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ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014
“Ready-Shoot-Aim” Regulation
An Empire State of Mind
What is Net Zero Anyway?
Castleform: High Performance,
Low Carbon Homes
Three Days to Net Zero-Ready
IN THIS ISSUE
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
16
1
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
2
Climate Change and the
Balanced, Low-Carbon Diet
by John Godden
THE BADA TEST
3
The “Ready-Shoot-Aim”
Approach to Building
Regulation in Ontario
by Lou Bada
INDUSTRY NEWS
7
Net Zero: Does Anyone Really
Know What This Is?
by Richard Lyall
BUILDER NEWS
10
Castleform Homes: High
Performance, Low Carbon Homes
by Alex Newman
INDUSTRY EXPERT
14
The Great, the Annoying and the
Funny: One High-Performance
Home Experience
by Gord Cooke
SITE SPECIFIC
27
Steve Doty, Quality Assurance
Manager for Empire Communities
by Alex Newman
FROM THE GROUND UP
30
Building a Net Zero-Ready Home
in Three Days? It Helps to Have a
Guardian Angel!
by Doug Tarry
FEATURE STORY
16
High Performance Housing: An Empire State of Mind
Empire Communities innovates by focusing on what’s important
for its home buyers.
by Rob Blackstein
14
30
ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
On our cover: Empire Communities’
Riverland Discovery Home
Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
10
23
Sinking In Their TEETH
by Rob Blackstien
24
Real and Relevant Trials
in the Field
by Trudy Puls
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 20172
A
s 2018 approaches, some of us are likely thinking of new
year’s resolutions. One common goal is losing weight. I’m
happy to say, after losing 23 pounds, that my method was
simple: portion control, no snacks between meals, and consuming
the right types of carbohydrates and fats. It’s all about putting the
right things in our mouths at the right time of day. By following my
diet, I have reduced my literal footprints by almost 10%.
Like carbohydrates, carbon-based fossil fuels have gotten a bad
rap. Burning coal is like eating foods with high glucose that stores
“fat” in the body. That “fat” is CO2, which heats up the atmosphere
and alters weather patterns. Managing our appetite for energy
in housing requires choosing “low carb” fuels like natural gas for
space and hot water heating. Burning natural gas results in 45% less
emissions than coal (see the chart on page 8). The portion control
comes in when we use gas intelligently for small loads.
For example, the package A1 reference house only requires 28
kBTU per hour on the coldest day of the year. A small condensing
hot water heater, in combination with an air handler, can heat
the house and provide hot water on demand. As electricity is
discounted at night (6.5 cents per kWh), an air source heat pump
can provide supplemental space heating during shoulder months
off peak (this is referred to as hybrid heat or fuel switching). In this
issue’s feature (page 16), we explore Empire Communities’ Hybrid
Home, the gem in their Three Energy Efficient Test Homes (TEETH)
project. It’s a real low-carbon diet success story, with moderate
increases in insulation and right-sized hybrid heating using natural
gas to yield high performance with low carbon emissions.
There are some policy makers promoting zero carbon houses
using electricity as an energy source. I would suggest the Climate
Change Action Plan is more like a fad diet, with electricity being the
white sugar in the energy debate. The idea of zero carbon tastes so
good right now, but is it viable for the longer term? Nuclear energy
in Ontario has a long history of being very expensive and unreliable,
and consuming electricity in residential net zero housing is sure
to leave a bad taste in everybody’s mouths in the long run as prices
escalate. In the energy diet we prescribe, using that electricity to
offset oil used in cars and trucks would affect CO2 emissions more
than using the electricity to heat homes.
In 2018, our climate change diet menu includes portion control
with slightly more insulation and low carbon natural gas for our
heating systems. Bon appetit. BB
Climate Change
and the Balanced,
Low-Carbon Diet
PUBLISHER
Better Builder Magazine
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PUBLISHING EDITOR
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contact sales@betterbuilder.ca
FEATURE WRITERS
Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman
PROOFREADING
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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
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Better Builder Magazine
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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 24 | WINTER 2017 3
It must be great, being perched
high up above, prescribing and
proscribing. Unfortunately, builders
actually have to build something and
don’t work metaphysically. I believe
we’ve strayed too far from “evidence-
based policy” and gone into “policy-
based evidence.”
In this issue, Richard Lyall, presi­
dent of RESCON, discusses the lack
of a cost–benefit value for consumers
for net zero homes (whatever that
happens to be based on modelled
energy consumption). To further the
discussion and illustrate this point, I’d
like to give you the “nuts-and-bolts”
perspective of a builder on a few of the
future SB-12 changes to the Ontario
Building Code that many theorists
don’t think (or more likely don’t care)
about when proposing more stringent
standards for ambiguous benefits.
thebadatest / LOU BADA
The “Ready-Shoot-Aim” Approach
to Building Regulation in Ontario
•	 Attic insulation
	 More is better, right? R-70 is the
new R-40. The law of diminishing
returns aside, we can’t ignore the
law of gravity. We may, in some
instances, have to beef up our
roof and ceiling structures to
support the increased weight of the
insulation. We haven’t examined
this in a while. As well, to achieve
the correct amount of insulation at
the eaves, our regular raised heel
trusses may not suffice and will
also need to be increased. Also as
a result, we may have to increase
roof pitches (slopes). Increased
insulation means greater roof
pitches, which means more work
for framers and roofers, not just
insulators – all of whom are in short
supply.
•	 Triple-glazed windows
	 The law of gravity still applies.
Surprise! The glazing is 50%
heavier. Windows delivered to the
job sites typically arrive glazed.
It’s a tough job now to install
windows; with triple-glazed
windows, it will require an entirely
different approach. Windows will
likely need to be installed without
glazing and the glass installed
afterwards. There are not enough
glazing installers today to do
this work. Also, with expected
mandatory exterior insulated
sheathing, and given that more
weight is distributed outboard
on the window, we will have to
examine our window frames and/
or framing and beef that up too. Not
to mention a payback of about 200
years and a CO2 reduction of 0.090
tonnes annually.
•	 Under-slab insulation
	 This will present a logistical
challenge. Currently a basement
slab can be poured early in the
day, and left to partially set in
order that it can be properly trowel
finished later in the day. With the
introduction of foam insulation
to the substrate, the ability for
the concrete to dry is slowed.
Workers will likely not be able to
pour and finish concrete properly
within the same day. This throws a
wrench into the work process and
schedule and inevitably adds time.
At an additional cost of $3 to $4 per
square foot, under-slab insulation
has a payback of 231 years on .089
tonnes of CO2 reduction.
A
t some point in my career, I’d really like to try working on the government
policy side of building legislation and regulation in Ontario. I’d come up with
some great policy aspirations and turn to some advocacy groups, experts
and those with vested interests (whose opinions and interests line up with the
political agenda of the day) to come up with the regulations. Then I’d make sure my
consultants speak to industry – “ticked that box” – and then completely ignore them.
ERHUI1979/ISTOCKPHOTO
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
COST BENEFIT FOR CHANGES REQUIRED IN 2020
MODELLING RESULTS
REM RATE 14.6.2
MODELLING RESULTS
HOT 2000 10.51
Component
comparison
Impact
% over
package A
Cost impact
on the
energy use
Energy use
difference
(kWh)
Gas
emission
(tonnes)
Impact
% over
package A
Cost impact
on the
energy use
Energy use
difference
(kWh)
Gas
emission
(tonnes)
Average
cost
benefit
Walls
R-22 + R-5 ci @ 16" oc
vs R-22 @ 24" oc
8 % $ 58 2,169 0.394 4 % $ 23 845 0.154 $ 41
Below Grade Slab
R-5 vs R-0 1 % $ 3 126 0.023 3 % $ 23 855 0.155 $ 13
Windows
U=1.2 vs U=1.4 2 % $ 13 495 0.090 1 % $ 10 364 0.066 $ 12
3 ACH vs 2 ACH 5 % $ 38 1,443 0.261 5 % $ 41 1,535 0.278 $ 40
4
•	 Mandatory airtightness
testing to 2.0 ACH
	 As a builder working in
municipalities where ENERGY
STAR is mandatory, we were
hard pressed to hit the required
2.5 air changes on every house.
It has taken the industry about
10 years to hit 2.5 ACH, down
from an average of about 4.0 ACH
consistently. What happens on a
house at closing if the required 2.0
ACH is not achieved? Many believe
the 2022 requirement is onerous
and not achievable.
These are just a few of the
things that run through my mind
when additional building code
requirements are proposed or
implemented. It means more time
and more labour, in an industry that
already takes too long to get things
done and has a serious shortage of
skilled workers.
Challenges with governmental red
tape and the lack of good skilled trades
training initiatives are just as difficult
to deal with as proposed code changes
– maybe more so.
For those that don’t know me
personally, I am not a climate change
denier or proponent of business as
usual in the face of environmental
challenges. But I do like rational and
properly considered public policy
and regulations. I also care about
consumers and the product we deliver.
Ideologues – or worse, political
opportunists – who are dismissive of
opposing views because they claim
to be on the side of the angels will
not achieve any meaningful goals.
In fact, we will get the opposite – a
dysfunctional economy.
A productive and robust economy is
what pays for the social infrastructure
we so highly value and our ability to
take care of the environment. The
approach for moving forward should
be ready, aim, shoot. A target of cost-
effective and achievable outcomes
should be in our sights. BB
Lou Bada is Vice President of Low
Rise Construction at Starlane Home
Corporation and on the board of
directors for the Residential Construction
Council of Ontario (RESCON).
The approach for moving forward should be
ready, aim, shoot. A target of cost-effective and
achievable outcomes should be in our sights.
Better Builder Magazine, Issue 24 / Winter 2017
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 20176
• PROVIDES A CONTINUOUS THERMAL RESISTANCE OF R-5; perfect for meeting the
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O F E X T R U D E D P O L Y S T Y R E N E
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INSULSHEATHING Panel
Introducing a Unique Innovation:
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 7
industrynews / RICHARD LYALL
D
o you know what net zero
is? I’m not sure the Ontario
government does.
But somehow, it has slowly become
part of the lexicon of Ontario since
Premier Kathleen Wynne introduced
the Climate Change Action Plan
(CCAP) in June 2016.
The Ministry of the Environment
and Climate Change (MOECC) docu­
ment says that the government will
create a “Near Net Zero Carbon Home
Incentive” without any clear details or
cost-benefit analysis to justify such a
paradigm shift, for that matter.
The incentive is stated to provide
rebates for “near net zero carbon
emission homes” to reduce the
higher upfront costs for new-home
buyers, as these homes will include
energy-efficiency performance that
sufficiently exceeds the requirements
of the Ontario Building Code (OBC).
It also explains that the OBC would
be updated “with long-term energy
efficiency targets for new net zero
carbon emission small buildings
that will come into effect by 2030
at the latest, and [the government
will] consult on initial changes that
will be effective by 2020. Ontario
will consult on how to best achieve
these targets through Building Code
improvements.”
The government really should
have spoken to construction industry
experts before they wrote this. It might
have helped them to define “net zero,”
which they didn’t do. So how do you
achieve something intangible?
I won’t try to answer that question
today, but let’s continue this discussion
with an easily digestible definition from
RESCON’s director of building science,
Paul De Berardis, M.Eng., P.Eng.: “A net
zero home is one that is theoretically
designed to produce as much energy as
it consumes on an annual basis.”
Simple, easy to understand. This is
the unofficial baseline that some of us
in the industry are working with.
But wait a minute – the CCAP
mentions “net zero carbon.”
There has been some debate and
discussion over the past year and a half
over whether this reference is actually
a typo – because if it is taken literally, it
means carbon emissions would have to
be eliminated as well. And that would
essentially signal the end for natural
gas space and water heating.
No longer being able to use
natural gas will mean a huge spike
in electricity use for homes across
the province. Consider that another
parallel directive in the CCAP is to
increase the use of electric vehicles
and ensure charging infrastructure
is available in all new housing. These
net zero housing and electric vehicle
mandates would significantly impact
the cost of living, strain electricity
grids and ultimately hurt the economy.
So, did the government really mean
to do this? If so, why?
Putting aside the “net zero carbon”
issue, let’s focus on what it would take
to bring homes up to our stripped-
down definition of net zero.
De Berardis ran the numbers in an
exercise of cost-benefit analysis for a
net zero, two-storey detached house.
The net zero additions – solar panels
on the roofs, heavily insulated and
nearly airtight building envelopes,
electrically powered heat pump type
space and water heating equipment,
among them – will incrementally cost
up to $75,000 more per home. Add
that to the price of new homes in the
GTHA or around Ontario, and it’s not a
pleasant result.
Net Zero
7
Does Anyone Really
Know What This Is?
MICROSTOCKHUB/ISTOCKPHOTO
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 20178
Until the price of building a net
zero home somehow drastically drops,
the cost-benefit analysis cannot be
justified from a consumer perspective,
De Berardis says. (He adds that in
conversations he has had about cost-
benefit analysis with ministry officials,
they have told him that the current
Ontario government is not interested
in cost-benefit when climate change is
involved. What can you say to that?)
Meanwhile, achieving net zero
on a mass scale for new home
construction, never mind a few one-
offs, is no easy task.
You might remember Natural
Resources Canada’s net zero pilot
project, the ecoENERGY Innovation
Initiative, which was announced as
a success last year. We learned that
after three years of construction and
more than $5 million in government
and proponent funding, only 21 of
the 26 homes were constructed as net
zero energy, citing the cost of solar
photovoltaics as an issue. Considering
the time and money pumped into
this project, that should be a red
flag for Ontario’s MOECC to take
another look at their plan for mass
market implementation of net zero.
Even the final reporting on this pilot
concluded that although this project
demonstrated that net zero energy
housing is technically feasible, “more
assistance is required to help drive
market demand and reduction in cost.”
