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ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014
IN THIS ISSUE
Heathwood Homes Doing It Right
The Best Way to Build in 2017
TEETH – Best Research Project
Code and Performance Path
Climate Change Action Plan
Sticking to the Basics
BestPractices
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
16
1
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
2
Best Way Forward
by John Godden
THE BADA TEST
3
The Best Way to Build in 2017
by Lou Bada
INDUSTRY NEWS
6
Water, Water, Every Where,
Nor Any Drop to Drink
by Alex Newman
12
TEETH Homes –
The Best Research Project
by Steffanie Adams
INDUSTRY EXPERT
10
Code and Performance Path
by Gord Cooke
INDUSTRY EXPERT
22
Ontario’s Climate Change
Action Plan and What It Means
for the Housing Industry
by Michael Lio
BUILDER NEWS
14
SB-12 2017 for Dummies
29
What’s Driving Your
Personal Rating System
by Wendy Shami
SITE SPECIFIC
25
Norm Alfonso –
Building the Best Means
Sticking to the Basics
by Alex Newman
FROM THE GROUND UP
31
Radon –
What You Should Know
by Doug Tarry
FEATURE STORY
16
Doing It Right
Heathwood Homes has created the best builder brand through a
simple formula of innovation, fairness and doing things the right way.
by Rob Blackstien
6
12
ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
On our cover: John Godden and
Wendy Shami of Better Builder
Magazine by The Art of Weddings
(theartofweddings.com)
Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20162
I
t’s hard to believe that Better Builder is at the end of its fifth year
of publication. The industry has seen a lot of disruptive change in
that short time, starting with the introduction of SB-12 in January
2012, followed by updates to that Code in 2015, and changes in
EnergySTAR requirements for windows and combination heating
systems. Finally, a Minister’s ruling this past July has defined SB-12
for 2017 to be 15% more efficient than 2012.
Many changes are also happening globally. In response to the
Paris Summit, the Province of Ontario has released its Climate
Change Action Plan, though it has yet to release the details of the
new platform. The devil is in the details.
How then should home builders consider the changes that
need to be made with climate change policies, new Building Code
requirements and the general uncertainty around mandatory
municipal regulations that could exceed Building Codes, such as
EnergySTAR and Net Zero?
We might do well to remember the lessons of BREXIT where
voters decided to leave the European Union without considering the
consequences, focusing only on the negative aspects of the current
arrangement; or American voters who seem to believe that Donald
Trump has their best interests in mind. The best way forward needs
to weigh all options and outcomes, incorporate flexibility and make
choices that foster self-determination – create a strategy informed
by outcomes to chart your own course.
In this issue of Better Builder, our regular contributors have
provided lots of ideas to inform your decisions moving forward.
Lou Bada discusses which prescriptive package he is choosing for
building permit applications in 2017 and why: package A1 comes at
a lower cost because insulated sheathing carries higher labour costs
and premiums. Gord Cooke navigates a discussion on performance
modelling allowed under SB-12, and demonstrates how builders can
chart their own courses and build their brands with a better-than-
Code approach. With the mandate of the Ontario Climate Change
Action Plan, Michael Lio talks about the challenge of Net Zero
housing adoption on a large scale. The feature article on Heathwood
Homes showcases one of Ontario’s most progressive builders
who has used sustainability to build their brand and become an
industry leader. Lastly, Doug Tarry provides industry leadership yet
again, this time by addressing radon in residential construction by
meeting the challenge head on. He shows us the best way to deal
with a problem that is too often ignored.
My intention with Better Builder magazine is to continue,
with the help of our contributors and advertisers, to empower our
readers with information and ideas, enabling us all to consider
other points of views and find the best way forward. Bon voyage. BB
Best Way Forward
PUBLISHER
Better Builder Magazine
63 Blair Street
Toronto ON M4B 3N5
416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695
sales@betterbuilder.ca
Better Builder Magazine
is a sponsor of
PUBLISHING EDITOR
John B. Godden
MANAGING EDITOR
Wendy Shami
editorial@betterbuilder.ca
To advertise, contribute a story,
or join our distribution list, please
contact sales@betterbuilder.ca
FEATURE WRITERS
Tracy Hanes, Alex Newman
PROOFREADING
Karen Hoffman
CREATIVE
Wallflower Design
www.wallflowerdesign.com
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
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Better Builder Magazine is
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publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
John Godden
Alex Newman
Gord Cooke
Michael Lio
Lou Bada
Doug Tarry
CONTRIBUTORS
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 3
Builders need to consider many
things when choosing a method
of Code compliance. It’s not only a
matter of building science. These are
some of the things I consider:
•	 Our ultimate goals
•	 The size and scope of a project
•	 Our past experiences
•	 The availability of products
and their track record
•	 The availability, expertise
and capability of the workforce
performing the work
•	 Our internal processes and
ability to implement changes
•	 The market’s perception
•	 The regulatory framework
•	 Last but not least, value
(cost vs. benefit)
Currently, we are exploring the
use of SB-12’s prescriptive package
A1 (the only package without the use
of insulated sheathing). Typically,
better mechanical equipment is
simply plug and play (and pay). On
the other hand, we’ve done a few
projects with insulated sheathing
and it is workable, although,
somewhat more complicated to use
than installing better mechanical
equipment. It requires more attention
to construction details.
Tall walls (11 feet or higher)
typically would require both a
structural sheathing and the insulated
sheathing on top. At Starlane Home
Corporation, our homes almost
always have tall walls – often 20 feet
high or more – that are quite long
and sometimes octagonal or round.
Depending on your chosen details,
foundation walls may need to be
thickened to 9 or 10 inches. To take
advantage of the sheathing as an air
barrier requires a lot of sheathing
tape. Window frames also have to be
thickened.
Cost Versus Benefit
Cost versus benefit is another
matter. The possibility of thicker
foundation walls, structural sheathing
requirements, installation costs and
window depths, as well as the actual
increased cost of the sheathing need to
be considered.
Builders in the Greater Toronto Area
should note that the new collective
agreement for Local 183 piecework
carpenters adds $0.11 per square foot
of wall area (plus 20 percent benefits
and contractor markup) to the cost of
insulated wall sheathing. This does not
include taping and sealing detail work.
The quality of installations in
production housing are inconsistent at
best. Installing an insulated sheathing
alone does not mean a home will be
more airtight. If a builder wants to make
use of the new trade-offs to reduce some
measures within a given package
by increasing air tightness, more
sealing work needs to be done on the
sheathing as an outboard air barrier.
More training and supervision are
definitely required, as are repair costs.
Training can be challenging in the
current environment while super­
vision and repair costs are quite high.
In our industry, simplicity is
often as important as cost. Some of
the prescribed packages are neither
simple nor inexpensive. Integral to this
discussion is the way these packages
are considered and efficiencies
calculated. We’ve hit the wall when it
comes to value for exterior envelopes,
and mechanical system efficiencies
are quickly maxing out. We are quickly
running out of tools in our tool box.
Until builders are able to calculate
rationally the energy performance
based on true occupant loads and
consumption, we will have no way of
reaching the greater efficiency goals
recently announced in the Climate
The Best Way
to Build in 2017
thebadatest / LOU BADA
A
sk five different builders about the best way to build and you’ll
very likely get five different opinions. Opinions are like earlobes:
everyone has them. What really matters is what informs your
opinions and your terms of reference.
That’s why it’s important to consider Ontario’s Building Code changes in SB-12
for 2017. It will have six prescribed methods for compliance for energy efficiency
in low-rise housing.
Envelope losses are a relatively small
part of typical home energy consumption
that have diminishing returns or savings.
(Package J 2012 @ 3.0 ACH)
32%
a/c, lighting,
appliances
31%
envelope
heat losses
18%
domestic
hot water
19%
ventilation
losses
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20164
Change Action Plan (CCAP). The
assumptions or defaults of occupant
loads and consumption only show half
of the equation when assessing the
best way to build prescriptively in 2017.
Essentially, it boils down to
choosing insulated sheathing for
above-grade walls versus better
mechanical equipment for heating,
ventilation and water heating.
This kind of choice is not optimal,
but necessary when considering
the prescriptive path. Getting a
building permit for the performance
path method is daunting in some
jurisdictions.
Should the next Code cycle in
five years make insulated sheathing
mandatory, my hope is that insulated
sheathing will be installed off site as
pre-fabricated panels. Hopefully, the
issues outlined here can be ironed out.
Meanwhile, with the current shortage
of trained labour and skyrocketing
costs, to be practical and effective, we
need some flexibility and rationality
to achieve our energy efficiency goals.
Let’s face it, thickening the exterior
walls with insulation also has its
practical limits.
Builders may have to use
compliance package A1 where possible.
Forcing builders – and, by default,
homebuyers – to assume costs that
make little sense either economically
or environmentally is irresponsible,
in my opinion. Changes in SB-12 will
result in significant construction cost
increases, and cost increases of the
CCAP when implemented are likely
to be tens of thousands of dollars
for new homes. Given our current
circumstances, this is how I will be
approaching SB-12 for 2017.
Let me know your approach: email
me at loub@starlanehomes.com. BB
Lou Bada is Vice President of Low
Rise Construction at Starlane Home
Corporation and on the board of
directors for the Residential Construction
Council of Ontario (RESCON).
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20166
industrynews / ALEX NEWMAN
There is a solution, however. About
65% of the water we use every day – on
average about 100 gallons –goes down
the drain from our showers, baths and
toilets. Considering water rates are
expected to increase 10% annually,
there’s ample motivation for recycling
water. But Lally says conserving water
is about more than cost – increased
water use, especially in urban settings,
means very expensive maintenance
and the addition of water impacts
infrastructure as well as the energy
used to transport the water.
GWS specializes in water recycling
– rainwater, greywater and storm
water. From a plumbing perspective,
rainwater is relatively simple to
recycle because it’s collected from
the roof, is relatively clean and often
the only requirement is to transport
it to the point of use. Storm water
often contains more impurities, but
in many cities, including the GTA, it’s
often already stored in a central tank
and the only requirement is to filter and
chlorinate the water to supply toilets.
Greywater can be the most challenging
of the three because of the need to
plumb the building on the collection
and supply sides, Lally explains.
The company’s greywater systems
have been installed in high rises, com­
mercial buildings, hotels, fire halls and
even residential multi-unit buildings.
Many Ontario municipalities,
particularly very urban ones like the
City of Toronto, require mid- and high-
rise buildings to have storm retention
tanks. These tanks hold anywhere
from 40,000 to 100,000 gallons of water
that have been collected to prevent
excess flow of the city’s storm sewers
during a heavy rainfall. These tanks
have been designed to prevent peak
water flow from entering the storm
sewage system, and are big enough to
handle even torrential rains.
Due to limited infrastructure and
potential water shortages, though,
municipalities – like Markham, and
Toronto – are now looking at ways to
encourage commercial and multi-
residential properties to re-use water.
The logical thing is to recycle some of
the water from the retention tank for
use in toilets. Irrigation and cooling
towers are other options, Lally adds.
At a new LEED-designated high-rise
office building in Markham – Aviva’s
head office – the goal was to try it
out. Greyter Water installed a smaller
second tank of 400-gallon capacity,
which draws off rain water from the
storm retention tank, chlorinates it
to eliminate bacteria and reuses the
water in the toilets. As Lally explains,
its wasteful to treat the large storm
retention tank to chlorinate so the
smaller tank allows for water to be
drawn off, treated, and re-used.
The smaller tank can come with
a pump, or in the case of Aviva, be
connected to a third-party pump. In
municipalities that do not already have
a storm water collection requirement,
commercial or high rise residential
buildings would need to install a storm
retention tank in addition to the re-use
system. One advantage of greywater in
this situation is that the constant supply
of water from showers means that the
storage needs for reuse in toilets can be
small, enough for a daily supply.
Once the building is plumbed in,
it’s relatively inexpensive to install
the equipment – about $50,000 in a
mid-size 100-unit building, and with
installation another $15,000. The
biggest cost is often the plumbing,
Lally adds.
Water, Water, Every Where,
 Nor Any Drop to Drink
P
araic Lally’s aim isn’t to be a harbinger of doom, but he can see the
impending challenges when it comes to the issue of global water shortages.
“The world’s water supply remains the same, but the population has
tripled, and the demand for water has increased by six,” says the VP of business
development for Greyter Water Systems (GWS) in Toronto. “By 2050 at least 60
countries will be feeling the water shortage, and in five years, 36 US states will
experience water shortages.”
Typical commercial greywater system.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
These systems are easier to
incorporate into new buildings than
trying to retrofit old buildings. All too
often, though, high rises are built the
same they always have been because
of the cost of the additional plumbing.
It you’re roughing-in a building to
allow for water re-use down the
road, you’d need to incorporate two
separate lines, one to feed non-
potable fixtures – toilets, irrigation,
e.g. – and one for drinking water.
Currently, condos are typically
built with eight units per floor with
bathrooms located back to back –
there would be four plumbing runs
top to bottom and the layout would
handle both drain and supply. In
order to retrofit an existing high rise,
or to build new, there needs to be
double the pipes so regular drain
water (greywater) is separate from
toilets (black water). And that is often
cost prohibitive, Lally points out.
“Down the road, there’s potential
to treat both the greywater and
black water because the technology
is already there to take either water
and recycle it without changing the
plumbing,” Lally says. “But this is
unlikely unless we face extreme
shortages. The problem is the ‘ick’
factor – people recoil at the thought
of drinking water that’s been through
the toilet.”
Even now, people can have a
concern about greywater in their
toilet, Lally says. That’s why you
often see water in toilets dyed blue in
commercial buildings – it’s recycled
water that appears clean.
How receptive to water
recycling is the industry?
Chris Thompson, Co-founder and
CTO for GWS, says receptivity
depends a lot on early adopters.
“Every day we work with architects,
designers and contractors who are
drawn to the affordability of our
solutions but they are also very
motivated by the environmental
savings relating to managing water
more efficiently,” says Thompson.
“They want to be leaders.”
While most people’s decisions are
still driven largely by money, “there’s
a group of people out there motivated
by sustainability and it’s a group that’s
growing,” he adds, “especially in areas
where water supply is seriously low.
People begin to understand that water
doesn’t flow endlessly from the tap.”
Municipalities with low water
resources are so committed to finding
ways to use water better – reduced
consumption as well as recycling
– they’re coming up with both
regulations and incentives to ensure
better decision-making.
In areas where the supply is
not immediately threatened – like
Toronto – there’s less incentive to find
solutions. Especially when there’s no
immediate financial benefit, like for
condo developers who turn over the
building to a condo board, after it’s
developed and built.
However, limited water infrastruc­
ture is becoming a major challenge
in Toronto and with the prohibitive
cost of adding new infrastructure, the
city has mandated that new buildings
won’t get approved unless they have
the capacity to at least deal with the
storm water issue, and in particular
the flooding of the city’s storm sewers.
What percentage of efficiency
can be realized by switching
to a greywater system?
