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the builder’s source
Issue 16 | Winter 2015
Better Builders from
Living the ...
A b r e a t h o f f r e s h a i r .
All mechanical and electrical components are
accessible from the front of ...
Feature story
18	 Living the Best with LIV Communities
	 Landmart Homes rebrands itself as “an example
	 of a company will...
2 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
Better Builder Magazine,
63 Blair Street,
Toronto, ON M4B 3N5
41... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
n Ontario we have a defined public
policy goal of achieving net zero
ener... | Issue 16 | Winter 20156
hen it comes to framing
houses, Caleb Howden
was something of a child
pro... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
and “How to mitigate thermal heat
loss due to that structure.”
He finds maj...
6 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
n September 11, 2015, at their
first net zero grand open-
ing, Reid’s He... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
The design requirements of the
R-2000 Net Zero Energy pilot techni-
cal sta...
8 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
oyalpark Homes has green
history. The Woodbridge, Ont.,
company built th... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
system and its saleability.”
The battery storage technol-
ogy with its abil...
10 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
ancy McCabe has been super-
vising sites for most of her
life. She start...
12 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
took my first R-2000 workshop in
1982. National Resources Canada
14 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
that work in a discovery site before
adoption across their entire produc-... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
By A l e x Ne wm a n
oy Nandram’s building story
begins in a...
16 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
the thermostat because “When
the feet are warm, the rest of
you feels war... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
18 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
hen Ancaster-based
builder Landmart
Homes decided to
rebrand and expand... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
doing,” says Martelli.
Better Than Code is
a simplified platform
that help...
20 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
in one inch. It will be used in attic
hatch assemblies to ensure the inte... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
Vision, and we have to live up to this.”
Martelli is hoping buyers can be
22 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
By A l e x Ne wm a n
o longer the domain of garages
and co... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
By Alex Newman
laneway house is fully independent
of the main...
24 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
mmanuel Cosgrove is a self-con-
fessed “ecofreak and extreme
26 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
locally built windows with triple pane
glass, and specified Low E coating... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
Goodman is mine.
When it came time to find a strategic ...
28 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
and he asked me what category the
home would be in at Nationals so
he’d kn...
30 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
home and mentioned the ENERGY
STAR for New Homes pilot project.
He sugges... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
By Doug Tarry
still the most searched item
on our company ...
32 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
rolled out, could entail. A simplistic
solution to a complex problem with... | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 16 / Winter 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 16 / Winter 2015

  1. 1. 1 BETTER BuilderMAGAZINE the builder’s source Issue 16 | Winter 2015 Better Builders from Living the Best with LIV Communities Are We Setting the Bar Too High? Mentoring Change with Builders Envelope – First Things First The Path to Continual Improvement In this Issue Coast to Coast Publication#42408014
  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 Airmax ad with Prioritizing AMT 12430 AD FPG 09_HR.pdf 1 2013-04-18 8:46 AM
  3. 3. Feature story 18 Living the Best with LIV Communities Landmart Homes rebrands itself as “an example of a company willing to redefine itself beyond what most builders are doing.” By tracy Hanes Inside this issue 02 Publisher’s Note: Good, Better, Best by john godden 03 The Bada Test: Are We Setting the Bar Too High Too Soon? by Lou Bada 04 Builder News: Denim Homes – A Quality Envelope Is the Key by alex newman 06 Industry Expert: Round One – A Production Style Net Zero Home by Gord Cooke 08 Industry News: Royalpark’s a PowerHaus by Alex Newman 11 Site Specific: Nancy McCabe by Alex Newman 13 Industry Expert: Mentoring Change with Builders by Michael Lio 15 Builder News: Sharing Resources: The Essence of Green by ALex Newman 22 Industry News: Fabulous Laneway Houses by Lanefab by ALex Newman 25 Builder News: The Edelweiss Home: Envelope – First Things First by ALex Newman 29 From the Ground Up: A Journey on the Path of Continual Improvement by Doug Tarry BETTER BuilderMAGAZINE the builder’s source 1 Issue 16 | winter 2015 23 Cover Image: Shutterstock 25 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 SuppliedPhoto 11 15 photo:RNDCOnstruction Photo:Lanefabdesign/buildPhoto:Ecohome
  4. 4. 2 | Issue 16 | Winter 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. W hat is your definition of a good builder? Good reputation, good customer service, a high Tarion rating? The philosophy of sustainability is nearest and dearest to my heart and hope- fully included in your criteria for a good builder. Regarding sustainability, I’m not just talk- ing energy efficiency, but also durability; not just low operat- ing costs, but also a structure built to last. Remember the requirements of the building code are a minimum standard. Today’s houses are built faster because of the approval process. Once permits are in hand, houses must be delivered at a predetermined clos- ing date. The discussion of what makes a good builder needs to also include how the builder handles the process of construction under very challenging circumstances. Better builders know quality takes time and find the sweet spot between construction speed and craftsmanship. Better builders have emerged as a result of utility programs like Optimum Homes. The builder’s organization looks inward with the help of outside consultants to determine process and timelines. Consultants and the builder collaboratively set realistic goals and create a template for change. Accountability increases across all depart- ments as communication is fine tuned and a feedback loop is established. Key to the suc- cess of better builders are the individuals on-site who take personal ownership of the orga- nization’s goals. In this issue our regular con- tributors Lou Bada, Gord Cooke, Michael Lio and Doug Tarry discuss the path of continual improvement between code homes and low energy homes. Better Builder visits some of the best builders across Canada – Lanefab Design/Build in B.C., LIV Communities, Royalpark Homes and RND Construction in Ontario, Ecohome in Que- bec and Denim Homes in Nova Scotia. These companies are industry leaders practising the triple bottom line in their construction projects – what’s good for people, business and the environment. BB Good, Better, Best publisher’snote By Joh n Go dden 2 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 Better builders know quality takes time and find the sweet spot between construction speed and craftsmanship. BETTER BuilderMAGAZINE the builder’s source To advertise contact: 647-382-1402 • or visit us at
  5. 5. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 I n Ontario we have a defined public policy goal of achieving net zero energy housing by 2030. The bar has been set. The process of regula- tion through the Ontario Building Code (OBC) of continuous improve- ment in energy efficiency for houses in five-year increments until 2030 is ambitious and reasonable, for the most part. The overarching goal is a low car- bon economy, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and ultimately doing our part to lessen the effects of climate change while improving the human condition and our state of well-being. Sustainability is important stuff. I’ve always liked the “triple bottom line” mantra for sustainability – planet, people and profit. Sustainability initia- tives that fail on any one of these fac- tors do not achieve the intended goal. Economic sustainability is maligned far too often. The lack of adequate, healthy and affordable housing is regu- larly an afterthought. Affordability is an elusive goal as a public policy objec- tive. But it’s difficult to simply write regulations to meet the important goal of affordable housing. With the advent of the Net Zero Energy pilot program, important work is being done on defining net zero ready and net zero energy homes as well as the delivery program and its labelling. This seems to be following a similar path of previous labelling programs (such as R-2000, LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR). This important work is being done by a group of stake- holders from government, industry consultants, suppliers, volunteer builders, and led by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. While this might seem to be a great initiative, we must be very careful and prudent in our approach to implementation. We should always begin with the desired result in mind – improving the human condition and our state of well-being on this planet. The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and other large Canadian metro- politan areas have peculiar municipal planning policy environments. Once a document is produced for net zero housing, there’s very little that can stop municipal governments from mandating this form of housing en masse well before 2030. Politicians will ask if there’s a definition of a net zero home, and if it has been built before, why shouldn’t every new home in their municipality be built that way? After all, “(fill in the blank) is the greenest municipality in Canada.” This is low-hanging fruit that is easily picked. Just write it into a set of development guidelines and you’re automatically a green municipality. And yet there is very little understand- ing of the ramifications this, once thebadatest By L ou Ba da I’ve always liked the “triple bottom line” mantra for sustainability – planet, people and profit. Continued on page 32 Illustration:igorkisselev/Shutterstock Are We Setting the Bar Too High Too Soon?