And let me ask you this: when was
the last time you heard of a new-home
buyer at a sales office demanding
a net zero home? (Cricket, cricket,
tumble weed.)
Where is the rebate for purchasing
and building a near net zero home,
as described in the CCAP? There is no
incentive to buy net zero, and yet the
OBC continues down this path. This is
not a market-driven force.
What about “near net zero” homes,
a.k.a. “net zero-ready” homes? (I know
– this gets confusing.) With the OBC
changes proposed for 2022, new houses
will be nearing this target. According
to De Berardis, this means the building
envelope and airtightness of a new
Code-built home is approaching
net zero-ready status, without solar
photovoltaic capability to generate
electricity. There are even proposals
for rough-ins of future solar panel
installation, which would facilitate the
transition to net zero status.
“When some of the proposed 2022
changes are modelled in a reference
house, results showed there are
marginal cost-benefits of the energy-
efficient code proposals,” De Berardis
says. “For example, the estimated cost
premium of triple-pane windows at
a minimum of $3,000 per home with
yearly energy savings of $15: it will take
the home owner 200 years to reap the
benefits of this upgrade.”
But remember, the Ontario govern­
ment doesn’t care about cost-benefit
when climate change is on the table.
Don’t get me wrong: I want to save the
planet too. But is this initiative really
doing it? At what cost to home buyers
do we head down this path? How can
cost-benefit be deemed irrelevant?
I have another question: how likely
are you going to buy an electric vehicle
(EV)? Ontario offers a rebate of up to
$14,000 if you buy one (funded on the
backs of taxpayers, by the way), but let’s
just say people aren’t trading in their
gas-powered vehicles in droves to drive
electric (currently electric vehicles
make up approximately 1% of the
market in Ontario). Is this really help­
ing the greater good? I would say no.
And yet the government is
artificially stimulating demand by
changing the OBC to mandate EV
charging stations in all new homes –
high-rise, mid-rise and low-rise. Who
runs a business like this? Regardless
of what you may want or need, by 2019
the government intends to mandate
electrical vehicle charging capability
in all new forms of housing. Take a
guess who will foot the bill for this:
the unsuspecting home buyer who
wonders why housing is getting more
and more unaffordable.
Some builders, like Better Builder
columnist Lou Bada, are taking the
Wynne government at its word with net
zero and other energy changes because
it is providing little or no elaboration.
In a column from December 2015, he
wrote about the Queen’s Park goal of
getting new homes to net zero by 2030:
“How much affordability are we willing
to forgo in an already unaffordable
housing market to increase energy
efficiency in new housing a few years
early?” The 2030 deadline is “not
market driven, there are no economic
incentives available, and it makes
decent housing less attainable to those
who need it most.”
8
COAL
NATURAL GAS COMPONENT
OF STRATEGY FOR
CO2 EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS
OIL
26%
BETTER
THAN COAL
NATURAL
GAS
45%
BETTER
THAN COAL
53kg
CO2 emissions by source per 1 million BTUs
72kg
97kg
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 9
I agree wholeheartedly. And
while I also see merit in what the
government is trying to achieve, their
methodology is not achievable.
But there is an achievable target
for builders that would meet the green
goals of the government: low carbon,
net zero cost. Better Builder writer
Rob Blackstien wrote about it in the
summer 2017 issue. It makes perfect
sense: “The problem is that eradicat­
ing carbon is completely impossible.
That said, there are feasible solutions
emerging based on common sense
and a cost-benefit approach.”
“Enter low carbon, net zero cost,
a new trend in environmentally
conscious home design and a
perfect example of which was seen by
thousands of people who traversed the
2017 Future Dream Home project at
the National Home Show in Toronto in
March.” The home was designed and
built to perform 50% better than Code.
So, let’s build new houses for people
and let’s establish a cost-benefit analysis
for new energy-efficient measures
going forward. There are other more
realistic measures to achieve energy-
efficient improvements other than net
zero, cutting out natural gas or pushing
EVs on a reluctant population of drivers.
Are we just going to push ahead
with these measures because of our
current government’s tunnel vision, or
will common sense rule the day? Let’s
hope for the latter. BB
Richard Lyall, president of the
Residential Construction Council of
Ontario (RESCON), has represented
the building industry in Ontario since
1991. He is also a frequent speaker
and writer on issues related to the
construction industry. Contact him @
RESCONprez or at media@rescon.com.
“Until the price of a net
zero home drastically
drops, the cost-benefit
analysis cannot
be justified from a
consumer perspective.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201710
buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN
Net zero is an admirable goal,
but is still in its infancy and so
far hasn’t demonstrated that you
can produce one form of energy
without consuming another form.
“Photovoltaic panels, for example,
produce electricity from the sun, but
the production of them still consumes
energy.”
Rather than split hairs over
what net zero means, Voong aims
to reduce his carbon footprint as a
builder. His focus is on creating high-
performance, low-carbon housing,
by using high-performance products
that produce the lowest carbon
output as possible.
A builder for the past 12 years,
Voong had no prior experience in
the industry. He came to it from
a financial background, and he is
someone with demonstrably good
business sense. Initially, he says
he “was an average everyday OBC
builder, and did not pay any attention
to energy efficiency. We didn’t need
to at that time, as we were not faced
with the demands of energy-efficient
homes that we are today.”
He took notice, though, when
the Ontario Building Code started
to change rapidly, as it increased
expectations on energy efficiency
through more insulation, tighter
building envelopes, higher rated
windows, HRVs/ERVs and better use of
efficient building technologies.
Now his homes are 40% more
energy efficient than the current
building code – which is significant,
considering Ontario’s code is already
44% better than the Kyoto definition.
He’s achieved it through an integrated
approach combining all aspects: tight
envelope, efficient HVAC and proper
ventilation.
When Voong instructs other
builders on energy-efficient methods,
he explains: “they have to picture the
house being shrink wrapped. That will
be the ultimate in airtightness. If we
have holes in the shrink wrap, then we
are leaking out conditioned air – air
that we have to spend money on to heat
or cool. Any air that is leaking is money
lost. So we have to try and prevent
that. In doing so, we have to pay
attention to air barrier details and its
continuity throughout the house and
even under the basement slab. Detail
is very important when it comes to
airtightness. I always say that you can
use the best products on the market,
but if you are not using it in the right
fashion, or detailing it the right way,
it’s not that effective. John Godden, at
Clearsphere, taught me how to think
outside the box and showed me how
to use the right details and to not just
satisfy the OBC, but go beyond. And
that’s exactly what we do.”
The other part of airtightness is
proper insulation, and here, Voong
says, Roxul is your friend. “It is a
fabulous product,” he says. “There are
many benefits to the product besides
R-value. We pair that with insulated
exterior sheathing that has a house
wrap built into it. Then all we would
have to do is tape the joints with
premium tape. We continue to wrap
down the foundation wall and tape
it to the radon barrier that is under
the basement slab. This type of detail
will have a continuous air barrier
throughout the house. This creates the
shrink wrapping of the house, per se.
That’s why it is very important to have
all of the trades on board and on the
same page.”
Airtightness is great, but it comes
at a cost – it means no ventilation,
and “you still need to breathe,” Voong
says. “We put an ERV in all our homes
to provide fresh air. You don’t want
Castleform Homes
High-Performance, Low-Carbon Homes
P
eter Voong, president of
Castleform Homes, finds the
term “net zero” confusing and
misleading. While it’s supposed to
mean a no-carbon footprint, he asks:
“what does that mean exactly? Only
the energy a house consumes? What
about the energy it takes to produce
that clean energy?”
Peter Voong and John Godden.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
the same stale air being circulated
throughout the house.”
The ERV is part of a bigger HVAC
system Castleform uses. For the
mechanics of heating and cooling,
Voong says the most common sense
approach is “a combi-boiler for
heating and domestic hot water.
There are other technologies that
are very efficient these days. It just
depends on what you want to achieve
and how much you want to spend. But
a combi-boiler, to me, is what makes
sense on all fronts for the time being.
I’m hearing air source heat pumps are
very efficient as well.” 
Fuel switching is another
consideration. “It makes sense for the
future. Off-peak electricity could be
on par cost wise with gas, because
PV technology might be so advanced
that we do not need to be tied to the
electricity grid for all our electricity
needs. Water consumption is going
to be a big issue in the near future.
Even the amount of waste a household
generates.”
It’s necessary to plan in advance
of changing building codes, and also
as technologies and systems improve.
But as much as Voong is committed
to reducing his carbon footprint – for
the world his children will inherit
– he knows the bottom line can’t be
ignored. “Energy-efficient building
has to be done affordably or the public
won’t buy in. I’m in the custom home
market for the time being,” Voong
says. “So I’m always thinking about
the operating costs of the home. Home
owners spend less to operate their
homes, but are willing to pay more
for the energy-efficient features that
we incorporate in the houses that
we build. Energy costs are always
increasing, so we have to be mindful of
that when we add such features.”
He is hopeful that energy reduction
will be embraced as consumer
awareness and public education
increase. The key to reducing carbon
output is to reduce fossil fuel use. “We
have relied on fossil fuel for so many
aspects of our lives,” Voong says. “We
have built systems and economic
drivers with it. And for now, we need it
because there is no way we can switch
to a cleaner alternative fuel source
without harming the many systems
and economic drivers that we have
created. But as we make technological
breakthroughs, we are more able to
make conscionable changes, because
reducing our dependence on fossil
fuels is a must for our future.” BB
Alex Newman is a writer, editor and
researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com.
11
From left to right : Francis Bossé, Director of Research and Development, BP of Canada; Eric Belley,
Product Manager Wood Fibre, BP of Canada; Bob McDonald, Key Account Manager, BP of Canada.
22
betterthancode.ca
THIS HOME IS 55% BETTER THAN CODE
28TwentyFirstStreet,EtobicokeON
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201712
LowCostCodeCompliancewiththeBetterThanCodePlatform
This Platform helps Builders with Municipal
Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Build-
ing Permits. Navigating the performance path
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new code will be notionally 15% better than
2012 (HERS 51). How are you getting there?
Let the BTC Platform including
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100 80 60 40 20 0
Formoreinformationemailinfo@projectfutureproof.comorcallusat416-481-4218
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ThanCode
This rating is available for homes
built by leading edge builders
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next step on the path to full
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45
HOMEADDRESS
123 Stone Street, Toronto, ON M6K 2T0
RATINGDATE
July 23, 2015
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 13
W
ith dramatic increases in
thermal efficiency, very little
attention has been paid to
air distribution systems in new homes.
The Empire Hybrid Home is
different. A detailed approach was
taken with its duct design, furnace
selection, sizing and placement.
Ductwork is considerably smaller and
all second floor returns are dedicated
with sheet metal. The most important
consideration remaining is reducing
duct leakage; the average leakage
rate of supply ductwork is between
30% to 40%. Oddly, the HVAC designs
assume there is zero leakage – that
100% of the rated airflow goes where
the design dictates. In order for high-
performance modulating furnaces
with electronically commutated
motor (ECM) blowers to be effective,
especially for cooling, the ductwork
needs to be sealed. Historically, the
lowest leakage rate attainable was 10%
and was extremely messy and labour
intensive to achieve. Smaller heating
loads, smaller furnaces and lower
airflow with reduced duct sizing means
duct sealing is extremely important.
At the Hybrid test home, Michael
White and his team at HomeWorks
made us a believer in the Aeroseal
system. Supply ductwork was not
sealed with metal tape, which is a
code requirement. Within a short
period of time, the duct sealing system
reduced leakage by 93%, down to
25 cfm. The Aeroseal system injects
adhesive particles into the ductwork,
and the particles attach directly onto
any holes on cracks at joints and
fittings. Magically, this pressurized
seal happens without coating the
inside of the ductwork. After the
sealing, the system was balanced at
each register. The system flow at the
furnace was measured and compared
to the total delivery of the individual
registers. Remarkably, there was only
a 3% difference. Duct designs and
installation, combined with effective
sealing with Aeroseal, are essential
for efficiency and comfort. For more
information, visit www.heandcs.ca. BB
By : Better Builder Staff
WE MAKE COMFORT
COMPLAINTS GO AWAY!
Michael White 905.875.4544 michael@heandcs.ca
Aeroseal Duct Sealing
All Trade QA/QC Inspections
We use industry-leading software. Inspections
with or without a blower door test – get
ready for the 2020 code changes.
PDIs
Houses are becoming more complicated –
let us educate your homeowners during the PDI.
Building Performance Diagnostics
and Troubleshooting
Overall
Sealing Results
When we arrived,
YOUR DUCTS HAD:
356 CFM of leakage,
equivalent to a
68 square inch hole
After we finished,
YOUR DUCTS HAVE:
25 CFM of leakage,
equivalent to a
5 square inch hole
This corresponds to
93% reduction
in duct leakage
Sealing the Deal with Aeroseal
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201714
industryexpert / GORD COOKE
I need to start by saying it was a
great build experience. The last time
we had a house built was 25 years ago
and that went well enough, but Derek
and his great crew exemplified the best
of what we all know home building
can be. They had the craftsmanship
that you would expect from a third-
generation builder, combined with
the professionalism of proper budget­
ing and scheduling, topped off with
application of the best of what a true
understanding of building science
can bring to modern housing.
You will undoubtedly want to
know about the insulation levels. It’s a
modest 1.5-storey home, 1,450 square
feet on the main floor, but 26,000 board
feet of pink extruded foam sheathing
surrounds the house to effectively
create a beer cooler. Six inches under
the slab on grade – yes, slab on grade
that I love, perfect for sandy soils with
a high water table near the lake. That
6 inches lines up with 3 inches of foam
set into the foundation stem wall that
provides a thermal break at the slab
edge and brick ledge. What seemed like
a great idea, that is used regularly in
barn construction, but turned out to
be an annoyance for the guys tying in
the extensive rebar structure outlined
by the engineer who had to stamp it
for a skeptical residential building
department. That 3 inches in the
foundation wall lined up with the 3
inches of exterior foam sheathing on
the 2x6 walls. The framers were quick
to point out that you can’t get button
cap nails at that length in a nail gun,
so they had to hand nail the insulated
sheathing and that was annoying. No
surprise that the net zero homes that
most builders now use include 2 inches
of insulated sheathing.
