IN THIS ISSUE
»» Garden Homes:Always Better Than Code
»» Customer Perception of Insulation
»» Insulation: How much is Enough?
»» Savings and Benefits From Future Proofing
an Existing Home
»» Canada Net Zero Demonstration Project
»» The Optimum Basement Wall
the builder’s source
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
Insulation SystemsBalancing Efficiency with Cost
A b r e a t h o f f r e s h a i r .
All mechanical and electrical components are
accessible from the front of the unit.
Heating coil and fan/motor slide out for easy
One of the most extensive warranties in the
business:1-year parts & labour,2-years on parts
With the increased efﬁciency of this optional
Electronically Commuted Motor (ECM),
homeowners will be free to cycle air continuously
with a minimal increase in electricity cost.
Continuous fan operation helps improve
ﬁltration,reduce temperature variations,and
helps keep the air clear of dust and allergens –
making your customers’ homes more comfortable.
Mini Ducted Hi-Velocity Air Handling System
Optional Prioritizing of Comfort Levels with Energy Savings
MAX SPACE SAVER
The MAXAIR fan coil is so compact that it ﬁts
anywhere:laundry room,attic,crawl space,you
can even place it in a closet.
It can be installed in new or existing homes.
It takes less than 1/3 of the space of a conventional
heating and air conditioning unit.
MAX ENERGY SAVINGS
Energy savings,temperature control and comfort
levels are achieved in individual levels of the home
by prioritizing the requirements.This is achieved
by installing optional space thermostats. If any
area calls for heating or cooling, the individual
thermostat allows the space it serves to achieve
optimum comfort and still maintain continuous
air circulation throughout the home.
This method of prioritizing is a great energy
savings measure while offering an increased
comfort level to the home owner.
The supply outlets can be placed in the wall,
ceiling or ﬂoor.
Each unit has four choices of locations for the
return air connections.
The FLEXAIR™ insulated 2½" supply
duct will ﬁt in a standard 2"x 4" wall cavity.
Can be mounted for vertical or horizontal airﬂow.
Can be combined with humidiﬁers,high efﬁciency
air cleaners or ERVs / HRVs.
Snap-together branch duct and diffuser
MAX ELECTRICAL SAVINGS
ECMs are ultra-high-efﬁcient programmable
brushless DC motors that are more efﬁcient than
the permanently split capacitor (PSC) motors used
in most residential furnaces.This is especially true
at lower speeds used for continuous circulation in
many new homes.
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16 Garden Homes: Always Better Than Code
BY TRACY HANES
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
02 Publisher's Note: Heat Flow
BY JOHN GODDEN
03 Customer Perception of Insulation
BY LOU BADA
04 Straight From the Hart: Direct-to-Builder
BY LEN HART
06 Insulation-How Much is Enough?
BY GORD COOKE
10 Looking At Insulation Holistically
BY THOM MILLS
13 My House Has Been Futureproofed!
BY ALEX NEWMAN
22 Canada’s Largest Net Zero Low-Rise Residential
BY MICHAEL LIO
24 Site Specific: Gary Botelho
BY ALEX NEWMAN
26 AMVIC: Insulation Solutions From The Foundation
To The Eaves
BY HOWARD COHEN
29 Effective Attic Vents
BY BETTER BUILDER STAFF
30 The Optimum Basement Wall
BY: DOUG TARRY
the builder’s source
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
WWW.BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
56 BLANTYRE AVE.56 BLANTYRE AVE.
Future Proofing Upgrades:
•Drain Water Heat Recovery
John Godden June 7th, 2013
Sustainable Housing Foundation
74•Drain Water Heat Recovery
•Combination HTG System w/ECM
•Instant Water Heater
•15 SEER A/C
•R50 Attic Insulation
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Heat flow is defined by a simple
equation: Q = A/R X ΔT. Think of A
as the surface area of the building
envelope that is made of attics, walls,
windows and foundation walls. R is
simply the amount of insulation we use
to resist heat flow under a temperature
difference (ΔT). On the surface, it
seems like a simple relationship until
we introduce more variables like the cost
of energy and the cost effectiveness of
Building scientists promote the application and understanding of natural processes
and technology to encourage long-term approaches. Builders employ short-term
decision making that depends on first costs and code minimums that may not
be the most durable strategies over time. Anybody that owns their own business
has an appreciation for the simple fact that the price of goods being sold must
be greater than what it cost to produce them. We wonder, at which point do we
stop spending money on insulation systems? How much insulation is enough?
With cheap energy, how can we justify super insulating houses? With every new
house in Ontario built to an Energuide 80, a high level of performance, how do
we sell efficiency to homeowners?
In this issue we have many good perspectives that shed light on these questions.
Lou Bada explores the concept of the foam house. Welcome back to contributor
Len Hart who outlines the incentives from electrical utilities that reward builders
based on energy performance. Gord Cooke conducts a discussion of the
concept of effective R-values soon to be recognized by the national building
code. Alex Newman has future proofed her existing home and reports on the
benefits and savings she is experiencing. Thom Mills of Green Home TV talks
about all the various insulation systems he used to add onto and renovate his
farmhouse. Michael Lio reports on a Net Zero demonstration project where
Natural Resources Canada is engaging builders across the country to construct
houses that use very little purchased energy. Doug Tarry shares his quest for the
optimum basement wall and the current study he is undertaking.
Inevitability the natural world shows us the
balance required to create sustainable systems.
Nothing seems to be wasted and each
improvement is integrated. The things that
don’t work don’t last. With finite natural resources
and global warming, I think conservation is the
key to a sustainable future. It’s about reducing
and not consuming our resources.
More insulation is better and understanding how it
works is critical – so let’s get stuffed, and I’m not
Customer Perception of Insulation
Home builders have many masters, I’ve often touched on a primary one, the regulatory challenges of our business.
However, there is no greater master in a free market economy than the customer. We talk ad nauseam about issues
such as the cost verses the benefit (sustainability/carbon footprint) of one particular practice or technology or another.
As home builders we must not neglect our customers perceptions. If we do, we do so at our financial peril. We simply
wouldn’t exist as a homebuilder if not enough customers wanted to buy our product.
On the subject of perception, I am reminded of the resistance and concerns our customers have had on what most
building scientists would call a no-brainer: Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation as exterior sheathing. Most in the
industry know and agree on the benefits of insulated sheathing. These benefits include; providing a thermal break, acting
as a continuous insulation, and the ability to provide an outboard air-barrier to name but a few. The problem begins because
our customers, for the most part, don’t know or care to know about the product.
The fact remains that XPS sheathing is more brittle and prone to damage and is perceived to be flimsy, not as structurally
robust (in fact you cannot build a tall wall without the benefit of a structural sheathing--OSB or plywood for now). On
subdivisions where we’ve used XPS sheathing, Monday mornings in our office were always an onslaught of customer
calls, emails complete with photo attachments. Complaints about “holes in their walls” that were seen on the weekend
drive to the site to see their new home under construction. Our assurances that they would be repaired at a later date
and not by that same evening were met with skepticism. In one instance we were selling a larger upscale EnergyStar
home that a purchaser refused to buy unless we used a different Builder Option Package that employed OSB or plywood
because the purchaser felt XPS sheathing was an inferior product and so we did.
The purchaser also agreed to pay more for the home as a result (and may still be
paying). These adverse events played some part in our choosing Compliance
Package J for our SB-12 requirements.
Building new homes en mass is in some respects like politics—the art
of the possible. We could attempt again (and have) to train our
numerous and nomadic trades-people to be more careful in XPS
installation with varying degrees of success. Then, simultaneously
undertake a consumer education project on the value of XPS
(thereby doing the manufacturers of the product a great
big favor) and watch customer’s eyes glaze over, or
choose Package J and never get a call on XPS holes
in walls Monday mornings again. You know what
I believe astute manufacturers will respond with
a more robust structural insulated sheathing
that will have suitable racking strength to build
tall walls, appropriate R-values, that is cost
effective and deal with customer perceptions.
