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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 14 / Summer 2015

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 14 / Summer 2015

  1. 1. 1 ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA Renewable EnergySOURCES The Home of the Future Now Are We Near Near Zero? The Renewables Sweet Spot PVT – A Panel Discussion Getting Off the Grid The Trouble With Windows Publicationnumber42408014 IN THIS ISSUE BETTER BuilderMAGAZINE the builder’s source
  2. 2. 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 C M Y CM MY CY CMY K Airmax ad with Prioritizing AMT 12430 AD FPG 09_HR.pdf 1 2013-04-18 8:46 AM
  3. 3. FEATURE STORY 16 The Home of the Future Now other builders to do the same. BY ALEX NEWMAN INSIDE THIS ISSUE 02 Publisher’s Note: Reduce, Unplug and Recharge BY JOHN GODDEN 03 The Bada Test: Are We Near Near Zero? BY LOU BADA 04 Industry News: PVT – A Panel Discussion BY MICHAEL PATHAK 06 Industry Expert: The Renewables Sweet Spot BY GORD COOKE 08 Builder News: BY PANASONIC AND BETTER BUILDER STAFF 11 Builder News: Competitive Advantage for Builders BY PANASONIC AND BETTER BUILDER STAFF 13 Industry News: Taking Water Heating to New Heights in Net Zero Housing Communities BY MICHAEL LIO 23 Builder News: Environmental Sustainability: Good for the Planet. Good for Business. BY ROXUL AND BETTER BUILDER STAFF 27 From the Ground Up: The Trouble With Windows – Passive Solar Overheating BY DOUG TARRY BETTER BuilderMAGAZINE the builder’s source 1 4 ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 11 3 PHOTO:WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COMPHOTO:WWW.DESIGNPICS.COMPHOTO:WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COMPHOTO:ROXUL Cover: Greenhill Contracting, The Preserve at Mountain Vista, New Paltz, N.Y. 24 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015
  4. 4. 2 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 Publisher Better Builder Magazine, 63 Blair Street, Toronto, ON M4B 3N5 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 63 Blair Street, Toronto, ON M4B 3N5. Better Builder Magazine is published four times a year. I n 1906 Adam Beck, founder of the power system in Ontario, decreed “power at cost.” The idea was that any surplus revenues over operating costs could be used to improve the electrical distribution system or reduce power rates. Fast-forward to 1998 where Ontario Hydro, a Crown corporation, was divided into Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One, and forced to operate under the Business Corporations Act, running as private businesses. Add 13% HST in place of 5% GST, special service charges for conservation pro- grams such as microFIT, and a moratorium on coal-fired gen- erating plants, and the result is roughly a $37 billion debt. I think Adam Beck must be roll- ing over in his grave. Adrian Morrow and Shawn McCarthy of The Globe and Mail report hydro rates will rise 42% from December 2013 to 2018 and will peak at 68% by 2032. What’s the answer to escalating costs? Most think its renewable energy sources, but there is a problem. Renewable energy has to be saved for a rainy day. It needs to be stored. A storage solution proposed by policy makers and net zero home proponents uses the grid as a giant battery. It works like this. On sunny days electricity is collected and either sold to the utility or reverse metered back to the grid for a credit. Herein lies a fallacy, because as we know there is no such thing as a free lunch. Debt- strapped utilities will become like banks. Historically, banks paid us interest for using our money to loan to other parties. Now banks have service charges. We pay transaction fees to deposit or withdraw our money. Remember the Mexican peso crisis in 1995? North Ameri- can banks figured out that service charges could offset bad debt. Currently, homeowners generating solar electricity on their rooftops pay a metering charge to the utility when flowing to the grid. Rising electricity costs are creating a sce- nario where it makes more sense to use the power generated on a rooftop in the house it comes from. The answer in the longer term is to actually unplug solar from the grid and store the power on-site. The battery technol- ogy used in Tesla electric cars can now be used economically and reliably in houses. (We include an informative article on solar photo- voltaics (PV) with battery storage in this issue.) The feature article is about an inspiring winner of the Cross- Border Builder Challenge award. Anthony Aebi is now building net zero subdivisions in New York State. The question has always been whether homeowners are willing to pay for energy-efficient features. Anthony says yes! Lou Bada reports on the challenges and complaints that arise from renting cost neutral efficiency. Gord Cooke generates an important cost ben- efit discussion on the renewables sweet spot – when does buying conservation measures make more sense than investing in on-site power generation? Building envelopes are becoming so effi- cient that now the big energy consumption factors in a house are hot water heating and plug loads. Michael Lio investigates using heat pump hot water heaters in net zero houses. Doug Tarry offers a clear vision on the choice of low solar heat gain windows essential for comfort in Near Zero houses. A favoured author Anne Lamont published a list of lessons learned during her 62 years on the planet. Among the gems was this – “Anything can be fixed if you just unplug it for awhile, including you.” Ready, set, unplug. BB Reduce, Unplug and Recharge publisher’snote By J oh n G o dden 2 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 Building envelopes are becoming so efficient that now the big energy consumption factors in a house are hot water heating and plug loads.