  6. 6. | Issue 16 | Winter 20156 W hen it comes to framing houses, Caleb Howden was something of a child prodigy. He started the summer he was 13, and by 14 had quit school, left his home town in Alberta’s Peace River district, and moved to Calgary where he started working two or three construction jobs. “I loved working and I loved framing houses,” says the 39-year-old owner and president of Denim Homes in Halifax, N.S. At 18 he was headhunted by an American framing company, and at 19 he and his bride moved to the States. Within a few years he was project managing commercial and residential building all over North America, from Ontario to California and Hawaii. Moving around so much gave him a “well-rounded perspective of the industry,” Howden says. “When you frame all your life, in so many differ- ent locations, under so many different bylaw requirements, you develop a wide perspective and understanding of how things are – and can be – built.” It’s also caused him to ask a lot of questions, especially why. In the States he’d frequently question the engineers about their methods and objectives. Then he’d go back to them with a better, simpler design. If his questions went unanswered, Howden would hit the books and do the research. Soon after moving to Nova Scotia, someone asked him about the best heating system. He didn’t know the answer, and since he doesn’t like “not knowing,” he researched hundreds of sustainable housing models to understand. The answer he came up with was surprising – elec- tric baseboard heating. But Howden deemed it best for practical and cost reasons. “You have to look at the upfront cost to build or install a system, and then the cost to maintain and operate monthly. There is no mechanical equipment you can put in a house that will pay itself off in the time it takes to wear out.” While that may sound like something that doesn’t belong in a magazine about energy efficiency, sustain- ability and environmen- tally responsible building, Howden makes a good counterargument. “If you build a home right so it doesn’t lose heat, then the heating system matters less and less. It then becomes a lifestyle question as in, Do you like forced air? Do you want each bedroom at a different temperature?” So Howden instead focuses on building a “qual- ity envelope” so tight, it uses minimal energy – and costs a lot less to operate. He starts with staggered double- studded walls that have a common top and bottom plate, mostly 2x10s, with 2x4s staggered on the top and bottom. These are then insulated with solid foam – either ½ lb, 1 lb or 2 lb foam depending on the situation. It’s not just about wall location either. Howden says, “Putting tons of insula- tion in a north-facing wall isn’t going to save money on heating because your heat loss is through windows.” Howden focuses on the home’s structure, where its weak spots are, Denim Homes – A Quality Envelope Is the Key buildernews By A l e x Ne w m a n An efficient airtight envelope means the heating system works less. Staggered studs on 2x10 wall plates give R40 walls. suppliedphoto 4
  7. 7. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 and “How to mitigate thermal heat loss due to that structure.” He finds major heat loss spots are between the footings and the founda- tion wall, and around the room joists and window headers. Generally he’ll use ½ lb spray foam in the walls, but wherever there’s reduced thickness – like above the window or at a load-bearing point – he will use 2 lb foam because it offers a more consistent thermal level over the whole expanse of wall. “Anywhere you have large areas of built-up lumber, you are going to lose a lot of heat,” Howden reasons. This higher-cost 2 lb closed-cell foam is also used in all the floor joists, basement and main floor, as well as rim joists because it eliminates the need for a vapour barrier. It’s also used anywhere “it’s difficult to get an air seal, or where there’s mois- ture like the basement or perimeter walls because it doesn’t take on water.” Ultimately, it’s about R-values, he says. Spray foam in a double stud wall offers significantly higher R-value than the same wall packed with fibreglass insulation. In the attic, however, he’ll use cellulose insulation rather than foam “because cellulose is economic, people have a lot of room in the attic, so it’s easy to pile up. Typically we put in R60, but can be increased.” Howden also zeroes in on the foundation. When outside ground and air temperatures are low, the founda- tion wall and interior slab are going to be cold. Separating the foundation from the slab with a thermal break helps retain heat, so he uses R20 underneath and around the perimeter of the slab. An 8” exterior wall – which is what Howden uses as standard – allows the thermal break at the slab edge to be capped by the wall plate. This would not be pos- sible with a 2x6 exterior wall. While insulation is an important factor in reducing energy consumption, How- den points out the impor- tance of windows – how many and where they’re located. “You can put in all the insulation you want, but unless you’re strategic with window placement and what they’re made of – triple pane, for example – you’ll experience heat loss. Bot- tom line is holes in walls, although necessary for light, are bad for heat loss.” Programs Most of the homes Denim constructs could qualify for programs such as EnerGuide, ENERGY STAR, R-2000, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), but Howden usually doesn’t bother regis- tering for them. For one thing it adds to the cost of the house – $1,200 for an R-2000 label – and some of the programs (especially LEED) require energy/carbon footprint reduction in aspects unre- lated to building, such as proximity to public transit. And since he also focuses mainly on build- ing the tightest building envelope possible, he doesn’t factor in things like loca- tion – or proximity to transit. “Those things [lowering carbon footprint] are relevant and have a place, but it’s just not our focus. We focus on energy efficiency through a quality envelope.” Howden won the design competi- tion to build a net zero home for $275,000 – roughly half the cost of the other bids. He’ll use the same tight envelope and install a 9 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system for generat- ing electricity. Nova Scotia, with its greater number of sunny days, is a good location for solar energy. Apart from envelope and mechani- cal systems, there are other things for builders to consider when building net zero homes. In Nova Scotia new homes are required to have an HRV (heat recovery ventilator), so Howden adds sensible features like a drying closet. “The HRV is running 24 hours anyway, and it has a built-in exhaust. It’s noth- ing to put up wire shelves and a timer so you can hang up damp clothes to dry. Yes, it’s slower than a dryer, but uses absolutely no energy.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at buildernews By Alex Newman Thanks to Caleb – Gillian was voted the greenest dentist by her association. Her office is a net zero building. “Putting tons of insulation in a north-facing wall isn’t going to save money on heating because your heat loss is through windows.” suppliedphoto
  8. 8. 6 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 O n September 11, 2015, at their first net zero grand open- ing, Reid’s Heritage Homes in Guelph, Ont., announced, “By the end of 2016 or early 2017, we will be building net zero-ready homes in all new single-family developments.” That is a bold statement, but if you consider current political agendas, customer expectations and indus- try trends, building net zero homes starts to makes sense. It is a concept really starting to gain momentum across the country. So, let’s look at one builder’s approach. By the time this article is printed, Reid’s Heritage Homes will be in the framing stages of the last two of five net zero homes. These are being constructed as part of the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Owens Corning-partnered ecoENERGY Inno- vation Initiative (ecoEII) project. (For more information on this national project that includes four other build- ers across Canada, visit www.zeroen- You may recall a hot discus- sion by Michael Lio in Better Builder Issue 14, Summer 2015 on the water heating equipment selected for these homes. This was a great introduction to some of the newer technologies being selected, but it is not the only new concept worthy of discussion. As Reid’s Heritage Homes has learned, it takes a lot more than the right equipment to build a cost-effective net zero home. It is about finding the sweet spot between added enclosure and systems costs versus reducing the renewable energy capacity to achieve a zero annual energy goal. Round One – A Production-Style Net Zero Home industryexpert By G ord Cooke SuppliedPhoto Net zero home #1: Zoned ductwork with inline electric resistance backup heaters. Ceiling R60+ R60 blown fibreglass with 10” raised heel truss Above-grade walls R35+ 2x6 @ 24” on centre (OC), R20 batts + R15 extruded polystyrene (XPS) exterior sheathing Foundation walls R25+ 2x4 @ 24” OC, held out 2” for R23 batts + R10 XPS continuous tight to the wall Foundation slab R10+ 2” XPS under slab, with 2” XPS slab edge insulation Windows R5+ Triple-glazed, double Low E coating Air tightness <1.5 air changes per hour (ACH) @ 50 Pa (pascals of pressure) lbs/sq. in. 1.0 ACH @ 50 Pa Component Target Effective Reid’s Heritage Homes’ First Net Zero Home R-Values Construction Elements