The 3 inches of wall foam lined up
with 4 inches of XPS on the roof deck.
Add a 2x8 rafter to form the cathedral
ceiling, then the 4 inches of foam, then
2 inches of strapping for a vented roof
assembly. This roof assembly shows
up in Joe Lstiburek’s building science
guide as ideal for high snow load areas.
When I told Joe how annoying it was
for the guys to build it, given the 8-inch
long screws needed for the strapping,
Joe said he drew it, but never expected
anyone to actually build it. That was
kind of funny, but it does make for a
very forgiving roof assembly and an
extra 550 square feet of living space
under that simple gable end cathedral.
I find it funny that when the sun
shines on the south-facing room, the
foam expands and you get this subtle
popping noise in the upstairs room.
Then you get a slightly different noise
when the sun goes down that sounds
like a squirrel running on the roof.
Make a note to include spacing and a
slip plane to allow for the expansion or
use a lower expansion sheet foam, such
as polyiso foam.
The Great, the Annoying and the Funny
One High-Performance Home Experience
A
t the recent Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Greater Toronto
Chapter Gala, I was pleased to accept the Innovation Award for residential
projects on behalf of Derek Seaman of Seaman & Sons Builders. Of course,
the award was extra special because it was a vacation home Derek built for my
family and me. When Derek and I sat down exactly three years ago to hash out
the particulars of the house, we came up with almost 30 different technologies or
strategies that we wanted to try in the project, and thus I think the “Innovation”
title of the award was appropriate. Having now a couple of years in the house, I
thought you might be interested in hearing the good, the bad and the ugly – or
more accurately, the great, the annoying and the funny – of the adventure.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
Finally, all the cavities (walls and
ceilings) were filled with high-density
spray foam, just because I wanted the
highest possible R-value. The walls
end up with an effective R-value of 36
(partly due to advanced framing); the
ceiling has an effective R-value of 59.
The fun part for Derek and me was
to make the house as tight as possible
– tighter than Ron Seaman’s (Derek’s
dad’s) house, which I tested 28 years
ago at 0.35 ACH @ 50 Pa. We made it
down to 0.19 ACH for great bragging
rights. The tightness was achieved
partly by detailing the Tyvek as an air
barrier, which got it down to 1.1 ACH.
Then the XPS was taped and gasketed
as per the OC’s codeboard air barrier
details. That got us to about 0.7 ACH,
and the foam and drywall got us
that final airtightness. Consider the
insulation, the triple-glazed windows
and the incredible airtightness,
combined with the vänEE Gold
Series with HEPA filtered fresh air
going directly to each bedroom. As
a result, the house is so quiet, and
the bedroom air so fresh and clean
that all our guests sleep in like never
before. It is actually fun to see the
difference that makes, not to mention
that I can leave the house for weeks in
the winter without any heat on with
no danger of freeze-ups.
Here are a few other interesting
lessons learned:
•	 The 4,000-litre rain water cistern
is enough to flush toilets for six
months, but only enough to water
the grass twice. Go smaller and
find better landscaping options.
•	 The Rona recycled paint had
limited colour choices but spread
and covered better than paint four
times the cost.
•	 I love my Dow Powerhouse Solar
shingles, but they don’t make them
anymore (although they are coming
back onto the market under another
name). My insurance company had
never heard of them, so the south
half of my roof isn’t insured.
•	 Visitors love the reclaimed historic
yellow brick and the stained
concrete floors and are surprised
that they can’t “see” all the energy-
saving features.
•	 The air source heat pump to heat
the house and the heat pump
water heater are incredibly quiet
and efficient, but I miss the quick
pick-up response of a gas water
heater, especially for the in-floor
heat.
•	 The solar hot water panel is very
frustrating. It makes hot water so
quickly on sunny days, but the
controls don’t speak with other
systems very well, so the heat pump
water heater still runs even when
the solar tank is full of 150°F water.
Although we all know energy
savings aren’t all that important to
us or our customers when it comes to
making house decisions, I can tell you
that with two full years of data, the
house has generated 10% more energy
than I have used (yes, it is a vacation
home that we use sporadically in
winter), so it is comforting to know
that when we aren’t there, the utility
is sending us cheques.
Overall, this was a wonderful
build experience and I would be
pleased to discuss it further with
anyone interested. I will post the
full list of features we explored and
more pictures on our website at
www.buildingknowledge.ca. BB
Gord Cooke is president of
Building Knowledge Canada.
15
Optimized mechanicals for a net zero home
complete with radiant hydronic distribution
and high efficiency ERV.
9
betterthancode.ca
THIS HOME IS 93% BETTER THAN CODE
123LowEnergyAvenue,SouthamptonON
RatedMay9,2015byMichaelWhite
Cross Border Challenge Winner 2015
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
High-Performance
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 17
featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
Empire Communities innovates
by focusing on what’s
important for its home buyers.
An Empire State of Mind
E
mpire Communities’ resumé speaks for itself. With more
than 350 employees, the Vaughan, Ontario-based builder
is one of the nation’s leading developers and builders of
integrated master-planned communities, with over 10,000 new
homes and condominiums to its credit.
The company, which celebrates its 25th birthday next year,
has collected a room full of awards over the years, many of
which recognize its accomplishments in green building.
But perhaps what sets Empire apart more than anything
else is the builder’s approach to energy efficiency. While every
builder (and his brother) are seemingly fixated on net zero or
near zero or the green building buzzword du jour, Empire is
keeping its eyes on the bottom line – and no, we don’t mean on
its financial statements.
“We’re trying to deviate from that pinpoint focus on energy
and really look at performance as the bigger metric,” says Empire
executive vice-president/co-founder Paul Golini. He explains
that what’s ultimately most important in this equation is the
home owners and their concerns around costs, comfort, etc.
Housing
COURTESYEMPIRECOMMUNITIES
Empire Communities’ Hybrid House blends high style with high performance.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
The buck stops there
After all, he says, the buck stops there.
“I try to remind everyone in this ecosystem of the
building industry that if there’s no home buyers, we’re all
out of a job.”
Empire’s philosophy around this is simple: while
an energy-efficient house may or may not be a high-
performance house, a high-performance house by its
very nature is energy efficient.
It’s a subtle difference, but it speaks mightily to
Empire’s approach and its value differentiator. And it
certainly goes without saying that this company has
been a pioneer in the green building space. Consider that
Empire Communities was:
•	 A participant in 2003 at the launch of the Building
Canada program, the precursor to ENERGY STAR;
•	 One of the original ENERGY STAR builders, creating a
discovery home in 2005 in Brantford;
•	 The builder of a LEED silver home in 2008;
•	The BILD Low Rise Builder of the Year in 2011; and
•	 The winner of the Cross Border Challenge by building
a home in March 2011 with a HERS score of 37.
Empire has been using discovery homes to help drive
innovation and future home building direction for nearly
15 years, making it sort of the Lewis and Clark of the
Canadian building scene.
In 2016, the company began con­struction of its most
recent discovery houses, an initiative known as TEETH,
which stands simply for Three Energy Efficient Test
Homes. The trio of homes, located in Breslau, Ontario,
is being monitored by Union Gas in conjunction with
George Brown students. (Please see sidebar, “Sinking In
Their TEETH” on page 23.)
Out of control costs
Golini says that discovery homes have helped shape
many of Empire’s building decisions, but he’s very
mindful of the fact that in the drive towards net zero
18
While an energy-efficient house may
or may not be a high-performance
house, a high-performance house
by its very nature is energy efficient.
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 24 | WINTER 2017
EMPIRE COMMUNITIES TEETH HOMES : RIVERLAND
Component
Packge
A1
Energy Star V.12
Lot 17
Energy Star Future
Lot 16
Empire Hybrid House
Lot 18
Ceiling R-60 R-50 R-60 R-60
Exposed Floor R-31 R-31 R-31 R-40
Walls Above Grade R-22 R-22 + R-5 R-24 + R-5 R-24 + 7.5
Walls Below Grade R-20 R-7.5 + R-10 Continuous R-20 R-10 + R-10 Continuous
Below Grade Slab Uninsulated Uninsulated Uninsulated R-10
Windows & Sliding Glass Doors U = 1.6 Energy Star Zone 2 U = 1.5 U = 1.5
Space Cooling (SEER) 13 13 13 21 (Heat Pump & A/C)
Space Heating (AFUE) 96% Combo Airmax-FlowMax 96% AFUE 96% AFUE
Mechanical Ventilation 75% ERV 65% ERV 75% ERV-SRE = 83%
Domestic Hot Water Heater EF = 0.8 Combo Airmax-FlowMax TE = 90% TE = 96%
Air Change per Hour 3 2.06 1.81 1.37
Solar System none none none 6.75 kW w/ battery storage
Drain Water Heat Recovery 42% on 2 shower drains 42% 42% 42%+ Grey Water Unit
CFL none 75% 100% 100%
Annual Energy Consumption — 28900 kWh 23300 kWh 26400 kWh
% Better Than Code — 15% 23% 54%
19
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.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
HIGH EFFICIENCY DOMESTIC HOT WATER WITH DRAIN WATER HEAT RECOVERY AND GREY WATER RECYCLING
HYBRID HEAT WITH NATURAL GAS
20
or the ultimate low-carbon, energy-
efficient structure, costs can spiral
out of control.
“Affordability is the word of the
day and has been for a while, and we
know it’s been slipping away, so we’re
careful not to get sort of sucked into
building the greatest and ultimate
energy and carbon-free house.”
He explains that they can build
them and wind up selling one out of
300 per community; it’s not viable yet
on a production scale. “We’d rather
take the learnings from the discovery
homes and apply them across
the board in all our homes; that’s
ultimately what we’re trying to do.”
Among those lessons over the
years, Golini says one of the biggest
ones was learning the benefits of
insulated sheathing, specifically
as it related to wall assembly. “The
discovery home process has made
a significant impact on our wall
assembly over the years in determining
what we think is not only the most
efficient but also the most comfortable
for our home buyers.”
Early on in its discovery homes,
Empire experimented with the power
pipe, the copper piping that goes
around drains. It essentially acts
as a heat pipe recovery system that
takes the heat generated from the
hot water coming down the principal
drains from the upper floors and
puts it back into the hot water tank.
This was something the company
was employing well before it was
incorporated into the Code and found
that it recovered 60% of the heat from
shower water, resulting in an estimated
25% savings on hot water bills.
Altered lifestyle
Empire was also one of the first
builders to test monitors in the home,
and they found it was a great way to
help home owners alter their lifestyle
to help facilitate a more energy-
efficient environment.
“What we’ve seen is that the
im­mediate, continuous feedback
is one of the most effective ways to
change behaviour,” Golini explains.
“We can do what we want to the home
and put in the most advanced ERV
systems and furnaces, but it’s really
how the home buyer reacts to the
technology and the lifestyle.”
AIR CONDITIONER HEAT PUMP 21 SEER
USES OFF-PEAK ELECTRICITY 6.5¢/kWh TO
PROVIDE HEAT IN THE SHOULDER MONTHS
AIR HANDLERA/C COIL
DETTSON FULLY MODULATING
CONDENSING FURNACE 96% AFUE
SUMMER MODE TAKES HEAT
WINTER MODE GIVES HEAT
CONDENSING HOT
WATER HEATER
Envirosense 50/100
TE = 96% equals EF = 0.90
GREYWATER
RECYCLING SYSTEM
Two showers provides
30 toilet flushes
PRE-HEATED
WATER
TEMP. 80ºF
DRAIN
WATER
HOT WATER TO HOUSE 120ºF FLUSH TOILETS
HEAT RECOVERY 50% EFFICIENCY CITY
WATER
21BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
While no one argues that carbon reduction is a
great goal, “there’s a lot of politics involved” in the
government’s Climate Change Action Plan, Golini
believes. Instead, Empire is focused on near zero
cost as an objective.
“Even though ice cream is a good thing, you
can’t shove it down someone’s mouth, so too much
of a good thing too quickly is not good for anyone,”
he explains. “The same goes with this goal to
deliver a carbon-free environment quickly. It
comes with unintended consequences and costs.”
Golini maintains it’s important for Empire to
play a role alongside the government in steering
the direction of carbon reduction.
“Despite what we think about the government’s
efforts, I think it’s still important to be at the table.
If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer.
Pen-Ultimate.ca
19
betterthancode.ca
THIS HOME IS 54% BETTER THAN CODE
HybridHouseLot18,BreslauON
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201722
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 24 | WINTER 2017
The real gem
The homes include: Empire’s standard
baseline offering, which was ENERGY
STAR-compliant as of 2016; a home
with the predicted 2017 ENERGY STAR
standards; and a near zero unit called the
Hybrid Home, which is the real gem of
this discovery session.
Empire has owned the trademark for
the term Hybrid Home for many years,
but shelved it some time ago. However,
given the hybrid approach to energy use
in this TEETH project, it made sense to
dust off the brand.
Regular inspections evaluate how
the envelope and distribution systems
are performing, ultimately with the goal
of determining the energy use and cost
implications (see “Sealing the Deal”
on page 13). A final report is expected
around spring 2018.
“There’s no doubt that our commit­
ment to ENERGY STAR has always placed
us ahead of the Code – and now our
TEETH homes are preparing us that
much better for the Code changes that,
obviously as we get closer to 2030, are
getting closer and closer to net zero,”
Golini says.
For Empire, this is a glimpse into the
future of what its home will look like down
the road.