  5. 5. 3WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 I had an interesting interaction with one of our clients recently over the installation of a condensing hot water tank. The customer was extremely adamant that we not install this very good and efficient piece of equipment in their home due to its higher rental rate (approximately 50% more than a conventional water heater) for their municipally mandated ENERGY STAR home. Logic and math- ematics were not convincing enough to pacify this customer (it is essentially cost neutral rent vs. gas consumption and provides some continuous hot water). This customer was not alone – we’ve received a number of these calls. Despite some of our customers’ senti- ments, getting to Near Zero or net zero in new housing will take even further conservation efforts where and if we can. As the technology stands today, net zero housing will need to include some form of renewable energy gen- eration in the home. Are we ready? In fact, as municipalities are driv- ing us to be ahead of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) in terms of sustainability through their planning processes, renewables may need to come into play much sooner than you would expect. It is striking that as I read policy papers, it seems Near Zero/net zero is a de facto matter and we just need to give it the old college try. Clearly something has to be done about climate change. What and whether it should be done is a matter of political debate and differ- ences. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has put forth a Climate Change Discussion Paper to develop a climate strategy and action plan. The development and homebuild- ing industry must do the work of this world to implement the results of this high-minded political process. Fair enough, but it would be astonishing if all stakeholders, and especially all levels of government and regula- tions, were aligned. The goal of a carbon neu- tral economy and planning for the weather-related effects of climate change will have a great impact on our industry, homes and developments. Expanding the Greenbelt and forcing more density (i.e. more multiunit buildings) will be challenging for net zero housing (and afford- ability). Distributed and district energy systems are experimental at the moment. The challenges are not technical alone. Builder/ developers are not versed in building electrical utility systems nor are condominium corporations prepared to be utility operators. Are local distribution companies and the electrical grid ready for electric cars, distributed energy production and all the ramifications? Are rural communi- ties ready? As it stands today Ontario’s “objec- tive-based” building code’s existing structure and content restricts, rather than encourages, the introduction of innovative approaches/solutions and the use of new and/or emerg- ing technologies. Planning, zoning bylaws, engineering standards, and architectural control guidelines are at odds with innovation and carbon neu- trality. Real incentives to encourage innovation are absent, and cap and trade initiatives will likely not benefit our industry in any way, possibly the opposite. Laying this in the lap of industry and believing it will create green jobs and a green economy is precarious at best. Without the correspond- ing buy-in of the multitude of levels of government/quasigovernment organizations, and a truly informed public, we will not be productive in our efforts. Without a proper cost/ benefit analysis, this will make us prone to boondoggles and have many unintended consequences. I believe I will be having many more interesting conversations with my customers in the coming days. BB Lou Bada is construction & contracts manager for Starlane Homes. thebadatest By L ou Ba da PHOTO:WWW.DESIGNPICS.COM Are We Near Near Zero?
  6. 6. WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 20154 T here are many ways to harness energy from the sun. The more known options are solar photo- voltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal panels. A lesser-known emerging technology is the photovoltaic solar thermal (PVT) panel. PV panels are made up of semi- conductor PV cells that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. On the other hand, solar thermal panels use a dark metallic absorbing material (absorber) and a fluid (such as air or a water/antifreeze mixture) which runs below the absorber to collect and transport the sun’s energy as heat. A PVT panel represents a hybrid of the two systems. The sun’s energy is converted into both electricity and heat by using PV cells as the absorber along with a fluid to extract the heat. The simplest design of a PVT panel is to glue the PV cells to the absorber plate of a solar thermal system. A typical solar thermal system has a flat plate collector which consists of a metal absorber plate coated in a dark material to absorb more heat, with metal pipes running underneath and insulation on the sides and bottom of the panel. To make a PVT panel, the coating on the metal plate of the solar thermal system is removed and the PV cells glued onto the absorber plate. Typically there is an option to add a layer of glass (glazing) on top of the PVT panel to make the panel glazed (a PVT panel with no glass is called unglazed). This type of PVT panel, a combination of PV and solar thermal panels, uses a water/antifreeze fluid mixture to run through the metal pipes to extract the heat. Another PVT design combines a solar heater with a PV panel using air as the heat extracting fluid which is channelled under the PV panel. The solar heater is similar to a solar thermal panel except that it heats air instead of a liquid mixture, and the metal pipes are replaced with a metal duct. These systems are used to preheat the air entering the building and help reduce heating loads. For the remainder of this article, however, the focus will be on the liquid-based PVT. The PVT system was initially designed to reduce the overheating of PV cells by cooling them while col- lecting the excess heat. This arose because the efficiency of a PV cell’s electricity generation decreases with the increase in cell temperature. The following calculation is used to illus- industrynews By Mi c h a e l P a t h a k Top: PV panels on roof. Above: Solar thermal panels on roof. PHOTOS:WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM PVT – A Panel Discussion
  7. 7. 5WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 trate the importance of this point. For the common crystalline PV cell, the efficiency decreases 0.4% per 1°C increase in temperature.1 This can be a problem on hot, sunny summer days where a PV cell can reach tempera- tures of 50°C above ambient tem- peratures. In Canada, a peak summer ambient temperature could be around 30°C, which means a panel of PV cells could reach 80°C. PV panels are tested at standard testing conditions (STC), which have the cell temperature operating at 25°C. If we assumed the PV panel had a rated efficiency of 14% at STC, then at a peak summer operating temperature, the overall panel efficiency would be just under 11% – a 22% reduction in performance. For a 300 watt (W) panel, this reduc- tion in efficiency would mean a loss in power collection equivalent to more than one 60 W incandescent lightbulb. PVT panels, which extract excess heat from the PV panels, could offer an improvement to electricity production by reducing the summer panel operat- ing temperatures. PVT panels can be glazed or unglazed, depending on whether electricity production or heat collec- tion is being optimized. A glazed col- lector has a glass layer covering the PV panels, giving the panels slightly more insulation than an unglazed collector. This means the PVT panel can get hotter, increasing the ther- mal performance of the PVT panel, but decreasing the electrical output. Unglazed collectors demonstrate the opposite performance efficien- cies – increased electrical output and decreased thermal performance. Depending on the project and needs of the building, it is possible to have a preference for the collection of heat or production of electricity, and PVT panels allow this flexibility. Similar to a solar thermal panel, a PVT panel can be used in combination with a geothermal system to assist with the heating demands of a build- ing. Instead of solely depending on ground temperatures for the geother- mal system, adding the solar heating assistance allows for a decrease in the size of the geothermal field and therefore less drilling or excavating is required. This can help reduce the cost of the overall system. This con- cept can be used on any scale from houses to full communities such as Drake Landing in Alberta.2 One additional advantage with using an unglazed PVT collector is the ability to heat reject, during the summer, into the cool night sky. Heat pump efficiency improves when the source temperature is closer to the desired output load temperature. If the building is a cooling-dominated building, the geothermal source can get quite warm in the later summer months, reducing the effectiveness of the heat pump. By heat rejecting via the PVT panels, the geothermal source temperature can be lowered, bringing it closer to the desired source temperature and improving the performance of the heat pump. The disadvantage of a PVT system is that the panels currently cost more than PV and solar thermal panels combined. Furthermore, in Canada there are very few suppliers and prod- ucts available. The more established panel suppliers are found in Europe. This makes it harder to purchase certified PVT panels, as well as find someone familiar with the product to install them. Although the installation is the same as connecting a PV panel electrically and plumbing a solar ther- mal panel, having to make both these connections to one panel adds a level of complexity to the installation. Nonetheless, the market will con- tinue to develop in Canada as more projects are undertaken where the conditions allow for the PVT panel to be the preferred option for the project objective. Recently, Sustainable EDGE deemed it beneficial to use PVT panels in two of our design projects, as an optimal way to meet the project goals. Overall, PVT panels have several advantages and disadvantages, like most products. It is up to the design- ers, contractors, and clients to deter- mine if the PVT panel better serves the project, and the goals of the client. BB Michael Pathak, MASc, is a project manager at Sustainable EDGE Ltd., providing services in mechanical engineering and sustain- able building consulting. Contact michael. Disclaimer: Example products shown do not constitute a recom- mendation for purchase by the author. industrynews By Michael Pathak Solimpeks PVT panel, used with permission. 1 Proc. (1997) 1293–1296. 2 Drake Landing Solar Community.