  9. 9. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 The design requirements of the R-2000 Net Zero Energy pilot techni- cal standard were a good starting point as they require the passive elements of the enclosure design to reduce energy consumption by 33% compared to the R-2000 typical reference house. The chart shows the effective R-values and air tightness targets for assembly components and the construction elements Reid’s Heritage Homes has used in the first of their five homes. Add a Mitsubishi cold climate air source heat pump with electric backup, a Rheem Hybrid air source heat pump hot water tank, the most efficient vanEE energy recovery ventilator (ERV) available, a drainwater heat recov- ery system, light-emitting diode/compact fluorescent lamp (LED/CFL) light- ing, and voilà! Net zero Canadian-style (albeit Southwestern Ontario). Seriously, that’s it. That’s what it took such that an 8.5 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof was enough to achieve net zero qualification. Well, not quite that easy. There were challenges such as the wall assembly and meeting air tightness targets. If you grimaced at the R15 (3” XPS) insulated sheathing on exterior walls, you weren’t the only one. This item was one of the first on the chopping block. It alone caused sub- stantial foundation costs, unnecessary complexity for brick ties and siding fastening, and significant process changes that proved detrimental to air sealing. With more practice all these would have improved, but sometimes the two steps forward, one step back approach is helpful. On the second net zero home, the main framed walls had to change. Two main choices stood out above all – 2x8 framing with double R14 batts or staggered double stud fram- ing with 2x4s. In the end, the framing crew had the last say and elected to use 2x8s. Exterior insulated sheath- ing was limited to R10 or 2” and additional cavity insulation was added. Compared to the first net zero wall assembly, framing and sheathing time was cut in half and the process differed very slightly from ENERGY STAR walls, with 1” thicker exterior insulation and 2” thicker studs. Most importantly, all air sealing details were consistent between Reid’s Heri- tage Homes’ normal ENERGY STAR process and these net zero homes. To address air sealing struggles, bath fans in attic ceilings were replaced by ERV-ducted exhausts powered by a vanEE 90H-V electroni- cally commutated motor (ECM) ERV in all five homes. The basement pour- in-place windows were also upgraded to bucked-out sliders that were much easier to seal. In the second home, changes were also made to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system. For space heating, the Mitsubishi zoned heating and cooling system with individual inline electric resis- tance backup heaters was replaced with a Dettson Chinook/Alizé Smart Duct System. It turned out cost-effec- tive natural gas heating was a good match with the net zero concept for these homes. On the other hand, for water heat- ing all five homes will be using air source heat pump hot water heat- ers (HPWH). Gas water heaters can make economic sense in some cases, but for these five homes the HPWH matched very well with the available solar PV capacity. In building the five net zero homes, Reid’s Heritage Homes has gained valuable experience in the process – between net zero home #1 and net zero home #5 the incremental cost has dropped 25%. As the cost of solar continues to fall and the cost of utility energy continues to rise, it is only a matter of time before net zero becomes a compelling opportunity for builders and their homebuyers. Reid’s Heritage Homes is figuring it out. All builders should have a go at it. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. suppliedPhoto Net Zero Home #2: Dettson Smart Duct System industryexpert By Gord Cooke
  10. 10. 8 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 R oyalpark Homes has green history. The Woodbridge, Ont., company built the first LEED Silver home in Markham, and was the first in Brampton to build under Enbridge’s Savings by Design program. “We’re always looking for ways to be greener, and more sustainable,” says Marco De Simone, Royalpark’s president. A typical Royalpark home has a tight envelope – their wall sys- tem was rated the most efficient in Ontario by a Best Wall Study under- taken by Ryerson University – and they’re built better than code with exterior sheathing with a higher insu- lation level, De Simone says. So when Panasonic Eco Solutions launched its residential energy storage offering – a 10 kWh lithium-ion battery, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, and hybrid inverter package – Royalpark jumped onboard. A pocket of eight homes at their new Simcoe Shores low rise project in Barrie, Ont., comes with the new battery storage system. Even though De Simone has always been an early adopter of green tech- nology, he thought carefully before taking on the solar panel and battery storage system. What influenced his decision was the Panasonic name. Panasonic developed a unique package that combines a Tabuchi- manufactured inverter and battery powered by Panasonic lithium-ion bat- tery cells, solar PV panels, and a moni- toring system to ensure a headache- free experience for the builder. Even so, De Simone says, “We couldn’t have committed to this unless we knew it would function well and cut energy costs. As a builder I have to stand behind my product, and if it’s not working, my reputation is on the line. Since Panasonic is a high end company, I know they’ve done the research and testing, and it will run the way they claim it’s running.” Called the PowerHaus collection, the eight homes within the larger Simcoe Shores project are being used as a demo, says De Simone, “to see if the product is successful. These are stepping stones. Two hundred homes would be too big a commitment, but eight homes allows us to see if we can manage this. Next, maybe we’ll [do] 15 houses, and build up confidence along the way about the industrynews By A l e x Ne wm a n Royalpark’s a PowerHaus At the opening of PowerHaus, then minister of environment and climate change Glen Murray and Sylvie Briz of Panasonic exchange ideas about Near Zero houses and solar battery storage. Photo:RoyalParkHomes
  11. 11. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 system and its saleability.” The battery storage technol- ogy with its ability to store energy for later use has helped the homes achieve 50% better than code. But the PowerHaus homes have also been built even tighter – with higher level mechanical components – than the company’s regular homes. All eight of the homes have sold. So What Is It Exactly? The Panasonic Residential Storage Battery System – a package of lith- ium-ion battery, hybrid inverter and solar panels – allows homeowners to generate, store and manage electric- ity generated by solar panels. At the heart of the system is the compact 10 kWh lithium-ion battery unit, which is paired with a unique hybrid inverter that allows electricity to be stored or discharged depending on the home’s needs. It can convert from DC to AC, and vice versa, on demand. A monitoring system and remote control device help homeowners oversee their electricity use, and lets them set times for charging and discharging the battery. It can also be programmed as a backup electricity source during grid outages. Sylvie Briz, director of marketing and business development, residential energy storage at Panasonic Eco Solu- tions which offers the system, believes solar energy, especially when coupled with battery storage, enables home- owners to store clean energy and bet- ter manage their energy consumption. As well, homeowners want energy security, especially if they live in places where there are frequent grid outages, she adds. But What’s It Going to Cost Me? “Where the system is offered up front, it can be included in a mortgage. Then it’s embedded in the overall cost of the home,” explains Briz. Since home- owners will be producing the energy they consume – and possibly export- ing some back to the grid – they’ll enjoy huge savings on their utility bills. “And that’s something you can take to the bank – literally.” Panasonic is making it as easy as possible for builders to include solar and energy storage. Panasonic does all the work, Briz says. “We do it all for you, from start to finish, manag- ing the timeline and schedule, all the paper flow, applying for the net metering agreement with the local utilities, the structural engineers’ work, the installation labour, and making sure the system is up and running and monitored properly. We offer a complete turnkey service.” Since launching the battery storage system, the phone has been ringing off the hook with builders wanting to know more, Briz says. “I think that shows there’s a pent-up demand from consumers for homes that are energy efficient, cost less to run, and are good for the environment.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at industrynews By Alex Newman Photo:RoyalParkHomes Marco De Simone of Royalpark and Walter Buzzelli of Panasonic discuss his home monitoring system.