Currently, in the US, a water efficiency
scale is being developed that roughly
corresponds to the HERS energy scale,
and Thompson thinks we’ll start
seeing combinations of both HERS and
WERS (Water Efficiency Rating Scale)
in new construction.
“Water is a bit more challenging
[than energy] because there are
more variables,” he says. Since most
interior household water is used in
the bathroom, installing low flow
toilets and efficient showerheads can
lead to big reduction in consumption
levels. Reusing shower and bath
water for toilet flushing can reduce a
household’s water consumption by a
further 20-25%. GWS will soon launch
a single family residential greywater
system to meet this need.
What’s the biggest challenge
we face in the fight to lower
water consumption?
“Looking short term,” Thompson
says. “If you want two-year payback,
7
“There’s a group of
people out there
motivated by sustain­
ability and it’s a
group that’s growing.”
Aviva’s head office in Markham uses storm
and greywater for toilet flushing.
RENDERINGBYQUADRANGLEARCHITECTS
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20168
greywater won’t do it. But if you’re
okay with something that will
increase over time, and last the life of
the building, then greywater recycling
makes sound financial sense.”
Less than 1% of buildings
currently have some kind of water
re-use system. Thompson says this
mirrors the energy situation of 20
years ago – nobody was interested
in putting money into it. And now
virtually everyone is aware of the
need to reduce. “I think that’s the way
water efficiency will go, especially
now that some locales are in a
desperate situation,” he says.
Multi-use residential buildings
represent the highest potential for
water saving because so many people
are flushing so many toilets. But there’s
a disconnect between the builder and
the end user, who has more interest
in keeping utility bills down. That
changes when a developer builds rental
and intends to remain as landlord.
It’s going to be up to municipalities
to take the lead on creating incentives
for water efficiency, Thompson says. In
San Francisco, for example, buildings
over 40,000 square feet are required
to be greywater ready. “But that’s
California and there’s a desperation
there because they have no water.
In a situation like that, it’s extremely
easy to make the case for plugging in a
system.”
In Toronto, retention tanks or 50%
flow reduction are mandatory, and if
a developer re-uses water they qualify
for development charge reductions.
“Developers tend to go for the cheapest
reuse options, commonly irrigation
first. If that doesn’t work, maybe a
cooling tower, and then greywater.
Commercial and institutional clients
often want to make a ‘sustainability
statement’ and go for toilets,” Lally says.
The bottom line is it doesn’t make
any sense to flush good potable water
down the drain. BB
Alex Newman is a writer, editor and
researcher at www.alexnewmanwriter.com.
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201610
industryexpert / GORD COOKE
First, the number of prescriptive
packages is down, reflecting the
fact that it is getting tougher to
find significant, cost-effective
incremental energy improvements
through simple changes to insulation
levels or mechanical equipment
specifications. Second, there is a not-
so-subtle mention of air tightness,
with the supporting documents of
SB-12 hinting that in future Code
iterations, air tightness testing will
be mandatory. In this iteration, there
is at least a series of helpful trade-
offs for builders who do a good job of
air leakage control. These first two
trends support what I consider to be
the most important change to SB-12:
the clarifications and emphasis on
the “Performance Path” and “Other
Acceptable Compliance Methods”
sections of SB-12.
In the same way that the
International Energy Conservation
Code 2015 in the US and the
National Building Code of Canada
2010 (section 9.36) have moved to a
more objective, performance path
based on energy modeling, the new
SB-12 demonstrates a compelling
opportunity for builders to work with
their Energy Advisor to find the most
cost-effective way of meeting the new
Code requirements. In this new SB-12,
not only is there a stronger reference
to EnergySTAR for New Homes
and R-2000 as being Alternative
Methods, there is also a more clearly
defined Performance Path that gives
builders flexibility to show compliance
using any one of six different energy
simulation software programs against
a “reference” home.
In my opinion, any builder who
is truly looking for the most cost-
effective way to build a home that
adheres to basic building science
principles for a safe, healthy, durable,
comfortable and efficient home will
use the Performance Path.
The table below (Figure 1) may help
demonstrate why I think the
Performance Path will be the most
cost-effective approach. Let’s compare
incremental costs versus incremental
energy savings of changes needed
within the Prescriptive Path to get
from the most commonly used Package
J in the 2012 version to what many
project to be the most popular package
in the 2017 version, Package A1.
Notice in the table, that the least
effective upgrade is the attic insulation
at over $500 per GJ saved. We are
clearly seeing the diminishing returns
of adding insulation to ceilings. Note,
too, that controlling air leakage rates to
current EnergySTAR levels is more cost
effective than adding attic insulation
Code and Performance Path
I
n the last issue, my article mentioned that the draft of the Ontario
Building Code Supplementary Standard SB-12 Energy Efficiency
requirements for January 2017 had come out. Indeed, in the ensuing
weeks, the final version of SB-12 for 2017 has been made public and there are some
compelling trends to discuss.
FIGURE 1
OBC 2012
Package J
OBC 2017
Package A1
Estimated
Incremental Cost
GJ /yr
Savings
ATTIC R50 R60 $400 0.795
WALLS R22 Nominal
R22 Nominal
R17.83 Effective
— —
BASEMENTS R12 Nominal
R20 c.i. Nominal
R21.12 Effective
$450 2.2
WINDOWS U – 1.8 U -1.6 or ER 25 $1000 5.36
FURNACE
94%
(Sensible %)
96%
(Sensible %)
$250 0.915
HRV 65%
75%
$150 1.64
DHW 0.67 EF 0.8 EF Rental 2.89
AIR
TIGHTNESS
Although not a requirement, under
Performance Path, the reference
house is assumed to be 3.0 ACH50.
The impact of 2.5 ACH is:
Cost of
air test
$250
3.3
The costs are my estimates, from my experience. Readers of this article will have a much
better idea of your actual costs and I encourage you to do a full analysis and then I am
confident you will work closely with your supply partners to ensure a fair and equitable price.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
and increasing basement insulation combined.
I think air tightness is a critical aspect. Section
9.25.3 Air Barriers of the Code identifies 16 separate air
sealing measures with words such as “shall be sealed,”
“continuous barrier to air leakage” and “maintain
integrity of the air barrier over the entire surface.”
These words, in my opinion are both a risk and an
opportunity. If you do them well, you will achieve air
tightness levels well below the 3.0 ACH50 hinted at in
the Code at very low cost. If you don’t do them well
and you don’t test for air tightness, you are at risk from
any homeowner who feels even the slightest draft
around an electrical outlet or under a baseboard. In
other words, smart builders across North America are
doing air tightness testing anyway, as both a quality
assurance measure and a risk mitigation measure.
Now, under the new SB-12, you can get very cost-
effective energy credits for doing it if you use the
Performance Path.
Air leakage control is just one aspect of making
sound decisions in light of the Code change. Using
the Performance Path encourages builders to better
evaluate windows to optimize both summer and
winter comfort performance while, at the same
time, being able to “right-size” your furnace and air
conditioner sizing to optimize costs. The Performance
Path can also help you find better ways to insulate
basements to avoid moisture issues. It is my sincere
opinion that the new Code tips the scales in favour of
using an integrated design and performance-testing
approach to ensure healthier, safer, more comfortable,
more efficient and more durable homes, all in a more
cost-effective way. BB
Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada.
11
Roof truss and wood
sill connection.
Simpson Strong Tie
MGT system shown
Drywall
screwed
into amvic
polypropylene
webs as per
building code
Electrical
outlet
Wood sub-floor
installed as per
local building
Simpson strong tie
ICFLC and wood floor
joists connection
Amvic insulating
concrete forms
Amdeck floor 
roof system
Exterior wood
siding installed
as per local
building code
Amvic high
impact
polypropylene
webs
Acrylic,
standard
ptucco or eifs
applied to
exterior face
of Amvic ICF
Brick veneer
Parge face of
exposed
brick ledge
Grade
Peel-and-stick
waterproofing
membrane (or
equivalent)
as per local
building code
Perforated
weeping tile
INSULATED
CONCRETEFORMS
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT:
AMVIC.COM
Smart builders across
North America are doing air
tightness testing anyway, as
both quality assurance and
risk mitigation measures.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201612
industrynews / STEFFANIE ADAMS
The question of how to get to the
next generation EnergySTAR in a
production environment is key to
Empire Communities’ brand and this
pilot project. GBC will monitor wall
assemblies in two of Empire’s homes
located in Breslau, Ontario to help
evaluate their capacity to manage the
movement of heat and moisture
effectively. GBC’s Building Science
Research team includes Dr. P.
Christopher Timusk, Steffanie Adams,
Dahai Zhang and students Evan May,
James Henderson and Taras Yavorskyi.
The team previously monitored Doug
Tarry’s Optimum Basement Wall in the
Discovery Home in the same capacity:
to verify the field performance and
effectiveness of their basement wall
system. The team is uniquely posi­
tioned to continue their research in
monitoring better basement systems.
Current Ontario Building Code
regulations allow for the installation
of roll-down blanket insulation in
unfinished basements, comprised of
a 6 mil polyethylene vapour barrier
with fibreglass batt attached. It is
typically mechanically fastened at the
top of the basement wall using staples
and a metal strap at mid height of the
basement wall. Nominal R-values are
met but effective R-values have yet to
be determined. Empire Communities
would like to demonstrate that their
system would not only meet current
OBC regulations but also provide a
more durable, sustainable and cost
effective solution to the industry.
Each home in this pilot project will
be constructed with wall assemblies
(both above and below grade) that
meet different standard levels and
OBC regulations. The individual
wall assemblies in each home will
be compared in terms of material
thickness and material properties.
The GBC research team will
E
mpire Communities, the 2015 Ontario Home Builder of the Year and 2013
Green Builder of the year, has been a pioneer for the EnergySTAR Initiative
for Ontario Communities for over 12 years. In partnership with Clearsphere,
Roxul®
, Dow and George Brown College (GBC), Empire has set out to improve the
quality of homes constructed in Ontario with a pilot project focused on building
better basement systems.
The hybrid house research team, left to right:
Evan May, James Henderson, Steffanie Adams,
Steve Doty (Empire) and Dahai Zhang.
Empire Communities
Best Research and Development Project
Three Energy Efficient Test Houses
Near-Zero
Hybrid
EnergySTAR
(Current)
EnergySTAR
Plus
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
monitor the below grade wall
assembly of Empire’s Hybrid House
and their EnergySTAR + Home.
The two homes will be constructed
using different systems of insulating
below-grade wall assemblies and
will be compared to a control wall
made of roll-down blanket insulation.
The Hybrid House will be insulated
to R-20 using 2 Dow Styrofoam
Cladmate™
CM20 that is mechanically
fastened to the concrete foundation
wall followed by 2.5 of ROXUL®
’s
COMFORTBOARD™
fastened with
plasgood washers. The EnergySTAR +
Home will be insulated to R-15.5
using 1.5 Dow Styrofoam Cladmate™
CM20 that is mechanically fastened
to the concrete foundation wall.
Inboard of the Dow Cladmate™
,
2 of ROXUL COMFORTBOARD™
will
be fastened with plasgood washers.
GBC’s research team will install
temperature, moisture content,
and relative humidity sensors at
critical locations throughout the wall
assembly and in the soil for analysis.
The team is interested in
collecting data on the performance
of the control wall. Specifically,
roll-down blanket insulation has
been observed to collect moisture
within the fiberglass batt and on
the 6 mil polyethylene. The vapour-
impermeable 6 mil polyethylene
makes it difficult for moisture from
the soil or concrete foundation to dry
inward. Comparing the data obtained
from the control wall to Empire’s
Dow and ROXUL®
’s below-grade wall
assembly system will help establish
that insulating using Empire’s wall
assembly prototype is more effective
in controlling moisture and heat flow.
The research team will also
monitor above-grade wall assemblies
in Empire’s Hybrid House and their
EnergySTAR + Home. The two homes
will be constructed using the same
insulating material. Both homes will
be insulated using Dow Styrofoam™
Cladmate XL™
insulated exterior
sheathing with taped joints and
ROXUL COMFORTBATT®
in the 2x6
stud cavity. These two homes will
be compared in terms of thermal
resistance. The Hybrid Home will be
insulated to a nominal value of R-31.5
and the EnergyPLUS + Home will be
insulated to a nominal value of R-29.
Both above-grade wall assemblies
will be monitored and data collected
and analyzed on heat flow and moist­
ure control to determine the effective­
ness of insulating to R-31.5 over R-29.
This two-year project begins in the
summer of 2016 and the team will
collect and transmit the data remotely
for analysis for the duration of at least a
full heating and cooling cycle, enabling
assessment of the durability and
performance of the Empire basement
wall system. BB
Steffanie Adams,
Principal, ARKI
Design Group
13
RELATIVE
HUMIDITY AND
TEMPERATURE
PIN MOISTURE
CONTENT AND
TEMPERATURE
DUFF MOISTURE
CONTENT AND
TEMPERATURE
2 DOW STYROFOAM™ CLADMATE™
CM20 INSULATION WITH
2.5 ROXUL COMFORTBOARD™
INSULATION ATTACHED WITH
PLASGOOD WASHERS AS PER
MANUFACTURERS’ SPECIFICATIONS
1 DOW FROTHPAK INSULATION
WITH 5.5 ROXUL COMFORTBATT™
INSULATION AT RIM JOIST
STANDARD EXTERIOR WALL
CONSTRUCTION PER UNIT
WORKING DRAWING
WEEP HOLES @ 2'-8 (800mm)
O/C HORIZONTAL AND
CONTINUOUS FLASHING
EXTERIOR INTERIOR
FIN GRADE
FIN FIRST FLOOR
TOP OF SLAB
HYBRID HOUSE WALL TYPE 1 – Below Grade Wall Sensor Location
Hybrid house composite basement wall system with moisture and temperature probes.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201614
buildernews
Notes
1	 6 Packages
2	 A1 is the only choice without
continuous insulated sheathing
3	 A4 Combo Heating Package
Furnace @ 96% AFUE + DHWH @
EF=0.67 is equivalent to condensing
combination unit @ 90%
4	 Mandatory DWHR on two drains
5	 Mandatory HRVs above minimum
65% @ 30 L/s
6	 Trade offs for air tightness @ 2.5
ACH; NLR or NLA can be used
7	 Effective R-values for insulation
SB-12 2017 for Dummies
ZONE 1 COMPLIANCE PACKAGE FOR SPACE HEATING EQUIPMENT WITH AFUE ≥ 92%
COMPONENT
COMPLIANCE PACKAGE
2012
PACKAGE J
A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6
CEILING WITH ATTIC SPACE R50 R60 R60 R50 R60 R50 R60
CEILING WITHOUT ATTIC SPACE R31 R31 R31 R31 R31 R31 R31
EXPOSED FLOOR R31 R31 R31 R35 R31 R35 R31
WALLS ABOVE GRADE R22 R22 R19 + 5 R14 + 7.5ci R22 + 5ci R19 + 5ci R22 + 5ci
BASEMENT WALLS R12 R20ci R12 + 10ci R20ci R20ci R12 + 5ci R20ci
BELOW GRADE SLAB  600 MM — — — — — — —
HEATED SLAB OR SLAB ≤ 600 MM 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
EDGE OF SLAB ≤ 600 MM 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
WINDOWS AND SLIDING GLASS DOORS 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.6 1.6 1.6
SKYLIGHTS 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8
SPACE HEATING
94%
AFUE
96%
AFUE
96%
AFUE
94%
AFUE
96%
AFUE
94%
AFUE
92%
AFUE
HRV/ERV (SENSIBLE EFFICIENCY) 60% 75% 75% 81% 75% 70% 65%
DHW 0.67 0.8 0.7 0.67 0.67 0.8 0.8
DWHR (ON ALL OR
MINIMUM TWO SHOWERS)
— 42% 42% 42% 42% 42% 42%
ACH DEFAULT (DETACHED) 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201616
Doing
featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
Doing
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 17
This attitude manifests in Heath­
wood’s approach with its customers, its
trades, its suppliers and beyond.