As their customer that’s what I need, because I
believe I know what my customers want.
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
LOU BADA IS THE CONSTRUCTION & CONTRACTS MANAGER FOR STARLANE HOMES
THE OPA’S RESIDENTIAL NEW CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM INCENTS BUILDERS,
While there are still some challenges to the Residential New Construction Program,
the OPA got it right when they decided to focus on providing funding directly to the
builder to improve energy conservation in new home construction. It makes sense,
since a program that pays an average of $400 per house is not much of a rebate relative
to a $500,000 purchase by a home buyer (0.08%), whereas adding $400 per home to a
builder’s margin is more significant, especially in a high volume production environment.
The program designers were betting that builders will pay more attention than homebuyers would and, therefore, the
program would have more up take. For some time now, it seems to me that builders have been much more focused
on energy savings than their home buying customers. Whether it’s due to voluntary labels such as ENERGY STAR, or
because of the requirements that municipalities have made, or just part of the quality improvements that each builder
undertakes, conservation is now very much lead by builders.
The OPA’s Residential New Construction program provides rebates to builders who upgrade their standard offering to
include electrical energy savings. In its early days this program was bogged down in paperwork and process problems,
but it has been redesigned and is much more functional now. And, while there were only 27 homes in the program last
year (the first year it was really offered), this year there should be closer to 2000. The program runs until the end of
2014, and the OPA is currently looking to design new programs for 2015, so some uptake in this program would cer-
tainly help those of us making the argument that direct-to-builder funding is the best way forward.
BUILDER NEWSBUILDER NEWS
LEN HAR T
Straight from the Hart
DIRECT-TO-BUILDER CONSERVATION FUNDING
The province-wide program is delivered by each electric utility in their individual service area. The program essentially
offers three application routes: Prescriptive, Performance, and Custom.
Prescriptive rebates include the following:
The performance path pays for EnerGuide ratings: 83 and 84 rating get $500 rebate and 85 and above gets $1000.
GreenSaver, along with Building Knowledge, has been lobbying to recognize ENERGY STAR (next gen) as proof of
EGH 83, so no other rating proof is needed. The custom measures are more complicated, but offer more flexibility. The
program, much like ENERGY STAR, requires pre-enrollment, but otherwise it’s quite straightforward. At least one local
electricity distributor is also supporting builder promotional efforts to drive home sales, Veridian Connections Inc. will
fund on a 50/50 basis, cooperative advertising to promote participating builders in its service area.
The program is relatively untested in the marketplace, so some tweaks and interpretations still need to be made for it
to work efficiently; however, since the application process is two-staged (pre and post) a good strategy for most builders
would be to apply now for everything they might possibly be eligible for in the preliminary application, and then work
with your local electric utility to see what you can get a rebate for. This keeps the door open. The program can also
be combined with other funding like Savings By Design and Optimum Homes run by the gas utilities. Builders who are
looking to build to the new ENERGY STAR specifications should be enrolled in this program. Several utilities in high
growth areas have contracted with 3rd party groups, including GreenSaver, to support application development with
builders, for more information email RNC@greensaver.org or call 416-203-3106 x306.
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
LENARD HART IS THE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR AT GREENSAVER A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATION FOCUSED ON
RESIDENTIAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS. HE WAS ONE OF THE DEVELOPERS OF THE ENERGY STAR FOR NEW HOMES
PROGRAM IN ONTARIO AND THE FORMER PUBLISHING EDITOR OF SUSTAINABLE BUILDER MAGAZINE.
ELIGIBLE PRESCRIPTIVE MEASURES:
All-off switch - master switch that controls multiple electrical sockets in multiple locations in the home (hard wired) $50.00
High efficiency furnace with a fully variable speed electronically commutated motor (ECM). The furnace must be listed on the
ECM Eligibility List which will be made available to Participants by the OPA
ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioner (CAC) that has at least a 15 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and 12.5 Energy
Efficiency Ratio. The unit must meet the minimum requirements set out in the Eligible A/C and A/C Coil List, which will be made
available to Participants by the OPA.
Lighting Control Products – hard wired indoor and outdoor timers and motion sensors, dimmer switches. $3.00 per product
ENERGY STAR qualified niche lighting that falls into one of the below three categories:
ENERGY STAR qualified recessed lighting – must have GU24 replacement
ENERGY STAR qualified under the counter lighting
ENERGY STAR qualified LED lighting
ENERGY STAR qualified indoor light fixtures (Hard Wired)
• 1 or 2 sockets
• 3 or more sockets
I have one of those old pocket calendars; the notebook type from 1939
that my aunt kept for some reason all these years. It was sponsored by
a company called The Pneumatic Insulating Co. and their tag line was
“Fleece Line Your Home”. They show a schematic of a truck blowing
insulation into an attic. They also have a picture of two houses side by
side, one with snow on the roof, the other without. The four promotional
pages of the otherwise blank pocket notebook advocate 4” of Rockwool
insulation for a “properly insulated house” and to “avoid burning wood to
melt the snow on the roof”. We can chuckle now at the idea of R12 being
the proper amount of insulation in an attic. But what is the right amount,
how much is too much. How much is cost effective now, and in the
future? After all, the homes we build today are supposed to last anywhere
from 100 to 300 years. We don’t want our descendants to chuckle at us a
short 75 years from now for putting just R20 in walls and R50 in ceilings.
There are at least three reasons to recalibrate your thinking as you choose
how much insulation and the total insulation strategy to implement.
First, I was educated by a progressive builder out west as to the new metrics of insulation. When I saw their 2”x 8” wall full
of spray foam insulation and an additional 2” of rigid exterior insulation, I commented that it sounded like an expensive wall.
They were quick to point out that it was a cheap wall when you consider the extra insulation was far less expensive than the
installation of solar panels needed to generate the equivalent energy otherwise lost through an R20 wall. In fact, I did a HOT
2000 analysis on the difference that wall upgrade would make on a 2300 sq.ft., two storey home in Edmonton. Indeed the wall
upgrade would save the equivalent of the output from approximately 5.5 kW of solar panels. At an installation cost of even
$4,000 per kW, a pretty optimistic cost in Canada at the moment, readers should ask themselves if they could build that 2x8
wall, plus 2” continuous external insulation for less than an incremental cost of $22,000. Thus the new metric should not be
fiberglass versus mineral wool versus high- density or low- density foam, but rather insulation versus solar panels. That is, of
course, if you are headed towards net-zero homes. In the short term, a similar calculation that is just as lucrative is to compare
extra insulation costs to the net cost of reduced mechanical equipment and the lower energy bills that finance the increased
mortgage payments at today’s low interest rates. Do the math; if it was truly about the money, the investment value of
insulation and the cost to get to net-zero, we would have increased insulation levels significantly years ago.
Of course, we have learned a lot in 75 years and our understanding of conductive heat flow through walls, ceilings and
floors – all opaque assemblies – has lead to recognition of the total “effective” resistance to heat flow or effective R-value.
Codes, standards and energy efficiency programs are quickly moving away from prescribing simply nominal insulation
values and towards recognition of the total conductive heat flow both through insulation and framing elements. The simple
chart below is an example of the types of calculations detailed in the Natural Resources Canada “Tables for Calculating
Effective Thermal Resistance of Opaque Assemblies” now referenced in the ENERGY STAR for New Homes 2012 program
and likely to be referenced by at least the National Building Code.