“Just like the car show displays
prototypes that will be on market five
years down the road, our Hybrid Home
showcases what we anticipate our homes
to look like years from now,” he says.
Ever-changing environment
“It’s important to us to build and test now
for the future as we are fully aware that,
with an ever-changing building environ­
ment, what we build today will not be the
standards for tomorrow,” Golini adds.
The Hybrid Home highlights include:
Dow R-7.5 and Roxul R-24 insulation in
above-grade walls; Dow tape on joints
of outboard insulation to reduce air
leakage; the hybrid basement wall system,
which is comprised of Dow’s R-10 2-inch
Cladmate CM20 and Roxul’s R-10 2.5-
inch Comfortboard 80 in basement walls
(this installation was made possible by
ITW Construction Products’ fastening
system for the basement); the hybrid
heating system, with Dettson’s Chinook
modulating furnace (96% AFUE) and
Alize air conditioner (21 SEER); Aeroseal
duct sealing on heating supply lines;
Panasonic bathroom exhaust fans;
vänEE’s G2400EE ERV with 84% seasonal
recovery efficiency with an ECM motor;
an Envirosense 100K BTU direct vent
condensing water heater; Panasonic 6.6
kW solar panels with battery storage
and backup; and a Greyter grey water
recycling unit with integrated powerpipe
drainwater heat recovery. BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
Sinking In Their TEETH
Empire’s TEETH (Three Energy Efficient Test Homes)
project was launched in the summer of 2016 in Breslau,
Ontario, sponsored by Roxul and Dow, featuring
monitoring with Union Gas and participation by George
Brown students, and spearheaded by Clearsphere.
For Empire, this is a
glimpse into the future
of what its home will
look like down the road.
Sealing ductwork with Aeroseal and HomeWorks.
23
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
Who
Empire Communities (Paul Golini Jr.,
Steve Doty), Clearsphere (John Godden
and team), George Brown College (Dr.
Chris Timusk and team), ROCKWOOL™
(Trudy Puls), Dow (Sue Swing)
What
In situ field research for thermally
responsible continuous insulation in
basements with Three Energy Effi­
cient Test Homes (TEETH) built by
Empire Communities
Why
Empire Communities wants to
explore new systems that will create
better efficiencies, better outcomes
and long-term durability. Specifically,
they wanted to investigate “how does
a foam plastic/stonewool basement
hybrid system perform next to a
traditional glassfibre basement
blanket system?”
When
Research and data collection for
2017 to 2018 through all the seasonal
impacts within our climate zone
(southwestern Ontario)
Where
The TEETH homes are located at
Empire’s Riverland site in Breslau,
Ontario
How
All equipment and products were
independently installed with the
supervision of Steve Doty (Empire
quality assurance manager) and site
supers from Empire Communities.
Monitoring systems and design
ideas were implemented by Dr.
Chris Timusk, John Godden, Steve
Doty and team. For the hybrid
basement solution, ROCKWOOL
(COMFORTBOARD™
), Dow and
InsulFast by Ramset were used.
ROCKWOOL successfully tested
the COMFORTBOARD™
product and
5.5-inch stonewool COMFORTBATT®
were approved as a thermal barrier
over foamed plastics. These
approvals have now allowed for new
assemblies and innovations in the
unfinished basement market. With
the adoption of continuous insulation
in the basement, new methods of
installing basement insulation can
be considered. It is commonly agreed
that the use of glassfibre foundation
blankets can create moisture buildup
and condensation within the blanket
cavity, due to the high amounts of
moisture in the curing concrete along
with cold exterior concrete surfaces
and seasonal vapour drive. Visible
condensation raises home owner
concerns related to basement leaks
and generates call back and warranty
claims. Placing Styrofoam™
(XPS) on
the inside of the basement wall and
then covering with COMFORTBOARD™
to gain additional R-value not only
protects from fire, but also provides
more efficient and comfortable
basements compared to the
foundation blankets. The Styrofoam
can be attached with a compatible
adhesive such as GREAT STUFF PRO™
Wall & Floor Adhesive or PL Premium.
Mechanical fasteners, such as tapcons
or Insulfast by Ramset (which were
used at this site), can be used in
combination with adhesives to provide
a quick and effective attachment. The
research shows the hybrid system
is performing, and the whole wall
surface that has been insulated has
an continuous insulation effective
R-rating with no compromises. Check
future issues of Better Builder for
research and basement updates. BB
Trudy Puls is Senior
Sales Representative,
Building Insulation,
Canada for ROXUL Inc.
24
Real and Relevant
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 25
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201726
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
What Steve Doty, quality assurance
manager for Empire Communities,
likes about the project is that it under­
takes experiments in places you don’t
normally see, such as behind walls, in
attics and under the basement. “The
test houses are designed to compare
products in different settings to see
what works best.”
Doty acts as project lead for the
TEETH homes, liaising between the
manufacturers involved – Roxul,
Dow, Airmax and Clearsphere – and
his office, the site manager and the
George Brown students who monitor
the homes.
Prior to starting with Empire four
years ago, Doty had no experience
with green building nor with larger
developer-builders. He had been in
a number of construction situations
for years, starting out as a carpenter
when he first got out of school; then
running his own business doing spec
housing as a builder in the 1990s,
buying infill; then building and
selling; then working for custom
builders. He found that the smaller
companies come and go, and just
when he’d get established with them,
they would close.
Looking for something with more
stability, he joined Empire. At the
time, they were doing ENERGY STAR
as a standard, and though he had no
background in green building, he did
have a lot of experience in construction
and carpentry. Time spent in the
field taught him air testing and
generally how green houses worked.
He supplemented this with courses at
Enerquality and with Clearsphere.
Doty is now Empire’s quality
assurance manager, working on the
green side of construction. “My role is
a large umbrella, and multi-faceted,”
he says. “I am lead on any green
initiatives and at the same time on
the quality assurance side. At the end
of the day, we’re building homes, and
the big picture is to deliver something
home owners really like.”
It’s a company that consistently
pushes forward with reducing
consumption, Doty says. “The current
Building Code is where we were a year
ago. And where it’s proposing to go
in 2020 and 2022 is something we’re
preparing for now.”
The challenge for a lot of builders,
he says, is getting up to speed in time
for the upcoming changes in the code.
The TEETH homes are a good
example. Under the current code,
most basements are constructed with
roll-down fibreglass batts fastened
to the top of the wall and strapped
mid-height. But these provide nominal
R-values, Doty says, and the typical
batt and insulation assembly tends to
trap moisture and cause condensation.
27
Empire’s Pilot Basements
Test Efficiency, Comfort and Cost
sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN
T
he cold damp basement – long the domain of teenagers and man caves – is
something Empire Communities aims to change with their pilot project,
Three Energy Efficient Test Houses (TEETH). The project takes three
homes: regular ENERGY STAR, an upgraded ENERGY STAR PLUS and a near
zero Hybrid Home. Each has a different type of basement insulation, as well as
different wall assemblies above and below grade, insulation and HVAC systems.
Stephen Doty is the quality assurance
manager for Empire Communities.
The challenge for a lot
of builders, says Doty,
is getting up to speed in
time for the upcoming
changes in the code.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201728
This project allows Empire to test
different below-grade wall assemblies
to overcome the moisture issue.
In the Hybrid Home, for example,
where the basement achieves R-20,
they’ve used 2-inch Dow Styrofoam,
called Cladmate, mechanically
fastened to the wall, with 2.5-inch
Roxul Comfortboard fastened over
top with plastic washers. In the
ENERGY STAR PLUS home, where the
basement achieves an R-value of 17.5,
they’ve used 1.5-inch Dow Styrofoam
Cladmate and 2.5-inch Roxul
Comfortboard. 
While the Hybrid Home is a good
example of what can be done by a large
builder, it is likely not practical in a
large scale. “At the production end,”
Doty says, “how do we sustain this
expense and complication five years
down the road at a production level
that is sustainable? Will we be able to
do solar panels on a mass scale? Not
likely.”
The other challenge, he admits,
is home owner comprehension.
“We put in NEST, and home owners
were baffled,” he says. “They want
something they can turn on and off.”
Doty believes the kind of house
Empire builds, especially with the
improved basement construction, is
much more comfortable. “You’ll still
find purchasers who challenge you that
the house is no better than the house
they had ten years ago. But the proof is
in the atmospheric quality. You can’t
argue with no drafts and you can’t
argue with comfort,” he says. BB
While the Hybrid Home is a good example of what can be
done by a large builder, it is likely not practical in a large scale.
“At the production end, how do we sustain this expense and
complication five years down the road?”
RGLBuilding Consultants Ltd.
Serving Southern Ontario
Services
• OBC Performance Modeling
(province-wide coverage)
• Consulting/Training
• Air Tightness Testing
• Air Leakage Investigations
• Thermal Imaging
• Trades Scopes of Work Reviews
• ENERGY STAR® for New Homes
• Net Zero Home
• EnerGuide Rating Service
• GreenHouse™ Certified
Programs Offered
Comprehensive consulting services designed
to help our clients continuously improve their
design and construction practices and deliver
higher performing homes.
Better Builder Magazine, Issue 24 / Winter 2017
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201730
fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY
By now, many of you will have
heard the story of Project HOPE and
how we built a net zero-ready home
in under three days. What you likely
don’t know is the reason why.
In July of 2016, Johnny Nooren,
a local St. Thomas area building
inspector, passed away from T-cell
lymphoma. Johnny was very well
liked as an inspector and throughout
the community. Like so many others,
I was both saddened by his sudden
passing and left with the feeling that
we should do something to help his
wife, Angela, and their young son,
Luke, and little daughter, Aleida.
I remember being at Johnny’s
visit­ation, in the receiving line with
my wife, Carolyne, when we first met
Angela. It was at that moment when it
literally came to me in a flash that we
would build a home to sell with the
proceeds going to help their family,
that we would build it in three days and
that it must be a net zero-ready home. I
felt it important that this project would
both honour Johnny’s memory at the
same time as it raised awareness about
the need for more environmentally
sustainable housing. Like I said, the
idea came in a flash. It felt as though
his spirit reached out to me to put a
hand on my shoulder to say, “If you
help my family, it will help you as well.”
Seems like I had my guardian angel.
Project HOPE
I spent the next few weeks asking some
key trades if they would help with the
project and did not receive a no. One of
my favourite answers was when I asked
Leon Bach and Jamie Yolkowskie, two
area building inspectors, to be part of
the team as inspectors. At the meeting,
I explained that we were going to build
a home in three days and sell it, with
the proceeds going to help Johnny’s
family. I think it was Leon who said,
“You’re gonna do what?”
“Build a home in three days. But
not just any home – a net zero-ready
home, so that it’s more of a challenge.
And I need you two on board because
we’ll be going ’round the clock and
can’t wait for inspections.” Without
hesitation, they both said yes.
It was then that I arranged to meet
with Johnny’s widow, Angela. After
I explained my plan and Angela got
over her initial shock, she accepted my
offer, and it was time to start planning
for HOPE.
Building a Net Zero-Ready
Home in Three Days?
T
he Christmas season is upon us and it is a time of giving. It’s also the time
of year that we remember favourite holiday classics. My particular favourite
has always been the film It’s a Wonderful Life. I have always related to the
story of George Bailey because there are so many parallels to my own life: from
how George works to assure affordability for his customers, to ensuring he is
planning the very best of communities for his town – there are so many lessons
that still resonate today. The only thing missing is Clarence, the guardian angel.
Raising the roof at Project HOPE.
It Helps to Have a Guardian Angel!
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
The planning
Over the next nine months, we held
several planning meetings with our
trades, suppliers and volunteers. I
arranged for James Bazely and Matt
Pryce from Simcoe County Home
Builders’ Association to attend the
first session to explain how the build
would work. Once the trades and staff
understood that a blitz build could
work, they were ready to listen. Two
very key points came from Matt and
James: the trades have to plan the
schedule and all egos are checked at
the door.
When Angela spoke, her words
were very sad, but so eloquent and
moving that every person in that
room would have started right then
and there if we had wood in the
meeting room. It was amazing to see
the buy in. By the final meeting, the
Saturday before the build, the trades
were excited and anxious to get going.
Friday, June 9: HOPE begins
Project HOPE was a team of over
600 volunteers, including security,
parking, site logistics, 24-hour food
service and about 200 skilled trade
volunteers, all of whom were outfitted
in corresponding t-shirts for the type
of volunteer they were. There was
also First Aid and a nurse’s station,
including a chiropractor, massage
therapist and an osteopath to keep
everyone going. It had been raining
up until the build, but I think we had
some assistance from up above as the
rain stopped before we started.
By 11 a.m. Friday morning, we
had over 100 volunteers working on
the home at one time, doing framing,
HVAC, plumbing and roofing. At one
point, the walls were going up so
quickly with so many trades working
in unison that a member of the film
crew commented later that it looked
like Cirque du Soleil – but with cranes
and walls, framers and roofers. It was
an amazing sight!
In order for HOPE to work, we
created a one-time factory in the field
surrounding the lot. From staging,
to having a platform for framing, to
having the exact same house next door
with the floor deck on for building the
roof, it was all tightly controlled by our
logistics team and the trades.
The safety team cleared the site
while the roof was craned on, and
everyone held their breath as the front
half was lowered into place. We were
joined by our local MP, Karen Vecchio,
and MPP, Jeff Yurek, as well as the
newly elected leader of the Opposition,
Andrew Scheer. By 2 p.m., the roof was
on, the air barrier passed and drywall
boarding had begun. By 3 p.m., the
masons began by singing “Amazing
Grace.” Less than four hours later,
they were done, and by nightfall the
siding was complete. At the same time,
the drywall mud was being applied.
A 400,000 BTU heater and three
commercial dehumidifiers literally
sucked the house dry overnight.
31
The police and firemen sod race – everyone’s a winner.Angela Nooren with Luke and Aleida.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017
the home by 9 p.m. Saturday, 39 hours
after HOPE began, when Rob Johnston
from Building Knowledge tested the
home at 0.63 ACH.
