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ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014
A Little Help Getting Greener
The Kids are Alright:
Arbourdale Construction
Market Makeover
Air Sealing Existing Homes
Thinking Outside the Box
IN THIS ISSUE
THE
RenovationISSUE
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
16
1
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
2
Retrofits and Climate Change
by John Godden
THE BADA TEST
3
Retrofits, Renovations
and Missed Opportunities
(continued)
by Lou Bada
INDUSTRY NEWS
7
The Contractor’s Choice for a
Warmer, Drier and More Energy
Efficient Basement
by Amvic & Better Builder staff
8
A Little Help Would Go a Long
Way to Getting Greener
by Richard Lyall
BUILDER NEWS
11
The Kids are Alright: Arbourdale
Construction’s team of new grads
pushes green building forward
by Alex Newman
INDUSTRY EXPERT
14
Air Sealing Existing Homes
by Gord Cooke
SITE SPECIFIC
25
Raul Alberto:
Thinking Outside the Box
by Rob Blackstien
FROM THE GROUND UP
28
Meeting Potential New OBC
Energy Efficiency Requirements
in Existing Homes
by Doug Tarry
FEATURE STORY
16
Market Makeover
Barbini Corporation overcame myriad challenges to transform a Victorian
home into a highly efficient, mixed-use, four-storey building in Toronto’s
famed Kensington Market.
by Rob Blackstien
11
25
ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
On our cover: 299 Augusta Avenue © Aaron Mason
Photography, aaronmasonphotography.pixieset.com
Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
8
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20172
“Most enterprises fail because they want the right things but measure the
wrong things and get the wrong results.” —  Gordon Bethune
I
n any successful process, measurement and accountability are key. A
national study commissioned by the Consumers Council of Canada (CCC)
entitled “Incenting Energy Efficient Retrofits: Risks and Opportunities
for Consumers” provides vital information for tackling energy conservation
in the existing housing stock. (Visit consumerscouncil.com for the full
report.) New homes account for 1% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) 
while existing homes account for 99%, so addressing sustainability in
existing stock is critical. The CCC report indicates that approximately 50%
of Canadian home owners have participated in an energy conservation
program in the past. Many are looking towards federal, provincial and
utility programs to provide the means to battle climate change.
It’s easy to identify opportunities for retrofits in existing houses, but
what are the risks? Too much funding, an immediate need for action and
no transparency easily become an incubator for abuse and fraud. (I have
had many personal experiences with the door-to-door game: I built my
parents an R-2000 home in 1999. On a visit to see my father, who was 92
at the time, I found him chatting with a guest at the kitchen table. She
had the forms out to sign him up for a rental hot water heater. Had I not
intervened, the high-efficiency combination system I installed would have
been replaced with something of lesser efficiency. I have also participated
in utility programs which are challenged with HVAC contractors
fraudulently promising rebates to home owners when the program
requirements have not been met.) Incentive programs, which use rate
payer and tax payer dollars, have a responsibility to ensure financial
responsibility, good quality of work and successful outcomes. That’s why
I’m in favour of a tax credit program with oversight.
In this issue, we examine the importance of promoting energy
efficiency in renovations, the most important being educating home
owners about their choices. On page 3, Lou Bada shares an exchange
with a well-intentioned utility program which was spreading incorrect
information and suggests we all need to use better tools to measure
GHGE reductions and energy savings. On page 14, Gord Cooke shares his
approach to helping his son airseal his house – every renovation could
always start with an airtest to benchmark its performance. Doug Tarry
gives us an overview of upcoming energy code changes on page 28.
Finally, the feature articles, “Market Makeover” (page 16) and “The
Kids Are Alright” (page 11), are excellent examples of projects using
computer modelling, integrated design and commissioning to achieve
low-energy buildings. In these cases, the right things were measured to
get the right results.
Retrofits and
Climate Change
PUBLISHER
Better Builder Magazine
63 Blair Street
Toronto ON M4B 3N5
416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695
sales@betterbuilder.ca
Better Builder Magazine
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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
Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman
PROOFREADING
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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,
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Better Builder Magazine
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Toronto ON M4B 3N5
Better Builder Magazine is
published four times a year.
publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
John Godden
Alex Newman
Gord Cooke
Rob Blackstien
Lou Bada
Doug Tarry
CONTRIBUTORS
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 3
This greater focus on renovations
by the Code reflects the inefficient
energy performance of our older
homes (depending on their age and
current state) and the belief that
dollar-for-dollar money spent on
energy upgrades to older homes yields
greater greenhouse gas emission
reductions than money spent on the
construction of new homes. Well,
from what I have seen and heard from
around the industry, so far so good.
But how do we know how much of
a cost-benefit there is to an individual
home energy retrofit project? The
simple answer: measurement. You
might think measuring energy
consumption is simple – use a
calculator, add up the costs, then
divide by the savings over the lifespan
of the product.
Measurement may be simple, but
that does not mean it’s easy. For the
purposes of this discussion, I will
leave global issues of cost-benefit
aside and focus on local monetary
issues only (as though that’s all that
matters). Some of the questions we
need to ask are:
•	 When we measure gas, electricity
and water consumption, are
we looking at “modelled energy
consumption” or actual energy
consumption?
•	 What are the benchmarks?
•	 Are we looking at large pools of
data?
thebadatest / LOU BADA
T
he upcoming amendments to the Ontario Building Code (OBC) focus
heavily on improving energy efficiency for renovations.
In the fall 2015 issue of Better Builder, I wrote about some of the
issues involving the missed opportunities in housing for energy retrofits and
renovations. In this issue I’d like to build on that previous discussion.
Retrofits, Renovations
and Missed Opportunities (continued)
But how do we know
how much of a cost-
benefit there is to
an individual home
energy retrofit project?
The simple answer:
measurement.
•	 Are we thinking about energy
use or carbon emissions?
•	 Does it matter how the energy is
produced?
•	 How is the true value assessed?
On the issue of energy consump­
tion, a personal revelation hit me when
I opened some mail from my gas utility
late last year. According to the gas
company, my home consumed more
natural gas – thus performed worse –
than most of my neighbours in my area
with homes of similar age and size. The
letter even included a sad emoji face
next to my home address.
But how could this be? I live in a
newer subdivision (built in 2001) and
the builder I work for built many of its
homes. I know the homes well – they
were built according to 1997 OBC
standards with few energy upgrades.
My home is an average size for the
neighbourhood – two floors, about
2,800 square feet. I also know I did
the best I could before, during and
after construction to be more energy
efficient (after further energy retrofits,
my home is now a HERS 47 with two
air changes per hour). I live there with
my wife and young son, so not a big
household. A close examination of
actual gas bills before and after the
improvements showed savings of 12%.
(This was normalized for weather
differences in degree days.)
I also received a similar letter
from the electrical utility and was
informed I had average consumption
(after installing LED lights and ECM
fan motors, and taking steps to limit
wasted energy). This also was puzzling.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20174
I asked a couple of people from
the gas utility who I know. The first
answer was “you shouldn’t have
received that notice – it wasn’t meant
for newer homes.” That didn’t help.
What if one of my customers
receives a similar letter after spending
money through us on energy
efficiency upgrades? I asked a couple
more times and received some cryptic
answers and finally an “I’ll get back to
you; it’s part of our DSM (demand side
management) program.”
The problems I see here are
with measurement methodology
and monitoring, management and
government programs. I checked
my consumption; I know my home
performs much better than most.
What about costs? Consider this:
whose money is it when you get an
incentive or rebate from the utilities?
It’s yours.
Here’s an example of the problem
with these so-called incentives: A
good friend and neighbour told me
that his air conditioner was making
noise. I knew it was shot: his HVAC
equipment was original and about
16 years old. I told him to look at
changing it all, that “incentives” were
available and that I would help him
sort things out. A day or two later, he
told me he went to a big box retailer
which had set up an in-store booth
and was sending someone out to have
a look. It seemed that the fellow from
the retailer was well informed insofar
as selling him high-end equipment.
He also knew the amounts of the
available rebates and the energy
audit process. He also knew to quote
my good friend 50% more than the
market price for the job. Equipment
suppliers also understand this.
Could this be because incentives were
in place? Who really benefits from
incentives anyway?
I got him a better deal on the same
equipment and the incentives just
the same. Of note, the retailer was
trying to sell him a 16 SEER two-stage
compressor air conditioner – great
equipment, but not necessary for the
rebate (15 SEER single-stage minimum)
and much more expensive. When we
took a hard look at the costs and cost
savings (consumption over the lifetime
of the equipment versus the extra cost),
it didn’t make economic sense to go
with the more efficient air conditioner.
However, when you add in the likely
increased comfort in the home, my
neighbour decided to go for it. He had
good information to make his decision,
the rebate didn’t matter, and he got a
better, more efficient product.
Today, we are in a position in
which all consumers are overpaying
for energy so that we can give some
consumers back a small portion of
that money to make choices they may
have otherwise made anyway. Some
businesses are making money from it,
but the market is being distorted for
all. Bureaucracy is flourishing and the
environmental benefits are unknown
because we aren’t measuring them
properly.
Economically, we are helping to
drive whatever manufacturing is left
out of the province, thereby lowering
Ontario’s carbon footprint (hooray!)
and displacing it to other jurisdictions
with cheaper energy and fewer
regulations. This isn’t the result we
should want.
I believe we should cut out the
nonsense. The smoke and mirrors of
some energy modelling, while they
may have a place as theory, shouldn’t
be the only basis of cost-benefit
analyses, demand side management
programs, or public policy and the
eventual mandatory labelling for
homes. This reminds me of the adage
“garbage in, garbage out.”
Theoretically one of the aims of
these programs and interventionist
government policies is to influence
consumer behaviour. Is anyone
measuring this? Is it even possible to
measure legitimately? Most agree that
something needs to be done – but let’s
just do it with a rational and measured
approach. BB
Lou Bada is Vice President of Low
Rise Construction at Starlane Home
Corporation and serves on the board of
directors for the Residential Construction
Council of Ontario (RESCON).
The smoke and mirrors of some energy modelling,
while they may have a place as theory, shouldn’t
be the only basis of cost-benefit analyses, demand
side management programs, or public policy and
the eventual mandatory labelling for homes.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20176
Barrie, GTA West, GTA North
Eric Byle | 416-937-8793
Toronto East
Al Crost | 416-676-0168
Available to water heater customers whose equipment is not operational (i.e. no hot water)
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 7
sheeting may require an additional
quarter-inch plywood underlayment.
If you prefer ceramic tile or stone,
apply an appropriate tile backer board
or start the project with specially
designed Amdry Tile subflooring
panels. Each Amdry Tile incorporates a
fibrous tile backer board in place of the
OSB; simply apply a modified or non-
modified mortar base with a slotted
trowel and set the tile or stone.
Amdry is a one-step insulated
subfloor system with a moisture-
resistant protective surface on
the bottom and OSB or tile backer
board topping. It provides a healthy,
comfortable, warm basement by
significantly reducing slab surface
moisture and temperature fluctuations
and helps to reduce the potential for
mould or mildew. BB
For more information on Amdry and
Amdry Tile products, visit www.amvic
system.com/insulation/amdry-subfloor
Amdry insulated subfloor panels
come in two R-values: a two-inch-
thick panel with an R-7 rating, and
a 1.6-inch-thick product with an R-5
rating. The R-7 panel has the highest
insulating value of all subfloor panels
being sold today. Amdry panels are
two feet by four feet, larger than
other subfloor panels, and are easier
and faster to install. The panels
incorporate a high-density expanded
polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation
layer covered with a high-impact,
moisture-resistant protective film
laminated to an oriented strand
board (OSB) that forms the top
subfloor layer. The rigid EPS moulded
foam contains deep drainage and
ventilation channels that allow
convection airflow under the subfloor
to dry up any moisture that might
migrate through the concrete. Plus,
the thick foam layer moves the OSB
layer away from the concrete so it sits
one inch to 1.5 inches above the floor
to further reduce the possibility of
water damage, providing a warmer and
drier basement.
The panels fit together with a
unique plastic connector system. The
connectors have flex barbs on each
side and are inserted into the groove
on the Amdry panel, so they assemble
faster and eliminate the issues you
normally find with OSB tongue and
groove panels. A half-inch spacer is
placed around the perimeter of the
area to be covered to allow for air flow
under the Amdry panels providing the
convection drying system.
Cover the subfloor with your choice
of flooring materials
Once the Amdry insulated subfloor
panels are installed, you can apply any
type of flooring, like carpet, hardwood,
vinyl, laminate, tile or stone. Carpet
and hardwood mount directly to
the OSB with tack stripping or nails.
