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ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014
INSIDE
Meet Our Award Winners
Savings by Design
TowerHouse:
The Best of Both Worlds
Getting Better Every Day
Resilient Construction Techniques
Simply
theBest!Winners of the 2018 Cross Border Builder Challenge
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-approved Glow Brand T180. The only system of its kind, the
GlowBrandT180hason board storage of one gallon of hot waterwithinastainlesssteelheat
exchanger, firing up automatically to 95F in Comfort Mode. Instead of waiting for hot water,
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andofferanendlesssupplyofhotwater.Atanultra-efficientEnergyFactorof97%,thefuture
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Tanklesswaterheatersarethefutureofhotwatersupply.Theysaveenergy,takeuplessspace,
andofferanendlesssupplyofhotwater.Atanultra-efficientEnergyFactorof97%,thefuture
is now with the ENERGY STAR®
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GlowBrandT180hason board storage of one gallon of hot waterwithinastainlesssteelheat
exchanger, firing up automatically to 95F in Comfort Mode. Instead of waiting for hot water,
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Manufactured by Glowbrand Manufacturing
GLOWBRAND.CA | 905-264-1414
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
16
1
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
2
Peace, Order and
Good Building
by John Godden
THE BADA TEST
3
My Experience with
Savings by Design
by Lou Bada
INDUSTRY NEWS
4
Heathwood Homes Inspired
to Make a Difference
by Rob Blackstien
INDUSTRY EXPERT
6
Getting Better Every Day
by Gord Cooke
BUILDER NEWS
8
Brookfield Residential
by Rob Blackstien
SITE SPECIFIC
11
Savings by Design Helps
TowerHouse Build Better
by Alex Newman
BUILDER NEWS
15
Going Green Project
by Better Builder Staff
20
Geranium Homes
by Rob Blackstien
22
Castleform Developments
by Alex Newman
26
Empire Communities
by Rob Blackstien
INDUSTRY NEWS
28
Cross Border Builder Challenge
Awards Dinner
by Better Builder Staff
FROM THE GROUND UP
31
Resilient Construction Techniques
by Doug Tarry
FEATURE STORY
16
TowerHouse: The Best of Both Worlds
Bringing commercial construction precision to the residential market
by Rob Blackstien
22
ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
11
26
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20182
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without
newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a
moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson
In a rapidly changing world of politics, ideas and technologies, the free
press provides a context where objective, fact-based decisions can emerge.
Single-minded government agendas, programs or policies need to be vetted
against concrete facts and measurements.
When we wish to compare Canadian built homes to America’s built ones
as we do in the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the ERI is “a standards based
approach” to determine the lowest score of energy performance.
In the Ontario context under SB-12 2017 a package A1 reference house scores
an ERI or HERS 53 and exceeds the IECC requirement of 54 (see chart page 5).
On April 27, the Sustainable Housing Foundation hosted a dinner to
celebrate the winners of the RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder
Challenge. The challenge is a friendly annual competition between
American and Canadian home builders to determine just how energy
efficient builders can build. The rule is simple: the lowest HERS/ERI
score wins. Like the free press, the HERS index draws a line where we can
objectively determine how home builders can compete in a free and open
market to determine leadership and excellence.
There are six categories for Canadian builders, with awards sponsored by
Enbridge, Dow, Icynene and RenewABILITY. This issue features each of the
winners. It is notable that all the winners (with the exception of one custom
builder) are graduates of Enbridge’s Savings by Design (SBD) program,
which incentivizes builders to achieve 15% better performance than the
2017 Ontario Building Code. SBD empowers builders through an integrated
design process (IDP) to retool their production to meet new energy
performance required by the Building Code. We delve into the Enbridge
Vision 2020 Session on page 15. We also feature TowerHouse, an ambitious
new builder and graduate of SBD, on page 16. And in his column, Lou Bada
reflects on how the IDP works, as he is the first of a few builders to utilize the
SBD program a second time (page 3).