  8. 8. 6 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 A t the recent Spring Training Camp, Alex Ferguson of Can- metENERGY showed the results of literally thousands of energy simu- lation runs designed to help sort out the cost effectiveness of a wide range of energy efficiency improvements, including solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. It provides another clue in helping builders find the sweet spot of when to integrate renewable energy sources into their housing along the path of continual improvement. The research was comprehensive and there are undoubtedly many lessons to be learned from it. However, one quick summary finding stuck with me. At current pricing, solar or renew- able energy sources are the next most cost-effective initiative after the energy performance of houses have been reduced by approximately 50%– 60% from current code levels. Frankly, this will be of little surprise to any energy evaluator or builder who has tried to achieve energy ratings above an EnerGuide level of about 87–88 or a HERS rating below 40–45, but it was nice to see that validated. These val- ues approximate that 60% reduction target in at least an Ontario context. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be open to adding solar systems at any time, but if you are looking for an indication of the most cost-effective way to get to a net zero energy home, this 60% threshold is useful and we can explore it more. The house pictured here is a Near Zero cottage that a fine R-2000 builder, Derek Seaman of Southamp- ton, Ont., has been building for us. He has been kind enough to share details of pricing of various elements, and three visible choices help demonstrate the concept of finding the next most cost-effective choices. Take the south-facing triple-glazed windows that you see in the picture. Two specific choices were made. First, we selected a relatively high solar gain low E coating with a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.48 for the south-facing glass, and low radiant gain and loss coating with an SHGC of 0.22 for the north- and west-facing glass. Second, we chose triple glazing. These two choices added just under $1,300 to the cost of the admittedly modest window order. However, using both HOT2000 and REM/Rate soft- ware, I found that these two choices reduced the estimated total annual energy usage by between 700 and 1200 kWh per year. That equates to $1.10 to $1.86 per kWh saved. Next, notice the extruded foam insulated sheathing on the wall. That’s 3” thick, and with the 2x6 wall with spray-in-place closed cell foam in the cavity, that results in an effective R-value of R40. We considered the impact of an extra inch of extruded foam to get to R45 effective walls. This would have cost about $750 more in foam materials alone, but would have resulted in an estimated annual energy reduction of less than 100 kWh. The Renewables Sweet Spot industryexpert By G ord Cooke SUPPLIED PHOTO The south-facing windows of this net zero cottage were triple glazed, which reduced the estimated total annual energy usage.
  9. 9. 7WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 Finally, notice on the roof the solar-integrated shingles. This is a 5 kW array of the relatively new DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles that offer a very attractive and practical application for solar integration. In the Southampton latitude, a solar system with a capacity of 5 kW is estimated to produce approximately 6,300 kWh of power annually or 1,260 kWh/kW capacity installed. The installed cost of the solar shingles was approximately $5,500 per kW installed capacity. The table above summarizes the impact of better windows and addi- tional extruded foam sheathing as compared to adding additional solar capacity. Therefore triple-glazed windows were a 3 to 4 times better investment than adding additional solar capac- ity, but going from an R40 effective wall to R45 by adding another 1” of extruded foam would be less cost effective than adding an additional 0.08 kW solar capacity. It is important to note that the more typical PV panels that mount over top of the roofing materials can now be installed for as little as $4,000 to $4,500 per kW capacity. This, of course, changes the decision matrix from a cost perspective, notwithstand- ing the architectural appeal of the integrated solar shingles. It should add confidence to high performance builders who are offer- ing ever more energy-efficient tech- nologies that there are some compel- ling cost metrics that can be used in the decision matrix process. As you consider the implications of solar panels on process, structure, design, warranty and marketing, you can now be assured there is a way to evaluate or compare the cost relative to other energy improvements such as better windows, additional insulation or more efficient mechanical systems. There is indeed a sweet spot of cost versus renewables capacity that will help you along the path to net zero or Near Zero energy homes. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. kWh/yr Saved Cost Additional Additional Solar Capacity Solar Cost Avoided Avoided Triple-glazed windows 700–1200 kWh $1,300 0.56–0.95 kW $3,080 to $5,225 R40 to R45 walls 100 kWh $750 0.08 kW $440
  10. 10. 8 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 P anasonic Eco Solutions Canada is teaming up with partner Tabuchi Electric of Japan to bring a new residential energy man- agement system to North America. The EneTelus Intelligent Battery System (EIBS) is a groundbreaking 5.5 kW AC hybrid residential inverter that integrates a 10 kWh lithium-ion battery that will provide residential customers a viable option for their household energy management needs. The EIBS will provide homeowners an affordable and effective option to lessen their dependency on the grid and by using the built-in peak-shifting capabilities, better manage their energy costs. This inverter is designed to work seamlessly with Panasonic’s market- leading lithium-ion battery, and is bred from Tabuchi’s vast experience with inverter design and manufactur- ing which spans more than 20 years. The inverter’s internal bidirectional DC/DC converter charges the battery from either the solar panels installed on the roof or from the grid, thereby facilitating flexibility and superior bat- tery management. Off-peak electricity can be stored at night and dispatched during the day to reduce electricity time of use costs. Normally, it takes PV designers/ installers a long time to design com- plex battery backup systems. How- ever, pairing the EIBS hybrid inverter with storage batteries enables PV system designers/installers to reduce lead times for designing an effective backup system. These systems reduce the need to be grid dependent and provide alternative power during grid interruptions. Homeowners will benefit from buildernews By Panasonic and Bet t e r Bu i l de r S t a ff Getting Off the Grid – Affordable, Smart, Nonsubsidized Solar Photovoltaics (PV) With Battery Energy Storage IMAGES:PANASONIC Solar Inverter With Lithium Ion Battery System: Block Diagram
  11. 11. 9WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 lower electricity bills, and three different mode settings that maximize the use of backup power during outages. EIBS additionally enables utili- ties to manage grid stability, especially during peak hours. Looking at the big picture, util- ities will save a tremendous amount of money through reduced substation and trans- mission construction. BB buildernews By Panasonic and Better Builder Staff Grid tied: Selling back to the grid.