  12. 12. 10 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 CONTROL FROM YOUR SMARTPHONE NO MONTHLY FEES EXTENDED RANGE SIMPLE WI-FI INSTALLATION Introducing Panasonic Home Monitoring – From the baby’s room to the living room, and the garage to the garden, Panasonic Home Monitoring is the reliable, expandable, do-it-yourself home networked-system that is available anywhere, any time from your smartphone or tablet. Easy set-up and no monthly fees so you can rest assured. To learn more, visit: Protect What Matters Most Outdoor Camera Motion Sensor Door/Window Sensor Indoor CameraSmart PlugWater Leak Sensor
  13. 13. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 N ancy McCabe has been super- vising sites for most of her life. She started at 13 work- ing summers for her dad and since then has supervised sites for several builders. She’s seen many building practices, both good and bad, along the way. “Generally, the basics are the same – there’s safety, organization, plan- ning. It’s important to be a couple weeks ahead of the trades – if a house is not ready, they lose out on pay, which isn’t fair, so you have to make sure that when the tiler arrives, the floor is ready for them, and that the workers are safe in any project.” While everyone has a differ- ent approach to building, success depends on being organized – and if you’re not organized, “You’re toast.” The Challenges of a Site Super: What It Involves A site superintendent’s role is to manage a site from dirt to when homeowners get their keys. “You plan, organize, control, check, direct, there’s the whole safety aspect, which gets more comprehensive every year. You need to oversee quality control, keep the site spotless, deal with any problems that arise. Plus there are all the relationships to sort out – Min- istry of Labour, the builder’s head office, the homeowners, building inspectors, the trades. “At each step of the process, there’s management of materials and trades. You need to make sure that everything is on site when it’s needed, like basement windows for the foundation guys. Sometimes there are problems with the archi- tectural drawings, when it comes to executing them – there are a hundred dif- ferent problems I deal with every day.” Going Green For the first time in her career, she’s managing a site for a green builder – Casablanca for LIV Com- munities. “It’s unusual for a subdivision builder to be building better than code,” admits McCabe. “At least it’s not something I’ve seen. The last builder I worked for was doing a project of 250 homes which were supposed to be ENERGY STAR, but it was a seat-of-the-pants type of thing, and the ENERGY STAR ratings were more of a marketing thing.” She has found the process on a green project a little slower going because of the learning curve for the trades. “The first few houses can take a little longer as you educate framers, insulators and so on, but once every- one is on board, they’re not doing anything appreciably different to slow down production.” One snag is the building inspec- tor, especially when new technology is involved. So she took advantage of John Godden/Clearsphere’s offer to come in from the beginning to explain to the inspectors how and why things were being done a little differently. At the Casablanca site there are three package grades – LIV Better and LIV Best, with Best being the upgrade that gives higher insulation values, a different heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, hot water tank, better windows, compact fluorescent (CFL) lighting, Power-Pipe and energy recovery ventilator (ERV). Then there is LIV for the Future, 50% better than code, with features such as the best available ERV, superior windows with a 1.4 U value rating that minimize air conditioning, Power-Pipes on two drains, the 96% efficient Amana Goodman furnace with electronically commutated motor (ECM), a condensing hot water heater and a 6.75 kW photovoltaic (PV) solar system with energy storage battery. Of the 120 homes in this higher end project – split between two phases – McCabe figures about 30% of buyers have upgraded to the Best package. Most of the buyers she has met are slightly older, have a bigger budget, and are ready to embrace green building. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at sitespecific By A l e x Ne wm a n Success depends on being organized, says Nancy McCabe. suppliedphoto Nancy McCabe
  14. 14. 12 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
  15. 15. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 I took my first R-2000 workshop in 1982. National Resources Canada (NRCan) mounted these workshops to make builders aware of this new innovative way to build and also dem- onstrate some of the new practices that define R-2000. Three facilitators (including one builder) talked about insulation, did live demonstrations on polywrapping windows, and led multiple HOTCAN (HOT2000’s pre- decessor) modelling exercises for the builders in the room. Thousands of builders attended these workshops over more than 20 years. Despite the enormous training effort, R-2000 housing starts never captured more than a few percent of the market. What became clear later when we introduced ENERGY STAR to the Ontario market was that it was completely unreasonable to expect builders to be able to understand and adopt complex R-2000 practices by attending a workshop. Perhaps the junior staff person, who was assigned to attend the workshop, understood the implications of adopting the innovation, but they could never com- municate all the implied changes to the rest of the company, let alone the trades who actually built the houses. Ten years ago we suggested to NRCan that workshops alone should not be relied on as a means to facili- tate change in the homebuilding marketplace. We suggested workshops build awareness, but deep engage- ment and mentoring was needed with individual builders over an extended period of time to truly build enduring change. NRCan supported the Building Mentoring Change with Builders industryexpert By Mi c h a e l L i o Canada initiative to do just that. Building Canada engaged and mentored just 4% of registered ENERGY STAR builders. These builders, however, labelled almost 50% of all ENERGY STAR houses during that same period. One-day handholding sessions help to build awareness, but they can’t help builders make the needed changes to their assembly lines as they try to adopt complex innovations like ENERGY STAR (or R-2000). What Is Builder Mentoring and Deep Engagement? Our builder engagement process is founded on a multiyear relationship with the builder. The process is itera- tive and digs as deeply as the builder wants. It addresses any area of the production process. It can be used, for instance, to uncover savings to pay for upgrades to enhance the home’s performance. Our first Build- ing Canada builder in Nova Scotia was able to build an R-2000 house at a cost less than their standard house. They identified savings they reinvested in improved performance. For each builder the objectives and outcomes are completely unique and driven by their individual needs. Over the last decade we have helped many builders adopt new innovations and often at the same time helped them to improve: • designs and scopes of work • construction quality and supervision • internal communication • trade relationships • customer satisfaction • staff engagement and morale. The engagement process is inte- grated and touches every aspect of the builder’s operations, including market- ing, sales, contracts, construction, ser- vice and trades. The process demands a long-term commitment to continual improvement and reinvestment in the company. The builder’s leadership team is challenged with defining the problem and devising solutions. Builders are encouraged to rap- idly prototype solutions. They are encouraged to retain what works and discard or modify the things that don’t. They are encouraged to pack- age a small number of changes into a discovery house and try the things Chase Tsampiras from York Trafalgar applies a 20% Better Than Code label. photo:BetterBuilderStaff
  16. 16. 14 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 that work in a discovery site before adoption across their entire produc- tion. What’s clear is that the path to innovation adoption requires many intermediate steps – far more than what a single workshop offers. Optimum Home Our latest builder engagement project has been through the Union Gas Optimum Home program. The objective of this program is to assist builders to benchmark construction, develop a construction specification 20% more energy efficient than the current code, and build a discovery house and discovery site to the new specifications. Over almost a year we worked with three builders on vari- ous objectives including: • developing a new ENERGY STAR v12 or 20% better than code design spec • field testing and achieving ENERGY STAR v12 or 20% better than code • developing quality control forms for on-site staff • developing a detailed design book • reviewing and revising exterior sheathing/air barrier details • developing a standardized project schedule • developing a protocol for better company-wide communication • developing new practices for reduced housing defects • reducing construction costs through various efficiencies • improving customer satisfaction • training trades on consistency, scopes of work, and ENERGY STAR requirements • training sales and décor staff on energy efficiency upgrades • engaging the municipality on how CSA F280-12 would impact permits • preparing for OBC 2017. My experience is that every builder organization is different. On the surface it seems they build similar products often using the same trades, but a deeper examination reveals there are vast differences. Their approach to their customers, construction, even to their sales varies considerably. While the pro- cess is the same, solutions are custom- ized for each builder. What they test is different in every case. We remind our builders of the Chinese proverb: When the wind of change blows, some build walls, others build windmills. For more information on build- ABILITY’s individual builder mentor- ing or what mentoring might look like for your company, please contact Michael Lio at michael@buildability. ca or 416-961-3487. BB Michael Lio is president of buildABILITY Corporation ( industrynews By Michael Lio Dow’s full house of insulation, air sealants and adhesives work together to create an airtight, 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) ®™The DOW Diamond Logo is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company © 2014 Whole-House SolutionstHAt HElP BuilDERS AnD ContRACtoRS outPERFoRM