First launched in 1977 as Heron
Homes (named after one of its
partners, Hugh Heron, who has
become a building industry icon), the
company also created the Heathwood
brand 25 years ago. Alspector says
the parent company is currently
undergoing another rebranding, from
Heron Group to Herity; Heathwood
Homes is a division of that group.
“There’s a lot of history” in this
brand, he says.
Sustainability and building energy
efficient homes have long been staples
for Heathwood, dating back to the
Heathwood subdivision in 1981, a
high-end site that included heat pumps
as standard fare.
“That was some pioneering,”
Alspector says of this venture, a move
that gas provider Enbridge – concerned
that it wasn’t going to make enough
money from these homes – took issue
It Right
Heathwood Homes has created the best builder
brand through a simple formula of innovation,
fairness and doing things the right way.
W
hen it comes to developing a brand that’s built on putting
customers first, there are countless companies that talk the
talk. But finding those that actually walk the walk is only
slightly rarer than Halley’s Comet sightings.
That’s what sets Heathwood Homes – our choice for Best Brand – apart from
the pack. This Toronto-area builder has fostered its reputation over nearly four
decades, not only creating the highest quality homes and being a pioneer in energy
efficiency, but also maintaining a simple philosophy of “fairness above everything
else,” says Sheldon Alspector, a long-time company principal.
It R
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201618
with. When it came time to put the
lines in, Enbridge wanted the builder
to pay for the infrastructure, normally
a free service for developers.
“The loss in revenue from
decreased gas consumption means
the utility’s capital costs could not be
covered,” Alspector explains.
Going the Extra Mile
Going the extra mile for its customers
has always been the Heathwood way,
and a huge part of how its brand has
become so revered.
“We work hard to make people
happy,” he says.
That philosophy is demonstrated
best when issues crop up, regardless
of who, ultimately, may be at fault.
When something bad happens, “we
try to go above and beyond to satisfy
them, even though we may strongly
feel that we’re right and they’re
wrong,” Alspector explains.
For instance, the final 10 houses
in Heathwood Homes’ Brampton
site recently got caught up in some
trade strikes, specifically drywallers.
He says the company was not legally
obligated to do anything for those
people, but opted to help compensate
for the delay.
Why would Heathwood do that?
It’s pretty simple, Alspector says. “It
was the right thing to do.”
Similarly, a few years ago, the
window company Heathwood was
using in its Milton project went
bankrupt and if service was needed,
there was no warranty for those
homeowners.
“We took it upon ourselves to
extend the existing coverage as if they
were still in business,” he says.
Don’t Say No
Alspector, who started with the
company in 1981 after stints with
Sanbury Homes and Menkes, and now
heads up Herity Group’s construction
needs, says he empowers his
employees by allowing them to bend
as much as possible for homebuyers.
In fact, they are not allowed to say no;
if they believe a “no” is warranted in
any given situation, they have to come
to him.
By saying yes more times than not,
the company builds relationships and
long-time customers, Alspector says.
When developing your brand,
builders looking to follow in
Heathwood’s footsteps should heed
their advice, because – as Alspector
says – people’s expectations today are
generally very, very high and you have
to be prepared to deliver.
Builders must be “honourable and
honest and up front,” he says. Further,
you better have a great product and
stand behind it.
“People are not going to take
garbage. You have to deliver quality
and you have to give them great, not
good, after-sales service,” Alspector
advises.
To Heathwood, a brand is more
than a marketing slogan. It’s not
just words – a brand needs to have
legitimate substance and a palpable
philosophy behind it to the point that
people realize: ‘I’m being treated
differently.’
Because of the company’s
unwavering belief in fairness, “we
sleep at night.”
Alspector
says Amvic’s
Silverboard
sheeting “is
a superior
product” that
they prefer
over aspenite.
Heathwood green demo home in 2010 included monitoring and greywater recycling.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 19
Lifelong Partners
This approach extends to its suppliers and subcontractors,
many of whom have been working with the company from
its inception.
Two of Heathwood’s newer partners are Amvic and
Panasonic. Alspector says Amvic’s Silverboard sheeting
“is a superior product” that they prefer over aspenite.
Panasonic, meanwhile, provides bathroom fans that “are
much better than the competition.”
In an effort to measure energy conservation features
and create homes that go vastly beyond Building Code
specifications, Heathwood has taken the Better Than Code
program (betterthancode.ca) and used it as a basis for its
own green initiative, Heathwood Energy Program.
The benefit to homeowners of this approach is clear,
Alspector says. “Our home – depending on the features we
include – could be 20 percent better or more efficient than
the other. In other words, if you’re going to pay $3,000 in
your utility bills every year, it would be $600 a year cheaper
in our home.”
With a deep rooted tradition in energy efficiency and
Energy Star homes, Heathwood Homes continues to seek
out emerging technologies and opportunities to better its
processes.
Constantly Improving
“We look to improve every day,” Alspector says. “We
like working with experts; we don’t pretend to know
everything.”
He says the company tries to pick experts’ brains and
look at various suppliers to see what new products and
materials they have available to help improve processes.
“As new technologies come to fruition, we like to look
at those closely and when they’re proven commodities, we
like to take the jump and get involved,” Alspector says.
That spirit of innovation led Heathwood Homes to built
a demonstration green home in Richmond Hill about seven
years ago. The company enlisted Ryerson University, which
did a comparison of that home with all its energy efficient
features (such as greywater and several other cutting-edge
concepts) and a similar home without them.
“We try to take advantage of the things we learned
then,” Alspector says. As a result, many of the trials
employed in that home are now standard fare in
Heathwood Homes, and that means a Heathwood-built
house is future proof to an extent by having items such as
solar rough-in.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201620
Back in the day, he explains,
building extras like that into homes
was a challenge because there were
price ceilings you had to stay below,
so even an additional $5,000 stuck
out. But today, Heathwood puts those
extra dollars in the home, not only in
the form of energy features but also
quality products and finishes.
For instance, Forest Hill on the
Green, Heathwood’s sold-out site in
Richmond Hill, includes 113 single
family homes on 43- and 50-foot lots
that feature nine-foot basements,
10-foot main floors and nine-foot
second floors. Other premium items
include Roxul thermal insulated
sheathing board, insulation under
basement concrete floors and solar
and greywater rough-ins.
Word of Mouth
So successful was this development
that the homes sold out without
the need of a grand opening. Then
again, perhaps that’s not surprising
considering how much referral
business Heathwood enjoys given its
sterling record.
“You get a lot of word of mouth
people who have lived in our homes
over the years,” Alspector explains.
Another big part of Heathwood’s
philosophy involves giving back
to the community, nowhere more
clearly evidenced than by its main
philanthropic initiative, The Mikey
Network. Named after one of
Heathwood’s late partners, the charity
places public access defibrillators in
high-risk locations, an endeavour that
has already saved at least 32 lives,
Alspector says.
Heathwood’s tagline is “Home at
Last,” a phrase that represents “the big
sigh (of contentment)... ‘this is home.’”
It’s a feeling that Heathwood
customers have now become well
acquainted with for nearly two-fifths
of a century. BB
Rob Blackstien is
a Toronto-based
freelance writer.
Pen-Ultimate.ca
“You get a lot of word
of mouth people
who have lived in our
homes over the years,”
Alspector explains.
Silvio Longo (above left) and Rocco Longo below and above grade. Left: All basements at Forest Hill have Roxul
to reduce moisture problems. Right: Heathwood uses Amvic Silverboard insulated sheathing instead of OSB.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201622
industryexpert / MICHAEL LIO
R
ecently, the Ontario govern­
ment released its Climate
Change Action Plan (CCAP)
that included signals that changes
are coming for Ontario’s housing
industry. The CCAP states:
•	 Electric-vehicle-ready homes:
Ontario will require all new homes
and townhomes with garages to
be constructed with a 50-amp,
240-volt receptacle (plug) in the
garage for the purpose of charging
an electric vehicle.
•	 Near Net Zero Carbon Home
Incentive: Rebates will go to
individuals who purchase or
build their own near net zero
carbon emission homes, with
energy efficiency performance
that sufficiently exceeds the
requirements of the Building Code.
•	 Update the Building Code: The
government will update the
Building Code with long-term
energy efficiency targets for new
net zero carbon emission small
buildings that will come into effect
by 2030 at the latest, and consult
on initial changes that will be
effective by 2020.
Let’s consider each of these
proposals separately. Let’s also
consider the challenges that may lay
ahead for the industry.
The CCAP suggests an action start
date of January 2018 for new homes
to be equipped with electric vehicle
chargers in the garage and a 50 amp
breaker box. Level 2 electric charging
stations will be required on a 240
volt outlet which can fully charge
a vehicle in four to six hours. The
home building industry should have
little trouble running a heavier gauge
electrical conduit to the garage from a
50 amp service. The vehicle plug and
breaker box will certainly add cost for
the builder that will be passed on to
the homebuyer.
All of these vehicles charging at
the same time may cause issues for
the grid. As homeowners plug in their
electric cars, probably just before
dinner time, the local distribution
company will likely need to think about
what this new load might mean for its
grid. Smart grids that can manage the
loads will become vitally important.
The CCAP’s “near net zero
carbon emission homes” (NNZCEH)
proposal raises a number of questions.
Recognize that the CCAP doesn’t refer
to homes that are “net zero energy.”
While the intended meaning of
NNZCEH has not been fully explained,
the way the CCAP reads suggests that
ordering the home’s power from a
“green electricity” supplier may mean
that your home could qualify. In fact,
houses in Quebec would, for the most
part, qualify under this definition.
The Climate Change Action Plan
will eventually need to define what it
considers to be “near net zero carbon
emissions.” It will need to decide on
how “near” is “near.” Can builders
decide for themselves how close to
zero they get? Many details are clearly
missing from the CCAP that can have
a tremendous impact on builders. The
government will need to establish a
NNZCEH standard to protect buyers
and to guide builders. At buildABILITY,
our work with production builders
across Canada suggests that without a
near net zero industry standard, what
buyers get as “near net zero” could vary
considerably.
In our net zero energy work, we
used NRCan’s definition for “net zero
energy homes”: a net zero energy home
(NZEH) means a home that produces
as much energy as it consumes over
the course of a year. We used the
EnerGuide Rating System to model
and rate the homes. We used NRCan’s
baseloads and HOT2000 to model
the photovoltaics on the roof tops.
Of course, we could have used other
approaches that could do a better
job in modelling reality. What was
important was that home buyers got an
“as-modelled NZEH” product that was
treated in the same manner regardless
of region or home builder.
There are many technical
challenges that builders will need
to overcome in order to successfully
build an NZEH. A typical NZEH spec
is shown in Figure 1. Some of the
challenges relate to the availability
of components while others relate
to how components are integrated.
For instance, attaching siding to
exterior insulated sheathings that
are two or three inches thick will
Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan
and What it Means for the Housing Industry
The Climate Change
Action Plan will
eventually need to
define what it considers
to be “near net zero
carbon emissions.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
present challenges, as will achieving
envelope air tightness levels that are
less than 1.0 air changes. Sourcing
the advanced heat pump space and
water heaters today could also prove
difficult, and rooftop PV, as a new
system with a new set of trades, will
need to be integrated into the home
building process and schedule.
Undoubtedly, builders will be able to
overcome each of these challenges,
but, it will take incentives, training
and time.
Some municipalities are talking
about requiring NZEHs as part of
their community energy plans. This,
of course, would vary from the CCAP
call for NNZCEH. Any municipal
requirement would be forced on
developers through various land
approval instruments. Municipalities
and developers should realize that not
every home will easily qualify as net
zero energy, if the roof and sun are
misaligned. Developers should also
know that a net zero energy require­
ment could add $60,000 to $80,000 to
the cost of a Code-built house.
Before forcing developers to build
NZEHs, municipalities will need
to ensure that the local electricity
distribution companies (LDCs) will
allow builders to connect to the grid.
Grids that have traditionally been
one-way highways will need to be
realigned to accommodate two-way
traffic. A site with a few hundred
NZEHs would act like a small power
plant when the sun shines. For local
distribution companies, this will be a
significant challenge if the municipal
plans, and the CCAP, is to be realized.
Here’s what I think we need:
1.	 Governments (federal, provincial,
and municipal) need to define
precisely the target they wish to
reach – net zero energy, emissions,
near zero. One target, please. A time
frame would also be useful. 2030 is
a huge challenge, but achievable if
governments and utilities align and
work together. Make the target date
explicit. A construction standard is
necessary so there is consistency in
what buyers receive from builders.
2.	 Aligned, well-funded, voluntary
programs are fundamental to the
needed market transformation.
Utilities need to align well-funded
demonstration programs over
the next five years as precursors
to mass market programs.
Demonstration programs should
morph into aligned mass market
incentive programs over the
subsequent five years. See Figure 1
for clues on what to incent.
3.	 Government and utilities should
invest heavily in builder and,
more importantly, trades training.
Builder sales and marketing
training would also be useful.
4.	 Local distribution companies need
to transform themselves from
passive wire watchers to smart
grid operators. They can facilitate
the transformation by aggressively
investing in distributed generation
at the community and individual
homeowner level.
5.	 Municipalities can help
homeowners finance the purchase
of rooftop PVs and on-counter
energy displays. For existing
housing, this may be a better
economic choice than supporting
costly and technically difficult
energy retrofits.
Net zero energy housing is
technically feasible for production
builders in this country. We spent four
years working through the details to
be able to demonstrate just that. We
also learned NZEH is hard. It is fraught
with challenges and, of course, with
rewards. When I describe our NZEH
work to lay people, their faces instantly
light up. The concept is so easy to
understand. Cool, they say, a house
that on an annual basis uses no energy.