  12. 12. 10 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015
  13. 13. 11WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 W e live in an exciting time. The connected home is no longer exclusively for the wealthy. What was once only available to a niche market is quickly becoming a mainstream reality. Who doesn’t want the ability to monitor both the inside and outside of their home, access a full wireless security system, turn on their lights when away on vacation, or get instant notification of a flood, fire or carbon monoxide leak from the comfort of their smartphone? So it’s not surprising the connected home category is expected to grow aggressively as customer awareness and penetration do the same. Insur- ance companies are also watching this category closely. Water and fire dam- age are two of the largest expenses they have to reimburse. Insurers are intrigued by the ways connected homes can greatly reduce – or at best eliminate – these claims through early warning measures. Homebuilders now have the oppor- tunity to differentiate themselves from their competition by tapping into this emerging market and incor- porating connected home products into builds. Rather than only focusing on benefits linked to a home’s size or energy efficiency, for example, they can take it a step further and lever- age connected home products to offer unique solutions to their customers. Builders should never forget that purchasing a home is the biggest investment most people will ever make. Not only do they want it to be functional, look great and last a long time, they also have a vested inter- est in protecting their asset. Builders are in the unique position to change regular homes into smart, connected homes right from the start. They can give their customers the ability to take charge of their home’s security by supplying the platform and starter kits with the purchase of a home. By setting up connected home systems in décor centres, homebuilders can also explore the potential to make addi- tional revenue by upselling à la carte devices to their customers and driving customer satisfaction in the process. If you are considering offering connected home solutions with your builds, it’s also wise to look at moni- toring solutions that have the ability to expand as the desires of homeowners change over time. Consider systems that are linked to an overall device eco- system, again for easy expansion. One solution to consider is the new Panasonic Home Monitoring System. It has no monthly fees or contracts, offers an easy two-step initial setup, and allows users to monitor their home from anywhere in the world via their smartphone. Panasonic uses proven digital enhanced cordless tele- communications (DECT) wireless tech- nology, which maximizes the system’s range to more than twice that of Wi- Fi-only systems (up to 1,000 ft.). DECT technology also significantly reduces frequency interference with other wire- less devices around the house, giving users piece of mind that the system is always communicating properly. Up to four cameras and 50 additional devices can be added to one Home Monitoring System, so as customer desires change, the system can too. BB To learn more visit Connected Homes Offer Competitive Advantage for Builders buildernews By Panasonic and Be t t e r Bu i l de r S t a ff PHOTO:WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  14. 14. 12 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 buildernews By Panasonic and Better Builder Staff
  15. 15. 13WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 F ifty-seven minutes – that is the average time my teenager spends in the shower. Yes, the engineer in me compels me to analyze all the energy use in my household. Meanwhile, my young- est takes less than five minutes, but I’ll leave that story for another time. Hot water use var- ies from one household to another depending on the number of occupants, their behaviour, and an entirely separate, but very important contribut- ing factor – how many teenagers you have. When designing a cus- tom home, the builder and designer can factor in the behaviours of family mem- bers, making a net zero performance-based design more feasible. However, when talking about large scale net zero housing in a production setting, build- ers and designers need to make assumptions about occupant behaviour and design net zero based on typical behaviours. So what should we assume for the amount of hot water used for showering? Natural Resources Canada’s CanmetENERGY research on hot water energy consumption shows that a typical electrically heated home consumes about 4,300 kWh of electricity for heating domestic hot water with an annual cost of about $470 per household. CanmetENERGY has analyzed hundreds of housing data points to determine an average hot water heating load of 143 L/day per household based on the average behaviours of two adults and one child. The latest NRCan voluntary energy efficiency housing programs (R-2000 Net Zero Energy pilot) cur- rently use this assumption. As the housing industry moves toward very energy-efficient hous- ing design (e.g. net zero), reducing the water heating load becomes very important. Figure 1 summarizes the estimated energy consumption breakdown of a typical 2012 Ontario Building Code (OBC)-built single detached home. While over 50% of the estimated energy consumption is attributable to space heating, it is important to note that aside from the NRCan-set standard baseload assumptions for lights and appli- ances, the next big load is domestic hot water heating (21% of total energy consumption). Figure 2 summarizes the average estimated energy consumption breakdown across all single detached net zero home designs from NRCan’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative: Owens Corning’s Net Zero Housing Community proj- ect (ecoEII OC Net Zero project) (www.zeroenergy. ca). While the builders have reduced space heat- ing loads down to 20% of total energy consumption, the domestic hot water heating load still hovers around 17%. The baseload energy use for lights and appliances makes up over 50% of the energy use in a net zero house. There’s a huge industrynews By Mi c h a e l Li o Taking Water Heating to New Heights in Net Zero Housing Communities
  16. 16. 14 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 opportunity to reduce water heating energy consumption. As for baseloads – we’ll leave that for another article. While a production builder can’t predict the number of teenagers in a family or the duration of their hot showers, efficient water heating tech- nologies are available to reduce con- sumption. The affordable and readily available hybrid heat pump water heater (HPWH) is a great example of such a technology. What is a heat pump water heater (HPWH) and how does it work? An HPWH uses the heat from the surrounding air to heat water more efficiently. Instead of heating stored water directly with a conventional electric element, this water heater absorbs available heat from the ambi- ent air, which is then transferred to and intensified by a heat exchanger into the water, a far more cost-effec- tive process. To help better under- stand this concept, try to imagine a refrigerator that is working in reverse mode. Instead of removing heat from the inside of a box, the HPWH actu- ally removes heat from the surround- ing area and transfers it to the water inside an enclosed tank. electric resistance water heater? An HPWH does not convert electricity into heat like a typical electric water heater. Instead, the HPWH moves heat from the air into the water. An HPWH is more efficient than electric resis- tance