Vinyl sheeting or vinyl tiles can also
be secured directly to the OSB. Vinyl
The Contractor’s
Choice for a
Warmer, Drier
and More Energy
Efficient Basement
industrynews / AMVIC & BETTER BUILDER STAFF
M
ost customers today are choosing to have a subfloor installed in their
basement to add a comfortable living space that provides more square
footage for family activities and essentially to increase the value of their
home. In fact, according to some experts, converting an unfinished basement
space can return up to 70% of their investment when it’s time to sell. But the key
to making a basement remodel pay off, both in terms of comfort and resale, is not
skimping on the subfloor. If you really want to provide your client with the best
choice of subfloor, always start with an insulated, water-resistant subfloor. The
Amdry subfloor panels are easy to install with ordinary tools and a circular saw
and are an ideal subfloor product to start your basement renovation.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20178
industrynews / RICHARD LYALL
Some believe – and the publisher of
this fine magazine, John Godden, has
implied – that government programs
such as this one can strengthen the
pillar of Canada’s economy, housing.
Home owners who spent $10,000 on
renovations were able to apply for
a GST credit against their personal
income tax – a whopping one-third of
all Canadian households used it and
saved $700 on average. Households
were stimulated to spend. If Harper
had beaten Justin Trudeau in the 2015
election, one of his pledges was to
make the home renovation tax credit
program a permanent program.
But that was 2015. The world has
changed a lot since then. The focus
on housing, especially in Ontario, is
now on mandating homes to have
a lower carbon footprint. Some of
the suggestions are a little extreme,
but you may have read about that in
“The Bada Test” featured in previous
editions.
Here’s an idea for the Trudeau
government: what if our federal
leadership turned its attention to
giving home owners tax credits for
making their homes more energy
efficient? Is it possible that this could
cause a multiplier effect, effectively
triggering an increase in spending,
which increases national income and
consumption greater than what was
spent initially?
The Ontario government has been
clamping down on the new home and
condo industry to have a smaller and
smaller carbon footprint. But quite
frankly, new housing isn’t the problem:
as of January 1, 2017, Ontario’s new low-
rise homes have reduced greenhouse
gas emissions by as much as 43.5%
since 1990 through the evolving Ontario
Building Code. New housing is an easy
target, as regulatory changes can be
readily forced upon our industry.
Existing homes, especially those
built 30 years ago or more, can’t
compete with new homes and condos
that are built today. So, if housing
is going to be in the crosshairs, let’s
legitimately suggest how we can make
A Little Help Would
 Go a Long Way to Getting Greener
D
o you remember the Canada Home Renovation Plan?
It was introduced during Stephen Harper’s tenure as prime minister,
and was administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
(CMHC). The federal program gave home owners a rebate if they spent their hard-
earned cash on home renovations.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
a difference by targeting the existing stock.
I’m talking about implementing a program like
the U.S. Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit. It’s
applicable to homes that were built before December
31, 2016, offering rebates to home owners for energy
efficiency improvements in the building envelope of
existing homes and for the purchase of high-efficiency
heating, cooling and water-heating equipment. It was
introduced in late 2007 and was so successful that it was
extended several times up to 2016.
There is also a parallel U.S. Energy-Efficient New
Homes Tax Credit for Home Builders, which offers a
rebate amount of $1,000 to $2,000 on all new energy-
efficient homes, if they are certified to reduce heating
and cooling energy consumption by 50% relative to the
International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2006 and
meet minimum efficiency standards established by the
Department of Energy.
There are immediate benefits to these energy-efficient
home tax credits: home owners and builders alike are
incentivized to do their part for Mother Earth, and the
home occupants ultimately save money month to month
on energy costs.
Perhaps money saved through rebates or reduced
energy costs would be put back into the Canadian
economy for future home improvements or renovations.
Who knows what kind of multiplier effects would occur?
But considering the strength of the country’s housing
sector, the possibilities are promising. BB
Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction
Council of Ontario (RESCON) and has represented Ontario’s
residential construction industry since 1991. Visit rescon.com.
99
Existing homes, especially those
built 30 years ago or more, can’t
compete with new homes and
condos that are built today.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
repurpose what we have, using the
same footprint? Obviously expectations
are different, [so] how [do we] take that
into consideration, [while] keeping [a
good relationship] with neighbours
and their desires? [We] don’t want to
offend anyone, when doing a major
reno can take long time.”
Within a year of graduating, Burnes
launched his building and renovation
company, Arbourdale Construction,
on the principle that the building code
is only a baseline to do “whatever
we can that is better and will last the
next 100 years. Pushing boundaries is
something I’ve always liked to do.”
That’s exactly what the young
builder is doing with his “test case”: a
typical red brick, north Toronto home
on Chudleigh Avenue. Purchased in
2014, the 90-year-old house had a wider
than average lot, with private drive,
detached garage and a sizable footprint
of 1,700 square feet.
Burnes, who also grew up in the
neighbourhood, has been working
on the house with a team of similarly
young George Brown construction
graduates. For the past three years,
they’ve been testing new green
products and building methods, based
on passive house principles, like the
car charging port in the newly vaulted
garage that can store two electric cars
in vertical fashion. And the high-
velocity air handler that runs heating
and cooling in a three-zone air system
controlled by an NTI boiler that holds
hot water to heat up the air handler,
and water for both storage tank and
in-floor radiant heat.
But it’s the Intello vapour barrier
which his site manager, Joshua Perida,
raves about. “It’s a German product,
and what’s amazing is it’s permeable
on both sides. The main issue living
in Canada is the changing seasons.
It’s great to have a vapour barrier on
11
E
n route to what he thought
might be a medical career,
JD Burnes made an about-
face into construction. With no
prior experience except a one-week
high school trip to St. Lucia to build
housing and a summer volunteering
with Habitat for Humanity, he
decided to switch streams. Rather
than return to school, he stayed with
the charity for the rest of the year.
The experience with Habitat for
Humanity taught him about building
codes and green building. “They
were doing R-2000 homes before a lot
of builders were, using structurally
insulated panels as the standard in
affordable housing,” says the 29 year
old. “I thought, if this is the standard
for affordable housing in the city,
what’s the step up? If Habitat is doing
this in homes for those who can’t get
a home or mortgage, shouldn’t we be
building better as the standard in the
custom end of things?”
Those questions – fueled by
a keen interest in sustainable
building – prompted a return to
formal education after Habitat.
Enrolling at George Brown College
for an advanced diploma in building
renovation technology that included
apprenticeships in carpentry, he
learned about sustainable building
practices including zoning, green
building concepts and general
building science requirements.
Still asking questions, though,
Burnes kept wondering how to make
Toronto’s older housing stock last
even longer. “We’re often dealing with
homes nearing the 80- to 100-year
mark. How do we take those and
buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN
39
betterthancode.ca
THIS HOME IS 35% BETTER THAN CODE
50ChudleighAvenue,TorontoON M4R1T3
RatedSeptember18,2017
Post-renovation, 50 Chudleigh Ave comes in with a HERS score of 39 – 35% better than code.
PHOTOSCOURTESYJOSHUAPERIDA
The Kids Are Alright: Arbourdale Construction’s
team of new grads pushes green building forward
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
Pro Clima ‘Intello Plus’ high-performance interior smart vapour retarder and air barrier membrane substantially increase the drying reserves
of insulated walls and roofs. All joints were taped with Pro Clima ‘Tescon Vana’ waterproof and vapour permeable air sealing tape.
12
the warm side to prohibit moisture
diffusion into the walls from the
house in winter. At the same time in
the summer it’s preferable to allow
the moisture to dry to the inside of the
house with no condensation in the
walls. This smart air vapour barrier is
amazing: it senses the difference and
allows reversed vapour diffusion in
the cooling season when the vapour
drive is directed towards the interior,”
explains the 24-year-old George
Brown building renovation graduate.
After purchasing the house,
Burnes hired architect Tom Spragge,
who had designed his parents’ home
30 years before. When Spragge
asked whether LEED would be
targeted, Burnes started researching
LEED providers and came across
Clearsphere’s John Godden and
Project Future Proof. “In all likelihood
the house would have attained LEED
certification, but I felt our money
was better spent on the house itself,
through future proofing,” he explains.
Using passive house principles
– good insulation, ERV mechanical
systems, airtightness, high-
performance windows, house siting,
shading or wind barrier, and window
placement – Burnes designed how the
house would look. He then gutted the
house right back to the bricks, leaving
three exterior walls (the front and two
sides), along with the original stone
rubble foundation and most of the
original floor joists, with an addition
taking the place of the original back
wall. It was at this point Perida came
on the job as site manager to oversee
the construction process.
Burnes chose to insulate the enve­
lope with a Roxul 1.5-inch comfort
board insulation directly against the
brick, rather than spray foam, in order
to get insulation on the inner warm side
rather than the exterior side. R-20 batts
were used on top of the Roxul board on
the main and second floors, while R-14
batts were placed in the basement stud
walls on top of the spray foam.
For the basement, though, spray
foam was used, creating R-20 to R-22
on the walls and underpinning, with
R-14 batts placed in the basement stud
walls on top.
Amvic Radiant barrier was used to
enhance the basement floor heating
system. Its reflective film barrier is
placed under the floor slab to direct
most of the heat back to the basement
slab rather than the soil area.
All windows were replaced with
double-glazed Weathershield windows,
which offer about the same U-value
as lower-end triple glazed, Burnes
says. Fakro skylights, imported from
Poland, flood the upstairs – especially
the master bath, which has no outside
window – with light. Another Fakro
skylight adds light over the stairwell
from the second to third floor, where
there’s a bedroom with ensuite.
Glass railings are used throughout
the house, again to promote a wide,
open feeling. Along with fans by Haiku
Home, the interior is anything but the
ENERGY SAVING FROM AIR-TIGHTNESS 50 CHUDLEIGH AVENUE, TORONTO, ON
Construction
Stage
ACH
NLR
(cfm50/ft2
)
Energy
Use (kWh)
%
Savings
$
Savings
1 Pre-renovation test 10.81 0.97 48,661 — —
2 2017 OBC new home 3.00 0.28 31,611 35% $455
3 Final as built 1.61 0.15 28,729 9% $77
Study effected on a renovated house with a volume of 31,171 cubic feet and a surface
area of 5,504 square feet. Savings from air-sealing have diminishing returns. A reduction
from 10.81 ACH to 3.0 ACH saves an estimated $455; from 3.0 to 1.61 saves $77.
 
 
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
Continuous air barrier detailing
between floors.
closed off, chopped up, old feeling of
north Toronto homes built a century
ago. These are remote operated
through the Nest system, and make
use of an airfoil design to achieve high
efficiency levels even when using low
speed.
Ceiling heights vary throughout
the house between 8'2 and 8'8, but
the second floor master bedroom and
ensuite luxuriate in 14-foot ceilings
inside the master suite bath and
bedroom and a separate vaulted entry
to the third floor. While this reduces
footprint on the upper level, it adds a
lot in terms of spaciousness.
They also increased the home’s
size to 3,900 square feet, including
the basement. This governed the heat
load for the HVAC system, which was
designed to take into consideration
square footage balanced against
windows, heat loss, integrity of
construction and tests of the house.
But even with the home’s
incredible sense of space and high-
end finishes, Perida says it’s “kind of
hard to ‘sell’ a sustainable product,
unless the client is well informed and
wants to make a difference.”
The cost to complete the home and
addition was about $900,000 – on top of
the purchase price. “Will prospective
home owners be prepared to pay
this much?” Burnes asks. “I think
so. The efficiencies of the home will
definitely pay off in the long run. It’s
not only about future proofing against
inflationary energy price hikes, although
heat for the first winter ran only $60 a
month and the AC was similarly low. But
it’s also about comfort, air quality, and
lower maintenance costs that come with
higher grade materials. Our materials
are not dramatically different from basic
inputs – PVC or similar materials hold
paint and result in lower long-term cost.
I’m keen now to get final test results on
air efficiency and expense. Already the
indoor atmosphere is very comfortable.”
It helps being in the north Toronto
location, where real estate prices are
among the highest in Canada and will
only increase. So for builders thinking
about similar experiments, it pays off
to choose the area well, selecting one
that can sustain the higher prices.
But Burnes also says this level of
finish fits the neighbourhood, with its
many secluded ravines: “[the area is
home to] environmentally conscious
residents who will embrace [being]
walking distance to a subway stop,
buses, schools, green grocers, shops
and restaurants. This would apply to a
range of neighbourhoods which benefit
from densification.”
The house has definitely been a test
lab for Burnes and his young company.
As apprentices do, he learned through
doing: sourcing good products,
learning at seminars and conferences,
testing building practices for the
future, improving his technique and
training a team.