The calculations are done using the Isothermal Planes (Series-Parallel) method as described in 2009 ASHRAE
Handbook—Fundamentals. Note that using this method, a 2x4 wall with R14 cavity insulation and 1” of extruded
foam sheathing has a slightly higher R-value than a 2x6 wall with a nominal insulation value of R20. Note also that
an advanced framed wall with 2” XPS sheathing and R24 cavity insulation shows a 75% improvement in resistance
to heat flow over the 2x6, R20 nominal insulation wall. This new emphasis on total effective resistance is the second
reason to recalibrate our thinking about appropriate insulation levels and strategies. Readers can immediately
imagine two likely outcomes; a renewed interest in advanced framing and a clear emphasis on continuous, external
insulation. Both of these initiatives require process changes beyond the simple, historical approach of stuffing
Insulation – Recalibrating How
Much is Enough?
more and better insulation into cavities. These changes require consideration of at
least cladding and window attachment, structural integrity, wall dimensions and resulting
possible house design changes and even water management detailing. Despite the
complexity of including insulated sheathing or implementing advanced framing, the
relative value of continuous insulation and the cost savings of fewer wood members will
be difficult to ignore as the thermal performance of buildings is advanced.
The final point for discussion in this article highlights a need to rethink insulation
strategies specifically as a result of the increased insulation levels now demanded by
code and expected by homeowners. Insulation reduces or restricts the flow of heat
through building elements, such as walls or attics. It also simultaneously lowers the
surface temperature of elements within assemblies and reduces the drying potential of the
assembly. Therefore the more insulation there is in a wall or attic, the greater chance there
is for condensation within the cavity. There is less opportunity for drying of the assembly if
liquid water is introduced. In all but the lower mainland of Vancouver, the math would show
that with just R20 insulation in a 2x6 wall, the surface temperature of the interior face of
exterior OSB or plywood sheathing is low enough, for a significant portion of the winter,
in any wall in Canada to result in condensation if any warm, moist air is allowed into the
cavity. As a result when choosing insulation strategies, the decision matrix must include the
attachment and structural issues noted above but also include consideration of at least two
Both of these initiatives require process
changes beyond the simple, historical
approach of stuffing more and better
insulation into cavities.
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
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opportunities. First, continuous, insulated sheathing warms up the “first condensing
surface”, the interior face of the exterior sheathing, to reduce condensation potential.
Second, choosing insulation products that reduce air infiltration, such as spray in
place foam or continuous exterior foam sheathing is also very valuable. Air tightness
and water management improvements should always accompany any increases in
As codes and energy programs advance insulation levels, recalibrate your thinking
as to both the relative value of that insulation with respect to other alternatives and
select strategies that simultaneously improve insulation effectiveness, durability and
GORD COOKE IS THE PRESIDENT OF BUILDING KNOWLEDGE CANADA
for compact installations.
9ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
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*Comparison with ENERGY STAR requirement of minimum efficacy level of 1.4 CFM per watt for 10-80 CFM fans and 2.8 CFM per watt for 90-130 CFM fans.
Insulating a home is not often a one size fits all proposition.
In most cases one solution is typically better than another
considering all the factors involved. In the Green Home TV
Home Addition Project, we’ve had to take many factors into
account as we’ve addressed both renovation and new build
aspects of the project.
The project effectively started as a new build added on
to a century-plus farmhouse. We went through a process
of evaluating a number of different building shell / wall
systems. These included standard studs and insulation
options including batt, spray foam, as well as Structural
Insulated Panel Systems (SIPS), and we even considered
straw bale (on a farm- based property, we could potentially
grow our own insulation!), plus a few other options. In
the end, we chose to use Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)
complemented by spray foam and ridged foam.
For us the choice of ICF really came down to a few factors:
• shell framed and insulated in one step
• floor sub structure connected directly into the system
• continuous insulated system with the effectiveness of an
R30 wall from foundation to roof
• zero air penetration in insulation system
• structural integrity and thermal mass nature of concrete
• one crew build from footings to roof
• zero organic materials to eventually rot of become bug
ICF, as a product category, had its beginnings in the late ’60s
and early ’70s, by European engineers who were looking to
create a building product that would combine simplicity,
strength, and energy efficiency. The forms are made of
expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam slabs held together
by plastic webs that act as concrete-forming tools in the
building process and remain after as insulation. ICF has
more commonly been used below grade, but its use for the
whole envelope allows for a single contractor to provide the
entire solution, eliminating connection points in the transition
from below to above grade.
The build process was fairly simple. Footings were
poured, with special care taken to ensure they are level.
The ICF “bricks” are laid out in much the same way you
may start building a house with LEGO, using corner and
straight pieces, as necessary, to match the building plans.
Wooden “bucks” are constructed to frame doors and
windows. With steel rebar installed in the bricks vertically
and horizontally, the assembly is ready for concrete. An
ICF-specific ready-mix concrete is pumped into the forms,
and a vibrator is used to remove air pockets that may have
formed during the pour.
Beyond those reasons, we wanted to ensure that what were
about to build had the potential to last as long as the current
structure. Built by distant relatives in the 1840s of a 2’ field
stone foundation wall with a shell of 3 course brick, with a
bit of maintenance it should last another 170 or so years.
I’m hoping that insulating work we did now will still be
serving children and grand children well in to the future.
ICF is great for the exterior walls but no good for roofs;
that’s were we turned to spray foam. Icynene spray foam
allowed us to create an R50 vaulted ceiling free of drafts
Looking at Insulation Holistically
in a space that is typically hard to insulate well with batt
insulation. lcynene also sealed up other hard to insulate
locations including those above and below bay windows
and low ceiling under porch bathrooms.
All of these insulated areas become pieces of the complete
building envelope. With ICF in the walls, Spray foam in the
roof, two inches of ridged foam under the basement slab
and radiant floors completing the insulation wrap.
Of course we pay attention to the detail of insulation
systems and then go ahead and cut holes in it all over the
place. Necessary holes admittedly. Holes for doors, windows,
exhaust fans, HRVs and more. Triple Low E2 windows from
Inline Fiberglass and insulated fiberglass doors from MDL
Doors manage and optimize these openings allowing for
access, natural ventilation and heat control / gain appropriate.
So has there been a place for batt insulation in the project?
Roxul’s Safe and Sound mineral wool insulation provided
an integral part of the home’s internal sound control strategy.
Combined with Green Glue, double layer drywall, channel
strapping and the radiant floor topping, Roxul serves to
create a quiet home giving privacy to all while also letting
everyone enjoy their own spaces.
The fact is, this addition we’ve built wasn’t the first to be
added to the original 1840 structure. A small wing was
built in the early ‘70s of 2 x 4 walls (real 2 x 4s sourced from
the property) insulated with fiberglass batts behind aluminum
siding. Our new addition was finished with StoneRox
lightweight veneer stone and it’s now time to give the old
addition the same treatment; this is our Summer StoneRox
Project. As part of this project we’ll be using 2 ½” ridged
foam between the current walls and the stone to double the
R value while drastically improving the air infiltration. You
can follow this part of the project at www.greenhometv.
org/summerstoneroxproject.html as we take it on in
family DIY style.
Follow the GreenHomeTV Home Addition Project plus coverage
of other green building projects at www.greenhometv.org.
For links to specific people, companies and other references
made in this article, please go to www.greenhometv.org/
betterbuilder. (Visit http://www.greenhometv.org/betterbuild
for videos that complement this article)
THOM MILLS IS THE HOST, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER OF GREEN HOME TV
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I’ve never been particularly susceptible to sales pitches,
but when John Godden suggested I consider a new HVAC
system for my 80-year-old (Toronto) Beaches home, I must
admit my curiosity was piqued. My colleague, writer Tracy
Hanes, had done something similar to her home, and my
furnace, at 18 years old, was living on borrowed time. The
air conditioning, a newer addition, had been installed one
particularly hellish summer, with temperatures making it
hard to work, sleep, and even move around.