  17. 17. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 buildernews By A l e x Ne wm a n R oy Nandram’s building story begins in a tight-knit commu- nity in Guyana, South America. One of ten children, he lived in an 880 sq. ft. house in a city block close to about a hundred other kids. It’s how he learned about sharing resources, and navigating relationships. “Sharing resources is really the essence of my green story,” says the 58-year-old Ottawa custom homebuilder. “We weren’t poor, but resources were scarce. With that many kids in that size house, you can imagine we spent a lot of time out- doors, but so did everyone else in my community. Having that many kids in the neighbourhood was fun. My mom cooked for 12 and sometimes more because friends were always dropping by, so we shared food, we shared toys, and what we couldn’t buy, we made. Recycling was part of everyday life. Nothing was wasted.” In 1976, when Nandram was 19, he came to Canada and started working in construction. Within a few years the oil crisis affected not only the global economy and interest rates, but the price of heating a home as well. He set out to learn about building effi- ciency, but it wasn’t until his boss sent him for energy conservation training in 1982 with the Canadian General Standards Board that his “eyes were opened. I really learned the benefits of saving energy by insulating and sealing against air leaks.” Investigating every new conserva- tion technology that came on the mar- ket is something Nandram continues to this day. “I’m always looking to make our projects better. I travel to trade shows and subscribe to about 30 trade magazines. Companies send us info on a regular basis. As the chair of the building committee at the local building association, I’m always researching new speakers and pre- senters, as well as new technology.” He expects everyone in his office to do the same, which is likely one rea- son his company RND Construction has won so many awards for green construction and renovation. Most recently, they won an Ener- care-sponsored award for an R-2000 custom home which is 56% more efficient than a home built to current building code, Nandram says. On the award winner, Nandram started with a “supertight” building envelope: high performance triple- glazed windows that provide double the performance of regular; and upgraded insulation – Heatlock soya- based spray foam to fill the subspace and then a layer of insulation on the inside layer of the studs, 1” poly- urethane foil face used as a vapour barrier for additional insulation. The entire house was spray foamed on the inside for an air tightness of .77 ACH (air changes per hour) at 50 Pa (pas- cals of pressure or lbs/sq. in.). “With a building envelope like this, the home is like a thermos. The heating and cooling load drops and it doesn’t take much energy to heat or cool,” Nandram says. You can afford to use a small furnace and even a cheaper one with this kind of envelope, Nandram adds, “Especially since some of the new heat- ing, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) technology doesn’t pay back in the short term. For example, I’d never encourage someone to put in geother- mal in a small house. It’s a matter of balancing economy and environment.” The R-2000 home’s HVAC system has a boiler to supply hot water for secondary heating and radiant heating in the floors, which is more for thermal comfort, he says, but ultimately lowers Ottawa’s RND Construction’s award-winning green home. photo:RNDCOnstruction Sharing Resources: The Essence of Green
  18. 18. 16 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 the thermostat because “When the feet are warm, the rest of you feels warm.” Costs: Building green is more expen- sive, Nandram admits – more insulation and better windows equals more money. For an ENERGY STAR home, he would add 5% and for R-2000 he’d add about 10% to the cost. The company’s minimum building standard is ENERGY STAR – they’ve completed three Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum homes in Ottawa and are currently building two R-2000 homes. He does find energy effi- ciency a harder sell to clients, especially when the economy is soft or in a bad state. But he also finds most clients will do green upgrades incrementally as you’re making good argu- ments for greater efficiency. For example, the R-2000 house that garnered RND the Enercare award started out as a regular house construction, but as Nandram made sugges- tions, the clients added on. “You need to explain to peo- ple – a hedge against future price increases, especially. They get it because nobody knows what tomorrow’s oil and gas prices will be.” Costs are also more easily controlled when everything is decided ahead of time at the design stage – midconstruc- tion change is always expen- sive. So the furnace, windows, wall construction and insula- tion have all been decided long before subcontracting the trades to install them. And as Nandram explains, “It makes absolutely no differ- ence to the drywaller if you’re using a green product or not, and if you tell the insulation company they’re putting R20 instead of R12, it makes no difference.” But you do need to research the technologies before build- ing to understand how they work together, “because one thing always impacts some- thing else,” Nandram says. He finds an integrated approach is effective when it’s put in place at the out- set of the project. “A highly effective way to build is to involve the architect, owner, engineer, and trades from the beginning, especially when building green. We hold a design charette, and the archi- tect might say, ‘I want a big window here,’ and the owner says, ‘Yes, I like that,’ and the engineer says, ‘There has to be a beam here,’ and I come in and say, ‘We have to put in triple-glazed glass.’” This approach – known as the integrated design process (IDP) – helps create “best value. It ensures that balance between economy and effi- ciency. I really hate it when someone throws a set of plans to me and says, ‘Give me a price.’ I like to work as a team to put the pieces together. Those are my most successful projects – we don’t make mis- takes, and don’t end up install- ing something we regret later, because it’s decided at the beginning what the important elements are, and everyone agrees about that.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at buildernews By Alex Newman
  19. 19. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
  20. 20. 18 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 W hen Ancaster-based builder Landmart Homes decided to rebrand and expand its business, it hired former Greenpark director Anthony Martelli to take the company to its next stage. For Martelli, now chief operating officer for LIV Communities (as the company’s expansion is now known), one of the major challenges was determining how to distinguish LIV’s homes in the GTA and Golden Horse- shoe from the competition’s. Martelli, a longtime supporter of energy-efficient building who devel- oped Greenpark’s Eco-Friendly pro- gram, saw an opportunity in adopting the Better Than Code approach to help set LIV apart as a quality builder and industry leader. “We want to be an example of a company willing to redefine itself beyond what most builders are featurestory By Tra c y Ha n e s Living the Best withLandmart Homes rebrands itself as “an example of a company willing to redefine itself beyond what most builders are doing.” LIV Communities distinguishes itself from other builders by offering LIV Better, LIV Best and LIV for the Future. Photo:LIVCommunities
  21. 21. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 doing,” says Martelli. Better Than Code is a simplified platform that helps builders of high performance homes reach their objectives by modelling energy per- formance in a way that’s not subject to the rigid guidelines of programs such as ENERGY STAR, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and R-2000. It allows flexibility in choosing how to build and which features to include, and uses the comprehensive and long-established HERS (Home Energy Rating System) index to measure home performance. LIV’s model home in its Casablanca community in Brampton will showcase features that will provide homeowners with substantial savings on their natu- ral gas and hydro bills, future proof them against rising energy costs, and offer enhanced indoor air quality and comfort. The 4,254 sq. ft. five-bedroom model home is on a 50 ft. lot. The homes at Casablanca will offer homebuyers a choice of three pack- ages, all built beyond the current Ontario Building Code (OBC) criteria. LIV Better is the standard package and those homes will be 15% more energy efficient than OBC; LIV Best is 25% above code, with features such as enhanced insulation and windows, an ERV (energy recovery ventilator), drainwater heat recovery Power-Pipe, compact fluorescent (CFL) lighting, a condensing hot water heater, improved windows and a 16 seasonal energy effi- ciency ratio (SEER) air conditioner. The top end package, LIV for the Future, is 50% better than code, with features such as the best available ERV, superior windows with a 1.4 U value rating that minimize air conditioning, Power-Pipes on two drains, the 96% efficient Amana Goodman furnace with electronically commutated motor (ECM), a condensing hot water heater and a 6.75 kW photovoltaic (PV) solar system with energy storage battery. The PV system is one of the more innovative aspects of a partnership LIV has formed with Panasonic Canada. The system will allow homeowners to store energy produced by the solar system for use at peak rate periods, replenish the battery with cheap power at night, and also provide energy security in case of a blackout. This system will be the first installed on a new production home in Canada, and will be available as an option on other selected LIV homes in its Classics and Casablanca communities in Brampton. Panasonic is a global leader in housing innovation that derives more than 20% of its revenue from hous- ing. In Japan, its PanaHome division is a leading home developer. Its cutting-edge Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, a development that will have more than a thousand homes when completed, will have a carbon footprint 70% lower and use 30% less water than similar communities. In this country, Panasonic Canada forms regional partnerships coast to coast with leading builders and will partner with LIV Communities at its two Brampton communities. Homes will be equipped with Panasonic Home Monitoring systems that can be customized to suit owners’ needs, and Panasonic WhisperValue ventilation fans. Homeowners can also add space management solutions and built-in kitchen appliances including induction cooktops with Genius Sensors. Panasonic and LIV will partner on the first limited use of vacuum insulated panels (VIP) in a produc- tion-built home in Canada, a product which delivers R63 of insulation value LIV Communities HERS Index – Home Energy Rating System Existing Homes 150 60 48 40 0 More Energy Less Energy Ontario Building Code Standard LIV for the Future Zero Energy Home 25 HERS helps builders sell energy upgrades. featurestory By Tracy Hanes