water heaters. Energy factor (EF) measures the amount of hot water produced as a result of consuming one unit of energy. Most 100% efficient electric resistance water heaters only have an EF of 1.0 (or 0.93 when con- sidering standby losses), meaning it uses one unit of energy to produce one unit of energy worth of hot water. The Rheem Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater (Figure 3), for example, has an EF of 2.45, which means it consumes one unit of energy and produces approximately two and a half units of energy worth of hot water. What does a hybrid heat pump water heater (HPWH) mean? A hybrid HPWH allows the homeowner to toggle the operation of the heat pump to draw more or less heat out of the air. For instance, if you’re finding there is a lot of solar gain (over- heating in rooms with big windows), the unit can be used in heat pump only mode to draw some of that free heat into the water tank (by circulating the furnace fan). Similarly in the summer, the heat pump only mode could provide a mea- sure of air condition- ing by removing heat from the indoor air. Will the location of the As most units will be located in a mechanical room or unoccupied space, any minor temperature swing in these spaces will generally not com- promise whole home comfort. If the temperature swing is unacceptable, the heat pump mode can be toggled. How does this technology comple- ment net zero energy home design? Net zero energy home designs will require a renewable energy genera- tion component like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Solar PVs produce electricity for the home and the best way to optimize on this renewable is to use electric mechani- cal equipment (for space heating and water heating). As discussed, an HPWH is almost twice as energy efficient as a standard electric resistance water heater with added cooling benefits in the summer. It is also important to note that most net zero energy home designs also use an electric air source heat pump (ASHP) as the primary space heating equip- ment. When an ASHP is coupled with an HPWH, it fully opti- mizes the energy effi- ciency performance of both pieces of equip- ment, delivering very significant benefits. Case Study: ecoEII OC Net Zero proj- ect – HPWH partner: Rheem “Hybrid water heaters pair well with heat pumps for space heat- ing. Together they deliver enormous energy savings,” reports Derek Hick- son, manager of innovation at Minto Developments Inc. Reid’s Heritage Homes and Minto are two of the selected builders participating in the ecoEII OC Net Zero project that will see at least 25 net zero houses built across Canada. Reid’s and Minto are building at least five net zero houses in the regions of industrynews By M ichael Lio Figure 3: Rheem Professional Prestige Series Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater. SUPPLIEDIMAGE
  17. 17. 15WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 Guelph and Ottawa respectively. Both builder design teams ana- lyzed readily available technologies and found the most affordable and seamless integrated technology was the HPWH. In April 2013, Rheem debuted an entirely redesigned hybrid water heater with an EF of 2.45. “Rheem launched America’s first hybrid elec- tric heat pump water heater in 2009, and now we’ve changed the face of the hybrid market with our new Pres- tige Series unit,” said Bryan Collar, senior product manager at Rheem’s Water Heating division. “This is one of the most efficient water heaters available today, and it’s something that builders can leverage when try- ing to educate homebuyers on the energy savings that come with buy- ing a new home.” Rheem was selected as the exclu- sive national partner for the HPWH technology for the ecoEII OC Net Zero project. All participating build- ers, including Reid’s and Minto in Ontario, Mattamy Homes in Calgary, Construction Voyer in Quebec, and Provident Developments in Halifax will be providing the HPWH as a stan- dard in their net zero homes. “The Rheem Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater provides a great option that adds to the overall efficiency of the home. The combination of the heat pump component in the heater provides reduced energy consump- tion, in turn reducing the solar energy required to power the home, making this a cost-efficient option with longevity, comfort and peace of mind to the buyers’ experience,” sug- gests Jennifer Weatherston, director of estimating & innovation at Reid’s Heritage Homes. The ecoEII OC Net Zero project is in its last year and construction of all five net zero communities will be completed by March 2016. The first grand opening was hosted by Reid’s Heritage Homes in Guelph this spring. For more information about the Rheem Professional Prestige Series Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater, visit For more information about the ecoEII OC Net Zero project, visit BB Michael Lio is president at buildABILITY Corporation. industrynews By Michael Lio
  18. 18. 16 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 H omebuilder Anthony Aebi, president of Greenhill Contracting, didn’t even know he was a contender for RESNET’s Cross-Border Builder Challenge last fall. But when energy modeller Pasquale Strocchia, who rates the energy efficiency of Aebi’s upstate New York homes, saw how well they performed, he immediately put Aebi’s name for- ward. It was a move that paid off when Aebi easily won the prestigious challenge for his net zero energy homes. The win is well deserved, Strocchia says, since Aebi works very hard. But the main reasons he is such a leader in energy efficiency is thanks to a scientific mind keen on experimenting, and an obsessive drive to constantly improve his energy rating. “Beating his past performance is a bit of a game to him.” Aebi isn’t an engineer, hasn’t studied sustainability at the university level, and doesn’t consider himself an envi- ronmentalist. But he’d built the first net zero home in the American Northeast by 2007. Before then, Aebi admits, he was building “typical crap stick homes.” He changed his building methods after see- ing a builder using insulated concrete forms (ICFs) and thought it was so “neat,” he decided to try it out on his own homes. Around the same time, he discovered solar and decided to pair that with ICFs as an experiment, then hired Strocchia to rate the home’s energy use. Aebi was in for a big surprise – Strocchia’s energy mod- elling revealed the house had a -1 rating – a net positive home – meaning it produced more energy than it used. After a little research, Aebi discovered that very few homes were built like that. Once inspired, he began to put all his energy into building, experimenting with several different ICF brands before deciding on the best. He also worked closely with his mason to find a more efficient building process, which resulted in changing the roof-to- wall connection for better performance and greater cost effectiveness. That’s the home that ended up being rated the first net zero home in the American Northeast. Now with 22 homes under his belt – and eight more in the works – Aebi has garnered much respect in the indus- try. And that has trickled down to his trades. Strocchia says Aebi’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor called him for a retest on some ductwork. “We’d told him the work was good and passed the test, but he was after zero leakage. Pretty amazing to take that on with no other provocation than to improve your performance. But Anthony’s enthusiasm and striving is contagious.” featurestory By Al e x Ne w m a n The Home A "nonenvironmentalist" discovers builders to do the same.