So far, Burnes has only hired gradu­
ates from the George Brown building
programs, Perida says. “At college, we
learned the theory of construction
with a stress on sustainability and
high-performance building methods.
One of the reasons I wanted to work
for JD was his method of building
and his commitment to constructing
high performance, whether it was new
homes or retrofit renos.”
Like the other grads, Perida worked
as an apprentice after college and
before starting with Arbourdale. He
believes in the apprentice model. “The
value of the course is consistency
of instruction, but in this industry
you gain invaluable experience and
knowledge on the job. That said,
some contractors you work for are not
keen on building beyond the code,
and they continue building pretty
typical homes. They’re accustomed to
a particular method, and when they
hire someone younger with different
ideology who wants to learn to build
better, there can be a clash.”
Perida and Burnes are both
millennials, and like many others
of their generation, are often driven
by a need for purpose and belief in
something good, even if they have to
take less money for it. As Perida says,
“I want to work for someone who
builds to last, who believes in what
they are doing, and who builds for
future generations.” BB
Alex Newman is a writer, editor and
researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com.
Waterproofing on basement foundation on
rear addition.
13
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201714
C
onsider this statement: “Air
leakage control is the single
most important retrofit
activity, and it should be considered
first in any retrofit strategy. Air
leakage control is essential.”
This is quoted from Keeping the
Heat In, a guide to home renovation
provided by Natural Resources
Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency.
This guide is updated regularly, but its
first publication dates back decades
to the early days of building science,
when researchers noted that at least
30% and as much as 50% of winter
energy waste in Canadian homes was
the result of unwanted air leakage.
So there’s no surprise, then,
that there have been publications
written, training programs developed,
products invented and even incentives
offered to encourage air sealing in
existing homes. For example, the
popular EcoEnergy program, which
ended in 2012, resulted in over a
million homes in Canada (out of
a housing stock of approximately
13 million households) having an
airtightness test done and air sealing
work recommended. Nevertheless, air
sealing in existing homes still offers
the biggest potential improvement
in energy efficiency as well as sound
control, comfort control, dust control,
air quality control and even moisture
control for your renovation clients.
Let’s define a couple of goals for
your next projects and see if we can
overcome some of the barriers to
comprehensive air sealing.
The easy way to start is to make a
point of including a pre-renovation
air test on every project. You will be
surprised at how engaged your clients
will become with this process. You
will also be impressed with how it
helps identify hidden problems and
avoid risks. I recall one project where
an abandoned chimney in a kitchen
wall was identified during the blower
test, which helped justify opening up
that wall and ultimately created more
space for the home owners. In another
case, a big air leak in a bathroom tub
area prompted an investigation of
the area, which uncovered a hidden
air and water leak that could have
come back to haunt the contractor
on the bathroom makeover project.
From the pre-test, then, a reasonable
goal is to incorporate in your scope of
work recommendations to improve or
reduce air leakage by 20%.
In air sealing, the best approach is
“top down” – that is, air seal the attic
floor. There are at least three reasons
for this. First, the most consistent,
persistent airflow mechanism in
Air Sealing Existing Homes
industryexpert / GORD COOKE
Canadian homes is the stack effect
– warm air rising, wanting to leave
through holes at the top of the house.
By sealing at the top, you reduce
air leaks and drafts throughout
the home without impacting the
availability for combustion air for
any spillage-susceptible appliances
in the basement or main floors.
Second, thorough air sealing can
be done in attics without aesthetic
concerns. Third, stopping the flow of
warm, moist air into attics reduces
condensation potential in the attic and
increases the lifespan of the roof.
Of course, accessing and air
sealing attics is not as easy as I like
to think it is. The low head room; the
dirty, hot work environment; taking
responsibility for properly venting bath
fans; chimneys; avoiding old wiring;
and worries of asbestos, mould and
other pollutants make attics easier
said than done. In fact, my son and I
decided to tackle air sealing in his 850
DEPOSITPHOTOS©KOSECKI
Air sealing in existing homes still offers the biggest
potential improvement in energy efficiency as well as
sound control, comfort control, dust control, air quality
control and even moisture control for your clients.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 15
square foot, 60-year-old bungalow. The 13 retrofitted
pot lights required special attention and the dusty eight
inches of existing blown-in cellulose insulation made
accessing air leaks very messy indeed. But we were able
to achieve a 20% reduction in overall air leakage for the
house with a day of work. (I subsequently consulted with
a professional insulation company that offers a service of
vacuuming out the old insulation, spraying down an inch
of closed cell foam and then topping up the insulation. I
would go that way the next time.) Help your clients find
compelling reasons to get that attic air sealed as part
of any renovation work. A blower door test should help
with this – show them how air leaks in the attic might
affect the kitchen or bath renovation, the finishing of the
basement or even the addition they are planning.
Speaking of those common renovation projects, each
one provides opportunities for air sealing as well. When
scoping out the kitchen makeover, include opening up the
ceiling to gain access to the valence or soffit box or rim
joist over the cabinets to air seal and insulate properly.
These areas are notorious for mice and bug activity
that your client will be relieved to have eliminated. The
bathroom remodel should include pulling out the tub that
is on the outside wall to air seal behind it. Pull down that
garage ceiling and air seal that too, so the kids sleeping
above aren’t breathing car exhaust. Basement refinishing
has to include gaining access to the rim joist for thorough
air sealing and insulation. The blower test can also be
used to demonstrate this opportunity.
One last and significant opportunity is presented
if you are asked to re-side or re-clad the exterior of a
building. It would be almost criminal not to include the
application of a fully flashed air and weather barrier as
well as at least R-5 insulation to those walls before the
re-cladding.
This is a win-win opportunity: a more energy
efficient, quieter, more comfortable and safer home for
your client, and a better, less risky scope of work for you.
Finally, as we approach an era where home energy rating
disclosures (HERD) become the norm, offer up the final
blower door test and an energy rating as part of your
project. We have known for 30 years that comprehensive
air leakage control is “the single most important retrofit
activity.” Use that knowledge to help your clients make
better decisions. BB
Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada.
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
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 17
Barbini Corporation overcame
myriad challenges to transform a
Victorian home into a highly efficient,
mixed-use, four-storey building in
Toronto’s famed Kensington Market.
The Kensington at 299 Augusta Avenue in Toronto. Photography by Aaron Mason Photography.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201718
Around 2011, McBride decided it
was time for a makeover, and he had
some very specific ideas about what he
wanted – not only in terms of the look
and feel of the structure, but also the
type of tenants. His goal was to make a
“seamless integration into the market.”
McBride says he knew about
Barbini because “he has a very good
reputation in the area that I was
living,” and at the time the renovation
was being planned, Barbini Corp. was
handling the property management for
the building, so it was a natural fit to
become the project contractor for The
Kensington.
Living on the edge
That reputation is well founded. An
industry veteran of over 40 years,
Barbini has grown his business
into a full-service design-build
firm that specializes in what he
calls “environment creation.” The
company’s client list is impressive,
including various condos, CFNY Radio
(what is now The Edge), Sun Life, Bell
Canada, plus many massive luxury
homes. Barbini Corp.’s projects have
been profiled by the likes of HGTV
and several major housing-related
publications.
But if not for the proliferation
of synthesizers, Barbini may have
been blowing his own horn in an
entirely different manner – literally.
He eschewed studying architecture
at university to try his hand as a
professional trumpet player, playing
with a couple of bands that enjoyed
Located just south of College Street
on Augusta Avenue, the Victorian
home – estimated by Barbini to be at
least 100 years old – was purchased
by John McBride in 2004. It had been
a mixed-use property for many years,
then housing a retail pottery studio.
Soon, a skateboard store moved in,
with McBride building a skating ramp
at the back.
Other notable recent tenants
include Bread and Circus Theatre
Bar, a mini Massey Hall-type
business that boasted a Beatles cover
band, among other performers. The
building later was home to a theatre
production company known as
Huge Picture Productions, run by
Mandy Leon, hailing from the Leon’s
Furniture family.
I
t’s only fitting that the renovation of a building whose history is so rooted in storytelling would become its most gripping
drama to date.
“Challenging” doesn’t begin to describe the task that faced Toronto-based design-build firm Barbini Corporation when it
was contracted with overhauling a century-old home in Toronto’s legendary Kensington Market neighbourhood. Describing
this project as “Sisyphean” might have been more appropriate. But in this case, principal Amedeo Barbini and construction
manager Raul Alberto somehow did get that boulder to the top of the hill – with tremendous results.
Left, a modern sofa and cabinets cleverly store a Murphy bed. Centre, bathrooms feature customizable fans to control humidity, protecting against mould.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 19
modest success in Canada, and
working with some future Canadian
musical legends, including Bruce
Cassidy (of Lighthouse and Blood,
Sweat  Tears).
However, in the early ’70s, wide­
spread adoption of synthesizers
was a death knell for many a horn
player, forcing Barbini to choose a
different career path. Since then, he’s
developed his industry expertise to
the point that Alberto says “it’s almost
like having a bible of construction one
phone call away.”
That experience would stead both
men well when faced with the biggest
test of their respective careers in the
Kensington renovation, a project
which seemed to feature as its main
characteristic a penchant for curve
balls.
The team dealt with a host of
challenges, including:
•	Access
There was very limited front access
to the site – a long, narrow alleyway
accessible only from the back. With
existing buildings just a couple of feet
away on each side of the property, it was
impossible to use a crane for any of the
construction, leaving Alberto to employ
what he describes jokingly as “Cuban
ingenuity.” (For more on how he worked
around this issue, see “On Site: Thinking
outside the box,” page 25). This proved
a massive issue with deliveries as well.
•	 Mixed use
Once the group settled on the format
(main floor and basement: retail;
second floor: flex office space; third
floor: residential), figuring out which
components were earmarked to which
section required plenty of attention.
•	 Last-minute expansion
Well into the design phase, McBride
decided he wanted an extra seven feet
of space at the rear of the building.
Unfortunately, the increased footage
was just enough to change the project
designation from a small building to
a large building under the Ontario
Building Code. The new classification
meant that architectural technologist
Brian Abbey had to hand the planning
over to a licensed architect, James Sa’d,
which was another obstacle. As a large
building, Barbini explains, this project
was subject to “more and stricter
requirements.”
•	 The surprise guest
When the project had gotten
underway, Barbini only knew that the
main and basement floors would be
occupied by some type of retail tenant.
And then came the big surprise: it
was to be Kensington Brewery. “The
infrastructure of the brewery had very
different requirements than other
Right, a light-filled kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space. Ventilators supply fresh air without the need to open windows to smells and sounds.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201720
getting the policy in return – no
explanation. “The city is a difficult
animal to deal with because they
change things,” he says. What made
it most difficult was that “the person
doing the evaluation wasn’t clear with
what they wanted.” Ultimately, they
settled on a storm water system that
would hold up to four inches of water
from the roof before being transferred
into tanks with 3,000 litres of holding
capacity. Some of this water will be
treated by a Greyter grey water system
and then used to flush toilets on the
top floor. Down the road, the brewery
may also use some of this capacity.
•	 Smells, sounds and vibrations
With the brewery on board, McBride
was insistent its smells, sounds
and vibrations be contained to
the ground floor. Mississauga-
based soundproofing consultant
AcoustiGuard-Wilrep Ltd. was brought
in to help design the solution, which
included Roxul insulation (not only on
exterior walls, but also many interior
walls); an exterior stucco finish; and
a wall system featuring GenieClips,
double drywall and green glue.
* * *
The modified building envelope is
impressive, starting with the base­
ment, where the existing foundation
walls were underpinned and a new
foundation wall was created inside
to support the newly constructed
walls. Two-inch foam was added to
reduce thermal bridging and provide
moisture protection, R-14 Roxul batts
were added inside and insulation was
added below the basement slab.
The main walls are comprised of
structural steel studs with R-22 Roxul
cavity insulation and three inches
(260 sheets) of Roxul comfort board
tenants would,” Barbini explains.
There were unique needs akin to a
manufacturing facility in terms of the
amount of power needed; mechanical
and electrical issues; and structural
changes to the design to not only
house the huge tanks that extended
from the basement to the ground
floor, but to accommodate them with
bigger beams and reinforced concrete
in the basement.
•	 Rainwater policy
This was the biggest hurdle of the
project, requiring the hiring of a civil
engineer for a process that took 15
months. The city’s retroactive storm
water policy, which calls for each
building to be able to hold one inch of
water to create a lag for releasing into
the storm drains, is extremely difficult
to interpret. Barbini went back and
forth with the water department,
submitting their proposal and only
Common areas: Left, second-floor flex office space is bright and spacious. Right, residential hallways are beautifully outfitted with custom lighting.