Cool, indeed! BB
Michael Lio is president of buildABILITY
Corporation. michael@buildability.ca
23
FIGURE 1
CEILING R60
MAIN WALLS R24 + R10 XPS
BASEMENT WALLS R12 + R15 XPS
EXPOSED FLOOR R40 + R5 XPS
UNDERSLAB R10 XPS
WINDOWS U0.9
HRV 75%
SPACE HEATING
AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMP
9.57 HSPF WITH ELECTRIC FURNACE BACKUP
WATER HEATING
HYBRID HEAT PUMP WATER HEATER
@ 2.45 EF + DRAIN WATER HEAT RECOVERY
AIR TIGHTNESS 1.0 ACH @ 50 Pa
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
It was the late 1970s and Bramalea
Construction was about the biggest
thing going – Afonso applied for and
was hired as assistant site foreman,
but moved into labour because it
paid better and would help to finance
his return to school. He ended up
staying several years before moving
on to Daniels Corporation, as site
supervisor for almost a decade.
From there, he went to Berkshire
Homes, first as site supervisor, then
construction manager. Afonso then
struck out on his own to do custom
renovations for a short time – it didn’t
last because he found homeowners
were fast becoming “experts” who
challenged every decision, thanks to
Google. It was wearing, he says.
He knew about Empire Commu­
nities, having met CEO Paul Golini
through the Green Building Council.
He submitted his resume on a Wednes­
day and was called on the Thursday.
He started with Empire as site super­
visor but within a few months was
promoted to construction manager.
“They’re a good company,” Afonso
says. “I already knew it, but now have
experienced it firsthand. They’re very
serious about what they are doing,
and want to do things well. So far, I’ve
seen them deliver on everything they
say they’ll do.”
Golini, he’s found, is very
concerned about sustainability – all
homes are EnergySTAR compliant
– and he recognizes the value of
training and holding on to young
people. Afonso has three assistants,
all recent graduates from college
programs for the industry. “They’re
very knowledgeable and eager,
just not experienced yet. It’s a
very youthful culture at Empire.”
The site he is currently managing
– Mt. Pleasant Lakeside in north
Brampton – is large at 750 units.
About half have been completed and
turned over to the customer, and the
remaining 380 are under construction.
“It’s a big site,” Afonso admits.
“Maintaining order and managing
the logistics of a lot of people coming
and going is definitely a challenge.
Like keeping the site clean – imagine
300 tradespeople having breakfast
and lunch – that’s a lot of garbage to
control. And I’m not counting the
garbage generated by the general
public – they come by after hours and
dump stuff on site.”
Afonso has a fairly basic code of
conduct for his tradespeople on-site:
don’t throw garbage around, wear
construction shoes and hat, be decent
to each other.
Organization is important when
managing a construction site this
size, he says. But more important is
“understanding how a site functions,
so that you can anticipate what’s ahead
and keep the trades on schedule.”
Every housing site starts with
surveyors, followed by excavation, and
only then can trades be scheduled in.
Most large sites do phases of 80 or 90
houses at a time, and the homes that
close first get built first. Much depends
on a well-organized head office, since
there’s a lot of information and paper­
work involved in building a house.
A typical work day starts around
7:00 am, when he holds a daily
production meeting to review with
staff and trades what needs to be
accomplished that day. This includes
tasks not completed the day before.
After that, Afonso conducts walk-
throughs on site to see who is there, at
what stage each house is, and whether
the site is meeting health and safety
requirements. All this takes two or three
hours, then he heads back to the office
to calculate what needs to be done the
following day, and calls the relevant
trades and foremen to fill them in.
Staying on schedule is probably the
most important role of a construction
manager. “Once the project is up and
running,” Afonso says, “especially one
this size, there are a lot of trades to keep
track of – 42 crews of carpenters, 15
crews of bricklayers. So you’re always
trying to be two or three days ahead.”
Building the Best by
Sticking to the Basics
sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN
A
s a student, Norm Afonso thought he’d go all the way, earn a PhD
and pursue a life in academia. After completing his Bachelor of Arts
in literature, however, he decided to take a break from school and
“make some money.” As it turned out, working with his electrician father for the
summer made him feel “useful” and he never returned to university.
25
“Maintaining order and
managing the logistics
of a lot of people
coming and going is
definitely a challenge.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201626
It’s why he often calls Friday nights
to make sure trades will be there on
Monday because while most trades
are reliable, “when they don’t show
up, a site can go very wrong.”
But a manager also needs to be
creative and flexible. “If you get too
rigid about timing, and not factor
in screw-ups, weather, accidents,
or someone not showing up, you
won’t accomplish much except drive
yourself crazy.”
What sorts of better building practices
have you picked up along the way?
“I don’t like wasting anything,”
Afonso says. “So I try to use less
lumber and re-use lumber where
possible. There’s always a way to do a
job that generates less waste.”
The first priority, though, is to
achieve the most comfortable home
possible, one with a tight envelope
complemented by proper ventilation.
Since all Mt. Pleasant Lakeside homes
are EnergySTAR, they’re prepped before
rough-in with beefed-up insulation,
keeping an eye on trouble areas, such as
behind the tub. They use a high quality
foam insulation which penetrates the
exterior envelope very well. “Down the
road, this makes a home’s interior air
quality very comfortable and it saves
on utility bills,” he says.
Every Empire home is tested
before purchasers take possession.
Clearsphere conducts blower door tests
for air leakage and inspections are
performed by Holmes on Homes Group.
What energy efficiency building
practices would you like to see
consistently promoted in the industry?
“Improved insulation, to increase
the R-value of walls and attic space. A
tight envelope is more important than
the HVAC system you install,” Afonso
says. “If the home is tight, you can get
away with a smaller furnace, one that’s
more appropriately sized for the home.”
The corollary to a tight envelope,
Afonso says, is ventilation. Empire
uses Energy Recovery Ventilators
(ERVs) “which mitigate the effect of
a tight home. The old R2000 homes
were very tight and did a great job of
reducing energy consumption, but
they didn’t provide enough ventilation.
An ERV will dramatically improve air
circulation, ventilation and air quality.”
Most builders use some form of
ventilation system, Afonso says, and
most EnergySTAR programs require it.
The problem is that the regular buying
public still doesn’t quite understand
what an ERV can do for them. “They
think they’re wasting energy by turning
it on, but to achieve maximum benefit,
the ERV needs to run all the time.”
To this end, Empire Communities
educates homeowners about how
their EnergySTAR homes operate, and
homeowner awareness is another way
the company gets back to basics. BB
Empire educates
homeowners about
how their homes
operate … another
way the company
gets back to basics.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
Men
Women
H
ave you ever wondered
why you were purchasing
something that you didn’t
really need?
I was pondering a similar question
on the last trip I made to Canadian
Tire with my boyfriend. Let’s get this
straight: I was lured there on the
pretense that we were replacing the
mop head. Next thing I knew, my
boyfriend was in the power tool aisle
looking longingly at the merchandise.
I could tell that he was zeroing in on
the cordless drills.
“Cordless drills? You gotta be
kidding!” my interior critic was
screaming. “Wasn’t it just this
morning that I put toast in the
toaster oven and patiently awaited
the perfectly browned twelve-grain
bread?” It didn’t toast, and it didn’t
take me too long to figure out why.
There was a power pack plugged into
the toaster oven’s socket, and sitting
there on the kitchen counter charging
was a cordless drill. One of many, I
may add, that I have noticed in odd
places around the house and shed.
It seems that my boyfriend is
not alone; ninety-five percent of
our purchase decisions are made
deep below the level of waking
consciousness. In fact, a multitude of
different and oftentimes conflicting
emotions are triggered within us
when contemplating a purchase.
Research data gathered from the
relatively new field of Neuro­
economics provides information that
helps us to better understand the
biological basis for human behaviour,
including purchasing behaviour.
When you are engaging in a
pleasurable activity – for my boyfriend
that’s buying a cordless drill –
dopamine is released in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter
that fuels desire and pleasure. It is the
reason my boyfriend looks so happy
after he buys another drill he doesn’t
need. In the moments after a purchase,
dopamine is fired up and any inklings
of anxiety or guilt are squelched.
Paul Zak, the Director of the
Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at
Claremont University has studied stock
traders on Wall Street in an attempt
to determine if there are genetic
variants that make a trader successful.
Dopamine plays an important role as
it modulates both reward seeking and
risk taking behaviors.
The study analyzed saliva samples
and other information from profes­
sional stock traders and then compared
those to Claremont MBA students who
were not trading stocks professionally.
Zak found that there are indeed genetic
differences in these two groups and
that there are particular genetic
variants that make a trader successful
on Wall Street. It turns out that the most
successful traders have genes that give
them moderate levels of dopamine.
With moderate levels, these traders can
take a risk when they predict a good
payoff and avoid a risk when it seems
likely to blow up in their face.
I’m guessing that my boyfriend
doesn’t have the genes that give him
moderate levels of dopamine given his
inability to avoid the risk of me blowing
up over the cordless drill purchase.
But I didn’t blow up (not outwardly
anyway). Why? I suspect my brain was
under the effect of oxytocin. Oxytocin
was once believed to be released in
humans only during sex and childbirth.
Rodents, on the other hand, have
oxytocin on hand (or paw) and it allows
them to tolerate their burrow mates.
Zak has dubbed oxytocin “the
moral molecule” and states that we
have a biology for reciprocation. I feel
it’s my duty to inform you that when
you trust someone, his or her brain
releases oxytocin. When you give a hug
to someone, his or her brain releases
oxytocin. We are that powerful. The
reciprocal effect of oxytocin motivates
us to care about and engage with
others. Lucky for my burrow mate.
I think it’s time to apologize in print
to my boyfriend for picking on him and
his affinity for power tools. Dopamine
29
What’s Driving Your Personal Rating System?
buildernews / WENDY SHAMI
relationship
sports
sex
sex
pets
food
food regrets
urination
aging
m
en
thrashing
balding
relationship
aging
odd hair growth
career
Thought Frequency as Pie Charts
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201630
does not discriminate between the
sexes. I admit, I too am subject to the
feel-good effects of dopamine. Just
follow me into IKEA and watch the
process. Our kitchen is full of gadgets
and dish-towels in lovely prints. With
all the stuff around, it’s no wonder it
took me awhile to notice the cordless
drill on the kitchen counter.
There is a difference between men
and women. Oh… excuse me, I know
there are many differences between
men and women, but there is one that
is relevant to this article: testosterone.
Women do have a bit of it but men
have a lot of it. The release of oxytocin
is inhibited by higher levels of testo­
sterone. Zak’s study found that men
that were given testosterone in exper­
iments become more selfish. Addi­
tionally, these same men were more
likely to punish someone who was
selfish towards them. Now there’s a
case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Neuroeconomics is providing
data that allows one to question the
stereotypical view that economists
hold of the world. This view describes
humans as operating from a place of
self-interest and as highly rational.
It appears, testosterone aside, that
we are, in fact, wired for cooperation
and trust. Think about it. We get
on airplanes with pilots whom we
have never met and trust we will end
up at our destination and not in a
Lost episode. We trust strangers in
restaurants not to poison us. And,
my boyfriend and I trust that we will
continue to love and respect each other
even when annoyed by power tools and
kitchen towels.
What does all this mean? It gives us
a lens to help better under­stand our
world and how we organize that world.
Paul Zak says that Neuro­economics
lets him “embrace words like morality
or love or compassion in a non-squishy
way. It says, these are real things, this
is really part of our human nature and
we should embrace that.” BB
Wendy Shami is a
sometime writer
and the managing
editor of Better
Builder magazine.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
This next point is very important:
there is no need to panic should a
home have a high level of radon.
Health Canada identifies the biggest
risk with radon as long-term exposure
to the gas over a lifetime. However,
if radon is an issue in a home, action
should be taken to mitigate this.
The Canadian guideline for radon in
indoor air is 200 bq/m3. The Health
Canada guidelines require that homes
with levels over 600 bq/m3 are to be
remediated within 12 months, while
homes with levels between 200-600
need to be remediated within 24
months.
Radon levels are also very random.
One homeowner might have a high
level and their next door neighbour
may have hardly any at all. Although
soil testing can be done prior to
construction, it cannot rule out the
possibility that radon could be a
problem after a home is built. The
same way a bowl will hold more water
than a sieve, radon needs an enclosed
space either in, or on, the soil in order
to collect. It migrates to the lowest
level of air pressure by natural air
movement. 
Because of this, in-home levels
tend to be higher in the winter when
the surrounding soil has snow and
frost effects and the gas migrates
more naturally to the basement, being
the lowest air pressure area within
the surrounding soil.
The Radon Logic Trap
I believe that there is a “Logic Trap”
within the Ontario Building Code that
is causing industry stakeholders, both
builders and building officials, to reach
the wrong conclusion regarding the
need for soil gas control.
The OBC states that there are three
areas where you must install radon
mitigation/soil gas measures. It also
states that, where radon is known
to be a problem and, unless you can
demonstrate that it is not required, you
have to install radon mitigation/soil
gas measures. However, although there
are three obvious problem areas, the
Code has remained silent on how to
test for radon. The “logical” conclusion
that nearly everyone is reaching is
“Radon is not an issue in my area
therefore I don’t require soil gas
control.” That’s the logic trap. I believe
it leads builders to the wrong answer
and exposes them to potential liability.
Solving the Logic Trap
Let’s look at it another way. Radon is a
noble gas and, by definition, a soil gas
and is present everywhere including
in every home at some level, whether
acceptable or problematic. The only
way you can test for high levels vs.
safe levels within a home is by using a
long-term 90-day test after the home
has been closed in. (The trouble is that
this is not in the OBC, but rather in the
Health Canada Guidelines). Therefore,
you cannot demonstrate that radon
is not a problem during construction
or even before permit, which means
soil gas controls are actually required
under s. 9.13.4.2(2).
I believe that the best solution is
for builders to install soil gas control
measures as noted in SB-9 and, as an
industry, address the radon logic trap
within the Ontario Building Code.
The way it currently exists is unclear
and unfair to builders, renovators and
building inspectors.
31
Radon –
 What You Should Know
fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY
R
adon is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that can accumulate in
buildings, such as schools, offices and homes. More importantly, radon is
everywhere. It is the naturally occurring gas emitted from the breakdown
of uranium and is found in soil throughout all of Canada. According to Health
Canada, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada.
A clearly labelled radon rough-in (above).
Sub-slab radon mitigation system rough-in.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201632
What are we doing about
radon at Doug Tarry Homes?
At Doug Tarry Homes, we have
decided that we will be taking a
proactive approach to controlling
radon in new homes.
At the time of writing this
article, the Ontario Home Builders’
Association is in the process of
completing a survey of radon levels in
new homes across Ontario to better
understand how new residential
construction performs in the face of
radon gas. The knowledge gained by
this survey will inform best practices
to radon-resistant techniques in new
residential construction.
Doug Tarry Homes has been
participating in the OHBA radon
study since its inception and we
are sharing information with other
participating builders. During
this time, we have learned a lot
about dealing with radon. Once we
understood what was involved and
how to properly mitigate a new home
under construction, we decided to act.