Beyond the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the international theme
continues with Gord Cooke sharing lessons from the fifth annual Building
Science Spring Training Camp, featuring expert presenters from Canada
and the U.S. (page 6). Doug Tarry reports on his Project Agua Vita humani­
tarian work initiative in Puerto Rico (page 31). With a new mission and a
larger team, the project is truly ramping up, and donations can make a big
difference. The Sustainable Housing Foundation is proud to have raised
$2,000 for Project Agua Vita through a raffle and auction. Thanks also to
Lifebreath, RenewABILITY, ROCKWOOL™
and others for their kind donations.
Like the “newspapers without a government” invoked by Jefferson, this
magazine will always strive to objectively and impartially measure, report
on and celebrate the best of sustainable building. Congratulations to all of
this year’s Cross Border Builder Challenge winners – I look forward to next
year’s competition. BB
Peace, Order
and Good Building
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 editorial@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.
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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
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
My Experience with
Enbridge’s Savings by Design
3
S
tarlane Homes recently
participated in an integrated
design process (IDP) with
Enbridge for their Savings by Design
program for a second time. Savings by
Design is part of Enbridge’s demand-
side management (DSM) program.
Implementing a DSM program for
energy conservation is part of a
utility’s mandate, which is regulated
by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).
Power and gas utilities not only sell
you electricity or natural gas, but
must also help you conserve it.
Setting aside the debate on the
value and challenges of programs and
incentives for the moment, Savings
by Design is not only a financial
incentive but also a tool for builders of
production homes. It enables builders
to reach for “better than code”
conservation targets that are being
(properly or improperly) mandated
by municipal governments. One of
Savings by Design’s greatest attributes
is that it facilitates and imparts
knowledge through sharing and
collaboration.
The IDP is a requirement of Savings
by Design – however, it is also an
opportunity for builders. It brings
together a group of individuals from
different sectors to explore, evaluate
and ultimately decide on the best path
forward to achieve greater energy
efficiency in our homes. Included
in this group were: home designers,
construction management staff and
executive staff from Starlane; staff
members from plans examination,
building inspections and planning
from the municipalities involved;
energy evaluators; and building
thebadatest / LOU BADA
product manufacturers. Through­
out the IDP, Enbridge program
administrators were available to
quickly answer questions. A very
knowledgeable facilitator provided by
Enbridge led the day-long process.
The product of the IDP for Starlane
is not only a recipe for the construction
of more energy-efficient homes but,
more importantly, the creation of
a culture within our company of
continuous product and process
improvements and a clearer under­
standing of our goals. Our people now
have insight and, crucially, input into
the direction we are going. We also can
learn together and team build.
“Integrated” is the operative word
in IDP. All attendees are encouraged
to freely share experiences, challenges
and concerns. These ideas are distilled
and absorbed into an integrated
solution that everyone had a share
in crafting. Networking also takes
place in a collegial atmosphere.
The IDP builds trust between all
parties because we are able to see the
challenges through each others’ lenses.
So, we not only acquire knowledge but
we also understand each other better.
The Savings by Design program
through the IDP also exposed us to new
ideas and technologies that we may not
have otherwise known about. We were
able to discuss and begin to evaluate
hybrid heating, fuel switching and
electrical peak-shaving technologies
that may very well be the future of
sustainable home building in Ontario.
The integrated design process has
been used in architecture and
sustainable building design for some
time and is a valuable and necessary
step in deriving competent solutions
with the input of multidisciplinary
teams. It’s a holistic approach to design
that will help drive continuous
improvements in home building. Our
experience with the Savings by Design
program at Starlane has been positive
because of the IDP and the support of
Enbridge and all those involved in the
process. 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).