BARBINI is a Toronto based design/build company that enables clients to fulfill their
individual needs and be involved every step of the way. We are committed to delivering quality,
value and style. We feel that communication with our clients is the key to creating environments
that reflect their individual needs and lifestyle; transforming houses into homes.
www.amedeobarbini.com
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201722
80, for a total of R-36 walls. For sound
attenuation and thermal insulation,
308 bags of Roxul batt insulation were
used. The windows are second to none:
high-performance fibreglass, with low
solar heat gain glass. The high-tech
roof system boasts a shaped inverted
roof system at R-65. Even the brewery
is equipped with a commercial
heat recovery ventilator to manage
moisture and to reclaim heat. All these
things result in this building being 44%
better than the 2012 Code.
This dovetails nicely into Barbini
Corp.’s approach to all its projects, as
Barbini explains: “we have a real big
green component.”
Energy-saving features
The four stylish bachelor apartment
suites on the top floor are designed
in a particularly environmentally
friendly – and space-conscious
(featuring Murphy beds) – manner.
Each suite has a Panasonic energy
recovery ventilator system so fresh
air is continuously supplied without
having to open windows, offering
“tremendous” energy cost savings.
A Panasonic WhisperGreen fan in
the bathroom turns on automatically
and turns off at customized settings. It
also includes a humidity sensor, so the
fan keeps running until the humidity
is eliminated after showers, providing
protection against mould. Each suite
is equipped with a ductless split air
conditioner heat pump to create
individual zoning. Hot water comes
from a high-efficiency central hot
water tank.
In the end, The Kensington project
incorporates Barbini’s philosophy of
combining form, function and beauty.
Despite all the hurdles, Alberto’s
pragmatic approach saw the project
through: “They say you can eat an
elephant one bite at a time, so this
project for me was like one day at a
time.” BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
•	 Modified bitumen roofing membrane
•	 ½ protection board
•	 10 rigid insulation, tapered, seal joints
•	 ½ sheathing
•	 Steel deck (see structural drawings)
•	 Steel joists (see structural drawings)
•	 5½ mineral wool insulation in cavities
•	 EIFS on new block – ground floor – 2hr
•	 InsulROCK NC EIFS system
•	 3 EIFS w. 2½ Roxul ROCKBOARD 80
(R-10)
•	 Integral drainage layer
•	 Air/vapour barrier
•	 Concrete block – new, or existing
(see structural drawings)
•	 6 steel stud
•	 6 batt insulation (R-22)
•	 6 mil poly vapour barrier
•	 1/2 drywall
•	 2 hour F.R.R. fire separation
(O.B.C. SB-2, table 2.1.1.)
R1
W3
THE KENSINGTON’S
R1 ROOF AND W5 WALL DETAILS
The Kensington’s storm water system will hold up to four inches of water from the roof before
being transferred into tanks, some of which will be treated by a grey water system.
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201724
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This Platform helps Builders with Municipal
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ing Permits. Navigating the performance path
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45
HOMEADDRESS
123 Stone Street, Toronto, ON M6K 2T0
RATINGDATE
July 23, 2015
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
sitespecific / ROB BLACKSTIEN
S
mall wonder that Barbini
Corp. construction manager
Raul Alberto did not get
overwhelmed by the endless
obstacles thrown his way during the
Kensington Market renovation (see
“Market Makeover” on page 16).
He says he’s generally not fazed by
much, and considering what he’s been
through, that’s unsurprising.
In 1991, this native Cuban stepped
off a flight from Moscow to Havana
when it stopped to refuel in Gander,
Newfoundland, seeking political
asylum. He then spent the next few
hours agonizing while waiting for his
wife – seven months pregnant with
their first son – who was scheduled to
arrive on the next plane from Moscow
and planned to do the same.
“Those were the five longest hours
of my life,” he says.
Thankfully, she was also granted
asylum, and so began their life in
Canada.
So when the Augusta Avenue
renovation began in 2013 and the
curve balls started coming, Alberto
had the ability to put things in
perspective.
“He’s a man that gets things done
rather than throwing in the towel,”
says Barbini Corp. principal Amedeo
Barbini.
No cranes allowed
The project maintained about 50%
of the existing walls, including the
existing addition at the back, but
the basement had to be redone as
the original was only six feet deep
and was only in the front half of
the building. So they dug the entire
not use a crane. So how did they get
around that?
“Wow, that’s a good question,”
Alberto laughed.
“I had to look around and ask, ‘what
can I use that is not a crane that can
hold a beam that is 1,500 pounds, and
nobody would get hurt?’”
Ultimately, they came up with
different solutions. They chained
beams to a forklift, drove them into
the basement, dropped them down
and then used a Genie lift to put
them in place and mount them on the
foundation wall.
As the building grew in height,
so did the challenge of dealing with
these huge beams. For the higher
floors, Alberto employed a motor hoist
with chains to raise the beams, which
had to be brought in manually by the
workers, who held the beams and
pulled them inside the building.
One scary project
These limitations extended construc­
tion time to nearly three years. Had
the team been able to use a crane, he
estimates the project could have been
completed in 30% or 40% of the time.
One would assume that must have
added massive costs to the project, and
while it was more expensive, it wasn’t
as much as you’d think, Alberto says.
Thinking Outside the Box
25
Raul Alberto, construction manager for
Barbini Corp. at 299 Augusta Avenue in
Kensington Market, Toronto.
“He’s a man that gets
things done rather than
throwing in the towel.”
thing out about 10 feet deep to get the
existing height they now have in the
basement, a process that involved
using a Caterpillar to fill about 200
trucks’ worth of earth.
The new structure was comprised
of 20-foot, 1,500-pound steel beams,
but thanks to access issues, they could
26 BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017
The reason? Barbini was “very
selective” with the trades they
employed, doing a lot of time
plus materials. Of course, finding
subtrades willing to work under these
conditions was no easy task.
“This project scared the hell out
of many people. Nobody wanted to
come down here to work,” Alberto
says. “They gave a set price and it
would be something ridiculous,
maybe two, three times more than
what it would cost.”
While you might expect dealing
with the city in a mixed-use project
like this would have also been an
issue, it wasn’t a huge problem –
although they did have about five
different inspectors during the project,
which complicated matters.
Alberto started with Barbini Corp.
about six years ago and has really
adapted to its standard of excellence.
“[Amedeo’s] standard of quality is so
high that it was challenging for me
in the beginning, but it’s something I
really strived for,” he says.
But given what Alberto had come
from, being somewhat of a political
dissident in Cuba, he’s extremely
appreciative of how things have played
out. “Working with Mr. Barbini is the
best thing that’s happened to me.” BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
©AARONMASONPHOTOGRAPHY
The Kensington
vanee.ca
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201728
fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY
There are three key dates within
the document for when proposed
changes would come into effect, the
first of which is January 1, 2019. At this
time, there will be new requirements
to improve the energy efficiency
of buildings, including homes
undergoing renovations. (There are
also additional energy efficiency
improvements for housing proposed
for January 1, 2020 and January 1,
2022.)
Currently, the Ontario Building
Code does not require improvements
to the energy efficiency levels of a
building undergoing a renovation, but
generally requires upgrades to the fire,
structural safety, accessibility and
health aspects of the renovated area
of the building. Until now, there have
been concerns regarding potential
challenges in applying the more
stringent requirements of a new build
to an existing home. (Note: the rules
are different for an addition being
added to an existing home.)
That being said, in any given year,
the existing housing stock represents
approximately 99% of the homes
within our province, and there is
tremendous opportunity to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions overall by
simply making some improvements
to these homes when a significant
renovation is planned.
Conversely, at the same time as new
homes move in the direction of net
zero and net zero-ready, this represents
an extremely small portion of the
existing housing stock in any year.
Put another way, if a net zero home
creates as much energy as it uses, and a
typical net zero-ready home consumes
approximately 40 gigajoules, doesn’t
it make sense to begin addressing
existing homes that use exponentially
more energy?
It would appear that the Ontario
government has also reached the
conclusion that, if we really want to
ever move the meter on energy waste
in housing, we have to look at the
existing housing stock. The renovation
requirements being proposed for the
new OBC would focus on renovations
being made to walls, ceilings, and floor
or roof assemblies, or when windows,
mechanical systems and lighting
systems are in need of replacement.
But at the same time, the ability to
make these changes in a practical
manner needs to be considered.
So, what might an energy efficiency
renovation look like from a practical
point of view? Here are five common
areas that can be considered:
1.	 Material change to the walls of the
home: adding insulation over brick,
adding continuous insulation when
Meeting Potential New OBC
Energy Efficiency Requirements
in Existing Homes
R
ecently, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs released a consultation document
titled “Potential Changes to Ontario’s Building Code: Summer and
Fall Consultation.” This document contains significant changes being
proposed, which will have an impact on both builders and renovators as the
provincial government continues to enact its Climate Change Action Plan.
SHUTTERSTOCK©KARAMYSH
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201730
replacing old siding and improving
the wall cavity insulation when the
drywall is being removed.
2.	 Renovation or completion of a
basement space: creating an
air barrier of the basement slab
and walls, adding full-height
insulation in exposed areas and
foaming the floor header.
3.	 Replacement of windows and
doors: minimum double-glazed
window with a warm edge super
spacer, careful removal of the trim,
foaming the rough stud opening,
and replacement of the trim using
low solar glass on windows that
overheat.
4.	 Updating of the HVAC system:
fully modulating furnace/air
conditioning, addition of an HRV/
ERV, and spray sealing the ducts to
reduce leakage.
5.	 Flashing, drip edges and water
management: okay, so this one is
more about the durability of the
home – but it becomes extremely
important to properly manage
water flow when you are increasing
the insulation levels of the building
envelope, especially when adding
continuous insulation.
In many cases, these
individual changes are reasonably
straightforward; however, the
cumulative effect will change how the
home works, and if done incorrectly,
can lead to sick homes and the loss
of durability. That is one of the key
reasons why the Ontario Home
Builders’ Association (OHBA) has long
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
It would appear that the Ontario government has
also reached the conclusion that, if we really want
to ever move the meter on energy waste in housing,
we have to look at the existing housing stock.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 31
MECHANICAL DESIGN
Alpha’s extensive installation
experience allows our designers
to incorporate feedback in
order to improve methods and
achieve the most accurate and
applicable mechanical designs.
QUALITY INSTALLATION
Alpha specializes in custom
homes and retrofit projects.
Our technicians, trained to
anticipate and avoid problems
– and maximize potential –
enjoy industry-wide recognition.
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING
To make informed decisions,
Alpha invites you to a FREE
consultation with one of our
experts! We pride ourselves in
our expertise and believe this
knowledge should be shared.
TACTICAL TROUBLESHOOTING
At Alpha, we know that every
problem has a source and
a solution. Our extensive
knowledge and experience has
enabled us to solve the problems
that our competitors cannot.
ALPHA COMFORT CONTROLI N T EG R AT ED M EC H A N I CA L SYST E M S S P EC I A L I STS
H E AT I N G + A I R C O N D I T I O N I N G + R EF R I G ER AT I O N
Look no further! Alpha has everything you need.
416-880-1350 alphacomfortcontrol.com 905-607-7706
G
ood design, good equipment
and good installation
should be the goal of every
mechanical contractor. Successful
project integration – The Integrated
Design Process (IDP) – must start
right from the beginning. Designers,
clients, project managers and sub-
contractors need to understand a
project’s goals and scope to achieve
the best results. Unfortunately,
attempts to employ The Integrated
Design Process rarely make it past
the drawing board.
Two renovation projects featured
in this issue effectively used The
Integrated Design Process: a mixed-
use commercial building by Barbini
Corp. (page 16), and a home renovation
and addition by JD Burnes (page 11).
Along with the successful use of IDP,
both projects had superior project
management and a great mechanical
contractor, Alpha Comfort Control.
Branko Mijatovic founded Alpha
Comfort Control (ACC) in 1999 when
he immigrated to Canada. Four years
ago ACC amalgamated with A  M
Sheet Metal. The company produces
in-house HVAC drawings and
designs for permits, performs good
installation, and – most importantly
– commissions systems at the end
of installation.
From childhood Branko had a
strong desire to learn and was known
always to have a mechanical book in
his hands. In Serbia, before he did
HVAC, Branko was an aircraft trouble-
shooting specialist for the army. All of
the mechanical aircraft books were in
English and Branko translated them to
his native language word for word to
learn his craft.
Starting with his own HVAC/R
business in his home country, Branko
has over 35 years of experience and
continues to extend his legacy as an
industry leader. BB
Integrated HVAC Design and Execution
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201732
advocated for mandatory energy
labelling at the time of the sale of
existing homes. It not only provides
a level of consumer protection that
is not typically available today; it
will help to provide a game plan for
improving the energy efficiency of the
home in a practical manner.