  22. 22. 20 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 in one inch. It will be used in attic hatch assemblies to ensure the integ- rity of ceiling insulation values. The Casablanca model will show- case all the LIV for the Future prod- ucts, says Martelli, as well as “the staples” such as stone countertops and hardwood floors. Cosmetic features remain first and foremost on customers’ lists when they choose upgrades, and Martelli well knows how difficult it can be to convince homebuyers to invest money in energy-efficient features or those that enhance air quality and comfort. Greenpark eventually stopped offer- ing its Eco-Friendly packages because of limited uptake, though Martelli stayed in tune with what was happen- ing in the industry in terms of energy efficiency and other products that would conserve resources. He feels with energy prices ris- ing, the timing might be right. “And hitting people in the pocketbook gets their attention.” The easy sells are hardwood and kitchen upgrades, he says, but it takes time and an informed sales team to educate the public about the benefits of choosing energy-efficient upgrades. The LIV Better home would save homeown- ers $346 a year over a code-built home, the LIV Best package would save $868 a year, and the LIV for the Future option would offer $2,074 in annual savings. “Some people have $20,000 to spend on upgrades and when you’re pitching these features to them, they think the builder has a hidden agenda to make money,” says Martelli. “It actually costs us to do this. We as a builder are trying to distinguish ourselves, to show leadership and be good corporate citizens. Our mission statement is Loyalty, Integrity and featurestory By Tracy Hanes Clockwise from top: Anthony Martelli and John Godden present Better Than Code to other builders; thermal bypass inspection helps homes get lower HERS ratings; Better Than Code includes Panasonic WhisperValue fans. Photos:LIVCommunities
  23. 23. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 Vision, and we have to live up to this.” Martelli is hoping buyers can be convinced of the merits of future proofing against rising energy costs, and points out that even if they have to add the cost of the $6,500–$8,500 energy-efficient upgrade packages to their mortgage, it’s money well spent. And by using the HERS index, it’s easy to show buyers how much each feature can save them. “They are surprised to hear, ‘You will be able to afford a larger home because it will cost you less to oper- ate it,’” he says. Martelli says for a builder like LIV that builds 250 to 300 homes a year, their influence is limited when it comes to raising awareness of the benefits of eco features, but “We need the industry to step in and make a difference. It needs better promotion from builders, rather than waiting on code changes.” The Ontario Building Code (OBC) will take its next step forward in 2017, but LIV is already achieving that target with its standard LIV Better homes. The LIV for the Future package is HERS 25, which is close to achieving net zero where a home will produce as much energy as it uses. Mortgage lenders could also help encourage homebuyers to consider investing in more eco- friendly features, Martelli says. “A step in the right direction would be for banks to offer a preferred rate or green mortgage,” he says. What Is HERS? HERS, or the Home Energy Rating Sys- tem, measures a home’s energy effi- ciency and assigns it a performance score. The lower the score, the more energy efficient a home is. A net zero home would have a HERS score of zero and produce at least as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis. It is a proven, long- established system and more than 1.5 million North American homes have been rated using HERS. The HERS index takes into consid- eration features such as air condition- ing, lighting, appliances, loads and gives credit for renewable options such as solar thermal, solar air and PV panels. It’s also easy for homebuy- ers to understand. BB Tracy Hanes is a freelance writer for the larg- est daily newspaper in Canada and several magazines. FLEXIBLE BY NATURE Two brands. One goal. Gastite, leading brand of flexible gas piping, saves time and money routing easily around obstacles. Thermaflex leads the industry in widest range of “Code Compliant” quality flexible ducting products offered for residential and commercial applications. We offer a wide range of system components, world-class customer service, and expert technical support. Our solutions make your installations superior. Contact us today. | 1-800-459-4822 | 800-662-0208 • Flexibility and durability allows for simple routing through complex structures. • Pre-marked by the foot for easy measuring and installation. • Fitting offers a tool-less flare design; no special tools are required. • Metal-to-metal seal, with no split rings, O-rings or gaskets. • Patented Jacket-Lock‚ fitting eliminates exposed stainless steel beyond the nut. Pro SeriesTM flexible duct products • The most reliable and durable products in the HVAC industry. • All products are GREENGUARD Certified and feature a 10 Year Pro Warranty. • Code Compliant Flex-Vent® flexible duct line • Specially tailored to the residential market. • Insulated and non-insulated to meet virtually any performance or budget need. • Code Compliant 14510 Gastite_Thermaflex_Ad_8.5x5.5.indd 1 9/11/15 12:32 PM “A step in the right direction would be for banks to offer a preferred rate or green mortgage.” featurestory By Tracy Hanes
  24. 24. 22 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 industrynews By A l e x Ne wm a n N o longer the domain of garages and compost bins, the lane- ways of Vancouver are filling up with small energy-efficient homes. Like most major North American cities, Vancouver is running out of land for development and real estate is skyrocketing. Hemmed in by the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, there’s no place to move out. As a result lanes have become the last frontier. Bryn Davidson and Mat Turner decided to merge their building and design backgrounds to form Lanefab Design/Build just when the City was moving ahead with bylaw changes to better accommodate laneway hous- ing. It was 2009 and the recession had brought the homebuilding business to its knees. Davidson and his wife had already experimented with small space living – a 360 sq. ft. condo attached to the back of a house – and he was keen on sustainable building generally and net positive specifically. In the partnership with Turner, they’d focus on smaller, more affordable housing forms. Laneway housing hadn’t yet become accepted, but Davidson says, “It was a good housing form. We knew it filled a need, and would be in great demand.” Their first laneway house was fin- ished in May 2010. A small space won- der of 775 sq. ft. over two floors, it had bedrooms on the main floor, principal living space on the second, and a tiny drive just big enough for one car beside the front door under the second floor balcony. They’d turned traditional lay- outs on their head, literally, to capital- ize on mountain and ocean views from the second floor living room. The house generated so much interest that a thousand people lined up the first weekend for the open house. “There’s a lot of pent-up desire and need, but people didn’t realize the $200,000 price tag didn’t include the land,” Davidson says. “Or that it even came with land.” And there’s the rub for Vancouver’s laneway market – bylaws won’t allow the homes to be severed or sold sepa- rately from the main house. Which means they can function only as rent- als or for family members. Davidson would like to see the bylaw changed so the homes could be stratified and sold, “because Vancouver is missing this middle housing type, between condo and full-sized home.” Vancouver homeowners who develop the laneway either move in themselves – and move their grown children into the family home – or rent it out. For those lucky young couples who build on their parents’ property, the laneway house has become a very affordable alternative, Davidson says. That said, per square foot the lane home is more expensive than Lanefab’s regular-sized homes – $350/sq. ft. as compared to $250/sq. ft. for a regular home. The reason is, “Small buildings have all the expen- sive elements – kitchen, bath, mechan- ical – and few of the cheap rooms (like bedrooms and living rooms) that dilute the cost in a big home. Fixed costs like sewer connections are the same whether you build 500 sq. ft. or 5,000 sq. ft. Many builders got into trouble on their first lane house by using regular cost per square foot to estimate,” Davidson explains. Although they can’t be severed, the Fabulous Laneway Houses by Lanefab Lanefab Design/Build is filling the gap between condos and full-sized homes. Photo:Lanefabdesign/build