Although my furnace was high quality high efficiency in
its day (1995), I figured we might not have much time left
together. In fact, last winter I called my original installer to
check the furnace over and see how much life was left. His
answer was cryptic and vague: could be six months, could
be six years.
Godden walked me through what he thought would make
sense for my 1450 sq ft home. First up was the old “high
efficiency” furnace that went through rapid, noisy cycles of
blasting on and shutting down resulting in uneven interior
temperatures. The ac unit was the traditional big fat unit
placed among the bushes in most people’s home – mine
jutted out into the pretty path I’d made in the side yard of
flagstone and cedar mulch. It was almost impossible to
Since I’m a visual learner and not very technologically
inclined, Godden drew on a piece of paper what my current
system did (and more importantly did not do) and what a
new one could do especially in energy efficiency terms. As
he explained, the existing furnace was much too big for the
house, which accounted for the non-stop on-off cycles.
I’ve always been competitive with myself, and the challenge
of reducing my own carbon footprint was too hard to resist.
The project felt a little like a contest and the prize was lower
consumption, lower bills and therefore more money in my
Another bonus was a nice $1500-plus rebate offered by
Enbridge if I could lower the energy consumption by 25%.
To create a benchmark, Godden ordered an audit with
blower door test that would determine where the house
leaked air, and energy. Conducted by Anthony Zanini (from
clearsphere.ca), the audit revealed my house had a HERs
(home energy rating system) rating of 102. Reducing
that rating (through reducing consumption) by more than
25% would require improvement to both the mechanical
systems and the building envelope.
During a recent renovation, I’d installed new windows
with low-E argon and double glazing. Several walls were
knocked out which gave better circulation, and the last bits
of knob and tube were removed (most had been pulled in
1995 when I bought the house).
But there was still more to fix the envelope, such as patch a
large crack in the upstairs bathroom wall which was leaking
air into the attic – a new I-beam on the back end of the
main floor leveled everything but caused cracking on the
upstairs walls which had settled over the years. I had to
beef up the attic insulation – the blown in stuff had drifted
and there were bare patches in places. Godden suggested
Roxul batting be laid down in. And a hole in the attic --
created by a previous renovator who’d done a poor job
installing the bathroom exhaust fan – had to be filled.
With the building envelope improved, there was less
demand on either heating or cooling, allowing me to make
appropriate choices in new equipment. The improvements
to the mechanical/electrical systems included:
1. A new water heater: I’d purchased/leased a hot
water heater just two years before from a Reli-
ance door to door salesperson I didn’t resist and
regret to this day, since I signed on to a seven
year contract. There were five more years on the
contract – it took $900 to get me out of it. (Upside
was I gave the other water heater to a friend on a
strict budget, who needed to buy some time before
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
My House Has Been Future Proofed!
changing his whole system.) What I got instead was
a 98.4% efficient FlowMax instantaneous condensing
hot water unit that provides both domestic water and
space heating. Heat generated by this is then
distributed through the house by an AirMax air handler
rather than a conventional furnace, although the
existing ductwork was good to go, saving me money
on expensive alterations like that.
2. Air max air handler: I could have installed a new special
duct system that moves air around for maximum
comfort, but didn’t have the budget to alter the existing
ductwork which had been installed only 18 years
before when we bought the house. The Airmax is
much quieter than a traditional furnace and the DC
motor allows air to circulate continually even when
the heating or cooling are off. This motor saves 80%
of the electricity of a conventional motor.
3. ERV: the energy recovery ventilator draws fresh
air in from outside through the chimney, circulates
it through the house, and then vents out stale air
via the basement. Both fresh and stale air stream
through the ERV, and even recovers some of the
heat that would otherwise have been vented out,
but it happens without mixing the stale and fresh air.
It also transfers some of the moisture from humid air
into the dryer air stream – so in winter, the internal
atmosphere is more humid than it could be and in
summer it’s less humid, eliminating the need for
either humidifier or dehumidifier. When there’s too
much humidity in the interior air, it gets exhausted
outside; if the air is too dry, the ERV system will retain
4. Drain heat recovery: a copper power pipe was
installed into the stack at the basement level. A
piece cut out of the stack was replaced with the
copper pipe which extracts heat from waste water –
shower, dishwasher, sinks – that can preheat water
entering the hot water tank cutting down on the
energy required to give us hot water.
5. The air conditioner: was replaced by a 14.5
SEER (CompactAir by Manuflow) and is slim,
hugging the exterior wall of the house so it’s easy
to pass by on my pretty side path.
My new HERS rating is 74 – a reduction of 28%, and the
first electric bill proves it in dollars and cents. My consumption
for June and July was about 1104 kwh, compared to 1845
kwh (2012) and 1719 kwh (2011) – that’s about a 35%
reduction in consumption.
I’m also enjoying a number of other unforeseen benefits,
especially the clean, sweet smell. This has been a major
difference. When you have pets – I have a dog and two
cats – you can clean obsessively clean and still not get rid
of that musty “close” smell. Not anymore. Since having the
new system, I can walk in the house and breathe in without
holding my nose. That’s thanks to the ERV which continually
circulates fresh air.
The system is also so quiet that I have to make an effort to
listen whether it’s running or not, and both heat and AC are
evenly distributed over all three floors – no more freezing in
the basement and sweltering on the second floor.
For more information visit: projectfutureproof.com
AIRMAX AIR HANDLER REPLACES FURNACE
ERV REMOVES PET ODORS AND FLOMAX PROVIDES SPACE AND HOT WATER HEATING
ALEX NEWMAN IS A WRITER, EDITOR AND RESEARCHER AT
rhvca.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 905-264-9967
Don’t leave the health of your home’s
most valuable asset to chance. Trust only
a RHVCA member to design, install and
service your heating, cooling and ventilation
system. Our members represent the
highest standards of training, certiﬁcation,
and expertise in the HVAC industry.
Garden HomesALWAYS BETTER THAN CODE
BY TRACY HANES
Inazio Giardina is a builder who takes pride in being an innovator in
Giardina’s company Garden Homes has been well ahead of the energy
efficiency curve when it comes to whatever project it is building, whether
it’s custom houses, subdivision homes or commercial buildings.
Garden Homes was at the forefront of
Energy Star home building in Newmarket
and in 2009, was the first builder in Ontario
to meet the Green Builder Challenge issued
by the Sustainable Housing Foundation
by constructing a house that exceeded
the energy savings goal in the province’s
Building Code of the time by 50 per cent.
Giardina recognized that a team effort was
needed to achieve that goal and all of his
staff and trades participated in training sessions
that explored the most cost-effective ways to
build healthy, energy efficient homes.
When that 2,695-square-foot home on Bob
Scott Court in Newmarket was launched,
incorporating features such as in-floor
basement heating, Roxul insulation, a
drainwater heat recovery Power Pipe, and an
integrated HVAC system with solar hot water preheat that supplied domestic hot water and space heating, Giardina noted:
“I think we are now one of the most advanced green builders in Ontario.”
What Giardina realized then, and continues to believe in, is the merit of future proofing and building homes that will provide
owners with savings not only in the present but will yield even greater savings in the future as energy prices increase.
17ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
R30 EXTERIOR WALLS BP EXCEL SHEATHING USED WITH 2X8 WALL STUDS. 2 LAYERS OF ROXUL R14 IN CAVITY
Garden Homes continues to be on the leading edge. Giardina's own recently completed luxury storey-and-a-half home in
Richmond Hill makes him one of the first builders in that municipality to adopt a better than Code (EnerGuide 80) approach
since the new building code was introduced in 2012. His own 3,100-square-foot LEED Silver home has incorporated several
leading edge technologies that will serve as a real-world experiment to see which ones will offer the best value and yield
the most energy efficiency for the homes he will build for his customers.