There is also another concern
that this might greatly increase the
underground economy, due to the
additional costs involved as well
as the knowledge gap of industry
stakeholders.
However, one of the largest
obstacles to implementation may
be with the building inspector
community, as there simply will not
be enough of them to take on this
additional workload. At a time when
the “Silver Tsunami” of inspectors
retiring begins impacting on our
industry, the Ontario government is
going to be increasing the workload of
the remaining inspectors.
The OHBA has had preliminary
discussions with the OBOA about
potential training programs to
help address this need. However, if
the Ontario government does not
aggressively address this need – and
very soon – then I grow increasingly
concerned that our industry is going
to be hit with chronic delays and
inadequate inspections. It is a very real
threat to our industry that we must all
be aware of. BB
Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at
Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.
One of the largest
obstacles to imple­
mentation may be
with the building
inspector community,
as there simply will
not be enough of
them to take on this
additional workload.
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 vapor 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.
LEED®
is a registered trademark of United States Green Building Council.
Together,wemakebetter
energyperformancepossible.
Building energy efficient buildings doesn’t need to be costly and
complicated. Savings by Design can help, whether you’re a residential or
commercial builder. This comprehensive program gives you free access to
industry experts and performance incentives for constructing energy
efficient, sustainable buildings beyond code requirements.
Learn more at savingsbydesign.ca

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 23 / Fall 2017

  • 1. ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 A Little Help Getting Greener The Kids are Alright: Arbourdale Construction Market Makeover Air Sealing Existing Homes Thinking Outside the Box IN THIS ISSUE THE RenovationISSUE
  • 2. Tankless water heaters are the future of hot water supply. They save energy, take up less space, and offer an endless supply of hot water. At an ultra-efficient Energy Factor of 99.2%, the future is now with the ENERGYSTAR® -approved Glow BrandT180.The only system of its kind, the Glow BrandT180 has on board storage of one gallon of hot water within a stainless steelheatexchanger,firingupautomaticallyto95FinComfortMode.Insteadofwaitingforhot water,you’retreatedtoendlesson-demandhotwater.TheGlowBrandT180isfullymodulating andcanbeinstalledforcombinationspaceheatingapplications. Glow Brand T180 Tankless Condensing Water Heater Brand TM ENDLESS ON-DEMAND HOT WATER ONE-OF-A-KIND TECHNOLOGY 99.2% ENERGY FACTOR 98.4% UNIFIED ENERGY FACTOR 5 USG @ 77 F RISE 10 TO 1 MODULATION PVC VENTING UP TO 100FT CANADIAN MADE Manufactured by Glowbrand Manufacturing GLOWBRAND.CA | 905-264-1414
  • 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Retrofits and Climate Change by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Retrofits, Renovations and Missed Opportunities (continued) by Lou Bada INDUSTRY NEWS 7 The Contractor’s Choice for a Warmer, Drier and More Energy Efficient Basement by Amvic & Better Builder staff 8 A Little Help Would Go a Long Way to Getting Greener by Richard Lyall BUILDER NEWS 11 The Kids are Alright: Arbourdale Construction’s team of new grads pushes green building forward by Alex Newman INDUSTRY EXPERT 14 Air Sealing Existing Homes by Gord Cooke SITE SPECIFIC 25 Raul Alberto: Thinking Outside the Box by Rob Blackstien FROM THE GROUND UP 28 Meeting Potential New OBC Energy Efficiency Requirements in Existing Homes by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 Market Makeover Barbini Corporation overcame myriad challenges to transform a Victorian home into a highly efficient, mixed-use, four-storey building in Toronto’s famed Kensington Market. by Rob Blackstien 11 25 ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 On our cover: 299 Augusta Avenue © Aaron Mason Photography, aaronmasonphotography.pixieset.com Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 8
  • 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20172 “Most enterprises fail because they want the right things but measure the wrong things and get the wrong results.” —  Gordon Bethune I n any successful process, measurement and accountability are key. A national study commissioned by the Consumers Council of Canada (CCC) entitled “Incenting Energy Efficient Retrofits: Risks and Opportunities for Consumers” provides vital information for tackling energy conservation in the existing housing stock. (Visit consumerscouncil.com for the full report.) New homes account for 1% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs)  while existing homes account for 99%, so addressing sustainability in existing stock is critical. The CCC report indicates that approximately 50% of Canadian home owners have participated in an energy conservation program in the past. Many are looking towards federal, provincial and utility programs to provide the means to battle climate change. It’s easy to identify opportunities for retrofits in existing houses, but what are the risks? Too much funding, an immediate need for action and no transparency easily become an incubator for abuse and fraud. (I have had many personal experiences with the door-to-door game: I built my parents an R-2000 home in 1999. On a visit to see my father, who was 92 at the time, I found him chatting with a guest at the kitchen table. She had the forms out to sign him up for a rental hot water heater. Had I not intervened, the high-efficiency combination system I installed would have been replaced with something of lesser efficiency. I have also participated in utility programs which are challenged with HVAC contractors fraudulently promising rebates to home owners when the program requirements have not been met.) Incentive programs, which use rate payer and tax payer dollars, have a responsibility to ensure financial responsibility, good quality of work and successful outcomes. That’s why I’m in favour of a tax credit program with oversight. In this issue, we examine the importance of promoting energy efficiency in renovations, the most important being educating home owners about their choices. On page 3, Lou Bada shares an exchange with a well-intentioned utility program which was spreading incorrect information and suggests we all need to use better tools to measure GHGE reductions and energy savings. On page 14, Gord Cooke shares his approach to helping his son airseal his house – every renovation could always start with an airtest to benchmark its performance. Doug Tarry gives us an overview of upcoming energy code changes on page 28. Finally, the feature articles, “Market Makeover” (page 16) and “The Kids Are Alright” (page 11), are excellent examples of projects using computer modelling, integrated design and commissioning to achieve low-energy buildings. In these cases, the right things were measured to get the right results. Retrofits and Climate Change 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 Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman PROOFREADING Carmen Siu 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 Rob Blackstien Lou Bada Doug Tarry CONTRIBUTORS
  • 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 3 This greater focus on renovations by the Code reflects the inefficient energy performance of our older homes (depending on their age and current state) and the belief that dollar-for-dollar money spent on energy upgrades to older homes yields greater greenhouse gas emission reductions than money spent on the construction of new homes. Well, from what I have seen and heard from around the industry, so far so good. But how do we know how much of a cost-benefit there is to an individual home energy retrofit project? The simple answer: measurement. You might think measuring energy consumption is simple – use a calculator, add up the costs, then divide by the savings over the lifespan of the product. Measurement may be simple, but that does not mean it’s easy. For the purposes of this discussion, I will leave global issues of cost-benefit aside and focus on local monetary issues only (as though that’s all that matters). Some of the questions we need to ask are: • When we measure gas, electricity and water consumption, are we looking at “modelled energy consumption” or actual energy consumption? • What are the benchmarks? • Are we looking at large pools of data? thebadatest / LOU BADA T he upcoming amendments to the Ontario Building Code (OBC) focus heavily on improving energy efficiency for renovations. In the fall 2015 issue of Better Builder, I wrote about some of the issues involving the missed opportunities in housing for energy retrofits and renovations. In this issue I’d like to build on that previous discussion. Retrofits, Renovations and Missed Opportunities (continued) But how do we know how much of a cost- benefit there is to an individual home energy retrofit project? The simple answer: measurement. • Are we thinking about energy use or carbon emissions? • Does it matter how the energy is produced? • How is the true value assessed? On the issue of energy consump­ tion, a personal revelation hit me when I opened some mail from my gas utility late last year. According to the gas company, my home consumed more natural gas – thus performed worse – than most of my neighbours in my area with homes of similar age and size. The letter even included a sad emoji face next to my home address. But how could this be? I live in a newer subdivision (built in 2001) and the builder I work for built many of its homes. I know the homes well – they were built according to 1997 OBC standards with few energy upgrades. My home is an average size for the neighbourhood – two floors, about 2,800 square feet. I also know I did the best I could before, during and after construction to be more energy efficient (after further energy retrofits, my home is now a HERS 47 with two air changes per hour). I live there with my wife and young son, so not a big household. A close examination of actual gas bills before and after the improvements showed savings of 12%. (This was normalized for weather differences in degree days.) I also received a similar letter from the electrical utility and was informed I had average consumption (after installing LED lights and ECM fan motors, and taking steps to limit wasted energy). This also was puzzling.
  • 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20174 I asked a couple of people from the gas utility who I know. The first answer was “you shouldn’t have received that notice – it wasn’t meant for newer homes.” That didn’t help. What if one of my customers receives a similar letter after spending money through us on energy efficiency upgrades? I asked a couple more times and received some cryptic answers and finally an “I’ll get back to you; it’s part of our DSM (demand side management) program.” The problems I see here are with measurement methodology and monitoring, management and government programs. I checked my consumption; I know my home performs much better than most. What about costs? Consider this: whose money is it when you get an incentive or rebate from the utilities? It’s yours. Here’s an example of the problem with these so-called incentives: A good friend and neighbour told me that his air conditioner was making noise. I knew it was shot: his HVAC equipment was original and about 16 years old. I told him to look at changing it all, that “incentives” were available and that I would help him sort things out. A day or two later, he told me he went to a big box retailer which had set up an in-store booth and was sending someone out to have a look. It seemed that the fellow from the retailer was well informed insofar as selling him high-end equipment. He also knew the amounts of the available rebates and the energy audit process. He also knew to quote my good friend 50% more than the market price for the job. Equipment suppliers also understand this. Could this be because incentives were in place? Who really benefits from incentives anyway? I got him a better deal on the same equipment and the incentives just the same. Of note, the retailer was trying to sell him a 16 SEER two-stage compressor air conditioner – great equipment, but not necessary for the rebate (15 SEER single-stage minimum) and much more expensive. When we took a hard look at the costs and cost savings (consumption over the lifetime of the equipment versus the extra cost), it didn’t make economic sense to go with the more efficient air conditioner. However, when you add in the likely increased comfort in the home, my neighbour decided to go for it. He had good information to make his decision, the rebate didn’t matter, and he got a better, more efficient product. Today, we are in a position in which all consumers are overpaying for energy so that we can give some consumers back a small portion of that money to make choices they may have otherwise made anyway. Some businesses are making money from it, but the market is being distorted for all. Bureaucracy is flourishing and the environmental benefits are unknown because we aren’t measuring them properly. Economically, we are helping to drive whatever manufacturing is left out of the province, thereby lowering Ontario’s carbon footprint (hooray!) and displacing it to other jurisdictions with cheaper energy and fewer regulations. This isn’t the result we should want. I believe we should cut out the nonsense. The smoke and mirrors of some energy modelling, while they may have a place as theory, shouldn’t be the only basis of cost-benefit analyses, demand side management programs, or public policy and the eventual mandatory labelling for homes. This reminds me of the adage “garbage in, garbage out.” Theoretically one of the aims of these programs and interventionist government policies is to influence consumer behaviour. Is anyone measuring this? Is it even possible to measure legitimately? Most agree that something needs to be done – but let’s just do it with a rational and measured approach. BB Lou Bada is Vice President of Low Rise Construction at Starlane Home Corporation and serves on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The smoke and mirrors of some energy modelling, while they may have a place as theory, shouldn’t be the only basis of cost-benefit analyses, demand side management programs, or public policy and the eventual mandatory labelling for homes.
  • 7.