In order to better serve our
customers and to ensure their safety
and peace of mind, I have been
certified by the Canadian/National
Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP)
for measurements and new home
instillations. Effective January 1, 2016,
Doug Tarry Homes is now installing a
radon mitigation system in every home
we build in all markets that we serve.
Under the basement slab will be a
soil gas collection pipe rough-in. Above
that, and directly below the basement
slab, will be a soil gas protection layer
to limit the entry of radon into the home. 
Should radon be found to be
present, the soil gas collection pipe can
easily be made active in a cost-effective
manner using an in-line fan to exhaust
the sub soil gas from under the
basement floor. This fan operates with
very minimal ongoing costs. We have
worked to educate our local building
officials in all the markets that we
serve to ensure they understand
our details and can properly and
effectively inspect our installations
to provide third-party verification of
proper installation.
Additionally, we will also provide
a long-term test for our customers,
should they ask us to do so. This test
will follow nationally-recognized
guidelines, and we will provide our
customers with a copy of the lab
report. While we do not anticipate
finding high levels of radon within
our homes based upon the steps we
are taking, if radon is found, we will
remediate our customers’ homes by
installing an active in-line fan system,
or other approved measure, so that we
can ensure their home is made safe.
Our goal at Doug Tarry Homes is to
continue our industry leadership by
building the healthiest, safest, most
energy-efficient and affordable new
homes possible. We encourage other
builders and building officials to learn
more about radon mitigation as a
positive, healthy choice in new home
construction. BB
Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at
Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.
Should radon be found to be present, the soil
gas collection pipe can easily be made active
in a cost-effective manner using an in-line fan.
Your reputation is built, or crumbles, long after the keys have been handed over.
That’s why projects like The Edelweiss Home – Canada’s first LEED®
v4 home, and
second in the world to achieve Platinum status – rely on the continuous insulation of
ROXUL®
COMFORTBOARD™
exterior sheathing. Its vapour permeability enables your
wall assembly to dry to the outside, providing your clients with durability and comfort.
See why ROXUL is a better fit for your next project at roxul.com/comfortboard
A BETTER WAY TO BUILD YOUR HOMES –
AND YOUR REPUTATION.
CAVITYROCK
®
and COMFORTBOARD
TM
.
For a better way to build.
COMFORTBOARD™
.
For the better way to build.LEED®
is a registered trademark of United States Green Building Council.
The demand for energy efficient homes is increasing and building codes will be changing in 2017. Enbridge can help.
Our Savings by Design (SBD) program offers free access to design and technical experts, plus over $100,000
in incentives and benefits.*
It’s the support you need to construct energy efficient, healthy and sustainable homes
beyond code requirements. Find out how the SBD program helps builders like you at residential.savingsbydesign.ca
Over80Ontariobuildershave
participated.Jointhem.
*Builders can earn $300,000 in incentives by participating in the program three separate times. To qualify for the program, your project must be located in the
Enbridge Gas Distribution franchise area. Participation is a three-year commitment. During that time, builders are expected to design and construct at least one
new construction home based on resulting recommendations. In order to receive incentive payments, you must agree to all program terms and conditions, must fully
participate in all stages of the program and must meet all program requirements.

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The Best Way to Build in 2017

  • 1. ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 IN THIS ISSUE Heathwood Homes Doing It Right The Best Way to Build in 2017 TEETH – Best Research Project Code and Performance Path Climate Change Action Plan Sticking to the Basics BestPractices
  • 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
  • 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Best Way Forward by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 The Best Way to Build in 2017 by Lou Bada INDUSTRY NEWS 6 Water, Water, Every Where, Nor Any Drop to Drink by Alex Newman 12 TEETH Homes – The Best Research Project by Steffanie Adams INDUSTRY EXPERT 10 Code and Performance Path by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY EXPERT 22 Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan and What It Means for the Housing Industry by Michael Lio BUILDER NEWS 14 SB-12 2017 for Dummies 29 What’s Driving Your Personal Rating System by Wendy Shami SITE SPECIFIC 25 Norm Alfonso – Building the Best Means Sticking to the Basics by Alex Newman FROM THE GROUND UP 31 Radon – What You Should Know by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 Doing It Right Heathwood Homes has created the best builder brand through a simple formula of innovation, fairness and doing things the right way. by Rob Blackstien 6 12 ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 On our cover: John Godden and Wendy Shami of Better Builder Magazine by The Art of Weddings (theartofweddings.com) Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
  • 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20162 I t’s hard to believe that Better Builder is at the end of its fifth year of publication. The industry has seen a lot of disruptive change in that short time, starting with the introduction of SB-12 in January 2012, followed by updates to that Code in 2015, and changes in EnergySTAR requirements for windows and combination heating systems. Finally, a Minister’s ruling this past July has defined SB-12 for 2017 to be 15% more efficient than 2012. Many changes are also happening globally. In response to the Paris Summit, the Province of Ontario has released its Climate Change Action Plan, though it has yet to release the details of the new platform. The devil is in the details. How then should home builders consider the changes that need to be made with climate change policies, new Building Code requirements and the general uncertainty around mandatory municipal regulations that could exceed Building Codes, such as EnergySTAR and Net Zero? We might do well to remember the lessons of BREXIT where voters decided to leave the European Union without considering the consequences, focusing only on the negative aspects of the current arrangement; or American voters who seem to believe that Donald Trump has their best interests in mind. The best way forward needs to weigh all options and outcomes, incorporate flexibility and make choices that foster self-determination – create a strategy informed by outcomes to chart your own course. In this issue of Better Builder, our regular contributors have provided lots of ideas to inform your decisions moving forward. Lou Bada discusses which prescriptive package he is choosing for building permit applications in 2017 and why: package A1 comes at a lower cost because insulated sheathing carries higher labour costs and premiums. Gord Cooke navigates a discussion on performance modelling allowed under SB-12, and demonstrates how builders can chart their own courses and build their brands with a better-than- Code approach. With the mandate of the Ontario Climate Change Action Plan, Michael Lio talks about the challenge of Net Zero housing adoption on a large scale. The feature article on Heathwood Homes showcases one of Ontario’s most progressive builders who has used sustainability to build their brand and become an industry leader. Lastly, Doug Tarry provides industry leadership yet again, this time by addressing radon in residential construction by meeting the challenge head on. He shows us the best way to deal with a problem that is too often ignored. My intention with Better Builder magazine is to continue, with the help of our contributors and advertisers, to empower our readers with information and ideas, enabling us all to consider other points of views and find the best way forward. Bon voyage. BB Best Way Forward PUBLISHER Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695 sales@betterbuilder.ca Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of PUBLISHING EDITOR John B. Godden MANAGING EDITOR Wendy Shami editorial@betterbuilder.ca To advertise, contribute a story, or join our distribution list, please contact sales@betterbuilder.ca FEATURE WRITERS Tracy Hanes, Alex Newman PROOFREADING Karen Hoffman CREATIVE Wallflower Design www.wallflowerdesign.com 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. publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN John Godden Alex Newman Gord Cooke Michael Lio Lou Bada Doug Tarry CONTRIBUTORS
  • 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 3 Builders need to consider many things when choosing a method of Code compliance. It’s not only a matter of building science. These are some of the things I consider: • Our ultimate goals • The size and scope of a project • Our past experiences • The availability of products and their track record • The availability, expertise and capability of the workforce performing the work • Our internal processes and ability to implement changes • The market’s perception • The regulatory framework • Last but not least, value (cost vs. benefit) Currently, we are exploring the use of SB-12’s prescriptive package A1 (the only package without the use of insulated sheathing). Typically, better mechanical equipment is simply plug and play (and pay). On the other hand, we’ve done a few projects with insulated sheathing and it is workable, although, somewhat more complicated to use than installing better mechanical equipment. It requires more attention to construction details. Tall walls (11 feet or higher) typically would require both a structural sheathing and the insulated sheathing on top. At Starlane Home Corporation, our homes almost always have tall walls – often 20 feet high or more – that are quite long and sometimes octagonal or round. Depending on your chosen details, foundation walls may need to be thickened to 9 or 10 inches. To take advantage of the sheathing as an air barrier requires a lot of sheathing tape. Window frames also have to be thickened. Cost Versus Benefit Cost versus benefit is another matter. The possibility of thicker foundation walls, structural sheathing requirements, installation costs and window depths, as well as the actual increased cost of the sheathing need to be considered. Builders in the Greater Toronto Area should note that the new collective agreement for Local 183 piecework carpenters adds $0.11 per square foot of wall area (plus 20 percent benefits and contractor markup) to the cost of insulated wall sheathing. This does not include taping and sealing detail work. The quality of installations in production housing are inconsistent at best. Installing an insulated sheathing alone does not mean a home will be more airtight. If a builder wants to make use of the new trade-offs to reduce some measures within a given package by increasing air tightness, more sealing work needs to be done on the sheathing as an outboard air barrier. More training and supervision are definitely required, as are repair costs. Training can be challenging in the current environment while super­ vision and repair costs are quite high. In our industry, simplicity is often as important as cost. Some of the prescribed packages are neither simple nor inexpensive. Integral to this discussion is the way these packages are considered and efficiencies calculated. We’ve hit the wall when it comes to value for exterior envelopes, and mechanical system efficiencies are quickly maxing out. We are quickly running out of tools in our tool box. Until builders are able to calculate rationally the energy performance based on true occupant loads and consumption, we will have no way of reaching the greater efficiency goals recently announced in the Climate The Best Way to Build in 2017 thebadatest / LOU BADA A sk five different builders about the best way to build and you’ll very likely get five different opinions. Opinions are like earlobes: everyone has them. What really matters is what informs your opinions and your terms of reference. That’s why it’s important to consider Ontario’s Building Code changes in SB-12 for 2017. It will have six prescribed methods for compliance for energy efficiency in low-rise housing. Envelope losses are a relatively small part of typical home energy consumption that have diminishing returns or savings. (Package J 2012 @ 3.0 ACH) 32% a/c, lighting, appliances 31% envelope heat losses 18% domestic hot water 19% ventilation losses
  • 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20164 Change Action Plan (CCAP). The assumptions or defaults of occupant loads and consumption only show half of the equation when assessing the best way to build prescriptively in 2017. Essentially, it boils down to choosing insulated sheathing for above-grade walls versus better mechanical equipment for heating, ventilation and water heating. This kind of choice is not optimal, but necessary when considering the prescriptive path. Getting a building permit for the performance path method is daunting in some jurisdictions. Should the next Code cycle in five years make insulated sheathing mandatory, my hope is that insulated sheathing will be installed off site as pre-fabricated panels. Hopefully, the issues outlined here can be ironed out. Meanwhile, with the current shortage of trained labour and skyrocketing costs, to be practical and effective, we need some flexibility and rationality to achieve our energy efficiency goals. Let’s face it, thickening the exterior walls with insulation also has its practical limits. Builders may have to use compliance package A1 where possible. Forcing builders – and, by default, homebuyers – to assume costs that make little sense either economically or environmentally is irresponsible, in my opinion. Changes in SB-12 will result in significant construction cost increases, and cost increases of the CCAP when implemented are likely to be tens of thousands of dollars for new homes. Given our current circumstances, this is how I will be approaching SB-12 for 2017. Let me know your approach: email me at loub@starlanehomes.com. BB Lou Bada is Vice President of Low Rise Construction at Starlane Home Corporation and on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). vanee.ca 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.
  • 7. Save more. Worry less. Professionals who install Uponor PEX plumbing, radiant floor heating, and fire sprinkler systems report faster installation times, fewer callbacks and greater peace of mind. Exceptional products, tools and support. Uponor. Tested in the lab. Proven in the field. Connect with Uponor. Connect with confidence. PEX PLUMBING FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS RADIANT HEATING & COOLING PRE-INSULATED PIPEFind your solution at www.uponor.ca
  • 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20166 industrynews / ALEX NEWMAN There is a solution, however. About 65% of the water we use every day – on average about 100 gallons –goes down the drain from our showers, baths and toilets. Considering water rates are expected to increase 10% annually, there’s ample motivation for recycling water. But Lally says conserving water is about more than cost – increased water use, especially in urban settings, means very expensive maintenance and the addition of water impacts infrastructure as well as the energy used to transport the water. GWS specializes in water recycling – rainwater, greywater and storm water. From a plumbing perspective, rainwater is relatively simple to recycle because it’s collected from the roof, is relatively clean and often the only requirement is to transport it to the point of use. Storm water often contains more impurities, but in many cities, including the GTA, it’s often already stored in a central tank and the only requirement is to filter and chlorinate the water to supply toilets. Greywater can be the most challenging of the three because of the need to plumb the building on the collection and supply sides, Lally explains. The company’s greywater systems have been installed in high rises, com­ mercial buildings, hotels, fire halls and even residential multi-unit buildings. Many Ontario municipalities, particularly very urban ones like the City of Toronto, require mid- and high- rise buildings to have storm retention tanks. These tanks hold anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 gallons of water that have been collected to prevent excess flow of the city’s storm sewers during a heavy rainfall. These tanks have been designed to prevent peak water flow from entering the storm sewage system, and are big enough to handle even torrential rains. Due to limited infrastructure and potential water shortages, though, municipalities – like Markham, and Toronto – are now looking at ways to encourage commercial and multi- residential properties to re-use water. The logical thing is to recycle some of the water from the retention tank for use in toilets. Irrigation and cooling towers are other options, Lally adds. At a new LEED-designated high-rise office building in Markham – Aviva’s head office – the goal was to try it out. Greyter Water installed a smaller second tank of 400-gallon capacity, which draws off rain water from the storm retention tank, chlorinates it to eliminate bacteria and reuses the water in the toilets. As Lally explains, its wasteful to treat the large storm retention tank to chlorinate so the smaller tank allows for water to be drawn off, treated, and re-used. The smaller tank can come with a pump, or in the case of Aviva, be connected to a third-party pump. In municipalities that do not already have a storm water collection requirement, commercial or high rise residential buildings would need to install a storm retention tank in addition to the re-use system. One advantage of greywater in this situation is that the constant supply of water from showers means that the storage needs for reuse in toilets can be small, enough for a daily supply. Once the building is plumbed in, it’s relatively inexpensive to install the equipment – about $50,000 in a mid-size 100-unit building, and with installation another $15,000. The biggest cost is often the plumbing, Lally adds. Water, Water, Every Where, Nor Any Drop to Drink P araic Lally’s aim isn’t to be a harbinger of doom, but he can see the impending challenges when it comes to the issue of global water shortages. “The world’s water supply remains the same, but the population has tripled, and the demand for water has increased by six,” says the VP of business development for Greyter Water Systems (GWS) in Toronto. “By 2050 at least 60 countries will be feeling the water shortage, and in five years, 36 US states will experience water shortages.” Typical commercial greywater system.