  25. 25. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 industrynews By Alex Newman laneway house is fully independent of the main house – separate sewer, water and gas lines, separate address and mailbox. Its use dictates the floorplan, says Davidson. For rental, the bedrooms are on the main floor and principal spaces upstairs, so the balcony overlooks the lane rather than intrude on the private space of the main house. But if it’s for extended family, the layout is more standard with principal rooms on the main floor to allow access to the courtyard from the ground level. The bylaws have also created size restrictions – up to 800 sq. ft. on a 33 ft. lot, or 1,000 sq. ft. on a 50 ft. lot – but the way Lanefab builds has allowed them a little extra interior floor space. Because their wall assem- bly provides R36 as opposed to the usual R19 of most homes, Davidson went to the City arguing that the 13” wall thickness offers such an energy- efficient envelope, they should be granted an extra 6” all the way around (to compensate for the extra thick wall). The City agreed. The homes also can’t be any more than 18–20 ft. high, which makes for low ceiling heights on a two-storey structure, but Lanefab deals with this by sinking the ground floor 18–24” below grade, thereby creating just enough extra volume so both floors have better ceiling heights. How Are They Built? Lanefab’s goal is to build only green. “We don’t want to do ten code build- ings and one green.” And so they looked for a system that could be repeated in both large and lane homes. It starts with 13” exterior walls – the Lanefab Hybrid Wall system – that have an effective insulation value of R38. It’s a combined outer structural wall and inner service wall. [Their Pas- sive House version, with thicker struc- tural insulated panels (SIP), is R58.] The outside wall is constructed of prefab SIP, preassembled at the fac- tory and installed on-site. It sits on the concrete foundation, while the slab-on-grade (which typically has in-floor heating) is surrounded on all sides by insulation. The inner service wall holds the electrical wiring and plumbing, and is framed out of 2x4s with a ½” gap to the SIP. After plumbing and electrical are installed, the inner wall is filled with batt or cellulose insulation and the foundation wall insulated with spray foam. Because the SIP acts as a vapour barrier, no plastic sheeting is needed. All of Lanefab’s homes – both lane- ways and regular sized – are designed and built with energy efficiency in mind. Their standard construction ensures an EnerGuide 86 efficiency rating with an R40 Lanefab Hybrid Wall and triple-glazed fibreglass win- dows, aluminum clad fir doors, heat pump hot water, drainwater recovery, heat recovery ventilator (HRV), and whole house light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. In higher-end homes, they add a net zero solar energy system, high efficiency heat pump for heating, ventilating and air condition- ing (HVAC), and a green roof. Although Lanefab builds regular- sized homes, Davidson says the laneway model has been great for experimenting with green building and likens it to “a kind of R&D lab.” While laneway housing has gener- ated a lot of interest, it’s also caused fears – and tears. In the early days, it was so contentious that people would literally cry at community meetings about how lane homes would ruin their community, Davidson recalls. Now people are starting to under- stand the housing form. It’s also changed the real estate market – peo- ple buy a house these days knowing full well that they or their neighbours could build a lane home in the back. Although Lanefab’s homes – lane- way or otherwise – are built with advanced energy efficiency tech- niques aimed at achieving net zero or net positive results, Davidson says location is key to sustainability. You can’t just focus on building a super- tight house without looking at where it’s located, says Davidson. “You can build passive, the gold standard for building and way beyond Leader- ship in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and it could even be net positive, but it doesn’t necessar- ily make the world better. We ran the numbers, and found we’d be better off with a drafty home in a walkable neighbourhood than an ecohome in the middle of a field. It may have no impact, but if you’re having to drive everywhere, that’s not net positive.” By all means build passive, super- insulated, low energy houses, but do it in walkable neighbourhoods, David- son says. “That’s net positive.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at Beautiful spacious interiors with solar PV. The home rates a HERS 3. Photos:Lanefabdesign/build
  26. 26. 24 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
  27. 27. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 E mmanuel Cosgrove is a self-con- fessed “ecofreak and extreme environmentalist.” He and business partner Mike Reynolds, editor of, just completed the Edelweiss Home in the Gatineau Hills 30 minutes north of Ottawa. It’s a demo for a passive solar index initiative, they say. Just to set the record straight, Cos- grove says he’s no longer a builder. He only constructs homes now so he can educate consumers – and build- ers – on the merits of green building. The Edelweiss, he says, is “like a showroom for extremely high perfor- mance houses … inspired by the whole extreme performance, 90% savings kind of passive house movement. We don’t do the passive house certification, since we’re not dogmatic about ratings. We just like to show better performance.” Although the house is nowhere close to public transit, they man- aged to attain not only Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum, but it is Canada’s first and only LEED v4-certified build- ing of any sort. Since LEED’s use of life cycle analysis is tough on homes that aren’t transit-friendly, they added a charging system for electric cars. But what really pushed the house was a supercharged building envelope and mechanical system, and a long list of eco-friendly components, from For- est Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood to rainwater harvesting, ten-zone hydronic radiant floor with electric boiler to an air-to-air heat pump that effectively reduces domestic water heat- ing by two-thirds. The heat pump, with its 3:1 efficiency ratio, also acts as an air conditioner, effectively offering free air conditioning as you heat your water.  The building envelope is a green marvel, with insulation at “more than twice what the Quebec code requires, buildernews By A l e x Ne wm a n The Edelweiss Home: Envelope – First Things First Photo:Ecohome The Edelweiss Home in the Gatineau Hills 30 minutes north of Ottawa: A demo for a passive solar index initiative.
  28. 28. 26 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 locally built windows with triple pane glass, and specified Low E coatings.” Adopting traditional passive tech- niques they designed the house with 60% of the glazing on the south wall, and they planted deciduous trees clos- est to the house to avoid traditional problems of solar overheating all year. The idea was to insulate to a point where there would be little or no heating costs. After passive house modelling – conducted by a thermal bridge modeller – showed through thermal imaging where heat gets lost, they opted to use ROXUL as the sole form of insulation. Rigid insulation – 8” R32 ROXUL COMFORTBOARD CIS (commercial insulated sheathing) – was added to exterior walls and under the slab on grade. The ceiling has R95 ROXUL, and 5.5” ROXUL batts in wall cavities gave them R58 nominal, and an R50 effective R-value. Not one ounce of spray foam or sin- gle piece of cellulose batting was used – they didn’t even use cans around the windows, Cosgrove says. “Foam not only shrinks, but has brominated fire retardants … which are bioaccumula- tive and get into our bloodstream. [And] you don’t want to be putting persistent chemicals that can leach into the groundwater. Every decision we make is not only for environmental impact, but also health.” ROXUL is also not a laminated product, which are “hard to deal with at the end of their life. When this house is taken apart in say a hundred years, you could pick up the ROXUL and use it on another project. It retains its structure. Just unscrew it and away you go.” Even on an old house, he says, you can achieve the same performance as the Edelweiss Home by applying 8” ROXUL COMFORTBOARD to the exterior walls. Water management was also a major consideration. “If you look at Canadian homes, what determines the lifespan is water. Basements, especially, are a major durability issue in aging homes,” says Cosgrove. Instead of a basement they designed large overhangs and surface drains to manage the surface water. The site was graded, and the house situated on a slight slope or berm to ensure water streams away from and not into the house. The house also has interior floor drains in case of flooding inside. Building to last 50 years – without maintenance beyond filters – drove other decisions such as heating, ven- tilating and air conditioning (HVAC) and the roof. As Cosgrove points out, “Homeowners don’t really want to do anything. I don’t know anyone who looks forward to home maintenance.” Durability is why they chose a 6” intensive green roof. It has a 50-year life cycle, the dirt protects the mem- brane from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and there’s the curb appeal of a roof covered in wildflowers. The Edelweiss has a home energy rating system (HERS) rating of 34, which is the lowest you can go before adding renewables like solar to get closer to a zero score. Its annual heating cost is $200 – that’s $1.39 a day for hot water use and heat plus electrical loads. Add another $0.91 a day for the electricity to run the car from the house to Parlia- ment Hill and back every day, and the total costs for all energy and transpor- tation are $2.30 a day – or the price of a medium Tim’s, quips Cosgrove. The house isn’t just green, it’s also beautifully designed and executed. Interior features include main floor ceilings crafted entirely of river wood reclaimed from the old log driving days and pulled out of the Gatineau River by divers. Other features include: repur- posed and sandblasted antique interior doors; recycled quartz countertop com- prised of porcelain plates, bottles and mirrors; locally sourced slate for bath- room floors and shower walls; high efficiency toilets and fixtures offering 60% savings over comparable homes; light-emitting diode (LED) lighting only; zero volatile organic compounds (VOC) interior paint and cork floors. In spite of all the features, the house cost just $250,000 to build. “This was definitely about what you can build on a budget,” Cosgrove says. “We wanted to show builders what’s possible in 1,500 sq. ft. of space, and that you don’t need 2,500 sq. ft. to get everything you need. We wanted to show you can have a beautiful house and not cut corners.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at The house isn’t just green, it’s also beautifully designed and executed. Interior features include main floor ceilings crafted entirely of river wood reclaimed from the old log driv- ing days and pulled out of the Gatineau River by divers. Photo:Ecohome
  29. 29. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 Goodman is mine. When it came time to find a strategic partner to help take his company to the next level, Mike Martino knew there was only one choice: Goodman. With Goodman on one side and “the best employees in the business” on the other, Martino HVAC became Ontario’s premier HVAC contractor. Service calls were significantly reduced and, along the way, Martino picked up many industry honours including the prestige of being named BILD’s “Trade Contractor of Year” an unprecedented three times. Martino won’t give you all the secrets to his success, but one he’s happy to share is the importance of a great product partner. As Mike puts it, “Goodman is mine.” Behind Every Successful Contractor There is a Great Partner.