Sunday, June 11:
HOPE opens to the public
Sunday was almost anticlimactic as
we were so far ahead of schedule that
we had to slow down for some timed
events. The highlight had to be the sod
laying race between the police and
fire services. After the fire department
won, they proudly displayed their
trophy, a Canada 150 flag from the flag
pole at the fire station. Very cool.
Final thoughts
For me though, the ultimate highlight
was when we pulled aside the RV
(cheesy, but it had to be done) to
reveal the home and I walked up to
the front door with Carolyne to be
greeted by Angela. There were many
hugs and tears. I had asked her to be
my honorary décor consultant for this
project, so this was the first time we
were seeing her selections. It was a
beautiful beach theme in honour of her
husband. Angela’s work was recognized
as an Interior Décor finalist at the
Ontario Home Builders’ Association
Awards this past fall – an amazing
accomplishment for a rookie, especially
going against much larger homes.
Another lasting memory I
will cherish from HOPE was the
camaraderie between everyone who
participated, and the positive impact
it had on our community. If you would
like to have a sense of what it was like,
our documentary film, HOPE: A Story
that Builds More Than a New Home,
will be released in 2018. I can’t wait
to share it with everyone. For more
information about the film, go to
facebook.com/projecthopedoc. BB
Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at
Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.
32
Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
Saturday, June 10:
HOPE flies to the finish
By 6 a.m., the drywallers gave way to
the painters, and with a team of about
20 pros, they blew through the home
in under two hours. Saturday had the
majority of interior finishes, so we had
the chance to sit back a bit and watch
it unfold. Trimming, tiling, hardwood,
fireplace surround, cabinetry. It all
happened in a well orchestrated blur.
Our biggest task for the day was
craning the deck into place.
Amazingly, we were effectively done
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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 24 / Winter 2017

  • 1. ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 “Ready-Shoot-Aim” Regulation An Empire State of Mind What is Net Zero Anyway? Castleform: High Performance, Low Carbon Homes Three Days to Net Zero-Ready IN THIS ISSUE HighStyle Low Carbon
  • 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 24 | WINTER 2017 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Climate Change and the Balanced, Low-Carbon Diet by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 The “Ready-Shoot-Aim” Approach to Building Regulation in Ontario by Lou Bada INDUSTRY NEWS 7 Net Zero: Does Anyone Really Know What This Is? by Richard Lyall BUILDER NEWS 10 Castleform Homes: High Performance, Low Carbon Homes by Alex Newman INDUSTRY EXPERT 14 The Great, the Annoying and the Funny: One High-Performance Home Experience by Gord Cooke SITE SPECIFIC 27 Steve Doty, Quality Assurance Manager for Empire Communities by Alex Newman FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Building a Net Zero-Ready Home in Three Days? It Helps to Have a Guardian Angel! by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 High Performance Housing: An Empire State of Mind Empire Communities innovates by focusing on what’s important for its home buyers. by Rob Blackstein 14 30 ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 On our cover: Empire Communities’ Riverland Discovery Home Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 10 23 Sinking In Their TEETH by Rob Blackstien 24 Real and Relevant Trials in the Field by Trudy Puls
  • 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 20172 A s 2018 approaches, some of us are likely thinking of new year’s resolutions. One common goal is losing weight. I’m happy to say, after losing 23 pounds, that my method was simple: portion control, no snacks between meals, and consuming the right types of carbohydrates and fats. It’s all about putting the right things in our mouths at the right time of day. By following my diet, I have reduced my literal footprints by almost 10%. Like carbohydrates, carbon-based fossil fuels have gotten a bad rap. Burning coal is like eating foods with high glucose that stores “fat” in the body. That “fat” is CO2, which heats up the atmosphere and alters weather patterns. Managing our appetite for energy in housing requires choosing “low carb” fuels like natural gas for space and hot water heating. Burning natural gas results in 45% less emissions than coal (see the chart on page 8). The portion control comes in when we use gas intelligently for small loads. For example, the package A1 reference house only requires 28 kBTU per hour on the coldest day of the year. A small condensing hot water heater, in combination with an air handler, can heat the house and provide hot water on demand. As electricity is discounted at night (6.5 cents per kWh), an air source heat pump can provide supplemental space heating during shoulder months off peak (this is referred to as hybrid heat or fuel switching). In this issue’s feature (page 16), we explore Empire Communities’ Hybrid Home, the gem in their Three Energy Efficient Test Homes (TEETH) project. It’s a real low-carbon diet success story, with moderate increases in insulation and right-sized hybrid heating using natural gas to yield high performance with low carbon emissions. There are some policy makers promoting zero carbon houses using electricity as an energy source. I would suggest the Climate Change Action Plan is more like a fad diet, with electricity being the white sugar in the energy debate. The idea of zero carbon tastes so good right now, but is it viable for the longer term? Nuclear energy in Ontario has a long history of being very expensive and unreliable, and consuming electricity in residential net zero housing is sure to leave a bad taste in everybody’s mouths in the long run as prices escalate. In the energy diet we prescribe, using that electricity to offset oil used in cars and trucks would affect CO2 emissions more than using the electricity to heat homes. In 2018, our climate change diet menu includes portion control with slightly more insulation and low carbon natural gas for our heating systems. Bon appetit. BB Climate Change and the Balanced, Low-Carbon Diet 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 24 | WINTER 2017 3 It must be great, being perched high up above, prescribing and proscribing. Unfortunately, builders actually have to build something and don’t work metaphysically. I believe we’ve strayed too far from “evidence- based policy” and gone into “policy- based evidence.” In this issue, Richard Lyall, presi­ dent of RESCON, discusses the lack of a cost–benefit value for consumers for net zero homes (whatever that happens to be based on modelled energy consumption). To further the discussion and illustrate this point, I’d like to give you the “nuts-and-bolts” perspective of a builder on a few of the future SB-12 changes to the Ontario Building Code that many theorists don’t think (or more likely don’t care) about when proposing more stringent standards for ambiguous benefits. thebadatest / LOU BADA The “Ready-Shoot-Aim” Approach to Building Regulation in Ontario • Attic insulation More is better, right? R-70 is the new R-40. The law of diminishing returns aside, we can’t ignore the law of gravity. We may, in some instances, have to beef up our roof and ceiling structures to support the increased weight of the insulation. We haven’t examined this in a while. As well, to achieve the correct amount of insulation at the eaves, our regular raised heel trusses may not suffice and will also need to be increased. Also as a result, we may have to increase roof pitches (slopes). Increased insulation means greater roof pitches, which means more work for framers and roofers, not just insulators – all of whom are in short supply. • Triple-glazed windows The law of gravity still applies. Surprise! The glazing is 50% heavier. Windows delivered to the job sites typically arrive glazed. It’s a tough job now to install windows; with triple-glazed windows, it will require an entirely different approach. Windows will likely need to be installed without glazing and the glass installed afterwards. There are not enough glazing installers today to do this work. Also, with expected mandatory exterior insulated sheathing, and given that more weight is distributed outboard on the window, we will have to examine our window frames and/ or framing and beef that up too. Not to mention a payback of about 200 years and a CO2 reduction of 0.090 tonnes annually. • Under-slab insulation This will present a logistical challenge. Currently a basement slab can be poured early in the day, and left to partially set in order that it can be properly trowel finished later in the day. With the introduction of foam insulation to the substrate, the ability for the concrete to dry is slowed. Workers will likely not be able to pour and finish concrete properly within the same day. This throws a wrench into the work process and schedule and inevitably adds time. At an additional cost of $3 to $4 per square foot, under-slab insulation has a payback of 231 years on .089 tonnes of CO2 reduction. A t some point in my career, I’d really like to try working on the government policy side of building legislation and regulation in Ontario. I’d come up with some great policy aspirations and turn to some advocacy groups, experts and those with vested interests (whose opinions and interests line up with the political agenda of the day) to come up with the regulations. Then I’d make sure my consultants speak to industry – “ticked that box” – and then completely ignore them. ERHUI1979/ISTOCKPHOTO
  • 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 COST BENEFIT FOR CHANGES REQUIRED IN 2020 MODELLING RESULTS REM RATE 14.6.2 MODELLING RESULTS HOT 2000 10.51 Component comparison Impact % over package A Cost impact on the energy use Energy use difference (kWh) Gas emission (tonnes) Impact % over package A Cost impact on the energy use Energy use difference (kWh) Gas emission (tonnes) Average cost benefit Walls R-22 + R-5 ci @ 16" oc vs R-22 @ 24" oc 8 % $ 58 2,169 0.394 4 % $ 23 845 0.154 $ 41 Below Grade Slab R-5 vs R-0 1 % $ 3 126 0.023 3 % $ 23 855 0.155 $ 13 Windows U=1.2 vs U=1.4 2 % $ 13 495 0.090 1 % $ 10 364 0.066 $ 12 3 ACH vs 2 ACH 5 % $ 38 1,443 0.261 5 % $ 41 1,535 0.278 $ 40 4 • Mandatory airtightness testing to 2.0 ACH As a builder working in municipalities where ENERGY STAR is mandatory, we were hard pressed to hit the required 2.5 air changes on every house. It has taken the industry about 10 years to hit 2.5 ACH, down from an average of about 4.0 ACH consistently. What happens on a house at closing if the required 2.0 ACH is not achieved? Many believe the 2022 requirement is onerous and not achievable. These are just a few of the things that run through my mind when additional building code requirements are proposed or implemented. It means more time and more labour, in an industry that already takes too long to get things done and has a serious shortage of skilled workers. Challenges with governmental red tape and the lack of good skilled trades training initiatives are just as difficult to deal with as proposed code changes – maybe more so. For those that don’t know me personally, I am not a climate change denier or proponent of business as usual in the face of environmental challenges. But I do like rational and properly considered public policy and regulations. I also care about consumers and the product we deliver. Ideologues – or worse, political opportunists – who are dismissive of opposing views because they claim to be on the side of the angels will not achieve any meaningful goals. In fact, we will get the opposite – a dysfunctional economy. A productive and robust economy is what pays for the social infrastructure we so highly value and our ability to take care of the environment. The approach for moving forward should be ready, aim, shoot. A target of cost- effective and achievable outcomes should be in our sights. BB Lou Bada is Vice President of Low Rise Construction at Starlane Home Corporation and on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The approach for moving forward should be ready, aim, shoot. A target of cost-effective and achievable outcomes should be in our sights.