  • 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 These systems are easier to incorporate into new buildings than trying to retrofit old buildings. All too often, though, high rises are built the same they always have been because of the cost of the additional plumbing. It you’re roughing-in a building to allow for water re-use down the road, you’d need to incorporate two separate lines, one to feed non- potable fixtures – toilets, irrigation, e.g. – and one for drinking water. Currently, condos are typically built with eight units per floor with bathrooms located back to back – there would be four plumbing runs top to bottom and the layout would handle both drain and supply. In order to retrofit an existing high rise, or to build new, there needs to be double the pipes so regular drain water (greywater) is separate from toilets (black water). And that is often cost prohibitive, Lally points out. “Down the road, there’s potential to treat both the greywater and black water because the technology is already there to take either water and recycle it without changing the plumbing,” Lally says. “But this is unlikely unless we face extreme shortages. The problem is the ‘ick’ factor – people recoil at the thought of drinking water that’s been through the toilet.” Even now, people can have a concern about greywater in their toilet, Lally says. That’s why you often see water in toilets dyed blue in commercial buildings – it’s recycled water that appears clean. How receptive to water recycling is the industry? Chris Thompson, Co-founder and CTO for GWS, says receptivity depends a lot on early adopters. “Every day we work with architects, designers and contractors who are drawn to the affordability of our solutions but they are also very motivated by the environmental savings relating to managing water more efficiently,” says Thompson. “They want to be leaders.” While most people’s decisions are still driven largely by money, “there’s a group of people out there motivated by sustainability and it’s a group that’s growing,” he adds, “especially in areas where water supply is seriously low. People begin to understand that water doesn’t flow endlessly from the tap.” Municipalities with low water resources are so committed to finding ways to use water better – reduced consumption as well as recycling – they’re coming up with both regulations and incentives to ensure better decision-making. In areas where the supply is not immediately threatened – like Toronto – there’s less incentive to find solutions. Especially when there’s no immediate financial benefit, like for condo developers who turn over the building to a condo board, after it’s developed and built. However, limited water infrastruc­ ture is becoming a major challenge in Toronto and with the prohibitive cost of adding new infrastructure, the city has mandated that new buildings won’t get approved unless they have the capacity to at least deal with the storm water issue, and in particular the flooding of the city’s storm sewers. What percentage of efficiency can be realized by switching to a greywater system? Currently, in the US, a water efficiency scale is being developed that roughly corresponds to the HERS energy scale, and Thompson thinks we’ll start seeing combinations of both HERS and WERS (Water Efficiency Rating Scale) in new construction. “Water is a bit more challenging [than energy] because there are more variables,” he says. Since most interior household water is used in the bathroom, installing low flow toilets and efficient showerheads can lead to big reduction in consumption levels. Reusing shower and bath water for toilet flushing can reduce a household’s water consumption by a further 20-25%. GWS will soon launch a single family residential greywater system to meet this need. What’s the biggest challenge we face in the fight to lower water consumption? “Looking short term,” Thompson says. “If you want two-year payback, 7 “There’s a group of people out there motivated by sustain­ ability and it’s a group that’s growing.” Aviva’s head office in Markham uses storm and greywater for toilet flushing. RENDERINGBYQUADRANGLEARCHITECTS
  • 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 20168 greywater won’t do it. But if you’re okay with something that will increase over time, and last the life of the building, then greywater recycling makes sound financial sense.” Less than 1% of buildings currently have some kind of water re-use system. Thompson says this mirrors the energy situation of 20 years ago – nobody was interested in putting money into it. And now virtually everyone is aware of the need to reduce. “I think that’s the way water efficiency will go, especially now that some locales are in a desperate situation,” he says. Multi-use residential buildings represent the highest potential for water saving because so many people are flushing so many toilets. But there’s a disconnect between the builder and the end user, who has more interest in keeping utility bills down. That changes when a developer builds rental and intends to remain as landlord. It’s going to be up to municipalities to take the lead on creating incentives for water efficiency, Thompson says. In San Francisco, for example, buildings over 40,000 square feet are required to be greywater ready. “But that’s California and there’s a desperation there because they have no water. In a situation like that, it’s extremely easy to make the case for plugging in a system.” In Toronto, retention tanks or 50% flow reduction are mandatory, and if a developer re-uses water they qualify for development charge reductions. “Developers tend to go for the cheapest reuse options, commonly irrigation first. If that doesn’t work, maybe a cooling tower, and then greywater. Commercial and institutional clients often want to make a ‘sustainability statement’ and go for toilets,” Lally says. The bottom line is it doesn’t make any sense to flush good potable water down the drain. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at www.alexnewmanwriter.com. 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) www.insulateyourhome.ca ®™The DOW Diamond Logo is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company © 2014 Whole-House SolutionstHAt HElP BuilDERS AnD ContRACtoRS outPERFoRM
  • 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
  • 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201610 industryexpert / GORD COOKE First, the number of prescriptive packages is down, reflecting the fact that it is getting tougher to find significant, cost-effective incremental energy improvements through simple changes to insulation levels or mechanical equipment specifications. Second, there is a not- so-subtle mention of air tightness, with the supporting documents of SB-12 hinting that in future Code iterations, air tightness testing will be mandatory. In this iteration, there is at least a series of helpful trade- offs for builders who do a good job of air leakage control. These first two trends support what I consider to be the most important change to SB-12: the clarifications and emphasis on the “Performance Path” and “Other Acceptable Compliance Methods” sections of SB-12. In the same way that the International Energy Conservation Code 2015 in the US and the National Building Code of Canada 2010 (section 9.36) have moved to a more objective, performance path based on energy modeling, the new SB-12 demonstrates a compelling opportunity for builders to work with their Energy Advisor to find the most cost-effective way of meeting the new Code requirements. In this new SB-12, not only is there a stronger reference to EnergySTAR for New Homes and R-2000 as being Alternative Methods, there is also a more clearly defined Performance Path that gives builders flexibility to show compliance using any one of six different energy simulation software programs against a “reference” home. In my opinion, any builder who is truly looking for the most cost- effective way to build a home that adheres to basic building science principles for a safe, healthy, durable, comfortable and efficient home will use the Performance Path. The table below (Figure 1) may help demonstrate why I think the Performance Path will be the most cost-effective approach. Let’s compare incremental costs versus incremental energy savings of changes needed within the Prescriptive Path to get from the most commonly used Package J in the 2012 version to what many project to be the most popular package in the 2017 version, Package A1. Notice in the table, that the least effective upgrade is the attic insulation at over $500 per GJ saved. We are clearly seeing the diminishing returns of adding insulation to ceilings. Note, too, that controlling air leakage rates to current EnergySTAR levels is more cost effective than adding attic insulation Code and Performance Path I n the last issue, my article mentioned that the draft of the Ontario Building Code Supplementary Standard SB-12 Energy Efficiency requirements for January 2017 had come out. Indeed, in the ensuing weeks, the final version of SB-12 for 2017 has been made public and there are some compelling trends to discuss. FIGURE 1 OBC 2012 Package J OBC 2017 Package A1 Estimated Incremental Cost GJ /yr Savings ATTIC R50 R60 $400 0.795 WALLS R22 Nominal R22 Nominal R17.83 Effective — — BASEMENTS R12 Nominal R20 c.i. Nominal R21.12 Effective $450 2.2 WINDOWS U – 1.8 U -1.6 or ER 25 $1000 5.36 FURNACE 94% (Sensible %) 96% (Sensible %) $250 0.915 HRV 65% 75% $150 1.64 DHW 0.67 EF 0.8 EF Rental 2.89 AIR TIGHTNESS Although not a requirement, under Performance Path, the reference house is assumed to be 3.0 ACH50. The impact of 2.5 ACH is: Cost of air test $250 3.3 The costs are my estimates, from my experience. Readers of this article will have a much better idea of your actual costs and I encourage you to do a full analysis and then I am confident you will work closely with your supply partners to ensure a fair and equitable price.
  • 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 and increasing basement insulation combined. I think air tightness is a critical aspect. Section 9.25.3 Air Barriers of the Code identifies 16 separate air sealing measures with words such as “shall be sealed,” “continuous barrier to air leakage” and “maintain integrity of the air barrier over the entire surface.” These words, in my opinion are both a risk and an opportunity. If you do them well, you will achieve air tightness levels well below the 3.0 ACH50 hinted at in the Code at very low cost. If you don’t do them well and you don’t test for air tightness, you are at risk from any homeowner who feels even the slightest draft around an electrical outlet or under a baseboard. In other words, smart builders across North America are doing air tightness testing anyway, as both a quality assurance measure and a risk mitigation measure. Now, under the new SB-12, you can get very cost- effective energy credits for doing it if you use the Performance Path. Air leakage control is just one aspect of making sound decisions in light of the Code change. Using the Performance Path encourages builders to better evaluate windows to optimize both summer and winter comfort performance while, at the same time, being able to “right-size” your furnace and air conditioner sizing to optimize costs. The Performance Path can also help you find better ways to insulate basements to avoid moisture issues. It is my sincere opinion that the new Code tips the scales in favour of using an integrated design and performance-testing approach to ensure healthier, safer, more comfortable, more efficient and more durable homes, all in a more cost-effective way. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 11 Roof truss and wood sill connection. Simpson Strong Tie MGT system shown Drywall screwed into amvic polypropylene webs as per building code Electrical outlet Wood sub-floor installed as per local building Simpson strong tie ICFLC and wood floor joists connection Amvic insulating concrete forms Amdeck floor roof system Exterior wood siding installed as per local building code Amvic high impact polypropylene webs Acrylic, standard ptucco or eifs applied to exterior face of Amvic ICF Brick veneer Parge face of exposed brick ledge Grade Peel-and-stick waterproofing membrane (or equivalent) as per local building code Perforated weeping tile INSULATED CONCRETEFORMS FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: AMVIC.COM Smart builders across North America are doing air tightness testing anyway, as both quality assurance and risk mitigation measures.
  • 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201612 industrynews / STEFFANIE ADAMS The question of how to get to the next generation EnergySTAR in a production environment is key to Empire Communities’ brand and this pilot project. GBC will monitor wall assemblies in two of Empire’s homes located in Breslau, Ontario to help evaluate their capacity to manage the movement of heat and moisture effectively. GBC’s Building Science Research team includes Dr. P. Christopher Timusk, Steffanie Adams, Dahai Zhang and students Evan May, James Henderson and Taras Yavorskyi. The team previously monitored Doug Tarry’s Optimum Basement Wall in the Discovery Home in the same capacity: to verify the field performance and effectiveness of their basement wall system. The team is uniquely posi­ tioned to continue their research in monitoring better basement systems. Current Ontario Building Code regulations allow for the installation of roll-down blanket insulation in unfinished basements, comprised of a 6 mil polyethylene vapour barrier with fibreglass batt attached. It is typically mechanically fastened at the top of the basement wall using staples and a metal strap at mid height of the basement wall. Nominal R-values are met but effective R-values have yet to be determined. Empire Communities would like to demonstrate that their system would not only meet current OBC regulations but also provide a more durable, sustainable and cost effective solution to the industry. Each home in this pilot project will be constructed with wall assemblies (both above and below grade) that meet different standard levels and OBC regulations. The individual wall assemblies in each home will be compared in terms of material thickness and material properties. The GBC research team will E mpire Communities, the 2015 Ontario Home Builder of the Year and 2013 Green Builder of the year, has been a pioneer for the EnergySTAR Initiative for Ontario Communities for over 12 years. In partnership with Clearsphere, Roxul® , Dow and George Brown College (GBC), Empire has set out to improve the quality of homes constructed in Ontario with a pilot project focused on building better basement systems. The hybrid house research team, left to right: Evan May, James Henderson, Steffanie Adams, Steve Doty (Empire) and Dahai Zhang. Empire Communities Best Research and Development Project Three Energy Efficient Test Houses Near-Zero Hybrid EnergySTAR (Current) EnergySTAR Plus
  • 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 monitor the below grade wall assembly of Empire’s Hybrid House and their EnergySTAR + Home. The two homes will be constructed using different systems of insulating below-grade wall assemblies and will be compared to a control wall made of roll-down blanket insulation. The Hybrid House will be insulated to R-20 using 2 Dow Styrofoam Cladmate™ CM20 that is mechanically fastened to the concrete foundation wall followed by 2.5 of ROXUL® ’s COMFORTBOARD™ fastened with plasgood washers. The EnergySTAR + Home will be insulated to R-15.5 using 1.5 Dow Styrofoam Cladmate™ CM20 that is mechanically fastened to the concrete foundation wall. Inboard of the Dow Cladmate™ , 2 of ROXUL COMFORTBOARD™ will be fastened with plasgood washers. GBC’s research team will install temperature, moisture content, and relative humidity sensors at critical locations throughout the wall assembly and in the soil for analysis. The team is interested in collecting data on the performance of the control wall. Specifically, roll-down blanket insulation has been observed to collect moisture within the fiberglass batt and on the 6 mil polyethylene. The vapour- impermeable 6 mil polyethylene makes it difficult for moisture from the soil or concrete foundation to dry inward. Comparing the data obtained from the control wall to Empire’s Dow and ROXUL® ’s below-grade wall assembly system will help establish that insulating using Empire’s wall assembly prototype is more effective in controlling moisture and heat flow. The research team will also monitor above-grade wall assemblies in Empire’s Hybrid House and their EnergySTAR + Home. The two homes will be constructed using the same insulating material. Both homes will be insulated using Dow Styrofoam™ Cladmate XL™ insulated exterior sheathing with taped joints and ROXUL COMFORTBATT® in the 2x6 stud cavity. These two homes will be compared in terms of thermal resistance. The Hybrid Home will be insulated to a nominal value of R-31.5 and the EnergyPLUS + Home will be insulated to a nominal value of R-29. Both above-grade wall assemblies will be monitored and data collected and analyzed on heat flow and moist­ ure control to determine the effective­ ness of insulating to R-31.5 over R-29. This two-year project begins in the summer of 2016 and the team will collect and transmit the data remotely for analysis for the duration of at least a full heating and cooling cycle, enabling assessment of the durability and performance of the Empire basement wall system. BB Steffanie Adams, Principal, ARKI Design Group 13 RELATIVE HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE PIN MOISTURE CONTENT AND TEMPERATURE DUFF MOISTURE CONTENT AND TEMPERATURE 2 DOW STYROFOAM™ CLADMATE™ CM20 INSULATION WITH 2.5 ROXUL COMFORTBOARD™ INSULATION ATTACHED WITH PLASGOOD WASHERS AS PER MANUFACTURERS’ SPECIFICATIONS 1 DOW FROTHPAK INSULATION WITH 5.5 ROXUL COMFORTBATT™ INSULATION AT RIM JOIST STANDARD EXTERIOR WALL CONSTRUCTION PER UNIT WORKING DRAWING WEEP HOLES @ 2'-8 (800mm) O/C HORIZONTAL AND CONTINUOUS FLASHING EXTERIOR INTERIOR FIN GRADE FIN FIRST FLOOR TOP OF SLAB HYBRID HOUSE WALL TYPE 1 – Below Grade Wall Sensor Location Hybrid house composite basement wall system with moisture and temperature probes.