  19. 19. 17WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 Aebi and Strocchia both use HERS as a rating index – they aim for ENERGY STAR, which in the States uses HERS to rate efficiency. It’s become internationally recognized as a rating system to compare the efficiency of an existing home to one newly built to current code. The U.S. Depart- ment of Energy, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED program, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program all use HERS, which was cre- ated in 2006 and devised from the former HERS scale. Designed in the late 1980s by the mortgage industry, the HERS scale gave banks a way to “quantify the value of energy efficiency so they could refinance an existing home, because of the money saved in the long run,” Strocchia says. Strocchia has looked at Canada’s ENERGY STAR pro- gram, and while he hasn’t examined it in depth, he says it appears to be more “prescriptive” than the U.S. equiva- lent. “The list seems large without the give and take of HERS, which in my opinion allows a builder more flex- of the Future Now PHOTO:GREENHILLCONTRACTING
  20. 20. 18 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 ibility to decide what to complete in order to have the home hit the target of reduced energy consumption.” Ironically, only a few banks now use the HERS index to help determine mortgage eligibility. That annoys Aebi. “When I went to renew my mortgage, they looked at car payments, income, assets, but no one asked how much I spend on energy in a year.” That’s short-sighted, Aebi says, since a net zero energy home elimi- nates the roughly $5000–$6000 you’d expect to pay on utilities in a year, money better spent on putting into the home itself. According to Aebi, The Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act (The SAVE Act) – which would require banks to consider a home’s energy use or efficiency in mortgage calculations – has been languishing in front of Congress for years. Banks aside, the straight cash talk resonates with potential buyers. “Homeowners get the bottom line – when they don’t have to pay $6000 a year on energy bills, they can put that money into a bigger, better home,” Aebi says. At 3.5% interest, that translates into $80,000 more on the mortgage, something he posts on his website. Creating net zero energy homes takes a combination of superior build- ing envelope – photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, Icynene spray foam, triple pane windows, and 2.5 in. Styrofoam insulation inside and out – with a heat recovery system for energy use that is about one quarter what a normal new house would use. Since solar panels produce enough energy in summer to offset any use in the winter, the grid becomes the home’s battery – winding forward and backward – and at the end of the year, most homeowners end up with a small return/refund. The geothermal system Aebi uses is really a ground source heat pump that generates additional energy. Nor- mally geothermal would be cost pro- hibitive, but since the homes are so well insulated and implement a heat recovery system, the energy required is so minimal, they can use smaller equipment, Strocchia explains. The only drawback to geothermal, Strocchia adds, is the higher cost of a ground source heat pump, which basi- cally connects a plastic pump in the ground and uses refrigeration technol- ogy to harvest heat. A cheaper alternative is an air source heat pump. “The Japa- nese have had some phenomenal progress with this technology and created units that can operate at -15°F and provide about 75% of their rated capacity,” Strocchia says. Energy modeller Pasquale Strocchia (R), who rates the energy efficiency of Aebi’s upstate New York homes, put Aebi’s name forward and he easily won the prestigious challenge for his net zero energy homes. PHOTO:WENDYSHAMI featurestory By Alex Newman Lifebreath MAX Residential HRVs: Maximum efficiency Maximum reliability Maximum choice
  21. 21. 19WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 featurestory By Alex Newman Clockwise from top left: Builder Anthony Aebi explains high efficiency pressure- balanced HRV to John Godden of Better Builder; attic detail – 2-lb. blown foam used to encapsulate cavity for use for HVAC distribution; happy, satisfied homeowners, happy award-winning builder. PHOTOS:GREENHILLCONTRACTING 19WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015
  22. 22. 20 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 “It’s becoming an afford- able option to get efficient electric-based heating and cooling. The disadvan- tage is that the equipment sits on the ground or is attached to the house, so the life expectancy of the equipment is lower.” That’s why Aebi, in look- ing at long-term sustain- ability of buildings, feels the ground source heat pump is the wisest choice – and more effective. But building better and reducing energy use can’t only be about the bottom line or saving the environ- ment. Another important factor to consider is resil- iency, especially in light of climate change and the recent very harsh winters. During the winter of 2013/2014, Aebi had two homes that were built, but not yet sold. Stroc- chia suggested he shut the doors, turn off the heat and then conduct temperature monitoring to see exactly how they performed. At the outset, indoor temperatures were 70°F, and outside it was 5°F. Although the out- side temperature fluctuated between -8°F and +10°F, the temperature inside levelled off at 60°F. As Strocchia sees it, the home became not only net zero energy in very cold weather, “but also became a valuable resource for that family, for extended family, and even neighbours who would have a safe place to go if they lost power dur- ing extreme cold.” Being sustainable not just for the planet, but for people too is something that resonates with Aebi. “He has kids,” Strocchia says. “He sees the volatility of energy in terms of foreign policy, plus the pollution and car- bon emission factor, and is dedicated to making energy efficiency a priority because he sees all the related ben- efits. But mostly he has a personal interest in making a difference.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at featurestory By Alex Newman PHOTO:GREENHILLCONTRACTING Heart of the solar photovoltaic (PV) system – the inverter with main electrical panel.