  • 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20176 Barrie, GTA West, GTA North Eric Byle | 416-937-8793 Toronto East Al Crost | 416-676-0168 Available to water heater customers whose equipment is not operational (i.e. no hot water)
  • 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 7 sheeting may require an additional quarter-inch plywood underlayment. If you prefer ceramic tile or stone, apply an appropriate tile backer board or start the project with specially designed Amdry Tile subflooring panels. Each Amdry Tile incorporates a fibrous tile backer board in place of the OSB; simply apply a modified or non- modified mortar base with a slotted trowel and set the tile or stone. Amdry is a one-step insulated subfloor system with a moisture- resistant protective surface on the bottom and OSB or tile backer board topping. It provides a healthy, comfortable, warm basement by significantly reducing slab surface moisture and temperature fluctuations and helps to reduce the potential for mould or mildew. BB For more information on Amdry and Amdry Tile products, visit www.amvic system.com/insulation/amdry-subfloor Amdry insulated subfloor panels come in two R-values: a two-inch- thick panel with an R-7 rating, and a 1.6-inch-thick product with an R-5 rating. The R-7 panel has the highest insulating value of all subfloor panels being sold today. Amdry panels are two feet by four feet, larger than other subfloor panels, and are easier and faster to install. The panels incorporate a high-density expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation layer covered with a high-impact, moisture-resistant protective film laminated to an oriented strand board (OSB) that forms the top subfloor layer. The rigid EPS moulded foam contains deep drainage and ventilation channels that allow convection airflow under the subfloor to dry up any moisture that might migrate through the concrete. Plus, the thick foam layer moves the OSB layer away from the concrete so it sits one inch to 1.5 inches above the floor to further reduce the possibility of water damage, providing a warmer and drier basement. The panels fit together with a unique plastic connector system. The connectors have flex barbs on each side and are inserted into the groove on the Amdry panel, so they assemble faster and eliminate the issues you normally find with OSB tongue and groove panels. A half-inch spacer is placed around the perimeter of the area to be covered to allow for air flow under the Amdry panels providing the convection drying system. Cover the subfloor with your choice of flooring materials Once the Amdry insulated subfloor panels are installed, you can apply any type of flooring, like carpet, hardwood, vinyl, laminate, tile or stone. Carpet and hardwood mount directly to the OSB with tack stripping or nails. Vinyl sheeting or vinyl tiles can also be secured directly to the OSB. Vinyl The Contractor’s Choice for a Warmer, Drier and More Energy Efficient Basement industrynews / AMVIC & BETTER BUILDER STAFF M ost customers today are choosing to have a subfloor installed in their basement to add a comfortable living space that provides more square footage for family activities and essentially to increase the value of their home. In fact, according to some experts, converting an unfinished basement space can return up to 70% of their investment when it’s time to sell. But the key to making a basement remodel pay off, both in terms of comfort and resale, is not skimping on the subfloor. If you really want to provide your client with the best choice of subfloor, always start with an insulated, water-resistant subfloor. The Amdry subfloor panels are easy to install with ordinary tools and a circular saw and are an ideal subfloor product to start your basement renovation.
  • 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 20178 industrynews / RICHARD LYALL Some believe – and the publisher of this fine magazine, John Godden, has implied – that government programs such as this one can strengthen the pillar of Canada’s economy, housing. Home owners who spent $10,000 on renovations were able to apply for a GST credit against their personal income tax – a whopping one-third of all Canadian households used it and saved $700 on average. Households were stimulated to spend. If Harper had beaten Justin Trudeau in the 2015 election, one of his pledges was to make the home renovation tax credit program a permanent program. But that was 2015. The world has changed a lot since then. The focus on housing, especially in Ontario, is now on mandating homes to have a lower carbon footprint. Some of the suggestions are a little extreme, but you may have read about that in “The Bada Test” featured in previous editions. Here’s an idea for the Trudeau government: what if our federal leadership turned its attention to giving home owners tax credits for making their homes more energy efficient? Is it possible that this could cause a multiplier effect, effectively triggering an increase in spending, which increases national income and consumption greater than what was spent initially? The Ontario government has been clamping down on the new home and condo industry to have a smaller and smaller carbon footprint. But quite frankly, new housing isn’t the problem: as of January 1, 2017, Ontario’s new low- rise homes have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 43.5% since 1990 through the evolving Ontario Building Code. New housing is an easy target, as regulatory changes can be readily forced upon our industry. Existing homes, especially those built 30 years ago or more, can’t compete with new homes and condos that are built today. So, if housing is going to be in the crosshairs, let’s legitimately suggest how we can make A Little Help Would Go a Long Way to Getting Greener D o you remember the Canada Home Renovation Plan? It was introduced during Stephen Harper’s tenure as prime minister, and was administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The federal program gave home owners a rebate if they spent their hard- earned cash on home renovations.
  • 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 a difference by targeting the existing stock. I’m talking about implementing a program like the U.S. Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit. It’s applicable to homes that were built before December 31, 2016, offering rebates to home owners for energy efficiency improvements in the building envelope of existing homes and for the purchase of high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment. It was introduced in late 2007 and was so successful that it was extended several times up to 2016. There is also a parallel U.S. Energy-Efficient New Homes Tax Credit for Home Builders, which offers a rebate amount of $1,000 to $2,000 on all new energy- efficient homes, if they are certified to reduce heating and cooling energy consumption by 50% relative to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2006 and meet minimum efficiency standards established by the Department of Energy. There are immediate benefits to these energy-efficient home tax credits: home owners and builders alike are incentivized to do their part for Mother Earth, and the home occupants ultimately save money month to month on energy costs. Perhaps money saved through rebates or reduced energy costs would be put back into the Canadian economy for future home improvements or renovations. Who knows what kind of multiplier effects would occur? But considering the strength of the country’s housing sector, the possibilities are promising. BB Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) and has represented Ontario’s residential construction industry since 1991. Visit rescon.com. 99 Existing homes, especially those built 30 years ago or more, can’t compete with new homes and condos that are built today.
  • 12.
  • 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 repurpose what we have, using the same footprint? Obviously expectations are different, [so] how [do we] take that into consideration, [while] keeping [a good relationship] with neighbours and their desires? [We] don’t want to offend anyone, when doing a major reno can take long time.” Within a year of graduating, Burnes launched his building and renovation company, Arbourdale Construction, on the principle that the building code is only a baseline to do “whatever we can that is better and will last the next 100 years. Pushing boundaries is something I’ve always liked to do.” That’s exactly what the young builder is doing with his “test case”: a typical red brick, north Toronto home on Chudleigh Avenue. Purchased in 2014, the 90-year-old house had a wider than average lot, with private drive, detached garage and a sizable footprint of 1,700 square feet. Burnes, who also grew up in the neighbourhood, has been working on the house with a team of similarly young George Brown construction graduates. For the past three years, they’ve been testing new green products and building methods, based on passive house principles, like the car charging port in the newly vaulted garage that can store two electric cars in vertical fashion. And the high- velocity air handler that runs heating and cooling in a three-zone air system controlled by an NTI boiler that holds hot water to heat up the air handler, and water for both storage tank and in-floor radiant heat. But it’s the Intello vapour barrier which his site manager, Joshua Perida, raves about. “It’s a German product, and what’s amazing is it’s permeable on both sides. The main issue living in Canada is the changing seasons. It’s great to have a vapour barrier on 11 E n route to what he thought might be a medical career, JD Burnes made an about- face into construction. With no prior experience except a one-week high school trip to St. Lucia to build housing and a summer volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, he decided to switch streams. Rather than return to school, he stayed with the charity for the rest of the year. The experience with Habitat for Humanity taught him about building codes and green building. “They were doing R-2000 homes before a lot of builders were, using structurally insulated panels as the standard in affordable housing,” says the 29 year old. “I thought, if this is the standard for affordable housing in the city, what’s the step up? If Habitat is doing this in homes for those who can’t get a home or mortgage, shouldn’t we be building better as the standard in the custom end of things?” Those questions – fueled by a keen interest in sustainable building – prompted a return to formal education after Habitat. Enrolling at George Brown College for an advanced diploma in building renovation technology that included apprenticeships in carpentry, he learned about sustainable building practices including zoning, green building concepts and general building science requirements. Still asking questions, though, Burnes kept wondering how to make Toronto’s older housing stock last even longer. “We’re often dealing with homes nearing the 80- to 100-year mark. How do we take those and buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN 39 betterthancode.ca THIS HOME IS 35% BETTER THAN CODE 50ChudleighAvenue,TorontoON M4R1T3 RatedSeptember18,2017 Post-renovation, 50 Chudleigh Ave comes in with a HERS score of 39 – 35% better than code. PHOTOSCOURTESYJOSHUAPERIDA The Kids Are Alright: Arbourdale Construction’s team of new grads pushes green building forward
  • 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 Pro Clima ‘Intello Plus’ high-performance interior smart vapour retarder and air barrier membrane substantially increase the drying reserves of insulated walls and roofs. All joints were taped with Pro Clima ‘Tescon Vana’ waterproof and vapour permeable air sealing tape. 12 the warm side to prohibit moisture diffusion into the walls from the house in winter. At the same time in the summer it’s preferable to allow the moisture to dry to the inside of the house with no condensation in the walls. This smart air vapour barrier is amazing: it senses the difference and allows reversed vapour diffusion in the cooling season when the vapour drive is directed towards the interior,” explains the 24-year-old George Brown building renovation graduate. After purchasing the house, Burnes hired architect Tom Spragge, who had designed his parents’ home 30 years before. When Spragge asked whether LEED would be targeted, Burnes started researching LEED providers and came across Clearsphere’s John Godden and Project Future Proof. “In all likelihood the house would have attained LEED certification, but I felt our money was better spent on the house itself, through future proofing,” he explains. Using passive house principles – good insulation, ERV mechanical systems, airtightness, high- performance windows, house siting, shading or wind barrier, and window placement – Burnes designed how the house would look. He then gutted the house right back to the bricks, leaving three exterior walls (the front and two sides), along with the original stone rubble foundation and most of the original floor joists, with an addition taking the place of the original back wall. It was at this point Perida came on the job as site manager to oversee the construction process. Burnes chose to insulate the enve­ lope with a Roxul 1.5-inch comfort board insulation directly against the brick, rather than spray foam, in order to get insulation on the inner warm side rather than the exterior side. R-20 batts were used on top of the Roxul board on the main and second floors, while R-14 batts were placed in the basement stud walls on top of the spray foam. For the basement, though, spray foam was used, creating R-20 to R-22 on the walls and underpinning, with R-14 batts placed in the basement stud walls on top. Amvic Radiant barrier was used to enhance the basement floor heating system. Its reflective film barrier is placed under the floor slab to direct most of the heat back to the basement slab rather than the soil area. All windows were replaced with double-glazed Weathershield windows, which offer about the same U-value as lower-end triple glazed, Burnes says. Fakro skylights, imported from Poland, flood the upstairs – especially the master bath, which has no outside window – with light. Another Fakro skylight adds light over the stairwell from the second to third floor, where there’s a bedroom with ensuite. Glass railings are used throughout the house, again to promote a wide, open feeling. Along with fans by Haiku Home, the interior is anything but the ENERGY SAVING FROM AIR-TIGHTNESS 50 CHUDLEIGH AVENUE, TORONTO, ON Construction Stage ACH NLR (cfm50/ft2 ) Energy Use (kWh) % Savings $ Savings 1 Pre-renovation test 10.81 0.97 48,661 — — 2 2017 OBC new home 3.00 0.28 31,611 35% $455 3 Final as built 1.61 0.15 28,729 9% $77 Study effected on a renovated house with a volume of 31,171 cubic feet and a surface area of 5,504 square feet. Savings from air-sealing have diminishing returns. A reduction from 10.81 ACH to 3.0 ACH saves an estimated $455; from 3.0 to 1.61 saves $77.    