  • 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201614 buildernews Notes 1 6 Packages 2 A1 is the only choice without continuous insulated sheathing 3 A4 Combo Heating Package Furnace @ 96% AFUE + DHWH @ EF=0.67 is equivalent to condensing combination unit @ 90% 4 Mandatory DWHR on two drains 5 Mandatory HRVs above minimum 65% @ 30 L/s 6 Trade offs for air tightness @ 2.5 ACH; NLR or NLA can be used 7 Effective R-values for insulation SB-12 2017 for Dummies ZONE 1 COMPLIANCE PACKAGE FOR SPACE HEATING EQUIPMENT WITH AFUE ≥ 92% COMPONENT COMPLIANCE PACKAGE 2012 PACKAGE J A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 CEILING WITH ATTIC SPACE R50 R60 R60 R50 R60 R50 R60 CEILING WITHOUT ATTIC SPACE R31 R31 R31 R31 R31 R31 R31 EXPOSED FLOOR R31 R31 R31 R35 R31 R35 R31 WALLS ABOVE GRADE R22 R22 R19 + 5 R14 + 7.5ci R22 + 5ci R19 + 5ci R22 + 5ci BASEMENT WALLS R12 R20ci R12 + 10ci R20ci R20ci R12 + 5ci R20ci BELOW GRADE SLAB 600 MM — — — — — — — HEATED SLAB OR SLAB ≤ 600 MM 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 EDGE OF SLAB ≤ 600 MM 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 WINDOWS AND SLIDING GLASS DOORS 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.6 1.6 1.6 SKYLIGHTS 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 SPACE HEATING 94% AFUE 96% AFUE 96% AFUE 94% AFUE 96% AFUE 94% AFUE 92% AFUE HRV/ERV (SENSIBLE EFFICIENCY) 60% 75% 75% 81% 75% 70% 65% DHW 0.67 0.8 0.7 0.67 0.67 0.8 0.8 DWHR (ON ALL OR MINIMUM TWO SHOWERS) — 42% 42% 42% 42% 42% 42% ACH DEFAULT (DETACHED) 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
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  • 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201616 Doing featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN Doing
  • 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 17 This attitude manifests in Heath­ wood’s approach with its customers, its trades, its suppliers and beyond. First launched in 1977 as Heron Homes (named after one of its partners, Hugh Heron, who has become a building industry icon), the company also created the Heathwood brand 25 years ago. Alspector says the parent company is currently undergoing another rebranding, from Heron Group to Herity; Heathwood Homes is a division of that group. “There’s a lot of history” in this brand, he says. Sustainability and building energy efficient homes have long been staples for Heathwood, dating back to the Heathwood subdivision in 1981, a high-end site that included heat pumps as standard fare. “That was some pioneering,” Alspector says of this venture, a move that gas provider Enbridge – concerned that it wasn’t going to make enough money from these homes – took issue It Right Heathwood Homes has created the best builder brand through a simple formula of innovation, fairness and doing things the right way. W hen it comes to developing a brand that’s built on putting customers first, there are countless companies that talk the talk. But finding those that actually walk the walk is only slightly rarer than Halley’s Comet sightings. That’s what sets Heathwood Homes – our choice for Best Brand – apart from the pack. This Toronto-area builder has fostered its reputation over nearly four decades, not only creating the highest quality homes and being a pioneer in energy efficiency, but also maintaining a simple philosophy of “fairness above everything else,” says Sheldon Alspector, a long-time company principal. It R
  • 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201618 with. When it came time to put the lines in, Enbridge wanted the builder to pay for the infrastructure, normally a free service for developers. “The loss in revenue from decreased gas consumption means the utility’s capital costs could not be covered,” Alspector explains. Going the Extra Mile Going the extra mile for its customers has always been the Heathwood way, and a huge part of how its brand has become so revered. “We work hard to make people happy,” he says. That philosophy is demonstrated best when issues crop up, regardless of who, ultimately, may be at fault. When something bad happens, “we try to go above and beyond to satisfy them, even though we may strongly feel that we’re right and they’re wrong,” Alspector explains. For instance, the final 10 houses in Heathwood Homes’ Brampton site recently got caught up in some trade strikes, specifically drywallers. He says the company was not legally obligated to do anything for those people, but opted to help compensate for the delay. Why would Heathwood do that? It’s pretty simple, Alspector says. “It was the right thing to do.” Similarly, a few years ago, the window company Heathwood was using in its Milton project went bankrupt and if service was needed, there was no warranty for those homeowners. “We took it upon ourselves to extend the existing coverage as if they were still in business,” he says. Don’t Say No Alspector, who started with the company in 1981 after stints with Sanbury Homes and Menkes, and now heads up Herity Group’s construction needs, says he empowers his employees by allowing them to bend as much as possible for homebuyers. In fact, they are not allowed to say no; if they believe a “no” is warranted in any given situation, they have to come to him. By saying yes more times than not, the company builds relationships and long-time customers, Alspector says. When developing your brand, builders looking to follow in Heathwood’s footsteps should heed their advice, because – as Alspector says – people’s expectations today are generally very, very high and you have to be prepared to deliver. Builders must be “honourable and honest and up front,” he says. Further, you better have a great product and stand behind it. “People are not going to take garbage. You have to deliver quality and you have to give them great, not good, after-sales service,” Alspector advises. To Heathwood, a brand is more than a marketing slogan. It’s not just words – a brand needs to have legitimate substance and a palpable philosophy behind it to the point that people realize: ‘I’m being treated differently.’ Because of the company’s unwavering belief in fairness, “we sleep at night.” Alspector says Amvic’s Silverboard sheeting “is a superior product” that they prefer over aspenite. Heathwood green demo home in 2010 included monitoring and greywater recycling.
  • 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 19 Lifelong Partners This approach extends to its suppliers and subcontractors, many of whom have been working with the company from its inception. Two of Heathwood’s newer partners are Amvic and Panasonic. Alspector says Amvic’s Silverboard sheeting “is a superior product” that they prefer over aspenite. Panasonic, meanwhile, provides bathroom fans that “are much better than the competition.” In an effort to measure energy conservation features and create homes that go vastly beyond Building Code specifications, Heathwood has taken the Better Than Code program (betterthancode.ca) and used it as a basis for its own green initiative, Heathwood Energy Program. The benefit to homeowners of this approach is clear, Alspector says. “Our home – depending on the features we include – could be 20 percent better or more efficient than the other. In other words, if you’re going to pay $3,000 in your utility bills every year, it would be $600 a year cheaper in our home.” With a deep rooted tradition in energy efficiency and Energy Star homes, Heathwood Homes continues to seek out emerging technologies and opportunities to better its processes. Constantly Improving “We look to improve every day,” Alspector says. “We like working with experts; we don’t pretend to know everything.” He says the company tries to pick experts’ brains and look at various suppliers to see what new products and materials they have available to help improve processes. “As new technologies come to fruition, we like to look at those closely and when they’re proven commodities, we like to take the jump and get involved,” Alspector says. That spirit of innovation led Heathwood Homes to built a demonstration green home in Richmond Hill about seven years ago. The company enlisted Ryerson University, which did a comparison of that home with all its energy efficient features (such as greywater and several other cutting-edge concepts) and a similar home without them. “We try to take advantage of the things we learned then,” Alspector says. As a result, many of the trials employed in that home are now standard fare in Heathwood Homes, and that means a Heathwood-built house is future proof to an extent by having items such as solar rough-in.”
  • 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201620 Back in the day, he explains, building extras like that into homes was a challenge because there were price ceilings you had to stay below, so even an additional $5,000 stuck out. But today, Heathwood puts those extra dollars in the home, not only in the form of energy features but also quality products and finishes. For instance, Forest Hill on the Green, Heathwood’s sold-out site in Richmond Hill, includes 113 single family homes on 43- and 50-foot lots that feature nine-foot basements, 10-foot main floors and nine-foot second floors. Other premium items include Roxul thermal insulated sheathing board, insulation under basement concrete floors and solar and greywater rough-ins. Word of Mouth So successful was this development that the homes sold out without the need of a grand opening. Then again, perhaps that’s not surprising considering how much referral business Heathwood enjoys given its sterling record. “You get a lot of word of mouth people who have lived in our homes over the years,” Alspector explains. Another big part of Heathwood’s philosophy involves giving back to the community, nowhere more clearly evidenced than by its main philanthropic initiative, The Mikey Network. Named after one of Heathwood’s late partners, the charity places public access defibrillators in high-risk locations, an endeavour that has already saved at least 32 lives, Alspector says. Heathwood’s tagline is “Home at Last,” a phrase that represents “the big sigh (of contentment)... ‘this is home.’” It’s a feeling that Heathwood customers have now become well acquainted with for nearly two-fifths of a century. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca “You get a lot of word of mouth people who have lived in our homes over the years,” Alspector explains. Silvio Longo (above left) and Rocco Longo below and above grade. Left: All basements at Forest Hill have Roxul to reduce moisture problems. Right: Heathwood uses Amvic Silverboard insulated sheathing instead of OSB.
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  • 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201622 industryexpert / MICHAEL LIO R ecently, the Ontario govern­ ment released its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) that included signals that changes are coming for Ontario’s housing industry. The CCAP states: • Electric-vehicle-ready homes: Ontario will require all new homes and townhomes with garages to be constructed with a 50-amp, 240-volt receptacle (plug) in the garage for the purpose of charging an electric vehicle. • Near Net Zero Carbon Home Incentive: Rebates will go to individuals who purchase or build their own near net zero carbon emission homes, with energy efficiency performance that sufficiently exceeds the requirements of the Building Code. • Update the Building Code: The government will update the Building Code with long-term energy efficiency targets for new net zero carbon emission small buildings that will come into effect by 2030 at the latest, and consult on initial changes that will be effective by 2020. Let’s consider each of these proposals separately. Let’s also consider the challenges that may lay ahead for the industry. The CCAP suggests an action start date of January 2018 for new homes to be equipped with electric vehicle chargers in the garage and a 50 amp breaker box. Level 2 electric charging stations will be required on a 240 volt outlet which can fully charge a vehicle in four to six hours. The home building industry should have little trouble running a heavier gauge electrical conduit to the garage from a 50 amp service. The vehicle plug and breaker box will certainly add cost for the builder that will be passed on to the homebuyer. All of these vehicles charging at the same time may cause issues for the grid. As homeowners plug in their electric cars, probably just before dinner time, the local distribution company will likely need to think about what this new load might mean for its grid. Smart grids that can manage the loads will become vitally important. The CCAP’s “near net zero carbon emission homes” (NNZCEH) proposal raises a number of questions. Recognize that the CCAP doesn’t refer to homes that are “net zero energy.” While the intended meaning of NNZCEH has not been fully explained, the way the CCAP reads suggests that ordering the home’s power from a “green electricity” supplier may mean that your home could qualify. In fact, houses in Quebec would, for the most part, qualify under this definition. The Climate Change Action Plan will eventually need to define what it considers to be “near net zero carbon emissions.” It will need to decide on how “near” is “near.” Can builders decide for themselves how close to zero they get? Many details are clearly missing from the CCAP that can have a tremendous impact on builders. The government will need to establish a NNZCEH standard to protect buyers and to guide builders. At buildABILITY, our work with production builders across Canada suggests that without a near net zero industry standard, what buyers get as “near net zero” could vary considerably. In our net zero energy work, we used NRCan’s definition for “net zero energy homes”: a net zero energy home (NZEH) means a home that produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. We used the EnerGuide Rating System to model and rate the homes. We used NRCan’s baseloads and HOT2000 to model the photovoltaics on the roof tops. Of course, we could have used other approaches that could do a better job in modelling reality. What was important was that home buyers got an “as-modelled NZEH” product that was treated in the same manner regardless of region or home builder. There are many technical challenges that builders will need to overcome in order to successfully build an NZEH. A typical NZEH spec is shown in Figure 1. Some of the challenges relate to the availability of components while others relate to how components are integrated. For instance, attaching siding to exterior insulated sheathings that are two or three inches thick will Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan and What it Means for the Housing Industry The Climate Change Action Plan will eventually need to define what it considers to be “near net zero carbon emissions.”