“This isn’t the first house to exceed the Code since the 2012 Code was introduced that we’ve had, but it’s the most extreme
example,” says Mike Janotta, manager of plans review and compliance for the Town of Richmond Hill. Builders in town are
encouraged to build above Code and can choose whatever means they want to do that, but Giardina has taken it to a whole
“He invited us to come see his home and some of us from the town went to have a look at it,” says Janotta. “It’s extreme,
extreme energy efficiency and I think his heating and cooling bills will be ridiculously low.” Janotta says the home’s
complex heating and cooling system is likely not financially feasible for most subdivision builders to incorporate and might
not be easy for the average homeowner to understand and operate at this point.
Giardina is using the HERS scale to measure the home’s performance, which is a scale that can be easily understood
For the building envelope, Giardinia used BP High Performance Sheathing on the exterior of the house, manufactured
by Building Products of Canada Corp. The high performance sheathing is a ½’’ thick, wax impregnated wood fiber
panel, which forms an exterior air barrier system. Casa Bella Energy Star windows were used as well.
The home is built with 2 by 8 wall studs and Roxul
mineral wool insulation, made of a combination of
stone and recycled slag. It was used to provide superior
insulation value. The walls are R28 instead of the typical
R22. Four-inch foam was sprayed in the home as well to
provide excellent air sealing.
The home uses a state-of the-art Viessmann gas-fired
condensing boiler to supply space heating through
the radiant in-floor system and domestic hot water.
Heat is recovered by a vanEE exhaust ducted energy
recovery ventilator (ERV) with ECM motor. The home
also incorporates a Carrier Infinity furnace.
The in-floor radiant system was used on the main floor
and in the basement floors to provide comfort and
warmth, as well as on outdoor porches to melt ice and
snow. The boiler is integrated with a Viessman solar
hot water collector and large steel storage tanks in
Giardina’s basement store the solar pre-heated water
until it’s needed.
RADIANT HEATING FOR THE BASEMENT FLOOR
INTEGRATED SPACE AND SOLAR HOT WATER HEATING SYSTEM BY VIESSMANN
BASEMENT WALL DETAIL 2" OF ROXUL IS AND R14 BATTS
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all
of our hardworking trades who have all made their
own unique contribution to our success.
We couldn’t do it without you!
Building Products of Canada
City of Richmond Hill
De Luca Plumbing
Dero Building Designs
Lomco Landscape Contractors
Roxul Canada Inc.
vanEE / Air Solutions
“It’s fantastic,” says Giardini of the Viessmann system. “I’ve barely used any gas this summer. My last bill was $50.”
A heat pump, that also works as an air conditioning unit, keeps the home cool in summer.
Another product helping to save energy in the home is the PowerPipe, a drainwater heat recovery device created by
Kitchener’s RenewAbility Energy Inc., will capture the heat from discarded drainwater then recycle it to raise the
temperature of incoming cold water. The PowerPipe, using multiple copper coils wrapped in parallel around a drainpipe
to maximize heat transfer, reduces home energy consumption by 6 to 10 per cent. It’s zero-maintenance, cost-effective
and simple to install.
In March, Ontario officially became the first jurisdiction in North America to provide direct energy credits for Drain Water
Heat Recovery (DWHR) technology within the OBC, following France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
The home also incorporates greywater recycling from Ontario company Greyter that filters waste water from showering,
bathing and laundry and reuses the treated greywater to flush the home’s toilets. The system can save up to 40 per
cent of the water used by the average family, thus reducing their water bills and conserving water, which will become
increasingly important in the near future. The system is simple to operate, low maintenance and is cost effective and
easy to install.
Giardini also indulged in a Lutron LED programmable house lighting system that he acknowledges is a bit of a splurge.
“It will have big hydro savings, but it’s hard to recover the payback on it,” he says.
As a builder who has always strived to build better than Code, Giardini says it took nothing to make the leap from
EnerGuide 80 to LEED Silver requirements. He’ll also be well ahead of the curve for the 2017 Building Code, which will
require 15 per cent more energy savings than the current one.
Some of the products Giardini used in his own house will be incorporated into the other homes he builds. Some, like the
BP sheathing, may become standard features while others will be offered to home buyers as upgrades.
TRACY HANES IS A FREELANCE FEATURE WRITER FOR THE LARGEST DAILY NEWSPAPER IN CANADA AND SEVERAL MAGAZINES.
"Builders in town are encouraged to build
above Code and can choose whatever means
they want to do that, but Giardina has taken
it to a whole new level."
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
Nothing gets past Henry.
Air and Vapour Barrier
Protecting properties –
and reputations –
Henry’s Building Envelope Systems®
provide industry-leading protection
from uncontrolled air, vapour and
moisture, from foundation to roof.
Proven effective in the challenging
winters of Canada, our air and
vapour barriers, waterprooﬁng and
rooﬁng products protect properties
from the elements to save energy,
prevent damage, extend building life,
and create more comfortable and
healthy indoor environments.
This fully adhered membrane functions not
only as a water-resistant barrier and rain
barrier, but stops uncontrolled air leakage.
Seal out air and moisture, and seal in
energy and comfort with this self-
adhered window and door ﬂashing.
inﬁltration and water damage
The ﬁrst choice in sheet applied
waterprooﬁng, this self-adhered
waterprooﬁng membrane is designed
for prepared concrete or masonry
substrates, providing a waterprooﬁng
barrier for below grade use.
lateral water movement
increased protection at overlaps
A self-adhered ice and water
secondaryseal under shingles
helps prevent leaks from wind-driven
rain and ice damming.
asphalt and glass ﬁber mat
slip-resistant working surface
for ease of application
Five home builders across four provinces will
build at least 25 Net Zero Energy (NZE) homes
in the next three years as part of the federal
government’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative
(ecoEII) with Owens Corning Canada LP as the
proponent and buildABILITY Corporation as
the project manager. The project focuses on
affordability and market acceptability of Net
Zero Energy housing in a production housing
context. To date in Canada there have been
very few demonstrations of NZE housing on
a community scale that are market-ready for
production builder adoption.
Improving energy efficiency in buildings
continues to be the building industry’s approach
to reduce carbon emissions. However, relying
on energy efficiency alone will not address the
increasing demand for energy in the future.
The NZE Community will involve the adoption of new design strategies that blend advanced construction techniques,
advanced mechanicals, and market-ready renewables at a house and community scale.
The idea of a Net Zero Energy (NZE) home is that it employs enhanced energy efficiency design strategies to cost effectively
reduce energy needs, while meeting those needs with renewable energy technologies, with the result that the building
consumes equal to or less energy than it produces on an annual basis.
This project is aligned with ecoEII’s goals of searching for long-term solutions to help eliminate air pollutants and
greenhouse gas emissions from energy production. This project builds on the NRCan funded LEEP/TAP (Local Energy
Efficiency Partnerships/ Technology
Adoption Pilot) project to demonstrate
the next housing platform in communities
across the country.
NZE homes continue to be stuck in a
research and development phase and
pilot demonstrations, with little focus on
the unique challenges that the housing
platform presents for the production
builder. To achieve wide acceptance and
industry adoption, a community-sized
demonstration by production builders is
This project is the largest NZE Community
demonstration in Canada to date.
Owens Corning Canada is working with
Canada’s Largest Net Zero
PRESENTATIONS: ALEX FERGUSON, CANMETENERGY NATURAL RESOURCES CANADA PRESENTING NET ZERO
TRAINING: BUILDERS AND CONSULTANTS ATTENDED A 2014 R-2000 TECHNICAL TRAINING SESSION AT OWENS CORNING
CANADA’S TORONTO PLANT
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
5 homebuilders across the country. The five builders are: Construction Voyer (Laval, Quebec); Mattamy Homes Limited
(Calgary, Alberta); Minto Communities (Ottawa, Ontario); Provident Development Inc. (Halifax, Nova Scotia); and Reid’s
Heritage Homes (Guelph, Ontario).