  23. 23. 21WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 Telephone 905-760-9894 Toll Free 1-800-465-5700 Fax 905-660-5967 Mike Martino I am a “GOOD MAN” MikeMartino HVAC2014 We provide home comfort solutions that exceed our customers’ expectations through professional design, installation, service and use of environmentally friendly, energy efficient products. CALL US FIRST!
  24. 24. 22 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015
  25. 25. 23WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 W ith building codes mov- ing toward greater energy efficiency, environmental protection and the prevention of climate change, the call to adopt and implement green building design and construction best practices is growing stronger throughout North America. Not only is the call being heard, it is being answered. Renewable and responsible building techniques, processes, and materials are gaining momentum ahead of more stringent code changes poised to take effect in Canada in 2017. In fact, many are real- izing that being on the leading edge of the curve already offers some distinct competitive advantages. Manufacturers such as Milton, Ont.’s ROXUL Inc. are a strong case in point. Having introduced green building prod- ucts to market decades before it was trendy, its leadership understood that best practices not only meant greater progress, but also better business. ROXUL’s environmentally-friendly stone wool insulation has been proven to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs. While heating and cool- ing make up two-thirds of a typical home energy bill, the average home- owner can cut that expense in half – saving $750 per year – by insulating properly. Reducing energy consump- tion is only one way ROXUL is making an impact. The company’s sustainabil- ity vision extends beyond the perfor- mance of its products to include every facet of its operation. While many companies still rely exclusively on the use of oil, coal, and natural gas to produce their products and run their business, ROXUL Inc. has instituted construction mandates, manufacturing processes, and recy- cling initiatives that serve to reduce its environmental impact and lower its own energy costs, as well as the reliance on external resources. Over the last six years, ROXUL has invested over $170 million into its manufacturing facilities to ensure envi- ronmental systems meet and exceed government standards. When you buildernews By RO XU L and Be t t e r Bu i l de r S t a ff Environmental Sustainability: Good for the Planet. Good for Business. ROXUL’s production line – flawless operation around the clock. PHOTO:ROXUL
  26. 26. 24 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 consider that every dollar spent on green efficiency initiatives generates between $4 and $8 in gross domestic product (GDP) (Source: Natural Resources Canada), the phrase “green initiative” certainly takes on another meaning entirely, and the economic impact is significant. “Sustainability is a fundamental pil- lar of our philosophy at ROXUL,” says Trent Ogilvie, president of ROXUL Inc. “We are committed to energy efficiency and conservation being integral ele- ments of everything we do.” Environmental responsibility is woven into the fabric of the organiza- tion, almost literally. ROXUL’s stone wool products are comprised of renew- able, naturally abundant and recycled materials. Its sound-absorbent, fire- resistant and water-repellent insula- tion is also chemically inert and free of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro- chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). ROXUL products are also GREENGUARD certi- fied, which means they meet the most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). What’s more, ROXUL insulation maintains effec- tive R-values and promotes healthier indoor air quality, making it a long- term, sustainable solution for building construction, renovation or retrofit. ROXUL’s production facilities in Milton, Ont., Grand Forks, B.C. and Marshall County, Mississippi use advanced comprehensive environmen- tal management systems to control emissions. The filters themselves are constructed of ROXUL’s own material and recycled back into the production process once they have served their purpose, reducing both waste and cost. Heat from the manufacturing process is recovered and also used to heat factories and warehouses. “Our stone wool insulation is one of the few building products to recover the energy used in its manufacturing process,” notes Ogilvie. “ROXUL insula- tion can save more than 128 times more primary energy than was used for its production, transport and disposal. The energy balance becomes positive only five months after installation,” he says. “Looking at the big picture, one year’s production of stone wool insula- tion will save more than 200 million tons of CO2 emissions from buildings and processes worldwide, over the lifespan of the product. The impact is incredible, and yet ROXUL continues to explore further efficiencies.” Water used in the production of rigid and semirigid stone wool insulation products like COMFORT- BATT®, COMFORTBOARD ™ IS, MONOBOARD®, TOPROCK® and SAFE ‘n’ SOUND® is collected and reused, reducing total consumption by as much as 50%. Stormwater is also col- lected for use in this process, which reduces costs, along with the demand on the local municipal water systems. More impressive is that ROXUL production facilities send zero waste to the landfill as a result of the pro- duction process. ROXUL products contain up to 40% recycled materials, including slag – a byproduct of steel production that would otherwise go to landfill. Its manufacturing practices, processes, and high recycled content are a few of many contributing factors to ROXUL insulation achieving valuable Credit Certification points in several categories of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Yet, it goes further still. The first thing visitors to ROXUL’s North Ameri- can corporate headquarters will notice is priority parking spots for those with plug-in electric vehicles. It has insti- tuted a no idling policy at its office and plants to limit harmful CO2 emissions. The office building was understand- ably constructed with a great deal of attention to insulation best practices, as it remains one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of conserving energy. It also integrated glass walls and skylights into the design to use natural light rather than relying solely on the high efficiency electric lighting. The building’s LEED Gold certification was important, given ROXUL’s com- mitment and mandate toward environ- mental leadership. The introduction of Near Zero, net zero and other energy efficiency benchmarks – now being more widely embraced – has given greater rel- evancy to ROXUL’s environmental stewardship. With builders striving to differentiate themselves and sati- ate consumer demand for greener options, ROXUL has discovered that its green policy has also been a wise busi- ness decision. The reasons are clear cut. Consider 40% of all energy con- sumed is used in buildings and up to 30% of that total is wasted. Together, Canada and the U.S. account for only 5.5% of the world’s population – but produce 27% of the world’s green- house gas emissions and use 50% of the energy consumed by the world’s richest nations. That’s staggering. “Our sales teams globally have made considerable strides, as build- ers, designers, architects, and con- sumers seek to spec products that are more conscious of the world we live in,” says Ogilvie. “Greener options and initiatives are an investment in our business and our future, but ulti- mately, when we commit to renewable energy and environmental sustainabil- ity, everybody wins.” BB buildernews By ROXUL and Better Builder Staff PHOTO:ROXUL ROXUL’s North Ameri- can corporate head- quarters incorporates integrated glass walls and skylights into its design to use natural light rather than relying solely on the high efficiency electric lighting.