  • 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 present challenges, as will achieving envelope air tightness levels that are less than 1.0 air changes. Sourcing the advanced heat pump space and water heaters today could also prove difficult, and rooftop PV, as a new system with a new set of trades, will need to be integrated into the home building process and schedule. Undoubtedly, builders will be able to overcome each of these challenges, but, it will take incentives, training and time. Some municipalities are talking about requiring NZEHs as part of their community energy plans. This, of course, would vary from the CCAP call for NNZCEH. Any municipal requirement would be forced on developers through various land approval instruments. Municipalities and developers should realize that not every home will easily qualify as net zero energy, if the roof and sun are misaligned. Developers should also know that a net zero energy require­ ment could add $60,000 to $80,000 to the cost of a Code-built house. Before forcing developers to build NZEHs, municipalities will need to ensure that the local electricity distribution companies (LDCs) will allow builders to connect to the grid. Grids that have traditionally been one-way highways will need to be realigned to accommodate two-way traffic. A site with a few hundred NZEHs would act like a small power plant when the sun shines. For local distribution companies, this will be a significant challenge if the municipal plans, and the CCAP, is to be realized. Here’s what I think we need: 1. Governments (federal, provincial, and municipal) need to define precisely the target they wish to reach – net zero energy, emissions, near zero. One target, please. A time frame would also be useful. 2030 is a huge challenge, but achievable if governments and utilities align and work together. Make the target date explicit. A construction standard is necessary so there is consistency in what buyers receive from builders. 2. Aligned, well-funded, voluntary programs are fundamental to the needed market transformation. Utilities need to align well-funded demonstration programs over the next five years as precursors to mass market programs. Demonstration programs should morph into aligned mass market incentive programs over the subsequent five years. See Figure 1 for clues on what to incent. 3. Government and utilities should invest heavily in builder and, more importantly, trades training. Builder sales and marketing training would also be useful. 4. Local distribution companies need to transform themselves from passive wire watchers to smart grid operators. They can facilitate the transformation by aggressively investing in distributed generation at the community and individual homeowner level. 5. Municipalities can help homeowners finance the purchase of rooftop PVs and on-counter energy displays. For existing housing, this may be a better economic choice than supporting costly and technically difficult energy retrofits. Net zero energy housing is technically feasible for production builders in this country. We spent four years working through the details to be able to demonstrate just that. We also learned NZEH is hard. It is fraught with challenges and, of course, with rewards. When I describe our NZEH work to lay people, their faces instantly light up. The concept is so easy to understand. Cool, they say, a house that on an annual basis uses no energy. Cool, indeed! BB Michael Lio is president of buildABILITY Corporation. michael@buildability.ca 23 FIGURE 1 CEILING R60 MAIN WALLS R24 + R10 XPS BASEMENT WALLS R12 + R15 XPS EXPOSED FLOOR R40 + R5 XPS UNDERSLAB R10 XPS WINDOWS U0.9 HRV 75% SPACE HEATING AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMP 9.57 HSPF WITH ELECTRIC FURNACE BACKUP WATER HEATING HYBRID HEAT PUMP WATER HEATER @ 2.45 EF + DRAIN WATER HEAT RECOVERY AIR TIGHTNESS 1.0 ACH @ 50 Pa
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  • 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 It was the late 1970s and Bramalea Construction was about the biggest thing going – Afonso applied for and was hired as assistant site foreman, but moved into labour because it paid better and would help to finance his return to school. He ended up staying several years before moving on to Daniels Corporation, as site supervisor for almost a decade. From there, he went to Berkshire Homes, first as site supervisor, then construction manager. Afonso then struck out on his own to do custom renovations for a short time – it didn’t last because he found homeowners were fast becoming “experts” who challenged every decision, thanks to Google. It was wearing, he says. He knew about Empire Commu­ nities, having met CEO Paul Golini through the Green Building Council. He submitted his resume on a Wednes­ day and was called on the Thursday. He started with Empire as site super­ visor but within a few months was promoted to construction manager. “They’re a good company,” Afonso says. “I already knew it, but now have experienced it firsthand. They’re very serious about what they are doing, and want to do things well. So far, I’ve seen them deliver on everything they say they’ll do.” Golini, he’s found, is very concerned about sustainability – all homes are EnergySTAR compliant – and he recognizes the value of training and holding on to young people. Afonso has three assistants, all recent graduates from college programs for the industry. “They’re very knowledgeable and eager, just not experienced yet. It’s a very youthful culture at Empire.” The site he is currently managing – Mt. Pleasant Lakeside in north Brampton – is large at 750 units. About half have been completed and turned over to the customer, and the remaining 380 are under construction. “It’s a big site,” Afonso admits. “Maintaining order and managing the logistics of a lot of people coming and going is definitely a challenge. Like keeping the site clean – imagine 300 tradespeople having breakfast and lunch – that’s a lot of garbage to control. And I’m not counting the garbage generated by the general public – they come by after hours and dump stuff on site.” Afonso has a fairly basic code of conduct for his tradespeople on-site: don’t throw garbage around, wear construction shoes and hat, be decent to each other. Organization is important when managing a construction site this size, he says. But more important is “understanding how a site functions, so that you can anticipate what’s ahead and keep the trades on schedule.” Every housing site starts with surveyors, followed by excavation, and only then can trades be scheduled in. Most large sites do phases of 80 or 90 houses at a time, and the homes that close first get built first. Much depends on a well-organized head office, since there’s a lot of information and paper­ work involved in building a house. A typical work day starts around 7:00 am, when he holds a daily production meeting to review with staff and trades what needs to be accomplished that day. This includes tasks not completed the day before. After that, Afonso conducts walk- throughs on site to see who is there, at what stage each house is, and whether the site is meeting health and safety requirements. All this takes two or three hours, then he heads back to the office to calculate what needs to be done the following day, and calls the relevant trades and foremen to fill them in. Staying on schedule is probably the most important role of a construction manager. “Once the project is up and running,” Afonso says, “especially one this size, there are a lot of trades to keep track of – 42 crews of carpenters, 15 crews of bricklayers. So you’re always trying to be two or three days ahead.” Building the Best by Sticking to the Basics sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN A s a student, Norm Afonso thought he’d go all the way, earn a PhD and pursue a life in academia. After completing his Bachelor of Arts in literature, however, he decided to take a break from school and “make some money.” As it turned out, working with his electrician father for the summer made him feel “useful” and he never returned to university. 25 “Maintaining order and managing the logistics of a lot of people coming and going is definitely a challenge.”
  • 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201626 It’s why he often calls Friday nights to make sure trades will be there on Monday because while most trades are reliable, “when they don’t show up, a site can go very wrong.” But a manager also needs to be creative and flexible. “If you get too rigid about timing, and not factor in screw-ups, weather, accidents, or someone not showing up, you won’t accomplish much except drive yourself crazy.” What sorts of better building practices have you picked up along the way? “I don’t like wasting anything,” Afonso says. “So I try to use less lumber and re-use lumber where possible. There’s always a way to do a job that generates less waste.” The first priority, though, is to achieve the most comfortable home possible, one with a tight envelope complemented by proper ventilation. Since all Mt. Pleasant Lakeside homes are EnergySTAR, they’re prepped before rough-in with beefed-up insulation, keeping an eye on trouble areas, such as behind the tub. They use a high quality foam insulation which penetrates the exterior envelope very well. “Down the road, this makes a home’s interior air quality very comfortable and it saves on utility bills,” he says. Every Empire home is tested before purchasers take possession. Clearsphere conducts blower door tests for air leakage and inspections are performed by Holmes on Homes Group. What energy efficiency building practices would you like to see consistently promoted in the industry? “Improved insulation, to increase the R-value of walls and attic space. A tight envelope is more important than the HVAC system you install,” Afonso says. “If the home is tight, you can get away with a smaller furnace, one that’s more appropriately sized for the home.” The corollary to a tight envelope, Afonso says, is ventilation. Empire uses Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) “which mitigate the effect of a tight home. The old R2000 homes were very tight and did a great job of reducing energy consumption, but they didn’t provide enough ventilation. An ERV will dramatically improve air circulation, ventilation and air quality.” Most builders use some form of ventilation system, Afonso says, and most EnergySTAR programs require it. The problem is that the regular buying public still doesn’t quite understand what an ERV can do for them. “They think they’re wasting energy by turning it on, but to achieve maximum benefit, the ERV needs to run all the time.” To this end, Empire Communities educates homeowners about how their EnergySTAR homes operate, and homeowner awareness is another way the company gets back to basics. BB Empire educates homeowners about how their homes operate … another way the company gets back to basics.
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  • 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016
  • 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 Men Women H ave you ever wondered why you were purchasing something that you didn’t really need? I was pondering a similar question on the last trip I made to Canadian Tire with my boyfriend. Let’s get this straight: I was lured there on the pretense that we were replacing the mop head. Next thing I knew, my boyfriend was in the power tool aisle looking longingly at the merchandise. I could tell that he was zeroing in on the cordless drills. “Cordless drills? You gotta be kidding!” my interior critic was screaming. “Wasn’t it just this morning that I put toast in the toaster oven and patiently awaited the perfectly browned twelve-grain bread?” It didn’t toast, and it didn’t take me too long to figure out why. There was a power pack plugged into the toaster oven’s socket, and sitting there on the kitchen counter charging was a cordless drill. One of many, I may add, that I have noticed in odd places around the house and shed. It seems that my boyfriend is not alone; ninety-five percent of our purchase decisions are made deep below the level of waking consciousness. In fact, a multitude of different and oftentimes conflicting emotions are triggered within us when contemplating a purchase. Research data gathered from the relatively new field of Neuro­ economics provides information that helps us to better understand the biological basis for human behaviour, including purchasing behaviour. When you are engaging in a pleasurable activity – for my boyfriend that’s buying a cordless drill – dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that fuels desire and pleasure. It is the reason my boyfriend looks so happy after he buys another drill he doesn’t need. In the moments after a purchase, dopamine is fired up and any inklings of anxiety or guilt are squelched. Paul Zak, the Director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont University has studied stock traders on Wall Street in an attempt to determine if there are genetic variants that make a trader successful. Dopamine plays an important role as it modulates both reward seeking and risk taking behaviors. The study analyzed saliva samples and other information from profes­ sional stock traders and then compared those to Claremont MBA students who were not trading stocks professionally. Zak found that there are indeed genetic differences in these two groups and that there are particular genetic variants that make a trader successful on Wall Street. It turns out that the most successful traders have genes that give them moderate levels of dopamine. With moderate levels, these traders can take a risk when they predict a good payoff and avoid a risk when it seems likely to blow up in their face. I’m guessing that my boyfriend doesn’t have the genes that give him moderate levels of dopamine given his inability to avoid the risk of me blowing up over the cordless drill purchase. But I didn’t blow up (not outwardly anyway). Why? I suspect my brain was under the effect of oxytocin. Oxytocin was once believed to be released in humans only during sex and childbirth. Rodents, on the other hand, have oxytocin on hand (or paw) and it allows them to tolerate their burrow mates. Zak has dubbed oxytocin “the moral molecule” and states that we have a biology for reciprocation. I feel it’s my duty to inform you that when you trust someone, his or her brain releases oxytocin. When you give a hug to someone, his or her brain releases oxytocin. We are that powerful. The reciprocal effect of oxytocin motivates us to care about and engage with others. Lucky for my burrow mate. I think it’s time to apologize in print to my boyfriend for picking on him and his affinity for power tools. Dopamine 29 What’s Driving Your Personal Rating System? buildernews / WENDY SHAMI relationship sports sex sex pets food food regrets urination aging m en thrashing balding relationship aging odd hair growth career Thought Frequency as Pie Charts
  • 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201630 does not discriminate between the sexes. I admit, I too am subject to the feel-good effects of dopamine. Just follow me into IKEA and watch the process. Our kitchen is full of gadgets and dish-towels in lovely prints. With all the stuff around, it’s no wonder it took me awhile to notice the cordless drill on the kitchen counter. There is a difference between men and women. Oh… excuse me, I know there are many differences between men and women, but there is one that is relevant to this article: testosterone. Women do have a bit of it but men have a lot of it. The release of oxytocin is inhibited by higher levels of testo­ sterone. Zak’s study found that men that were given testosterone in exper­ iments become more selfish. Addi­ tionally, these same men were more likely to punish someone who was selfish towards them. Now there’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Neuroeconomics is providing data that allows one to question the stereotypical view that economists hold of the world. This view describes humans as operating from a place of self-interest and as highly rational. It appears, testosterone aside, that we are, in fact, wired for cooperation and trust. Think about it. We get on airplanes with pilots whom we have never met and trust we will end up at our destination and not in a Lost episode. We trust strangers in restaurants not to poison us. And, my boyfriend and I trust that we will continue to love and respect each other even when annoyed by power tools and kitchen towels. What does all this mean? It gives us a lens to help better under­stand our world and how we organize that world. Paul Zak says that Neuro­economics lets him “embrace words like morality or love or compassion in a non-squishy way. It says, these are real things, this is really part of our human nature and we should embrace that.” BB Wendy Shami is a sometime writer and the managing editor of Better Builder magazine.
  • 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 2016 This next point is very important: there is no need to panic should a home have a high level of radon. Health Canada identifies the biggest risk with radon as long-term exposure to the gas over a lifetime. However, if radon is an issue in a home, action should be taken to mitigate this. The Canadian guideline for radon in indoor air is 200 bq/m3. The Health Canada guidelines require that homes with levels over 600 bq/m3 are to be remediated within 12 months, while homes with levels between 200-600 need to be remediated within 24 months. Radon levels are also very random. One homeowner might have a high level and their next door neighbour may have hardly any at all. Although soil testing can be done prior to construction, it cannot rule out the possibility that radon could be a problem after a home is built. The same way a bowl will hold more water than a sieve, radon needs an enclosed space either in, or on, the soil in order to collect. It migrates to the lowest level of air pressure by natural air movement.  Because of this, in-home levels tend to be higher in the winter when the surrounding soil has snow and frost effects and the gas migrates more naturally to the basement, being the lowest air pressure area within the surrounding soil. The Radon Logic Trap I believe that there is a “Logic Trap” within the Ontario Building Code that is causing industry stakeholders, both builders and building officials, to reach the wrong conclusion regarding the need for soil gas control. The OBC states that there are three areas where you must install radon mitigation/soil gas measures. It also states that, where radon is known to be a problem and, unless you can demonstrate that it is not required, you have to install radon mitigation/soil gas measures. However, although there are three obvious problem areas, the Code has remained silent on how to test for radon. The “logical” conclusion that nearly everyone is reaching is “Radon is not an issue in my area therefore I don’t require soil gas control.” That’s the logic trap. I believe it leads builders to the wrong answer and exposes them to potential liability. Solving the Logic Trap Let’s look at it another way. Radon is a noble gas and, by definition, a soil gas and is present everywhere including in every home at some level, whether acceptable or problematic. The only way you can test for high levels vs. safe levels within a home is by using a long-term 90-day test after the home has been closed in. (The trouble is that this is not in the OBC, but rather in the Health Canada Guidelines). Therefore, you cannot demonstrate that radon is not a problem during construction or even before permit, which means soil gas controls are actually required under s. 9.13.4.2(2). I believe that the best solution is for builders to install soil gas control measures as noted in SB-9 and, as an industry, address the radon logic trap within the Ontario Building Code. The way it currently exists is unclear and unfair to builders, renovators and building inspectors. 31 Radon – What You Should Know fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY R adon is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that can accumulate in buildings, such as schools, offices and homes. More importantly, radon is everywhere. It is the naturally occurring gas emitted from the breakdown of uranium and is found in soil throughout all of Canada. According to Health Canada, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. A clearly labelled radon rough-in (above). Sub-slab radon mitigation system rough-in.
  • 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 19 | AUTUMN 201632 What are we doing about radon at Doug Tarry Homes? At Doug Tarry Homes, we have decided that we will be taking a proactive approach to controlling radon in new homes. At the time of writing this article, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association is in the process of completing a survey of radon levels in new homes across Ontario to better understand how new residential construction performs in the face of radon gas. The knowledge gained by this survey will inform best practices to radon-resistant techniques in new residential construction. Doug Tarry Homes has been participating in the OHBA radon study since its inception and we are sharing information with other participating builders. During this time, we have learned a lot about dealing with radon. Once we understood what was involved and how to properly mitigate a new home under construction, we decided to act. In order to better serve our customers and to ensure their safety and peace of mind, I have been certified by the Canadian/National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) for measurements and new home instillations. Effective January 1, 2016, Doug Tarry Homes is now installing a radon mitigation system in every home we build in all markets that we serve. Under the basement slab will be a soil gas collection pipe rough-in. Above that, and directly below the basement slab, will be a soil gas protection layer to limit the entry of radon into the home.  Should radon be found to be present, the soil gas collection pipe can easily be made active in a cost-effective manner using an in-line fan to exhaust the sub soil gas from under the basement floor. This fan operates with very minimal ongoing costs. We have worked to educate our local building officials in all the markets that we serve to ensure they understand our details and can properly and effectively inspect our installations to provide third-party verification of proper installation. Additionally, we will also provide a long-term test for our customers, should they ask us to do so. This test will follow nationally-recognized guidelines, and we will provide our customers with a copy of the lab report. While we do not anticipate finding high levels of radon within our homes based upon the steps we are taking, if radon is found, we will remediate our customers’ homes by installing an active in-line fan system, or other approved measure, so that we can ensure their home is made safe. Our goal at Doug Tarry Homes is to continue our industry leadership by building the healthiest, safest, most energy-efficient and affordable new homes possible. We encourage other builders and building officials to learn more about radon mitigation as a positive, healthy choice in new home construction. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. Should radon be found to be present, the soil gas collection pipe can easily be made active in a cost-effective manner using an in-line fan.
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