  • 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 Continuous air barrier detailing between floors. closed off, chopped up, old feeling of north Toronto homes built a century ago. These are remote operated through the Nest system, and make use of an airfoil design to achieve high efficiency levels even when using low speed. Ceiling heights vary throughout the house between 8'2 and 8'8, but the second floor master bedroom and ensuite luxuriate in 14-foot ceilings inside the master suite bath and bedroom and a separate vaulted entry to the third floor. While this reduces footprint on the upper level, it adds a lot in terms of spaciousness. They also increased the home’s size to 3,900 square feet, including the basement. This governed the heat load for the HVAC system, which was designed to take into consideration square footage balanced against windows, heat loss, integrity of construction and tests of the house. But even with the home’s incredible sense of space and high- end finishes, Perida says it’s “kind of hard to ‘sell’ a sustainable product, unless the client is well informed and wants to make a difference.” The cost to complete the home and addition was about $900,000 – on top of the purchase price. “Will prospective home owners be prepared to pay this much?” Burnes asks. “I think so. The efficiencies of the home will definitely pay off in the long run. It’s not only about future proofing against inflationary energy price hikes, although heat for the first winter ran only $60 a month and the AC was similarly low. But it’s also about comfort, air quality, and lower maintenance costs that come with higher grade materials. Our materials are not dramatically different from basic inputs – PVC or similar materials hold paint and result in lower long-term cost. I’m keen now to get final test results on air efficiency and expense. Already the indoor atmosphere is very comfortable.” It helps being in the north Toronto location, where real estate prices are among the highest in Canada and will only increase. So for builders thinking about similar experiments, it pays off to choose the area well, selecting one that can sustain the higher prices. But Burnes also says this level of finish fits the neighbourhood, with its many secluded ravines: “[the area is home to] environmentally conscious residents who will embrace [being] walking distance to a subway stop, buses, schools, green grocers, shops and restaurants. This would apply to a range of neighbourhoods which benefit from densification.” The house has definitely been a test lab for Burnes and his young company. As apprentices do, he learned through doing: sourcing good products, learning at seminars and conferences, testing building practices for the future, improving his technique and training a team. So far, Burnes has only hired gradu­ ates from the George Brown building programs, Perida says. “At college, we learned the theory of construction with a stress on sustainability and high-performance building methods. One of the reasons I wanted to work for JD was his method of building and his commitment to constructing high performance, whether it was new homes or retrofit renos.” Like the other grads, Perida worked as an apprentice after college and before starting with Arbourdale. He believes in the apprentice model. “The value of the course is consistency of instruction, but in this industry you gain invaluable experience and knowledge on the job. That said, some contractors you work for are not keen on building beyond the code, and they continue building pretty typical homes. They’re accustomed to a particular method, and when they hire someone younger with different ideology who wants to learn to build better, there can be a clash.” Perida and Burnes are both millennials, and like many others of their generation, are often driven by a need for purpose and belief in something good, even if they have to take less money for it. As Perida says, “I want to work for someone who builds to last, who believes in what they are doing, and who builds for future generations.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. Waterproofing on basement foundation on rear addition. 13
  • 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201714 C onsider this statement: “Air leakage control is the single most important retrofit activity, and it should be considered first in any retrofit strategy. Air leakage control is essential.” This is quoted from Keeping the Heat In, a guide to home renovation provided by Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency. This guide is updated regularly, but its first publication dates back decades to the early days of building science, when researchers noted that at least 30% and as much as 50% of winter energy waste in Canadian homes was the result of unwanted air leakage. So there’s no surprise, then, that there have been publications written, training programs developed, products invented and even incentives offered to encourage air sealing in existing homes. For example, the popular EcoEnergy program, which ended in 2012, resulted in over a million homes in Canada (out of a housing stock of approximately 13 million households) having an airtightness test done and air sealing work recommended. Nevertheless, air sealing in existing homes still offers the biggest potential improvement in energy efficiency as well as sound control, comfort control, dust control, air quality control and even moisture control for your renovation clients. Let’s define a couple of goals for your next projects and see if we can overcome some of the barriers to comprehensive air sealing. The easy way to start is to make a point of including a pre-renovation air test on every project. You will be surprised at how engaged your clients will become with this process. You will also be impressed with how it helps identify hidden problems and avoid risks. I recall one project where an abandoned chimney in a kitchen wall was identified during the blower test, which helped justify opening up that wall and ultimately created more space for the home owners. In another case, a big air leak in a bathroom tub area prompted an investigation of the area, which uncovered a hidden air and water leak that could have come back to haunt the contractor on the bathroom makeover project. From the pre-test, then, a reasonable goal is to incorporate in your scope of work recommendations to improve or reduce air leakage by 20%. In air sealing, the best approach is “top down” – that is, air seal the attic floor. There are at least three reasons for this. First, the most consistent, persistent airflow mechanism in Air Sealing Existing Homes industryexpert / GORD COOKE Canadian homes is the stack effect – warm air rising, wanting to leave through holes at the top of the house. By sealing at the top, you reduce air leaks and drafts throughout the home without impacting the availability for combustion air for any spillage-susceptible appliances in the basement or main floors. Second, thorough air sealing can be done in attics without aesthetic concerns. Third, stopping the flow of warm, moist air into attics reduces condensation potential in the attic and increases the lifespan of the roof. Of course, accessing and air sealing attics is not as easy as I like to think it is. The low head room; the dirty, hot work environment; taking responsibility for properly venting bath fans; chimneys; avoiding old wiring; and worries of asbestos, mould and other pollutants make attics easier said than done. In fact, my son and I decided to tackle air sealing in his 850 DEPOSITPHOTOS©KOSECKI Air sealing in existing homes still offers the biggest potential improvement in energy efficiency as well as sound control, comfort control, dust control, air quality control and even moisture control for your clients.
  • 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 15 square foot, 60-year-old bungalow. The 13 retrofitted pot lights required special attention and the dusty eight inches of existing blown-in cellulose insulation made accessing air leaks very messy indeed. But we were able to achieve a 20% reduction in overall air leakage for the house with a day of work. (I subsequently consulted with a professional insulation company that offers a service of vacuuming out the old insulation, spraying down an inch of closed cell foam and then topping up the insulation. I would go that way the next time.) Help your clients find compelling reasons to get that attic air sealed as part of any renovation work. A blower door test should help with this – show them how air leaks in the attic might affect the kitchen or bath renovation, the finishing of the basement or even the addition they are planning. Speaking of those common renovation projects, each one provides opportunities for air sealing as well. When scoping out the kitchen makeover, include opening up the ceiling to gain access to the valence or soffit box or rim joist over the cabinets to air seal and insulate properly. These areas are notorious for mice and bug activity that your client will be relieved to have eliminated. The bathroom remodel should include pulling out the tub that is on the outside wall to air seal behind it. Pull down that garage ceiling and air seal that too, so the kids sleeping above aren’t breathing car exhaust. Basement refinishing has to include gaining access to the rim joist for thorough air sealing and insulation. The blower test can also be used to demonstrate this opportunity. One last and significant opportunity is presented if you are asked to re-side or re-clad the exterior of a building. It would be almost criminal not to include the application of a fully flashed air and weather barrier as well as at least R-5 insulation to those walls before the re-cladding. This is a win-win opportunity: a more energy efficient, quieter, more comfortable and safer home for your client, and a better, less risky scope of work for you. Finally, as we approach an era where home energy rating disclosures (HERD) become the norm, offer up the final blower door test and an energy rating as part of your project. We have known for 30 years that comprehensive air leakage control is “the single most important retrofit activity.” Use that knowledge to help your clients make better decisions. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 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
  • 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
  • 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 17 Barbini Corporation overcame myriad challenges to transform a Victorian home into a highly efficient, mixed-use, four-storey building in Toronto’s famed Kensington Market. The Kensington at 299 Augusta Avenue in Toronto. Photography by Aaron Mason Photography.
  • 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201718 Around 2011, McBride decided it was time for a makeover, and he had some very specific ideas about what he wanted – not only in terms of the look and feel of the structure, but also the type of tenants. His goal was to make a “seamless integration into the market.” McBride says he knew about Barbini because “he has a very good reputation in the area that I was living,” and at the time the renovation was being planned, Barbini Corp. was handling the property management for the building, so it was a natural fit to become the project contractor for The Kensington. Living on the edge That reputation is well founded. An industry veteran of over 40 years, Barbini has grown his business into a full-service design-build firm that specializes in what he calls “environment creation.” The company’s client list is impressive, including various condos, CFNY Radio (what is now The Edge), Sun Life, Bell Canada, plus many massive luxury homes. Barbini Corp.’s projects have been profiled by the likes of HGTV and several major housing-related publications. But if not for the proliferation of synthesizers, Barbini may have been blowing his own horn in an entirely different manner – literally. He eschewed studying architecture at university to try his hand as a professional trumpet player, playing with a couple of bands that enjoyed Located just south of College Street on Augusta Avenue, the Victorian home – estimated by Barbini to be at least 100 years old – was purchased by John McBride in 2004. It had been a mixed-use property for many years, then housing a retail pottery studio. Soon, a skateboard store moved in, with McBride building a skating ramp at the back. Other notable recent tenants include Bread and Circus Theatre Bar, a mini Massey Hall-type business that boasted a Beatles cover band, among other performers. The building later was home to a theatre production company known as Huge Picture Productions, run by Mandy Leon, hailing from the Leon’s Furniture family. I t’s only fitting that the renovation of a building whose history is so rooted in storytelling would become its most gripping drama to date. “Challenging” doesn’t begin to describe the task that faced Toronto-based design-build firm Barbini Corporation when it was contracted with overhauling a century-old home in Toronto’s legendary Kensington Market neighbourhood. Describing this project as “Sisyphean” might have been more appropriate. But in this case, principal Amedeo Barbini and construction manager Raul Alberto somehow did get that boulder to the top of the hill – with tremendous results. Left, a modern sofa and cabinets cleverly store a Murphy bed. Centre, bathrooms feature customizable fans to control humidity, protecting against mould.
  • 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 19 modest success in Canada, and working with some future Canadian musical legends, including Bruce Cassidy (of Lighthouse and Blood, Sweat Tears). However, in the early ’70s, wide­ spread adoption of synthesizers was a death knell for many a horn player, forcing Barbini to choose a different career path. Since then, he’s developed his industry expertise to the point that Alberto says “it’s almost like having a bible of construction one phone call away.” That experience would stead both men well when faced with the biggest test of their respective careers in the Kensington renovation, a project which seemed to feature as its main characteristic a penchant for curve balls. The team dealt with a host of challenges, including: • Access There was very limited front access to the site – a long, narrow alleyway accessible only from the back. With existing buildings just a couple of feet away on each side of the property, it was impossible to use a crane for any of the construction, leaving Alberto to employ what he describes jokingly as “Cuban ingenuity.” (For more on how he worked around this issue, see “On Site: Thinking outside the box,” page 25). This proved a massive issue with deliveries as well. • Mixed use Once the group settled on the format (main floor and basement: retail; second floor: flex office space; third floor: residential), figuring out which components were earmarked to which section required plenty of attention. • Last-minute expansion Well into the design phase, McBride decided he wanted an extra seven feet of space at the rear of the building. Unfortunately, the increased footage was just enough to change the project designation from a small building to a large building under the Ontario Building Code. The new classification meant that architectural technologist Brian Abbey had to hand the planning over to a licensed architect, James Sa’d, which was another obstacle. As a large building, Barbini explains, this project was subject to “more and stricter requirements.” • The surprise guest When the project had gotten underway, Barbini only knew that the main and basement floors would be occupied by some type of retail tenant. And then came the big surprise: it was to be Kensington Brewery. “The infrastructure of the brewery had very different requirements than other Right, a light-filled kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space. Ventilators supply fresh air without the need to open windows to smells and sounds.
  • 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201720 getting the policy in return – no explanation. “The city is a difficult animal to deal with because they change things,” he says. What made it most difficult was that “the person doing the evaluation wasn’t clear with what they wanted.” Ultimately, they settled on a storm water system that would hold up to four inches of water from the roof before being transferred into tanks with 3,000 litres of holding capacity. Some of this water will be treated by a Greyter grey water system and then used to flush toilets on the top floor. Down the road, the brewery may also use some of this capacity. • Smells, sounds and vibrations With the brewery on board, McBride was insistent its smells, sounds and vibrations be contained to the ground floor. Mississauga- based soundproofing consultant AcoustiGuard-Wilrep Ltd. was brought in to help design the solution, which included Roxul insulation (not only on exterior walls, but also many interior walls); an exterior stucco finish; and a wall system featuring GenieClips, double drywall and green glue. * * * The modified building envelope is impressive, starting with the base­ ment, where the existing foundation walls were underpinned and a new foundation wall was created inside to support the newly constructed walls. Two-inch foam was added to reduce thermal bridging and provide moisture protection, R-14 Roxul batts were added inside and insulation was added below the basement slab. The main walls are comprised of structural steel studs with R-22 Roxul cavity insulation and three inches (260 sheets) of Roxul comfort board tenants would,” Barbini explains. There were unique needs akin to a manufacturing facility in terms of the amount of power needed; mechanical and electrical issues; and structural changes to the design to not only house the huge tanks that extended from the basement to the ground floor, but to accommodate them with bigger beams and reinforced concrete in the basement. • Rainwater policy This was the biggest hurdle of the project, requiring the hiring of a civil engineer for a process that took 15 months. The city’s retroactive storm water policy, which calls for each building to be able to hold one inch of water to create a lag for releasing into the storm drains, is extremely difficult to interpret. Barbini went back and forth with the water department, submitting their proposal and only Common areas: Left, second-floor flex office space is bright and spacious. Right, residential hallways are beautifully outfitted with custom lighting.