Technical design, planning and training processes for the project are already in progress. A National Design Charrette was
held in March 2013, which had Canada’s leading housing and net zero experts meeting for two days to discuss the path
to net zero housing and net zero communities, and the barriers that exist. The charrette was focused on two strategies:
conservation and advanced renewable technologies. The first and primary strategy focussed on energy conservation by
maximizing the envelope and air tightness levels, and exploring complementary high performance mechanical systems. The
second strategy focussed on exploring market-ready renewables technologies, including photovoltaic panels, solar thermal,
ground source heat pumps, and air source heat pumps.
The NZE homes to be built in the five communities will use the new EnerGuide Rating System for New Homes to measure
energy use and in many cases the new R-2000 requirements as the jumping off point to achieve net zero. 2014 R-2000
builder training and CodeBord® Air Barrier System training was provided to all five builder alliances to prepare them for the
An upcoming National Implementation Charrette in the Fall of 2013 will help prepare the builders for the construction phase.
Construction of the homes is expected to be completed by 2016.
Funding for the project is being provided by the federal government’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative (ecoEII) program,
Owens Corning Canada, and in-kind contributions from the building industry.
For more information on the project, please email Candice Luck, candice@buildABILITY.ca.
MICHAEL LIO IS PRESIDENT OF BUILDABILITY CORPORATION, MICHAEL@BUILDABILITY.CA
As Renewability Energy’s senior technical advisor, Gary
Botelho spends a lot of time attending design charrettes.
His role there is to help educate builders and designers in
the ways they can achieve energy credits on their designs.
He’s also there to show them one low hanging fruit – drain
water heat recovery (DWHR).
This isn’t such a stretch from his education and earlier
career in internet technology (IT), if you consider/where he
helped senior management at Nortel understand the ever-
changing technology they worked with.
And considering that Botelho worked summers throughout
high school and university alongside his father on the
Empire Communities construction site, and learned the
trades. So several years ago, after taking a severance
package during one of Nortel’s downsizing moves, his
father called asking if Botelho could fill in for a labourer
had walked off the job.
It was a fortuitous move that launched the next career
phase for Botelho, because Empire was getting ready to
transform all its low rise projects from Energuide to Energy
Star. CEO Paul Golini Jr asked Botelho to prep homes
for independent third party testing on the site. That’s also
when Botelho met John Godden [clearsphere.ca] who
asked him if he was interested in running the program for
Botelho says the challenge lay in the disconnect between
administration and construction site. “Many builders were
making the commitment to Energy Star at the administrative
level, but implementing it on site was a different matter.
That’s why Empire created this energy specialist role for me.”
He would review the company’s goals and expectations for
achieving Energy Star, and then write procedures to ensure
smooth implementation. “It was hard for trades to accept
what we were asking for because for 35 years construction
crews had been building the same way.”
And initially, there was “push back. Energy Star wasn’t
something most people understood. And because a sub-
contractor is essentially self-employed, they feared that
making such changes would eat up too much time, which
would translate into losing money.”
Botelho says that developing good relationships between
builder and subcontractors ultimately made the difference:
“We explained how these targets which were voluntary
now would become code within a few years and that they
would put themselves ahead of the curve if they learned
them now. Essentially, it would help them stand out in
So for the next six and a half years, Botelho walked every
house that Empire Communities built an average of four
to five times -- pre-envelope inspection and preliminary
air testing all the way to construction. “Empire knew
that inspecting on a continuous basis would catch any
mistakes before they got really costly to fix.”
It soon became clear to Empire that educating the trades
was only half the equation – educating consumers was
equally important. Homework sessions, led by Botelho,
would take newly signed-up buyers through the process
of how to operate the different energy efficient products
And one of the products being used to achieve Energy
Star rating credits was the drain water heat recovery
system – a copper power pipe -- inserted into the stack –
that withdraws heat from waste water out of showers and
sinks, and pre-heats incoming water to the hot water tank.
“Empire was one of the first builders to incorporate this
in all their homes,” Botelho says. “It was one of those low
hanging fruits, a win-win for achieving credits -- easy and
inexpensive to install and so effortless in reducing energy
As Empire sought greater energy efficiency for its new
homes – winning Enerquality champion award three years
in a row -- Botelho was moved into a management role
overseeing product quality. But he missed the field work,
GARY BOTELHO - ESNH CHAMPION OF THE YEAR WITH SHANON BERTUZZI
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013 25
uses outgoing warm
drain water to pre-heat
incoming cold freshwater
in Residential, Commercial
and Industrial, thereby
reducing energy costs.
TURN THAT WASTED ENERGY
INTO $AVING$ WITH THE
Saving Energy Intelligently
E N E R G Y I N C .
Developed and Manufactured by:
LOWER ENERGY BILLS.
Drain Water Heat RecoverySystems
H O W I T W O R K S
GreenBuild 8x10 Pstr3_Print.pdf 5/7/12 10:34:54 PM
visiting sites to improve the energy quality in each
home. “I loved the building science part of it, and
missed that,” he says.
So when Renewability Inc, the manufacturer of the
drain water heat recovery pipe, approached him
about taking on the role of helping builders navigate
the many changes in the landscape of construction
across Canada, he knew it was a good fit for him.
About the same time that the code was undergoing
significant changes related to energy consumption,
there were changes afoot in land use as well, especially
throughout the GTA. The Green Belt had been
legislated, eliminating huge tracts of land from the
“The result was increasing competition for available
land,” says Botelho. “That put municipalities in a
position to demand additional things of developers.
In an effort to compete, builders were having to go
one better and promise Energy Star, which is 25%
better than code.”
Although Renewability realized the opportunities to
market its drain water heat recovery pipe, the company
went above and beyond what was required in sending
Botelho out to educate builders about the whole
scope of Energy Star.
Now, after a few months with Renewability, Botelho is
working on developing packages that builders can opt
for as an alternative compliance to the supplementary
standard SB-12, which changed the energy performance
requirements for buildings of the 2006 Ontario
Botelho’s role has been to instruct builders in potential
trade-offs within SB-12 that are allowed when they
install DWHR, and to inform them of how DWHR can
help them achieving the required EnerGuide rating.
Builders can also choose an equivalent to the
Energuide package through Enbridge’s savings by
design program (www.savingsbydesign.ca).
This advisory role has led Botelho to become part
of various committees such as the Federal Energy
Star committee for builders, the Energy Star Builder
Option Package working group (Ontario), and
EnerQuality/OHBA technical advisory committee.
ALEX NEWMAN IS A WRITER, EDITOR AND RESEARCHER AT
INSULATION SOULUTIONS FROM THE
FOUNDATION TO THE EAVES
Amvic Building System was started in 1998 by Victor
Amend Ph.D. Building Science. Victor's goal was to design
industry leading and innovative Expanded Polystyrene
(EPS) insulation products for the building envelop. These
products provide energy efficiency and comfort to the
building and home owners and ease of installation and cost
effective insulation solutions for the building contractors.
The first product Victor designed was the Amvic Insulating
Concrete Block or ICF, while not a new concept to the
North American market; he did design a form that was
stronger, with less construction waste and easier to install
taking the ICF industry in a new direction. The company
– headquartered in Toronto Canada has grown into an
industry leader in this field with 5 plants in the US , several
around the globe offering ICF block product nationally in
both the US and Canada.
Along with cutting edge ICF, now on the third generation
design offering an R 30 Amvic Plus ICF block, the company
evolved into producing a new innovative EPS insulation
Board called SilveRboard, offering a cost effective energy
efficient solution to the traditional home and building market.