  30. 30. 28 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
  31. 31. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 and he asked me what category the home would be in at Nationals so he’d know not to enter that category. I told him, and true to his word, he didn’t. It was very high praise from Paul and it turns out he was right. The Waterford Cottage won at every level that year as we also received our first CHBA Grand SAM award. However, it was something else Paul said that caught my attention and started us on the energy effi- ciency part of our journey. Paul asked if the home was an ENERGY STAR D oug Tarry Homes broke ground on our first net zero home a few weeks ago. Seeing the foundation in and the framing materi- als on-site got me thinking about how far we’ve come as a company. So I thought it might be a good time to tell a part of our story on the Path of Con- tinual Improvement, and to thank and acknowledge some of the many indi- viduals who helped us along the way. I remember my brother Bill and I attending our first Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) conference fromthegroundup By D ou g Ta rry in Victoria, B.C., as award nominees. We went to the awards, saw what we were up against and had the Wayne’s World “We’re not worthy” moment. But we learned, took notes and decided to try again as we were determined that one day we’d win a national award. We kept submitting and it took awhile, but even- tually we did win. That was a pretty special night in St. John’s, Nfld. A few years later we entered our Waterford Cottage in the local St. Thomas & Elgin Homebuilder awards. Paul Rawlings was one of the judges A Journey on the Path of Continual Improvement All these products meet ENERGY STAR’s higher standards For more information or to order, contact your local distributor. vänEE 100H vänEE 200HvänEE 60H vänEE 60H-V+ vänEE 90H-V ECMvänEE 40H+vänEE 90H-V+ vänEE 60H+ vänEE 50H1001 HRV vänEE Gold Series 2001 HRV vänEE Gold Series vänEE air exchangers: improved line-up meets ENERGY STAR® standards Superior Energy Efficiency Ideal for LEED homes and new building codes 5-year warranty* FRESH AIR JUST GOT GREENER *ON MOST MODELS.
  32. 32. 30 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 home and mentioned the ENERGY STAR for New Homes pilot project. He suggested we get enrolled in the program as we were building well enough that our home should qualify. As it turns out, that was a watershed moment in my life and I will always be grateful to Paul for his encourage- ment. Many times over the years I have tried to pay that forward. So we got enrolled in ENERGY STAR, got to know Gord Cooke and Tex McLeod, and immersed ourselves in building science. Since that time there have been so many amazing opportuni- ties that have come our way, it would be impossible to describe them all here. A key decision was to make ENERGY STAR our building stan- dard. It taught us a more disciplined approach to our house builds and we became very aware of control- ling air leakage. We developed the Solar Ready Guidelines for National Resources Canada (NRCan), and this helped install a culture of innovation and problem solving. We embraced advanced framing out of the original London Energy Efficiency Partner- ship (LEEP) project and increased our wall insulation by about 30% over the Ontario Building Code (OBC). Then we discovered we had a moisture/condensation issue with the main floor header. John Godden walked us through the issue and we decided to experiment with foam- ing the main floor header. When we looked at the subsequent air changes per hour (ACH) results, we were sur- prised to discover a side benefit in air leakage improvement of nearly 1 ACH. Currently our average ACH is less than 0.8 compared to 3.0 for OBC and 1.5 for R-2000 homes. Another issue was with the tighter home we couldn’t get our heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) to work right because the energy requirements for the home were less than any furnace on the market. I remember being on a confer- ence call with Gord Cooke and all the big American furnace manufacturers describing our homes, and then there was total silence on the other end. That’s when you realize the world is not the same anymore. They had no idea what was happening in our industry and really didn’t seem to care to help us fit our needs. Chal- lenge accepted, I thought. Let’s get the HVAC industry to make right-sized furnaces. That took about four years and a lot of work by some really dedi- cated people (I am getting ahead of the story). I probably should mention I had the honour to serve as president of OHBA during this time, so I had access to all the right people to help move this project along, or it might not have happened. By sheer luck, Union Gas offered us the opportunity to participate in their Optimum Home program. Union Gas was aware of our furnace-sizing challenges, and suggested we part- ner with Dettson Industries to help bring their smaller furnace to mar- ket. That’s the Dettson Chinook and we’re really proud to support their efforts to supply our industry with the products we need. The very first prototype was installed in our discov- ery home in St. Thomas, Ont. Oh, and they’re Canadian. How cool is that? Since then, we also worked to bring their right-sized air conditioning (AC) to market, the Dettson Alizé, and now we are involved with their HVAC in a Box project. Along the way we got tired of basements that didn’t work and through years of experimenting, we partnered with ROXUL to develop the Better Basement Wall and eventu- ally the Optimum Basement Wall. It’s fromthegroundup By Doug Tarry
  33. 33. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 fromthegroundup By Doug Tarry still the most searched item on our company website. In reviewing the final report from our Applied Research Green Innovation Lab Experi- ence (ARGILE) project with George Brown on the wall’s performance, it is very clear we have to push the govern- ment to change the Ontario and National building codes to enable builders to build basement walls that work. We have to get the poly out of the basement. This is an issue that is going to get a lot worse for a lot of builders as they build tighter homes. Ironically, building officials might be even more concerned with this issue than we are as builders, as their phone never stops ringing when there is a problem. Over the years, I have also had the opportunity to work with members of the Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA), both at the provincial level and locally. Fundamentally, I see building officials as our local partners in helping ensure we build our homes to meet an ever more complex code. It was our partnership with OHBA, OBOA and other industry stakehold- ers that led to the creation of the Energy Efficiency Design Summary (EEDS) form for permit application. In case you haven’t heard, we have a new code coming I believe we must address together. And that leads me all the way back to our net zero home. As we increase our energy efficiency in our homes, it will be more and more important that we work through the chal- lenges with our building offi- cials as our partners. On that note, I want to personally say thanks and good luck to Sandy Lale, my structural designer who has shared so many of the steps of this journey with me for the last decade, as she moves on to her new career as a building official for the City of St. Thomas. Sandy had a very large role in my being able to bring many of these ideas to life, and I am indebted to her and her efforts. What advice can I offer other builders wanting to pursue the Path of Continual Improvement? • Get involved. The payback is way more valuable than the time you commit! Your local home builders’ asso- ciation will thank you for helping your industry and it’s good for your business. • Stretch yourself. You just might find you come to a solution that improves your bottom line. It might even be a benefit to your whole industry. • Reach out to your building officials as your partners. If you’re not on the same page, reach out to OHBA and OBOA. We are doing some really great work as industry partners. • Share. That might be the part I enjoy most and has always given me my great- est benefits as a builder. A quick shout-out to my good friend John Meinen as he becomes the next OHBA president. And stay tuned for details on our net zero discovery home. BB Doug Tarry Jr. is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ont.
  34. 34. 32 | Issue 16 | Winter 2015 rolled out, could entail. A simplistic solution to a complex problem without upfront cost to the municipality. Because it’s barely possible, at great cost to the end user, I have a question: Should we be doing this on a large scale now and resetting the bar earlier than 2030? If there’s a great builder that can make an economic case for building these homes today, they will. And as a voluntary program, it’s manageable. It will give our industry an oppor- tunity to gain experience, improve the end product and work on getting costs in line. However, I doubt it will remain voluntary because it is politically expedient to mandate net zero at the municipal level. There is also a cottage industry of vested interests happy to see these initiatives move forward more quickly. What is often missing in the discus- sion of remedies to the problem of cli- mate change is the notion of order of magnitude. As for priorities on the list of possible action on net zero, these are some questions I believe must be answered: • How much affordability are we willing to forgo in an already unaffordable housing market to achieve an incremental increase in energy efficiency in new housing a few years early? • How much are new homes actu- ally contributing to the problem of global warming? • Are we really achieving our soci- etal goals? After all, inadequate, unhealthy and unaffordable housing has dire socioeconomic consequences. I can’t think of many industries being coerced into creating a product that produces as much energy as it consumes while operating. But I do believe the new homebuilding indus- try has made great strides in energy efficiency and is unparalleled among private industry. As for the urge to reset the bar ahead of the 2030 deadline, why? It’s not market driven, there are no economic incentives available, and it makes decent housing less attain- able to those who need it most. Remember the triple bottom line? I’d say we achieve almost one out of three. Affordable is good for people and good for business. Current code houses are good for the environment. I guess it comes down to who is defin- ing the triple bottom line and setting the level of the bar. BB Lou Bada is vice-president of low rise construction for Starlane Homes and board director of RESCON (Residential Construction Council of Ontario). Continued from page 3 thebadatest By Lou Bada • ENERGY STAR® for New Homes • Home Energy Rating System (HERS®) Index • EnerGuide Rating Service • GreenHouse™ Certified
  35. 35. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015
  36. 36. | Issue 16 | Winter 2015