  • 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 20176 • PROVIDES A CONTINUOUS THERMAL RESISTANCE OF R-5; perfect for meeting the requirements of the Quebec & Ontario Building Code. • DOES NOT REQUIRE ADDITIONAL BRACING; one-step installation saving time and cost. • INTEGRATED AIR-BARRIER; no additional housewrap required saving material costs. • LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO INSTALL; allows for fast installation saving time and cost. R-5 XP C O M B I N E S T H E W I N D B R A C I N G P R O P E R T I E S O F W O O D F I B R E W I T H T H E T H E R M A L R E S I S T A N C E O F E X T R U D E D P O L Y S T Y R E N E bpcan.com F O R O V E R 1 0 0 Y E A R S INSULSHEATHING Panel Introducing a Unique Innovation:
  • 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 7 industrynews / RICHARD LYALL D o you know what net zero is? I’m not sure the Ontario government does. But somehow, it has slowly become part of the lexicon of Ontario since Premier Kathleen Wynne introduced the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) in June 2016. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) docu­ ment says that the government will create a “Near Net Zero Carbon Home Incentive” without any clear details or cost-benefit analysis to justify such a paradigm shift, for that matter. The incentive is stated to provide rebates for “near net zero carbon emission homes” to reduce the higher upfront costs for new-home buyers, as these homes will include energy-efficiency performance that sufficiently exceeds the requirements of the Ontario Building Code (OBC). It also explains that the OBC would be updated “with long-term energy efficiency targets for new net zero carbon emission small buildings that will come into effect by 2030 at the latest, and [the government will] consult on initial changes that will be effective by 2020. Ontario will consult on how to best achieve these targets through Building Code improvements.” The government really should have spoken to construction industry experts before they wrote this. It might have helped them to define “net zero,” which they didn’t do. So how do you achieve something intangible? I won’t try to answer that question today, but let’s continue this discussion with an easily digestible definition from RESCON’s director of building science, Paul De Berardis, M.Eng., P.Eng.: “A net zero home is one that is theoretically designed to produce as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis.” Simple, easy to understand. This is the unofficial baseline that some of us in the industry are working with. But wait a minute – the CCAP mentions “net zero carbon.” There has been some debate and discussion over the past year and a half over whether this reference is actually a typo – because if it is taken literally, it means carbon emissions would have to be eliminated as well. And that would essentially signal the end for natural gas space and water heating. No longer being able to use natural gas will mean a huge spike in electricity use for homes across the province. Consider that another parallel directive in the CCAP is to increase the use of electric vehicles and ensure charging infrastructure is available in all new housing. These net zero housing and electric vehicle mandates would significantly impact the cost of living, strain electricity grids and ultimately hurt the economy. So, did the government really mean to do this? If so, why? Putting aside the “net zero carbon” issue, let’s focus on what it would take to bring homes up to our stripped- down definition of net zero. De Berardis ran the numbers in an exercise of cost-benefit analysis for a net zero, two-storey detached house. The net zero additions – solar panels on the roofs, heavily insulated and nearly airtight building envelopes, electrically powered heat pump type space and water heating equipment, among them – will incrementally cost up to $75,000 more per home. Add that to the price of new homes in the GTHA or around Ontario, and it’s not a pleasant result. Net Zero 7 Does Anyone Really Know What This Is? MICROSTOCKHUB/ISTOCKPHOTO
  • 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 20178 Until the price of building a net zero home somehow drastically drops, the cost-benefit analysis cannot be justified from a consumer perspective, De Berardis says. (He adds that in conversations he has had about cost- benefit analysis with ministry officials, they have told him that the current Ontario government is not interested in cost-benefit when climate change is involved. What can you say to that?) Meanwhile, achieving net zero on a mass scale for new home construction, never mind a few one- offs, is no easy task. You might remember Natural Resources Canada’s net zero pilot project, the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, which was announced as a success last year. We learned that after three years of construction and more than $5 million in government and proponent funding, only 21 of the 26 homes were constructed as net zero energy, citing the cost of solar photovoltaics as an issue. Considering the time and money pumped into this project, that should be a red flag for Ontario’s MOECC to take another look at their plan for mass market implementation of net zero. Even the final reporting on this pilot concluded that although this project demonstrated that net zero energy housing is technically feasible, “more assistance is required to help drive market demand and reduction in cost.” And let me ask you this: when was the last time you heard of a new-home buyer at a sales office demanding a net zero home? (Cricket, cricket, tumble weed.) Where is the rebate for purchasing and building a near net zero home, as described in the CCAP? There is no incentive to buy net zero, and yet the OBC continues down this path. This is not a market-driven force. What about “near net zero” homes, a.k.a. “net zero-ready” homes? (I know – this gets confusing.) With the OBC changes proposed for 2022, new houses will be nearing this target. According to De Berardis, this means the building envelope and airtightness of a new Code-built home is approaching net zero-ready status, without solar photovoltaic capability to generate electricity. There are even proposals for rough-ins of future solar panel installation, which would facilitate the transition to net zero status. “When some of the proposed 2022 changes are modelled in a reference house, results showed there are marginal cost-benefits of the energy- efficient code proposals,” De Berardis says. “For example, the estimated cost premium of triple-pane windows at a minimum of $3,000 per home with yearly energy savings of $15: it will take the home owner 200 years to reap the benefits of this upgrade.” But remember, the Ontario govern­ ment doesn’t care about cost-benefit when climate change is on the table. Don’t get me wrong: I want to save the planet too. But is this initiative really doing it? At what cost to home buyers do we head down this path? How can cost-benefit be deemed irrelevant? I have another question: how likely are you going to buy an electric vehicle (EV)? Ontario offers a rebate of up to $14,000 if you buy one (funded on the backs of taxpayers, by the way), but let’s just say people aren’t trading in their gas-powered vehicles in droves to drive electric (currently electric vehicles make up approximately 1% of the market in Ontario). Is this really help­ ing the greater good? I would say no. And yet the government is artificially stimulating demand by changing the OBC to mandate EV charging stations in all new homes – high-rise, mid-rise and low-rise. Who runs a business like this? Regardless of what you may want or need, by 2019 the government intends to mandate electrical vehicle charging capability in all new forms of housing. Take a guess who will foot the bill for this: the unsuspecting home buyer who wonders why housing is getting more and more unaffordable. Some builders, like Better Builder columnist Lou Bada, are taking the Wynne government at its word with net zero and other energy changes because it is providing little or no elaboration. In a column from December 2015, he wrote about the Queen’s Park goal of getting new homes to net zero by 2030: “How much affordability are we willing to forgo in an already unaffordable housing market to increase energy efficiency in new housing a few years early?” The 2030 deadline is “not market driven, there are no economic incentives available, and it makes decent housing less attainable to those who need it most.” 8 COAL NATURAL GAS COMPONENT OF STRATEGY FOR CO2 EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS OIL 26% BETTER THAN COAL NATURAL GAS 45% BETTER THAN COAL 53kg CO2 emissions by source per 1 million BTUs 72kg 97kg
  • 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 9 I agree wholeheartedly. And while I also see merit in what the government is trying to achieve, their methodology is not achievable. But there is an achievable target for builders that would meet the green goals of the government: low carbon, net zero cost. Better Builder writer Rob Blackstien wrote about it in the summer 2017 issue. It makes perfect sense: “The problem is that eradicat­ ing carbon is completely impossible. That said, there are feasible solutions emerging based on common sense and a cost-benefit approach.” “Enter low carbon, net zero cost, a new trend in environmentally conscious home design and a perfect example of which was seen by thousands of people who traversed the 2017 Future Dream Home project at the National Home Show in Toronto in March.” The home was designed and built to perform 50% better than Code. So, let’s build new houses for people and let’s establish a cost-benefit analysis for new energy-efficient measures going forward. There are other more realistic measures to achieve energy- efficient improvements other than net zero, cutting out natural gas or pushing EVs on a reluctant population of drivers. Are we just going to push ahead with these measures because of our current government’s tunnel vision, or will common sense rule the day? Let’s hope for the latter. BB Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. He is also a frequent speaker and writer on issues related to the construction industry. Contact him @ RESCONprez or at media@rescon.com. “Until the price of a net zero home drastically drops, the cost-benefit analysis cannot be justified from a consumer perspective.”
  • 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201710 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN Net zero is an admirable goal, but is still in its infancy and so far hasn’t demonstrated that you can produce one form of energy without consuming another form. “Photovoltaic panels, for example, produce electricity from the sun, but the production of them still consumes energy.” Rather than split hairs over what net zero means, Voong aims to reduce his carbon footprint as a builder. His focus is on creating high- performance, low-carbon housing, by using high-performance products that produce the lowest carbon output as possible. A builder for the past 12 years, Voong had no prior experience in the industry. He came to it from a financial background, and he is someone with demonstrably good business sense. Initially, he says he “was an average everyday OBC builder, and did not pay any attention to energy efficiency. We didn’t need to at that time, as we were not faced with the demands of energy-efficient homes that we are today.” He took notice, though, when the Ontario Building Code started to change rapidly, as it increased expectations on energy efficiency through more insulation, tighter building envelopes, higher rated windows, HRVs/ERVs and better use of efficient building technologies. Now his homes are 40% more energy efficient than the current building code – which is significant, considering Ontario’s code is already 44% better than the Kyoto definition. He’s achieved it through an integrated approach combining all aspects: tight envelope, efficient HVAC and proper ventilation. When Voong instructs other builders on energy-efficient methods, he explains: “they have to picture the house being shrink wrapped. That will be the ultimate in airtightness. If we have holes in the shrink wrap, then we are leaking out conditioned air – air that we have to spend money on to heat or cool. Any air that is leaking is money lost. So we have to try and prevent that. In doing so, we have to pay attention to air barrier details and its continuity throughout the house and even under the basement slab. Detail is very important when it comes to airtightness. I always say that you can use the best products on the market, but if you are not using it in the right fashion, or detailing it the right way, it’s not that effective. John Godden, at Clearsphere, taught me how to think outside the box and showed me how to use the right details and to not just satisfy the OBC, but go beyond. And that’s exactly what we do.” The other part of airtightness is proper insulation, and here, Voong says, Roxul is your friend. “It is a fabulous product,” he says. “There are many benefits to the product besides R-value. We pair that with insulated exterior sheathing that has a house wrap built into it. Then all we would have to do is tape the joints with premium tape. We continue to wrap down the foundation wall and tape it to the radon barrier that is under the basement slab. This type of detail will have a continuous air barrier throughout the house. This creates the shrink wrapping of the house, per se. That’s why it is very important to have all of the trades on board and on the same page.” Airtightness is great, but it comes at a cost – it means no ventilation, and “you still need to breathe,” Voong says. “We put an ERV in all our homes to provide fresh air. You don’t want Castleform Homes High-Performance, Low-Carbon Homes P eter Voong, president of Castleform Homes, finds the term “net zero” confusing and misleading. While it’s supposed to mean a no-carbon footprint, he asks: “what does that mean exactly? Only the energy a house consumes? What about the energy it takes to produce that clean energy?” Peter Voong and John Godden.
  • 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 the same stale air being circulated throughout the house.” The ERV is part of a bigger HVAC system Castleform uses. For the mechanics of heating and cooling, Voong says the most common sense approach is “a combi-boiler for heating and domestic hot water. There are other technologies that are very efficient these days. It just depends on what you want to achieve and how much you want to spend. But a combi-boiler, to me, is what makes sense on all fronts for the time being. I’m hearing air source heat pumps are very efficient as well.”  Fuel switching is another consideration. “It makes sense for the future. Off-peak electricity could be on par cost wise with gas, because PV technology might be so advanced that we do not need to be tied to the electricity grid for all our electricity needs. Water consumption is going to be a big issue in the near future. Even the amount of waste a household generates.” It’s necessary to plan in advance of changing building codes, and also as technologies and systems improve. But as much as Voong is committed to reducing his carbon footprint – for the world his children will inherit – he knows the bottom line can’t be ignored. “Energy-efficient building has to be done affordably or the public won’t buy in. I’m in the custom home market for the time being,” Voong says. “So I’m always thinking about the operating costs of the home. Home owners spend less to operate their homes, but are willing to pay more for the energy-efficient features that we incorporate in the houses that we build. Energy costs are always increasing, so we have to be mindful of that when we add such features.” He is hopeful that energy reduction will be embraced as consumer awareness and public education increase. The key to reducing carbon output is to reduce fossil fuel use. “We have relied on fossil fuel for so many aspects of our lives,” Voong says. “We have built systems and economic drivers with it. And for now, we need it because there is no way we can switch to a cleaner alternative fuel source without harming the many systems and economic drivers that we have created. But as we make technological breakthroughs, we are more able to make conscionable changes, because reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is a must for our future.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. 11 From left to right : Francis Bossé, Director of Research and Development, BP of Canada; Eric Belley, Product Manager Wood Fibre, BP of Canada; Bob McDonald, Key Account Manager, BP of Canada. 22 betterthancode.ca THIS HOME IS 55% BETTER THAN CODE 28TwentyFirstStreet,EtobicokeON
  • 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201712 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
  • 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 13 W ith dramatic increases in thermal efficiency, very little attention has been paid to air distribution systems in new homes. The Empire Hybrid Home is different. A detailed approach was taken with its duct design, furnace selection, sizing and placement. Ductwork is considerably smaller and all second floor returns are dedicated with sheet metal. The most important consideration remaining is reducing duct leakage; the average leakage rate of supply ductwork is between 30% to 40%. Oddly, the HVAC designs assume there is zero leakage – that 100% of the rated airflow goes where the design dictates. In order for high- performance modulating furnaces with electronically commutated motor (ECM) blowers to be effective, especially for cooling, the ductwork needs to be sealed. Historically, the lowest leakage rate attainable was 10% and was extremely messy and labour intensive to achieve. Smaller heating loads, smaller furnaces and lower airflow with reduced duct sizing means duct sealing is extremely important. At the Hybrid test home, Michael White and his team at HomeWorks made us a believer in the Aeroseal system. Supply ductwork was not sealed with metal tape, which is a code requirement. Within a short period of time, the duct sealing system reduced leakage by 93%, down to 25 cfm. The Aeroseal system injects adhesive particles into the ductwork, and the particles attach directly onto any holes on cracks at joints and fittings. Magically, this pressurized seal happens without coating the inside of the ductwork. After the sealing, the system was balanced at each register. The system flow at the furnace was measured and compared to the total delivery of the individual registers. Remarkably, there was only a 3% difference. Duct designs and installation, combined with effective sealing with Aeroseal, are essential for efficiency and comfort. For more information, visit www.heandcs.ca. BB By : Better Builder Staff WE MAKE COMFORT COMPLAINTS GO AWAY! Michael White 905.875.4544 michael@heandcs.ca Aeroseal Duct Sealing All Trade QA/QC Inspections We use industry-leading software. Inspections with or without a blower door test – get ready for the 2020 code changes. PDIs Houses are becoming more complicated – let us educate your homeowners during the PDI. Building Performance Diagnostics and Troubleshooting Overall Sealing Results When we arrived, YOUR DUCTS HAD: 356 CFM of leakage, equivalent to a 68 square inch hole After we finished, YOUR DUCTS HAVE: 25 CFM of leakage, equivalent to a 5 square inch hole This corresponds to 93% reduction in duct leakage Sealing the Deal with Aeroseal
  • 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201714 industryexpert / GORD COOKE I need to start by saying it was a great build experience. The last time we had a house built was 25 years ago and that went well enough, but Derek and his great crew exemplified the best of what we all know home building can be. They had the craftsmanship that you would expect from a third- generation builder, combined with the professionalism of proper budget­ ing and scheduling, topped off with application of the best of what a true understanding of building science can bring to modern housing. You will undoubtedly want to know about the insulation levels. It’s a modest 1.5-storey home, 1,450 square feet on the main floor, but 26,000 board feet of pink extruded foam sheathing surrounds the house to effectively create a beer cooler. Six inches under the slab on grade – yes, slab on grade that I love, perfect for sandy soils with a high water table near the lake. That 6 inches lines up with 3 inches of foam set into the foundation stem wall that provides a thermal break at the slab edge and brick ledge. What seemed like a great idea, that is used regularly in barn construction, but turned out to be an annoyance for the guys tying in the extensive rebar structure outlined by the engineer who had to stamp it for a skeptical residential building department. That 3 inches in the foundation wall lined up with the 3 inches of exterior foam sheathing on the 2x6 walls. The framers were quick to point out that you can’t get button cap nails at that length in a nail gun, so they had to hand nail the insulated sheathing and that was annoying. No surprise that the net zero homes that most builders now use include 2 inches of insulated sheathing. The 3 inches of wall foam lined up with 4 inches of XPS on the roof deck. Add a 2x8 rafter to form the cathedral ceiling, then the 4 inches of foam, then 2 inches of strapping for a vented roof assembly. This roof assembly shows up in Joe Lstiburek’s building science guide as ideal for high snow load areas. When I told Joe how annoying it was for the guys to build it, given the 8-inch long screws needed for the strapping, Joe said he drew it, but never expected anyone to actually build it. That was kind of funny, but it does make for a very forgiving roof assembly and an extra 550 square feet of living space under that simple gable end cathedral. I find it funny that when the sun shines on the south-facing room, the foam expands and you get this subtle popping noise in the upstairs room. Then you get a slightly different noise when the sun goes down that sounds like a squirrel running on the roof. Make a note to include spacing and a slip plane to allow for the expansion or use a lower expansion sheet foam, such as polyiso foam. The Great, the Annoying and the Funny One High-Performance Home Experience A t the recent Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Greater Toronto Chapter Gala, I was pleased to accept the Innovation Award for residential projects on behalf of Derek Seaman of Seaman & Sons Builders. Of course, the award was extra special because it was a vacation home Derek built for my family and me. When Derek and I sat down exactly three years ago to hash out the particulars of the house, we came up with almost 30 different technologies or strategies that we wanted to try in the project, and thus I think the “Innovation” title of the award was appropriate. Having now a couple of years in the house, I thought you might be interested in hearing the good, the bad and the ugly – or more accurately, the great, the annoying and the funny – of the adventure.