One of Savings by
Design’s greatest
attributes is that it
facilitates and imparts
knowledge through
collaboration.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20184
industrynews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
A
lways well respected for its
brand, Heathwood Homes
added yet another feather to
its cap by winning the 2018 CRESNET
President’s Award, bestowed upon
the company for its Forest Hill on
the Green subdivision in Richmond
Hill, Ontario. All 113 homes in this
subdivision earned a HERS rating
well under 54, with the average home
rating being 44 (almost 17% better
than Code). Having just turned 40
last year, Heathwood is clearly getting
better, not older.
There’s no secret formula to how
Heathwood’s brand has become so
revered: the company has always
prided itself on going the extra mile to
ensure its customers’ happiness. Its
goal is to leave people with the feeling
that they’re being treated differently.
The award-winning subdivision
consists of single-family homes on 43-
and 50-foot lots that feature nine-foot
basements, 10-foot main floors and
nine-foot second floors. Other premium
items include ROCKWOOL™
thermal
insulated sheathing board, insulation
under basement concrete floors, and
solar and greywater rough-ins.
Since the Richmond Hill project,
Heathwood has begun construction on
a new discovery home in Whitby to be
completed next year, says Silvio Longo,
chief operating officer of construction.
Hot water tanks that can also help heat
the home and ERV systems are just two
of the energy-efficient features that
Heathwood will be test driving in the
Whitby house, he says.
Inspired by success
For Heathwood, winning the Presi­
dent’s Award “gives us inspiration to
move forward with” plans for more
energy-efficient homes. Longo says
that the award indicates “that we’re
on the right track and can make a
difference for the industry.” The award
confirms that Heathwood is doing a
better job and can give consumers a
better house that doesn’t produce too
much carbon.
He says that keeping the entire fleet
under HERS 54 was accomplished “by
keeping track of what we were doing
and the site management making sure
that” they had airtightness.
Heathwood employed a variety of
features – upgraded furnaces, ERVs,
drainwater heat recovery systems –
“everything that made the house very
green in terms of consumption.” Longo
says the whole community was built
that way.
In typical Canuck fashion, Longo
brushed off suggestions that his
company is now an international leader,
saying he doesn’t give much thought
In this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge – an event celebrating excellence
in energy-efficient home building while promoting the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) index –
Canadian firms fared very well, taking home several prestigious awards. Interestingly, despite the
modern and cutting-edge technology on display, the winners were old-school builders, all at least
a quarter-century old. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Canada Shines in 2018
Cross Border Builder Challenge
Heathwood Homes
Inspired to make a difference
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
to that and prefers to focus on doing
what he’s doing. But compared to
other builders across North America,
Heathwood is clearly doing pretty well.
Driven to improve
Now that it’s achieved an entire
subdivision with no homes higher
than a HERS 54, Heathwood wants
to improve on that “in the very near
future.” It’s not easy, Longo says, but
it’s better to be a leader than a follower:
“We’ve always strived toward that.”
Next up for Heathwood is a new
subdivision of 240 single homes in
Whitby, a project that’s just starting.
He says they again plan on using the
HERS scale. “We’ll use this experience
with this new (test) house that we’re
building to see what else we can do.”
A veteran of the Savings by Design
program – which charges builders
to create homes at least 15% better
than Code – Longo says it was “quite
challenging,” but created a win-win
scenario for both Heathwood and its
home owners.
Heathwood employees also take
great pride in the company’s charity
initiative, The Mikey Network. Named
in honour of former company partner
Mike Salem, who died of a heart attack
in 2002, the Mikey Network places
defibrillators across the world and is
responsible for saving 39 lives since its
inception. BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
5
PRESIDENT’S AWARD
Heathwood Homes received the President’s Award for all 113 homes in their Forest Hill
on the Green subdivision. From left: John Godden, Rocco Longo and Silvio Longo of
Heathwood Homes, Bruce Young of Icynene, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY.