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  29. 29. 27WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 I n my last article I talked about net zero homes and are we ready. While we still have a way to go before this becomes a market real- ity, it’s fair to say that many builders are now building high performance homes, such as the ENERGY STAR program for new homes. However, these high performance homes are very different from homes built even a few years ago. The chal- lenge becomes managing customers’ expectations. If you sell your cus- tomer a high performance home and there are performance issues, wow, do you have a problem! With a tighter envelope and more insulation, there becomes a greater need to manage excess moisture and heat gain. That’s right, heat gain. Here’s the problem. We are now building tighter and tighter homes and our heating loads have fallen dramatically. The new CSA F280 mechanical guidelines address this with a comfort delivery system by using much smaller furnaces that better meet the needs of today’s high performance homes. But what do you do with solar heat gain from that large patio door, especially if it faces west? On a sunny day it’s enough solar gain to The Trouble With Windows – Passive Solar Overheating fromthegroundup By Dou g Ta rry Windows with high solar gain can cause overheating in the winter and especially during the summer. IMAGE:SUSTAINABILITYWORKSHOP.AUTODESK.COM
  30. 30. 28 WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 14 | SUMMER 2015 overheat the room. I don’t think a home counts as high performance if you cook your customers! So what are the options? Blinds. Sure, but it’s an added cost and can lead to the seals breaking down if the window overheats. Exterior films. There are aftermar- ket products, but they typically void the window warranty and no sensible builder is going to take responsibility for this product. Awnings, overhangs and pergolas. They can be a great add-on, but there’s added cost. As a produc- tion builder, how do you have that conversation with your customer? It goes something like this. “I know I just sold you a high performance home, but I’ve looked at your win- dows and I really think you should spend several thousand dollars more so that your home doesn’t overheat.” Good luck with that. I’ve tried it and it is not pretty. How about a bigger air conditioner to deal with that excess load? It’s called CSA F280 and it’s designed to right-size your mechanicals. A larger AC is going to lead to a cold, clammy home and then you have a whole new problem. Or how about we look at the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) for the windows and patio doors pro- vided by our window manufacturer, and order one that is less than 0.3? SHGC measures how much heat from the sun is blocked. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower the SHGC, the more a product is blocking solar heat gain. This is particularly important dur- ing the summer cooling season in hot southern climates (like Southern Ontario). Personally I’m a big fan of the Cardinal LoE 366 offered by my window supplier North Star. It does an awesome job of reducing heat gain, improving performance and comfort, and it’s really affordable, maybe $150 for the rear of a home. And the best part? You don’t cook your customers. My experience says it is less costly to include them at no charge than the cost of a perfor- mance callback. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Not so fast. National Resources Canada (NRCan) does not like windows with low SHGC. So what is the issue? When you look at using a low solar glass coating, the energy rating (ER) for the window is reduced. NRCan overem- phasizes ER as a perfor- mance measurement for the windows because they favour solar heat gain for homes as a method for heating the home. In programs such as ENERGY STAR, builders wanting to use low solar gain windows and patio doors may have to use the performance method to do so. A really simple solution would be the permitted use of low solar gain windows and patio doors for high performance homes such as in the ENERGY STAR program. Now simple is not the same as easy, because I have been asking the folks at NRCan for this very concept for years. Unfor- tunately, they are not listening. I am concerned this will cause us to build a generation of high performance homes with performance issues. Let’s be realistic about energy for once. Natural gas is cheap and heating high performance homes is pretty affordable. On the other hand, electricity rates are rising and will continue to rise significantly over the next decade. The Ontario govern- ment has a mandate to reduce peak electricity loads for the province and this will be reflected by even higher rates during peak summer hours. That happens to be the same time when low solar gain windows provide the greatest benefit. NRCan’s position on the use of low solar glass windows goes directly against the Ontario gov- ernment’s climate initiative. Now the game is about to change significantly with the rollout of the new HOT2000 modelling program. This is the ideal time to update the window tables so the use of low solar glass is permissible with specific orientations in high per- formance homes. However, this does not appear to be the case. Ironically, NRCan’s own literature contemplates the need for low solar glass. Here’s an excerpt from the NRCan Consumer’s Guide to Buying Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors. “Studies have shown that, for most of Canada, it is still appropriate to choose your windows on the basis of the ER number. Exceptions to this rule are those few locations where air conditioning costs are high relative to the amount spent on space heating. In these few cases, consider west-fac- ing windows with a lower solar heat gain potential.” And on the NRCan website, their own test results show that the use of low SHGC can save customers as much as $200 annually, and that was not new data, so the number will ultimately end up being much higher as Ontario’s electricity rates con- tinue to rise. So, a window that provides greater comfort, reduces fabric fading and bleaching of hardwood floors, and saves the customer money every year! Using windows with a low solar gain when it’s needed sounds like a pretty clear vision to me. BB Doug Tarry Jr. is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ont. fromthegroundup By Doug Tarry I don’t think a home counts as high performance if you cook your customers!