  • 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 Finally, all the cavities (walls and ceilings) were filled with high-density spray foam, just because I wanted the highest possible R-value. The walls end up with an effective R-value of 36 (partly due to advanced framing); the ceiling has an effective R-value of 59. The fun part for Derek and me was to make the house as tight as possible – tighter than Ron Seaman’s (Derek’s dad’s) house, which I tested 28 years ago at 0.35 ACH @ 50 Pa. We made it down to 0.19 ACH for great bragging rights. The tightness was achieved partly by detailing the Tyvek as an air barrier, which got it down to 1.1 ACH. Then the XPS was taped and gasketed as per the OC’s codeboard air barrier details. That got us to about 0.7 ACH, and the foam and drywall got us that final airtightness. Consider the insulation, the triple-glazed windows and the incredible airtightness, combined with the vänEE Gold Series with HEPA filtered fresh air going directly to each bedroom. As a result, the house is so quiet, and the bedroom air so fresh and clean that all our guests sleep in like never before. It is actually fun to see the difference that makes, not to mention that I can leave the house for weeks in the winter without any heat on with no danger of freeze-ups. Here are a few other interesting lessons learned: • The 4,000-litre rain water cistern is enough to flush toilets for six months, but only enough to water the grass twice. Go smaller and find better landscaping options. • The Rona recycled paint had limited colour choices but spread and covered better than paint four times the cost. • I love my Dow Powerhouse Solar shingles, but they don’t make them anymore (although they are coming back onto the market under another name). My insurance company had never heard of them, so the south half of my roof isn’t insured. • Visitors love the reclaimed historic yellow brick and the stained concrete floors and are surprised that they can’t “see” all the energy- saving features. • The air source heat pump to heat the house and the heat pump water heater are incredibly quiet and efficient, but I miss the quick pick-up response of a gas water heater, especially for the in-floor heat. • The solar hot water panel is very frustrating. It makes hot water so quickly on sunny days, but the controls don’t speak with other systems very well, so the heat pump water heater still runs even when the solar tank is full of 150°F water. Although we all know energy savings aren’t all that important to us or our customers when it comes to making house decisions, I can tell you that with two full years of data, the house has generated 10% more energy than I have used (yes, it is a vacation home that we use sporadically in winter), so it is comforting to know that when we aren’t there, the utility is sending us cheques. Overall, this was a wonderful build experience and I would be pleased to discuss it further with anyone interested. I will post the full list of features we explored and more pictures on our website at www.buildingknowledge.ca. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 15 Optimized mechanicals for a net zero home complete with radiant hydronic distribution and high efficiency ERV. 9 betterthancode.ca THIS HOME IS 93% BETTER THAN CODE 123LowEnergyAvenue,SouthamptonON RatedMay9,2015byMichaelWhite Cross Border Challenge Winner 2015
  • 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 High-Performance
  • 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 17 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN Empire Communities innovates by focusing on what’s important for its home buyers. An Empire State of Mind E mpire Communities’ resumé speaks for itself. With more than 350 employees, the Vaughan, Ontario-based builder is one of the nation’s leading developers and builders of integrated master-planned communities, with over 10,000 new homes and condominiums to its credit. The company, which celebrates its 25th birthday next year, has collected a room full of awards over the years, many of which recognize its accomplishments in green building. But perhaps what sets Empire apart more than anything else is the builder’s approach to energy efficiency. While every builder (and his brother) are seemingly fixated on net zero or near zero or the green building buzzword du jour, Empire is keeping its eyes on the bottom line – and no, we don’t mean on its financial statements. “We’re trying to deviate from that pinpoint focus on energy and really look at performance as the bigger metric,” says Empire executive vice-president/co-founder Paul Golini. He explains that what’s ultimately most important in this equation is the home owners and their concerns around costs, comfort, etc. Housing COURTESYEMPIRECOMMUNITIES Empire Communities’ Hybrid House blends high style with high performance.
  • 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 The buck stops there After all, he says, the buck stops there. “I try to remind everyone in this ecosystem of the building industry that if there’s no home buyers, we’re all out of a job.” Empire’s philosophy around this is simple: while an energy-efficient house may or may not be a high- performance house, a high-performance house by its very nature is energy efficient. It’s a subtle difference, but it speaks mightily to Empire’s approach and its value differentiator. And it certainly goes without saying that this company has been a pioneer in the green building space. Consider that Empire Communities was: • A participant in 2003 at the launch of the Building Canada program, the precursor to ENERGY STAR; • One of the original ENERGY STAR builders, creating a discovery home in 2005 in Brantford; • The builder of a LEED silver home in 2008; • The BILD Low Rise Builder of the Year in 2011; and • The winner of the Cross Border Challenge by building a home in March 2011 with a HERS score of 37. Empire has been using discovery homes to help drive innovation and future home building direction for nearly 15 years, making it sort of the Lewis and Clark of the Canadian building scene. In 2016, the company began con­struction of its most recent discovery houses, an initiative known as TEETH, which stands simply for Three Energy Efficient Test Homes. The trio of homes, located in Breslau, Ontario, is being monitored by Union Gas in conjunction with George Brown students. (Please see sidebar, “Sinking In Their TEETH” on page 23.) Out of control costs Golini says that discovery homes have helped shape many of Empire’s building decisions, but he’s very mindful of the fact that in the drive towards net zero 18 While an energy-efficient house may or may not be a high-performance house, a high-performance house by its very nature is energy efficient. 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
  • 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 EMPIRE COMMUNITIES TEETH HOMES : RIVERLAND Component Packge A1 Energy Star V.12 Lot 17 Energy Star Future Lot 16 Empire Hybrid House Lot 18 Ceiling R-60 R-50 R-60 R-60 Exposed Floor R-31 R-31 R-31 R-40 Walls Above Grade R-22 R-22 + R-5 R-24 + R-5 R-24 + 7.5 Walls Below Grade R-20 R-7.5 + R-10 Continuous R-20 R-10 + R-10 Continuous Below Grade Slab Uninsulated Uninsulated Uninsulated R-10 Windows & Sliding Glass Doors U = 1.6 Energy Star Zone 2 U = 1.5 U = 1.5 Space Cooling (SEER) 13 13 13 21 (Heat Pump & A/C) Space Heating (AFUE) 96% Combo Airmax-FlowMax 96% AFUE 96% AFUE Mechanical Ventilation 75% ERV 65% ERV 75% ERV-SRE = 83% Domestic Hot Water Heater EF = 0.8 Combo Airmax-FlowMax TE = 90% TE = 96% Air Change per Hour 3 2.06 1.81 1.37 Solar System none none none 6.75 kW w/ battery storage Drain Water Heat Recovery 42% on 2 shower drains 42% 42% 42%+ Grey Water Unit CFL none 75% 100% 100% Annual Energy Consumption — 28900 kWh 23300 kWh 26400 kWh % Better Than Code — 15% 23% 54% 19 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.
  • 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 HIGH EFFICIENCY DOMESTIC HOT WATER WITH DRAIN WATER HEAT RECOVERY AND GREY WATER RECYCLING HYBRID HEAT WITH NATURAL GAS 20 or the ultimate low-carbon, energy- efficient structure, costs can spiral out of control. “Affordability is the word of the day and has been for a while, and we know it’s been slipping away, so we’re careful not to get sort of sucked into building the greatest and ultimate energy and carbon-free house.” He explains that they can build them and wind up selling one out of 300 per community; it’s not viable yet on a production scale. “We’d rather take the learnings from the discovery homes and apply them across the board in all our homes; that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do.” Among those lessons over the years, Golini says one of the biggest ones was learning the benefits of insulated sheathing, specifically as it related to wall assembly. “The discovery home process has made a significant impact on our wall assembly over the years in determining what we think is not only the most efficient but also the most comfortable for our home buyers.” Early on in its discovery homes, Empire experimented with the power pipe, the copper piping that goes around drains. It essentially acts as a heat pipe recovery system that takes the heat generated from the hot water coming down the principal drains from the upper floors and puts it back into the hot water tank. This was something the company was employing well before it was incorporated into the Code and found that it recovered 60% of the heat from shower water, resulting in an estimated 25% savings on hot water bills. Altered lifestyle Empire was also one of the first builders to test monitors in the home, and they found it was a great way to help home owners alter their lifestyle to help facilitate a more energy- efficient environment. “What we’ve seen is that the im­mediate, continuous feedback is one of the most effective ways to change behaviour,” Golini explains. “We can do what we want to the home and put in the most advanced ERV systems and furnaces, but it’s really how the home buyer reacts to the technology and the lifestyle.” AIR CONDITIONER HEAT PUMP 21 SEER USES OFF-PEAK ELECTRICITY 6.5¢/kWh TO PROVIDE HEAT IN THE SHOULDER MONTHS AIR HANDLERA/C COIL DETTSON FULLY MODULATING CONDENSING FURNACE 96% AFUE SUMMER MODE TAKES HEAT WINTER MODE GIVES HEAT CONDENSING HOT WATER HEATER Envirosense 50/100 TE = 96% equals EF = 0.90 GREYWATER RECYCLING SYSTEM Two showers provides 30 toilet flushes PRE-HEATED WATER TEMP. 80ºF DRAIN WATER HOT WATER TO HOUSE 120ºF FLUSH TOILETS HEAT RECOVERY 50% EFFICIENCY CITY WATER
  • 23. 21BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 While no one argues that carbon reduction is a great goal, “there’s a lot of politics involved” in the government’s Climate Change Action Plan, Golini believes. Instead, Empire is focused on near zero cost as an objective. “Even though ice cream is a good thing, you can’t shove it down someone’s mouth, so too much of a good thing too quickly is not good for anyone,” he explains. “The same goes with this goal to deliver a carbon-free environment quickly. It comes with unintended consequences and costs.” Golini maintains it’s important for Empire to play a role alongside the government in steering the direction of carbon reduction. “Despite what we think about the government’s efforts, I think it’s still important to be at the table. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 19 betterthancode.ca THIS HOME IS 54% BETTER THAN CODE HybridHouseLot18,BreslauON
  • 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201722 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)
  • 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 The real gem The homes include: Empire’s standard baseline offering, which was ENERGY STAR-compliant as of 2016; a home with the predicted 2017 ENERGY STAR standards; and a near zero unit called the Hybrid Home, which is the real gem of this discovery session. Empire has owned the trademark for the term Hybrid Home for many years, but shelved it some time ago. However, given the hybrid approach to energy use in this TEETH project, it made sense to dust off the brand. Regular inspections evaluate how the envelope and distribution systems are performing, ultimately with the goal of determining the energy use and cost implications (see “Sealing the Deal” on page 13). A final report is expected around spring 2018. “There’s no doubt that our commit­ ment to ENERGY STAR has always placed us ahead of the Code – and now our TEETH homes are preparing us that much better for the Code changes that, obviously as we get closer to 2030, are getting closer and closer to net zero,” Golini says. For Empire, this is a glimpse into the future of what its home will look like down the road. “Just like the car show displays prototypes that will be on market five years down the road, our Hybrid Home showcases what we anticipate our homes to look like years from now,” he says. Ever-changing environment “It’s important to us to build and test now for the future as we are fully aware that, with an ever-changing building environ­ ment, what we build today will not be the standards for tomorrow,” Golini adds. The Hybrid Home highlights include: Dow R-7.5 and Roxul R-24 insulation in above-grade walls; Dow tape on joints of outboard insulation to reduce air leakage; the hybrid basement wall system, which is comprised of Dow’s R-10 2-inch Cladmate CM20 and Roxul’s R-10 2.5- inch Comfortboard 80 in basement walls (this installation was made possible by ITW Construction Products’ fastening system for the basement); the hybrid heating system, with Dettson’s Chinook modulating furnace (96% AFUE) and Alize air conditioner (21 SEER); Aeroseal duct sealing on heating supply lines; Panasonic bathroom exhaust fans; vänEE’s G2400EE ERV with 84% seasonal recovery efficiency with an ECM motor; an Envirosense 100K BTU direct vent condensing water heater; Panasonic 6.6 kW solar panels with battery storage and backup; and a Greyter grey water recycling unit with integrated powerpipe drainwater heat recovery. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca Sinking In Their TEETH Empire’s TEETH (Three Energy Efficient Test Homes) project was launched in the summer of 2016 in Breslau, Ontario, sponsored by Roxul and Dow, featuring monitoring with Union Gas and participation by George Brown students, and spearheaded by Clearsphere. For Empire, this is a glimpse into the future of what its home will look like down the road. Sealing ductwork with Aeroseal and HomeWorks. 23
  • 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 Who Empire Communities (Paul Golini Jr., Steve Doty), Clearsphere (John Godden and team), George Brown College (Dr. Chris Timusk and team), ROCKWOOL™ (Trudy Puls), Dow (Sue Swing) What In situ field research for thermally responsible continuous insulation in basements with Three Energy Effi­ cient Test Homes (TEETH) built by Empire Communities Why Empire Communities wants to explore new systems that will create better efficiencies, better outcomes and long-term durability. Specifically, they wanted to investigate “how does a foam plastic/stonewool basement hybrid system perform next to a traditional glassfibre basement blanket system?” When Research and data collection for 2017 to 2018 through all the seasonal impacts within our climate zone (southwestern Ontario) Where The TEETH homes are located at Empire’s Riverland site in Breslau, Ontario How All equipment and products were independently installed with the supervision of Steve Doty (Empire quality assurance manager) and site supers from Empire Communities. Monitoring systems and design ideas were implemented by Dr. Chris Timusk, John Godden, Steve Doty and team. For the hybrid basement solution, ROCKWOOL (COMFORTBOARD™ ), Dow and InsulFast by Ramset were used. ROCKWOOL successfully tested the COMFORTBOARD™ product and 5.5-inch stonewool COMFORTBATT® were approved as a thermal barrier over foamed plastics. These approvals have now allowed for new assemblies and innovations in the unfinished basement market. With the adoption of continuous insulation in the basement, new methods of installing basement insulation can be considered. It is commonly agreed that the use of glassfibre foundation blankets can create moisture buildup and condensation within the blanket cavity, due to the high amounts of moisture in the curing concrete along with cold exterior concrete surfaces and seasonal vapour drive. Visible condensation raises home owner concerns related to basement leaks and generates call back and warranty claims. Placing Styrofoam™ (XPS) on the inside of the basement wall and then covering with COMFORTBOARD™ to gain additional R-value not only protects from fire, but also provides more efficient and comfortable basements compared to the foundation blankets. The Styrofoam can be attached with a compatible adhesive such as GREAT STUFF PRO™ Wall & Floor Adhesive or PL Premium. Mechanical fasteners, such as tapcons or Insulfast by Ramset (which were used at this site), can be used in combination with adhesives to provide a quick and effective attachment. The research shows the hybrid system is performing, and the whole wall surface that has been insulated has an continuous insulation effective R-rating with no compromises. Check future issues of Better Builder for research and basement updates. BB Trudy Puls is Senior Sales Representative, Building Insulation, Canada for ROXUL Inc. 24 Real and Relevant Trials in the Field 8" FOUNDATION 1.5" STYROFOAM™ INSULATION R-7.5 CONTINUOUS 2" COMFORTBOARD™ 80 R-10 CONTINUOUS 6 MIL POLYETHYLENE VAPOUR BARRIER AND INTERIOR AIR FILM EXTERIOR DAMP PROOFING Hybrid basement solution featuring two layers of continuous insulation.