Victor's building science background has allowed him to
design and produce industry leading EPS Insulation products
which dovetails perfectly with rising energy costs, rising R
value code requirements, and an overwhelming desire by
the average homeowner to conserve energy while still being
able to maintain a comfortable living environment.
Insulation and its importance in Energy Conservation to the
individual homeowner, has never been as important as it is
today. In 2012 Building Codes across North America saw
sweeping changes to many building insulation requirements.
These include increases in wall, ceiling, on grade basement
slab, (now a mandatory R10 insulation requirement), and
recent code changes requiring full height basement wall
Amvic, has continued to introduce energy efficient and
innovative products to the North American market these
products include SilveRboard®
XS Exterior sheathing Insulation
Insulated Wall and Floor panels and Amvic
insulated radiant PEX panels.
27ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
Rigid Foam Insulation is a high performance
flat-sheet insulation material made from Expanded Polystyrene
(EPS) which is laminated to a layer of metallized PP / reflective
film on both faces. This highly effective combination of
materials offers a higher R-value per inch compared to
traditional flat-sheet EPS insulation (to compete directly
with R5 per inch XPS foam boards), as well as provides
built-in moisture and air barrier properties.
Rigid Foam Insulation (EPS) offers builders a
higher performance product which also increases jobsite
efficiency and reduces labor costs.
Correctly installed SilveRboard®
helps contribute to a full
thermal building envelope (reducing heat loss from within
the home in winter, and reducing Heat-Gain in summer),
when building residential or small commercial buildings,
SB35XS -R5 Wall Sheathing and SB35UC -R10 Under-Slab
basement pad insulation boards are without equal:
XS –“ BREATHABLE”
INSULATED EXTERIOR WALL – SHEATHING
XS Wall Sheathing has been specifically
engineered for exterior wall insulation application on wood
or steel frame construction. The reflective laminated
surfaces of SilveRboard®
XS are micro perforated in order
that the SilveRboard®
XS exterior wall sheathing insulation
materials can “breath” allowing trapped moisture within the
wall cavity to evaporate naturally. SBXS has a water vapor
permeance rating of 3.48 perms or 217 ng/Pa.s.m2 and an
air permeance (system leakage) of 0.0105 L/s.m2 at 75 Pa.
XS physical characteristics are within the
nationally accepted Building Code guidelines for air and
vapor permeance in exterior wall sheathing membranes,
making it unnecessary for further application of a house
XS is a high performance (job site
tough), high quality and economical insulation material for
exterior wall sheathing installations.
SB35 – UC
SB35UC has been specifically designed for
on or below grade ( under slab and Frost Wall) insulation
applications, providing unparalleled Flexural Strength and
job site toughness (84Psi ) and load Compression (35Psi).
The reflective laminated surfaces film on both faces of the
board provide a continual vapor barrier (4.27 perm ), while
not only protecting the foam core from moisture, but also
adding rigidity and surface damage protection while being
walked on, or driven over, with work boots barrows . Since
the NEW SB12 residential building code now mandates that
all concrete slabs containing radiant heat piping must have
a minimum of R10 insulation under the slab – Our SB35–UC
not only meets code, but also provides, vapor, radiant and
radon barriers all in one exceptional product.
(FLOOR & WALL )
Amdry Insulated Subfloor is a one-step insulated panel
system with an integral moisture resistant protective
surface film. It provides a healthy, comfortable, warm
basement floor by significantly reducing slab surface
moisture and temperature fluctuations that may lead to
mold and mildew problems.
Where should I use it ?
• Garage Floors
• Exercise Rooms
More Energy Efficient
• The combination of Amvic’s High quality EPS foam
insulation laminated to 19/32” OSB edge grooved
surface board offers a truly superior insulated
• Available in R7, R9 and R11; Amdry Insulated subfloor
panels offer the most energy efficient subfloor panel on
the market today to meet even the most demanding cold
• Home Theaters
• Play Rooms
• Store and plant office retrofits
• Amdry provides a continual thermal break across the
entire concrete pad surface
Drier , More Energy Efficient Basement Environment
• A combination of deep drainage and ventilation
surface channels bonded to a moisture, mildew and
mold resistant protective film layer allows Amdry® to
provide continuous air flow over the existing concrete
slab, promoting moisture evaporation, keeping your
basement drier, limiting or eliminating the surface
moisture on the slab which leads to mold and mildew
in this type of floor assembly.
Saves Time and Money
• Amdry panels are installed quickly and easily. Proprietary
connectors, larger panels and 50% less joints make it an
• 24" x 48" Amdry panels each provide a full 8 sq. ft.
surface coverage, Amdry panels require 40% less
installation time and labour than competitive products,
while Amdry’s larger panel area also better accommodate
irregularities and minor slopes often found on
basement floors, reducing or eliminating the need for
shims and/or spacers.
• Amdry’s unique flexible connector system allows panels
to effortlessly lock together, without the need for nails or
glue, significantly speeding up the installations process.
• The Amdry connectors are inserted into the edge
grooves of each panel and use a flexible barb fastener to
allow for easy insertion and yet provide unparalleled long
term holding power. The system is engineered to provide
a secure, tight connection for years to come.
• These unique connectors eliminate all the issues
commonly associated with wooden tongue-and-
groove joints: squeaking floors, broken, damaged
or chipped tongues and grooves, often damaged
before, during or after installation. The hollow core of
the connector allows for expansion of the entire floor
assembly. This built-in compression joint virtually
eliminates any chance of buckling or heaving of the
floor surface due to humidity expansion.
For more information, please visit www.amvicsystem.com.
Introducing Amdry, the only insulated
HOWARD COHEN, DIVERSIFIED INSULATION PRODUCTS MANAGER, AMVIC
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
ALEX NEWMAN IS A WRITER, EDITOR AND RESEARCHER AT WWW.INTEGRITYCOMMUNICATIONS.CA
The Importance of Attic Ventilation
Ventilation is a requirement of the Canadian Building Code of Canada (section 9.19). Ventilation is also a criteria required by
shingle manufactures in order to respect their warranty. The two fundamental benefits of an effective attic ventilation system
are: a cooler attic in summer and a dryer attic in winter. Both of these benefits result in energy savings, greater homeowner
comfort and higher integrity of the dwelling.
There are two types of ventilation systems. The first is the passive ventilator. Passive ventilators are low profile vents like
ridge vents, mushroom vents, or even a gooseneck ventilator for flat roofs. They do not allow for air exchange but merely let
the air evaporate out.
The alternative to the passive ventilator is the static ventilator. This ventilator is a turbine ventilator or a Maximum Ventilator.
These both replace the attic air. They both function with the combination of wind and pressure differential, creating a chimney
effect, replacing the attic air. With only a four-mi/hr wind, the Maximum Ventilator is replacing the attic air of an average size
home of 1200 sq. ft, at a rate of 418 cfm., thus an average of every twenty minutes! (It would take two 14 inch or three 12
inch turbines to replace one model 301).
For more information please see: http://ventilation-maximum.com
BETTER BUILDER STAFF
The Optimum Basement Wall
In previous articles I have discussed our journey towards a better performing, more forgiving basement wall. Over the
past year we've made some significant adjustments to improve the overall performance and durability. I thought I would
share some of the lessons learned over the last year.
To recap, we have dealt with moisture wicking and with significant
aspects of long term inward bound vapour diffusion (more on this later).
We are using the Cosella Dorken Delta Footing Barrier for a capillary
break between the footing and the foundation wall, a cold joint caulking
for bulk water movement between the two, sprayed tar on the foundation
wall below grade to prevent wicking from the soil to the wall and the
Delta Membrane to keep bulk water away from the wall. On the inside
we have used the ROXUL Comfortboard IS along with a stud wall with
ROXUL R14 batt insulation to create a healthy, comfortable basement
space that our customers have come to expect, along with using products
that we know to be moisture and mould resistant.