  • 23. BARBINI is a Toronto based design/build company that enables clients to fulfill their individual needs and be involved every step of the way. We are committed to delivering quality, value and style. We feel that communication with our clients is the key to creating environments that reflect their individual needs and lifestyle; transforming houses into homes. www.amedeobarbini.com
  • 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201722 80, for a total of R-36 walls. For sound attenuation and thermal insulation, 308 bags of Roxul batt insulation were used. The windows are second to none: high-performance fibreglass, with low solar heat gain glass. The high-tech roof system boasts a shaped inverted roof system at R-65. Even the brewery is equipped with a commercial heat recovery ventilator to manage moisture and to reclaim heat. All these things result in this building being 44% better than the 2012 Code. This dovetails nicely into Barbini Corp.’s approach to all its projects, as Barbini explains: “we have a real big green component.” Energy-saving features The four stylish bachelor apartment suites on the top floor are designed in a particularly environmentally friendly – and space-conscious (featuring Murphy beds) – manner. Each suite has a Panasonic energy recovery ventilator system so fresh air is continuously supplied without having to open windows, offering “tremendous” energy cost savings. A Panasonic WhisperGreen fan in the bathroom turns on automatically and turns off at customized settings. It also includes a humidity sensor, so the fan keeps running until the humidity is eliminated after showers, providing protection against mould. Each suite is equipped with a ductless split air conditioner heat pump to create individual zoning. Hot water comes from a high-efficiency central hot water tank. In the end, The Kensington project incorporates Barbini’s philosophy of combining form, function and beauty. Despite all the hurdles, Alberto’s pragmatic approach saw the project through: “They say you can eat an elephant one bite at a time, so this project for me was like one day at a time.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca • Modified bitumen roofing membrane • ½ protection board • 10 rigid insulation, tapered, seal joints • ½ sheathing • Steel deck (see structural drawings) • Steel joists (see structural drawings) • 5½ mineral wool insulation in cavities • EIFS on new block – ground floor – 2hr • InsulROCK NC EIFS system • 3 EIFS w. 2½ Roxul ROCKBOARD 80 (R-10) • Integral drainage layer • Air/vapour barrier • Concrete block – new, or existing (see structural drawings) • 6 steel stud • 6 batt insulation (R-22) • 6 mil poly vapour barrier • 1/2 drywall • 2 hour F.R.R. fire separation (O.B.C. SB-2, table 2.1.1.) R1 W3 THE KENSINGTON’S R1 ROOF AND W5 WALL DETAILS The Kensington’s storm water system will hold up to four inches of water from the roof before being transferred into tanks, some of which will be treated by a grey water system.
  • 25. 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
  • 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201724 LowCostCodeCompliancewiththeBetterThanCodePlatform This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Build- ing Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change is coming in 2017 which will cause more confusion. The new code will be notionally 15% better than 2012 (HERS 51). How are you getting there? Let the BTC Platform including the HERS Index help you secure Municipal Subdivision Approvals and Building Permits and enhance your marketing by selling your homes’ energy efficiency. betterthancode.ca BetterThanCodeusestheHERSIndextomeasureenergyefficiency–thelowerthescorethebetter–MeasureableandMarketable. OBC2012 OBC2017 100 80 60 40 20 0 Formoreinformationemailinfo@projectfutureproof.comorcallusat416-481-4218 Better ThanCode This rating is available for homes built by leading edge builders who have chosen to advance beyond current energy efficiency programs and have taken the next step on the path to full sustainability. 45 HOMEADDRESS 123 Stone Street, Toronto, ON M6K 2T0 RATINGDATE July 23, 2015
  • 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 sitespecific / ROB BLACKSTIEN S mall wonder that Barbini Corp. construction manager Raul Alberto did not get overwhelmed by the endless obstacles thrown his way during the Kensington Market renovation (see “Market Makeover” on page 16). He says he’s generally not fazed by much, and considering what he’s been through, that’s unsurprising. In 1991, this native Cuban stepped off a flight from Moscow to Havana when it stopped to refuel in Gander, Newfoundland, seeking political asylum. He then spent the next few hours agonizing while waiting for his wife – seven months pregnant with their first son – who was scheduled to arrive on the next plane from Moscow and planned to do the same. “Those were the five longest hours of my life,” he says. Thankfully, she was also granted asylum, and so began their life in Canada. So when the Augusta Avenue renovation began in 2013 and the curve balls started coming, Alberto had the ability to put things in perspective. “He’s a man that gets things done rather than throwing in the towel,” says Barbini Corp. principal Amedeo Barbini. No cranes allowed The project maintained about 50% of the existing walls, including the existing addition at the back, but the basement had to be redone as the original was only six feet deep and was only in the front half of the building. So they dug the entire not use a crane. So how did they get around that? “Wow, that’s a good question,” Alberto laughed. “I had to look around and ask, ‘what can I use that is not a crane that can hold a beam that is 1,500 pounds, and nobody would get hurt?’” Ultimately, they came up with different solutions. They chained beams to a forklift, drove them into the basement, dropped them down and then used a Genie lift to put them in place and mount them on the foundation wall. As the building grew in height, so did the challenge of dealing with these huge beams. For the higher floors, Alberto employed a motor hoist with chains to raise the beams, which had to be brought in manually by the workers, who held the beams and pulled them inside the building. One scary project These limitations extended construc­ tion time to nearly three years. Had the team been able to use a crane, he estimates the project could have been completed in 30% or 40% of the time. One would assume that must have added massive costs to the project, and while it was more expensive, it wasn’t as much as you’d think, Alberto says. Thinking Outside the Box 25 Raul Alberto, construction manager for Barbini Corp. at 299 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market, Toronto. “He’s a man that gets things done rather than throwing in the towel.” thing out about 10 feet deep to get the existing height they now have in the basement, a process that involved using a Caterpillar to fill about 200 trucks’ worth of earth. The new structure was comprised of 20-foot, 1,500-pound steel beams, but thanks to access issues, they could
  • 28. 26 BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 The reason? Barbini was “very selective” with the trades they employed, doing a lot of time plus materials. Of course, finding subtrades willing to work under these conditions was no easy task. “This project scared the hell out of many people. Nobody wanted to come down here to work,” Alberto says. “They gave a set price and it would be something ridiculous, maybe two, three times more than what it would cost.” While you might expect dealing with the city in a mixed-use project like this would have also been an issue, it wasn’t a huge problem – although they did have about five different inspectors during the project, which complicated matters. Alberto started with Barbini Corp. about six years ago and has really adapted to its standard of excellence. “[Amedeo’s] standard of quality is so high that it was challenging for me in the beginning, but it’s something I really strived for,” he says. But given what Alberto had come from, being somewhat of a political dissident in Cuba, he’s extremely appreciative of how things have played out. “Working with Mr. Barbini is the best thing that’s happened to me.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca ©AARONMASONPHOTOGRAPHY The Kensington 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.
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  • 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201728 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY There are three key dates within the document for when proposed changes would come into effect, the first of which is January 1, 2019. At this time, there will be new requirements to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, including homes undergoing renovations. (There are also additional energy efficiency improvements for housing proposed for January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2022.) Currently, the Ontario Building Code does not require improvements to the energy efficiency levels of a building undergoing a renovation, but generally requires upgrades to the fire, structural safety, accessibility and health aspects of the renovated area of the building. Until now, there have been concerns regarding potential challenges in applying the more stringent requirements of a new build to an existing home. (Note: the rules are different for an addition being added to an existing home.) That being said, in any given year, the existing housing stock represents approximately 99% of the homes within our province, and there is tremendous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall by simply making some improvements to these homes when a significant renovation is planned. Conversely, at the same time as new homes move in the direction of net zero and net zero-ready, this represents an extremely small portion of the existing housing stock in any year. Put another way, if a net zero home creates as much energy as it uses, and a typical net zero-ready home consumes approximately 40 gigajoules, doesn’t it make sense to begin addressing existing homes that use exponentially more energy? It would appear that the Ontario government has also reached the conclusion that, if we really want to ever move the meter on energy waste in housing, we have to look at the existing housing stock. The renovation requirements being proposed for the new OBC would focus on renovations being made to walls, ceilings, and floor or roof assemblies, or when windows, mechanical systems and lighting systems are in need of replacement. But at the same time, the ability to make these changes in a practical manner needs to be considered. So, what might an energy efficiency renovation look like from a practical point of view? Here are five common areas that can be considered: 1. Material change to the walls of the home: adding insulation over brick, adding continuous insulation when Meeting Potential New OBC Energy Efficiency Requirements in Existing Homes R ecently, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs released a consultation document titled “Potential Changes to Ontario’s Building Code: Summer and Fall Consultation.” This document contains significant changes being proposed, which will have an impact on both builders and renovators as the provincial government continues to enact its Climate Change Action Plan. SHUTTERSTOCK©KARAMYSH
  • 31.
  • 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201730 replacing old siding and improving the wall cavity insulation when the drywall is being removed. 2. Renovation or completion of a basement space: creating an air barrier of the basement slab and walls, adding full-height insulation in exposed areas and foaming the floor header. 3. Replacement of windows and doors: minimum double-glazed window with a warm edge super spacer, careful removal of the trim, foaming the rough stud opening, and replacement of the trim using low solar glass on windows that overheat. 4. Updating of the HVAC system: fully modulating furnace/air conditioning, addition of an HRV/ ERV, and spray sealing the ducts to reduce leakage. 5. Flashing, drip edges and water management: okay, so this one is more about the durability of the home – but it becomes extremely important to properly manage water flow when you are increasing the insulation levels of the building envelope, especially when adding continuous insulation. In many cases, these individual changes are reasonably straightforward; however, the cumulative effect will change how the home works, and if done incorrectly, can lead to sick homes and the loss of durability. That is one of the key reasons why the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) has long 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 It would appear that the Ontario government has also reached the conclusion that, if we really want to ever move the meter on energy waste in housing, we have to look at the existing housing stock.
  • 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 2017 31 MECHANICAL DESIGN Alpha’s extensive installation experience allows our designers to incorporate feedback in order to improve methods and achieve the most accurate and applicable mechanical designs. QUALITY INSTALLATION Alpha specializes in custom homes and retrofit projects. Our technicians, trained to anticipate and avoid problems – and maximize potential – enjoy industry-wide recognition. PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING To make informed decisions, Alpha invites you to a FREE consultation with one of our experts! We pride ourselves in our expertise and believe this knowledge should be shared. TACTICAL TROUBLESHOOTING At Alpha, we know that every problem has a source and a solution. Our extensive knowledge and experience has enabled us to solve the problems that our competitors cannot. ALPHA COMFORT CONTROLI N T EG R AT ED M EC H A N I CA L SYST E M S S P EC I A L I STS H E AT I N G + A I R C O N D I T I O N I N G + R EF R I G ER AT I O N Look no further! Alpha has everything you need. 416-880-1350 alphacomfortcontrol.com 905-607-7706 G ood design, good equipment and good installation should be the goal of every mechanical contractor. Successful project integration – The Integrated Design Process (IDP) – must start right from the beginning. Designers, clients, project managers and sub- contractors need to understand a project’s goals and scope to achieve the best results. Unfortunately, attempts to employ The Integrated Design Process rarely make it past the drawing board. Two renovation projects featured in this issue effectively used The Integrated Design Process: a mixed- use commercial building by Barbini Corp. (page 16), and a home renovation and addition by JD Burnes (page 11). Along with the successful use of IDP, both projects had superior project management and a great mechanical contractor, Alpha Comfort Control. Branko Mijatovic founded Alpha Comfort Control (ACC) in 1999 when he immigrated to Canada. Four years ago ACC amalgamated with A M Sheet Metal. The company produces in-house HVAC drawings and designs for permits, performs good installation, and – most importantly – commissions systems at the end of installation. From childhood Branko had a strong desire to learn and was known always to have a mechanical book in his hands. In Serbia, before he did HVAC, Branko was an aircraft trouble- shooting specialist for the army. All of the mechanical aircraft books were in English and Branko translated them to his native language word for word to learn his craft. Starting with his own HVAC/R business in his home country, Branko has over 35 years of experience and continues to extend his legacy as an industry leader. BB Integrated HVAC Design and Execution
  • 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN 201732 advocated for mandatory energy labelling at the time of the sale of existing homes. It not only provides a level of consumer protection that is not typically available today; it will help to provide a game plan for improving the energy efficiency of the home in a practical manner. There is also another concern that this might greatly increase the underground economy, due to the additional costs involved as well as the knowledge gap of industry stakeholders. However, one of the largest obstacles to implementation may be with the building inspector community, as there simply will not be enough of them to take on this additional workload. At a time when the “Silver Tsunami” of inspectors retiring begins impacting on our industry, the Ontario government is going to be increasing the workload of the remaining inspectors. The OHBA has had preliminary discussions with the OBOA about potential training programs to help address this need. However, if the Ontario government does not aggressively address this need – and very soon – then I grow increasingly concerned that our industry is going to be hit with chronic delays and inadequate inspections. It is a very real threat to our industry that we must all be aware of. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. One of the largest obstacles to imple­ mentation may be with the building inspector community, as there simply will not be enough of them to take on this additional workload.
  • 35. 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 vapor 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. LEED® is a registered trademark of United States Green Building Council.
  • 36. Together,wemakebetter energyperformancepossible. Building energy efficient buildings doesn’t need to be costly and complicated. Savings by Design can help, whether you’re a residential or commercial builder. This comprehensive program gives you free access to industry experts and performance incentives for constructing energy efficient, sustainable buildings beyond code requirements. Learn more at savingsbydesign.ca