  • 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 25
  • 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201726 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
  • 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 What Steve Doty, quality assurance manager for Empire Communities, likes about the project is that it under­ takes experiments in places you don’t normally see, such as behind walls, in attics and under the basement. “The test houses are designed to compare products in different settings to see what works best.” Doty acts as project lead for the TEETH homes, liaising between the manufacturers involved – Roxul, Dow, Airmax and Clearsphere – and his office, the site manager and the George Brown students who monitor the homes. Prior to starting with Empire four years ago, Doty had no experience with green building nor with larger developer-builders. He had been in a number of construction situations for years, starting out as a carpenter when he first got out of school; then running his own business doing spec housing as a builder in the 1990s, buying infill; then building and selling; then working for custom builders. He found that the smaller companies come and go, and just when he’d get established with them, they would close. Looking for something with more stability, he joined Empire. At the time, they were doing ENERGY STAR as a standard, and though he had no background in green building, he did have a lot of experience in construction and carpentry. Time spent in the field taught him air testing and generally how green houses worked. He supplemented this with courses at Enerquality and with Clearsphere. Doty is now Empire’s quality assurance manager, working on the green side of construction. “My role is a large umbrella, and multi-faceted,” he says. “I am lead on any green initiatives and at the same time on the quality assurance side. At the end of the day, we’re building homes, and the big picture is to deliver something home owners really like.” It’s a company that consistently pushes forward with reducing consumption, Doty says. “The current Building Code is where we were a year ago. And where it’s proposing to go in 2020 and 2022 is something we’re preparing for now.” The challenge for a lot of builders, he says, is getting up to speed in time for the upcoming changes in the code. The TEETH homes are a good example. Under the current code, most basements are constructed with roll-down fibreglass batts fastened to the top of the wall and strapped mid-height. But these provide nominal R-values, Doty says, and the typical batt and insulation assembly tends to trap moisture and cause condensation. 27 Empire’s Pilot Basements Test Efficiency, Comfort and Cost sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN T he cold damp basement – long the domain of teenagers and man caves – is something Empire Communities aims to change with their pilot project, Three Energy Efficient Test Houses (TEETH). The project takes three homes: regular ENERGY STAR, an upgraded ENERGY STAR PLUS and a near zero Hybrid Home. Each has a different type of basement insulation, as well as different wall assemblies above and below grade, insulation and HVAC systems. Stephen Doty is the quality assurance manager for Empire Communities. The challenge for a lot of builders, says Doty, is getting up to speed in time for the upcoming changes in the code.
  • 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201728 This project allows Empire to test different below-grade wall assemblies to overcome the moisture issue. In the Hybrid Home, for example, where the basement achieves R-20, they’ve used 2-inch Dow Styrofoam, called Cladmate, mechanically fastened to the wall, with 2.5-inch Roxul Comfortboard fastened over top with plastic washers. In the ENERGY STAR PLUS home, where the basement achieves an R-value of 17.5, they’ve used 1.5-inch Dow Styrofoam Cladmate and 2.5-inch Roxul Comfortboard.  While the Hybrid Home is a good example of what can be done by a large builder, it is likely not practical in a large scale. “At the production end,” Doty says, “how do we sustain this expense and complication five years down the road at a production level that is sustainable? Will we be able to do solar panels on a mass scale? Not likely.” The other challenge, he admits, is home owner comprehension. “We put in NEST, and home owners were baffled,” he says. “They want something they can turn on and off.” Doty believes the kind of house Empire builds, especially with the improved basement construction, is much more comfortable. “You’ll still find purchasers who challenge you that the house is no better than the house they had ten years ago. But the proof is in the atmospheric quality. You can’t argue with no drafts and you can’t argue with comfort,” he says. BB While the Hybrid Home is a good example of what can be done by a large builder, it is likely not practical in a large scale. “At the production end, how do we sustain this expense and complication five years down the road?” RGLBuilding Consultants Ltd. Serving Southern Ontario Services • OBC Performance Modeling (province-wide coverage) • Consulting/Training • Air Tightness Testing • Air Leakage Investigations • Thermal Imaging • Trades Scopes of Work Reviews • ENERGY STAR® for New Homes • Net Zero Home • EnerGuide Rating Service • GreenHouse™ Certified Programs Offered Comprehensive consulting services designed to help our clients continuously improve their design and construction practices and deliver higher performing homes.
  • 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 201730 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY By now, many of you will have heard the story of Project HOPE and how we built a net zero-ready home in under three days. What you likely don’t know is the reason why. In July of 2016, Johnny Nooren, a local St. Thomas area building inspector, passed away from T-cell lymphoma. Johnny was very well liked as an inspector and throughout the community. Like so many others, I was both saddened by his sudden passing and left with the feeling that we should do something to help his wife, Angela, and their young son, Luke, and little daughter, Aleida. I remember being at Johnny’s visit­ation, in the receiving line with my wife, Carolyne, when we first met Angela. It was at that moment when it literally came to me in a flash that we would build a home to sell with the proceeds going to help their family, that we would build it in three days and that it must be a net zero-ready home. I felt it important that this project would both honour Johnny’s memory at the same time as it raised awareness about the need for more environmentally sustainable housing. Like I said, the idea came in a flash. It felt as though his spirit reached out to me to put a hand on my shoulder to say, “If you help my family, it will help you as well.” Seems like I had my guardian angel. Project HOPE I spent the next few weeks asking some key trades if they would help with the project and did not receive a no. One of my favourite answers was when I asked Leon Bach and Jamie Yolkowskie, two area building inspectors, to be part of the team as inspectors. At the meeting, I explained that we were going to build a home in three days and sell it, with the proceeds going to help Johnny’s family. I think it was Leon who said, “You’re gonna do what?” “Build a home in three days. But not just any home – a net zero-ready home, so that it’s more of a challenge. And I need you two on board because we’ll be going ’round the clock and can’t wait for inspections.” Without hesitation, they both said yes. It was then that I arranged to meet with Johnny’s widow, Angela. After I explained my plan and Angela got over her initial shock, she accepted my offer, and it was time to start planning for HOPE. Building a Net Zero-Ready Home in Three Days? T he Christmas season is upon us and it is a time of giving. It’s also the time of year that we remember favourite holiday classics. My particular favourite has always been the film It’s a Wonderful Life. I have always related to the story of George Bailey because there are so many parallels to my own life: from how George works to assure affordability for his customers, to ensuring he is planning the very best of communities for his town – there are so many lessons that still resonate today. The only thing missing is Clarence, the guardian angel. Raising the roof at Project HOPE. It Helps to Have a Guardian Angel!
  • 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 The planning Over the next nine months, we held several planning meetings with our trades, suppliers and volunteers. I arranged for James Bazely and Matt Pryce from Simcoe County Home Builders’ Association to attend the first session to explain how the build would work. Once the trades and staff understood that a blitz build could work, they were ready to listen. Two very key points came from Matt and James: the trades have to plan the schedule and all egos are checked at the door. When Angela spoke, her words were very sad, but so eloquent and moving that every person in that room would have started right then and there if we had wood in the meeting room. It was amazing to see the buy in. By the final meeting, the Saturday before the build, the trades were excited and anxious to get going. Friday, June 9: HOPE begins Project HOPE was a team of over 600 volunteers, including security, parking, site logistics, 24-hour food service and about 200 skilled trade volunteers, all of whom were outfitted in corresponding t-shirts for the type of volunteer they were. There was also First Aid and a nurse’s station, including a chiropractor, massage therapist and an osteopath to keep everyone going. It had been raining up until the build, but I think we had some assistance from up above as the rain stopped before we started. By 11 a.m. Friday morning, we had over 100 volunteers working on the home at one time, doing framing, HVAC, plumbing and roofing. At one point, the walls were going up so quickly with so many trades working in unison that a member of the film crew commented later that it looked like Cirque du Soleil – but with cranes and walls, framers and roofers. It was an amazing sight! In order for HOPE to work, we created a one-time factory in the field surrounding the lot. From staging, to having a platform for framing, to having the exact same house next door with the floor deck on for building the roof, it was all tightly controlled by our logistics team and the trades. The safety team cleared the site while the roof was craned on, and everyone held their breath as the front half was lowered into place. We were joined by our local MP, Karen Vecchio, and MPP, Jeff Yurek, as well as the newly elected leader of the Opposition, Andrew Scheer. By 2 p.m., the roof was on, the air barrier passed and drywall boarding had begun. By 3 p.m., the masons began by singing “Amazing Grace.” Less than four hours later, they were done, and by nightfall the siding was complete. At the same time, the drywall mud was being applied. A 400,000 BTU heater and three commercial dehumidifiers literally sucked the house dry overnight. 31 The police and firemen sod race – everyone’s a winner.Angela Nooren with Luke and Aleida.
  • 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 24 | WINTER 2017 the home by 9 p.m. Saturday, 39 hours after HOPE began, when Rob Johnston from Building Knowledge tested the home at 0.63 ACH. Sunday, June 11: HOPE opens to the public Sunday was almost anticlimactic as we were so far ahead of schedule that we had to slow down for some timed events. The highlight had to be the sod laying race between the police and fire services. After the fire department won, they proudly displayed their trophy, a Canada 150 flag from the flag pole at the fire station. Very cool. Final thoughts For me though, the ultimate highlight was when we pulled aside the RV (cheesy, but it had to be done) to reveal the home and I walked up to the front door with Carolyne to be greeted by Angela. There were many hugs and tears. I had asked her to be my honorary décor consultant for this project, so this was the first time we were seeing her selections. It was a beautiful beach theme in honour of her husband. Angela’s work was recognized as an Interior Décor finalist at the Ontario Home Builders’ Association Awards this past fall – an amazing accomplishment for a rookie, especially going against much larger homes. Another lasting memory I will cherish from HOPE was the camaraderie between everyone who participated, and the positive impact it had on our community. If you would like to have a sense of what it was like, our documentary film, HOPE: A Story that Builds More Than a New Home, will be released in 2018. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. For more information about the film, go to facebook.com/projecthopedoc. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. 32 Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com Saturday, June 10: HOPE flies to the finish By 6 a.m., the drywallers gave way to the painters, and with a team of about 20 pros, they blew through the home in under two hours. Saturday had the majority of interior finishes, so we had the chance to sit back a bit and watch it unfold. Trimming, tiling, hardwood, fireplace surround, cabinetry. It all happened in a well orchestrated blur. Our biggest task for the day was craning the deck into place. Amazingly, we were effectively done
  • 35. Homeowners, contractors, and builders rely on ROCKWOOL™ for dependable insulation solutions. More than a rock, ROCKWOOL™ insulation products resist fire, repel water and absorb sound. This year, start your renovation right with easy-to-use ROCKWOOL™ stone wool insulation. www.rockwool.com What it’s made of makes all the difference. Part of the ROCKWOOL group. ROCKWOOL COMFORTBATT® An exterior insulation product for use in both new residential construction and renovations where wood or steel studs are used. ROCKWOOL SAFE’n’SOUND® A residential insulation product for interior walls constructed with wood or steel studs, where superior fire resistance and acoustical performance are required. ROCKWOOL COMFORTBOARD™ 80 An exterior non-structural insulation sheathing that provides a continuous layer of insulation around the building envelope. ROXUL® is proud to now be known as ROCKWOOL™
  • 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