However, we have still had some lingering performance issues, particularly
around potential smell issues if the insulation gets wet and the problem
of inward bound vapour diffusion during the warmer months (vapour/
water on the poly) especially with foundation walls that have a significant
amount of concrete above the soil.
In the case of smell the culprit appears to be air flow between the home
and moist insulation.
Our new wall detail installed the ROXUL Comfortboard from the top of
the footing to the underside of the floor joist. This is installed prior to
the basement floor being poured. The ROXUL then acts as a drainage
path for any condensing water vapour. The other significant change is
that our header wrap now comes over top of the stud wall and connects
to the poly vapour barrier to create a continuous air barrier. The theory
being that no air movement means no smell. Having moved our standard wall detail to have the poly become part of
the air barrier system seems to have eliminated this potential problem quite effectively.
For the condensation on the poly, we have two potential moisture
sources, remaining moisture in the concrete wall that is still drying and
inward bound vapour diffusion on the above grade wall that is affected
by humidity and direct sunlight. To solve this problem we are replacing the
top 30" of 6 mil poly with a breathable membrane from Certainteed.
The Smart Membrane will allow the vapour to pass from the insulated
wall into the home, in turn allowing the basement insulated wall to dry.
Dr. John Straub and Arron Grin from Building Science Corporation did
some performance modeling on the wall that looks very promising.
We completed this installation in the Discovery Home we are building in
St. Thomas, as part of our commitment to Union Gas and the Optimum
Home Program, which supports builders in their journey to build high
performance homes that are 20% above current 2012 Ontario Building
Code. We are also conducting a year long study on the dry-ability of
this new wall system in conjunction with Building Knowledge, ROXUL
and George Brown College.
BP Excel breaks new ground
in structural insulation
thanks to a membrane that
combines air barrier protec-
breathability, and strength
like no other product.
And it’s green — made from
98% recycled materials, free
of VOCs and ozone-depleting
CFCs or HCFCs, and glued
together with wheat starch.
For homebuilders looking
for innovation and value
on an exponential scale:
Excel is innovative green
design, exceptional thermal
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WELCOME TO STRUCTURAL INSULATION
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The issue with using the smart poly is a code compliance one. The CCMC approval on the smart poly says that it has to
be covered with drywall within 7 days to avoid breakdown from exposure to ultra violet light. In our case we want to
use the product in unfinished basements where customers are actually seeing the vapour condensation and calling to
complain about the problem. Interestingly enough, during the July heat wave, this home managed to get through without
any significant vapour condensation, despite not having HVAC and going through drywall and painting. So preliminary
results appear very favourable. It is our hope that this study will allow for a compliance option that builders can use to
improve the performance of their basement walls.
I would like to extend my thanks to our former Chief Building Official Leon Bach for permitting us to use this product
in the Discovery Home, based on the limited amount of UV exposure in the basement and of the local Chief Building
Officials who have been supportive of our experiments with this new wall system, specifically Leon Bach, Brad Smale and
Daniel Dale. Their support has permitted me to go back and retrofit the detail into several existing homes where we
were having condensation problems. I was amazed at how quickly the addition of the smart poly resolved the vapour
condensation. My customers are happy and I feel good about giving them a better wall.
DOUG TARRY JR., IS THE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AT DOUG TARRY HOMES IN ST. THOMAS , ONTARIO.
ISSUE 07 | FALL 2013
It’s fitting that this edition is dedicated to future proofing. This is a concept that
I have been discussing and designing into my homes for many years. Why? Be-
cause I believe that rising energy costs over the next generation will continue
to make energy efficiency a greater priority for our consumers. As an industry,
we continue to build ever more energy efficient homes. However, there is one
major challenge that we face: our customers!
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all of my customers and I hope to build
for many more. It’s just that today’s consumer is much more demanding than
even a few years ago. They want longer showers with multiple showerheads
just like they see on the TV shows; they want their home to be uniformly cool
all summer, even with that big bank of windows facing the sun. The expecta-
tion of performance is that their utility bill will go down, or at least not change,
even though they continue to use their personal car wash (that’s what I call the
full body wash shower) and run that AC right through the day.
At some point in our customers’ future their thoughts will change from conserva-
tion to generation. That’s where future proofing comes in. So I thought I’d share
my insights on Solar Ready, the ultimate future proofing for the homes we build.
In 2007, Doug Tarry Homes was contracted by Natural Resources Canada to conduct the Solar Ready pilot project.
This included writing the first Solar Ready technical specifications. Since 2007, we have
continued to build all of our homes with Solar Ready design as a standard feature. In that time we have also installed
several solar thermal water heating systems. In October 2012, NRCan published the revised Solar Ready Specifica-
So here’s the good news. Solar Ready is fairly easy and inexpensive to include in a home provided you put some
thought into it during the design process. OK, so two storey homes can be a bit harder because of the popularity of
open concept main floors even on two storey homes. It has been our experience that it costs an additional $350-$450
per home for the Solar Ready rough in.
SO WHAT IS A SOLAR READY HOME?
There are two key components. First, space on the roof at a viable solar angle, and second, a conduit from mechanical
room to accessible attic space. Roof orientation for solar installations is considered viable from Southeast around to
West for solar thermal systems. South is most efficient for Photo Voltaic systems. Here are some important points to
• The solar conduit needs to run from the mechanical room to the attic. I prefer to install two – 2” conduits, rather than one
4”. If you ever have to bend the conduit slightly, there is no give in the 4”. Also the 4” requires a 2x6 wall which may not
be otherwise necessary for the home.
• It is important to avoid plumbing or mechanical runs in the dedicated location of the conduit, or it may be almost
impossible to find later on. Whatever conduit type you choose, it is important that they be capped at both the top and
bottom, otherwise you can have a condensation loop into your attic as well as a fire chase. I don’t trust tape as the
glue will diminish over time.
• Location of the future solar hot water tank should be shown on the basement plan so that the appropriate amount of
space is available. It is also good practice to show the roof elevation that the panels are intended to be installed on, so
• It is not a requirement, but it is a
recommended best practice that the
trusses intended to carry the solar
panels be designed and built with an
additional 5 lb. dead load to account
for the additional weight.
• Installation of panels should not be
directly into the top chord of the truss.
Rather it is better practice to attach
scab lumber to the side of the top
chord and attach into the scab.
• The existing Domestic Hot Water
Heater needs to have plumbing valves
and “T”s installed and an electrical
outlet needs to be located beside the
unit. This is to permit quick connection
at the time of installation.
*Contact us for details.
C Y C L A B L
Achieving an R-20 Basement Wall “IS” Easy
with Roxul ComfortBoard™
■ Prevent Thermal Bridging: Installing ComfortBoard™
IS against the foundation wall
before you frame the studs provides for a continual layer of thermal protection.
■ Non Combustible: Provides for combined thermal and ﬁre-resistant properties.
■ High Recycled Content: Made from natural stone and up to 93% recycled material.
INTERIOR BASEMENT WALL APPLICATION BY ROXUL®
ComfortBoard™ IS is a trademark of Roxul Inc.
is a registered trademark of Greenguard Environmental Institute.
To learn more, visit
Helping builders design and build
more energy efficient homes.
New building codes require new approaches to housing
design and energy performance. Enbridge’s Savings
by Design program is here to help. The program offers
free access to design and technical experts, as well
as valuable incentives to help design and build more
energy efficient homes.
Using our unique and collaborative Integrated Design
Process (IDP), we will work with you to identify optimal
solutions for improving energy efficiency 25% beyond
Ontario Building Code 2012.