour permeable, it dries easily even if the framing gets wet, guarding against mould and mildew all while delivering an extra layer of thermal protection. DON’T JUST INSULATE, ROXULATE | 1-800-265-6878 Find comfort in a world of change.
  36. 36. WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 11 | FALL 201434 PAGE TITLE Features To learn more, visit TM Helping builders design and build more energy efficient homes. New building codes require new approaches to housing design and energy performance. Enbridge’s Savings by Design program is here to help. The program offers free access to design and technical experts, as well as valuable incentives to help design and build more energy efficient homes. Using our unique and collaborative Integrated Design Process (IDP), we will work with you to identify optimal solutions for improving energy efficiency 25% beyond Ontario Building Code 2012.