44
2015 IECC
ADOPTED ERI SCORES
BY CLIMATE ZONE
CLIMATE
2015 IECC
ADOPTED SCORES
ZONE 1 52
ZONE 2 52
ZONE 3 51
ZONE 4 54
ZONE 5 55
ZONE 6 54
ZONE 7 53
ZONE 8 53
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20186
industryexpert / GORD COOKE
I mention this because it reinforces
the important theme of the overall
agenda: continual improvement. In
fact, this year’s agenda was influenced
by a pre-Camp survey of attendees as
to the major challenges the industry
faces as we all strive to improve the
health, safety, comfort, durability,
efficiency and profitability of our
building industry. It will come as no
surprise that on the minds of the 120
attendees were two main themes:
the ever increasing expectations of
home buyers with respect to quality
and comfort, and the ever greater
difficulty in finding skilled and
motivated labour and trade partners.
These themes played out in a
number of sessions presented over the
two days. For example, John Straube
of RDH Building Science labs offered
a nice historical perspective of how
prefabrication of housing components
helped the industry respond to
the significant labour challenges
in the post-World War II era. This
era spawned the development of
prefabricated windows, cabinetry
and trusses that helped overcome the
on-site shortage of these important
skills. John then showed a variety
of project prefabrication ideas from
around North America and beyond
that should be considered by the
industry today: wall panels at various
stages of completion, completed floor
and roof assemblies and modular
building sections can all help
overcome the skilled labour shortages
the industry faces. John pointed out
that a transition to more prefabrication
would require better planning and
significant capital investment – in
short, a longer-term vision for an
industry that struggles to look past the
next piece of land or the next economic
slowdown.
A complementary session by Jeff
Armstrong of Cold Climate Building
in Ottawa highlighted work he has
been doing on creating a panelization
system for deep energy retrofits of
existing homes. The premise of Jeff’s
work is that we are going to need a way
of effectively re-skinning the millions
of poorly insulated existing homes
with high levels of insulation if we are
to really make a dent in aggressive
energy efficiency targets.
Jeff’s process is helped by new
technology that can precisely and
quickly measure the exterior façade
of a building to facilitate the off-site
manufacturing of precision insulated
panels to reface the building. Jeff
and his team, with help from Natural
Resources Canada, have demonstrated
proof of concept on a simple trailer
building and now will apply it to
an actual row house project. Both
John and Jeff reminded the audience
that the off-site manufacturing of
components requires a fanatical
focus on methods that ensure on-site
assembly results in thoroughly water-
managed building enclosures. After
all, the longevity and sustainability of
houses starts with proper detailing of
water-resistant barriers.
I was so pleased that my good
friends, Mark LaLiberte and Justin
Wilson of Construction Instruction
from the U.S., were able to come to
Spring Training Camp. In preparation
for Camp, Mark and Justin had sent
up plans for mock-up walls so that
they could demonstrate valuable
techniques for proper installation of
water-managed windows and doors.
Mark and Justin are so passionate
Getting Better Every Day
T
his April saw the fifth annual Building Science Spring Training Camp, which
we at Building Knowledge Canada were pleased to host with Tex McLeod.
Tex always designs a comprehensive and complementary agenda that
incorporates a nice range of different learning experiences to ensure the event is
fun, interactive and memorable. This year was no exception, with a formal debate
(well, more fun than formal, along the lines of the popular CBC Radio The Debaters
program), followed by an open mic night and a movie night (including popcorn).
Mark LaLiberte (left) and Justin Wilson of
Construction Instruction.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
about the importance of hands-on learning for
our industry that they have set up a new learning
centre in Phoenix, Arizona. In this new facility,
builders and their trade partners can attend a two-
to three-day learning event and play around with
different materials and installation techniques
for weather barriers, thermal barriers and air
barriers, and then actually test the performance
of what they have learned. This new, unique
learning experience is called Ci Live. I am certain
many readers can think of more than a few of
their staff or partners who would benefit from a
high-level, in-depth opportunity to learn. Ci Live
helps participants really understand the attention
to detail required by our increasingly complex
buildings (and expected by our home buyers).
The three Camp sessions mentioned above
were just Day One in Huntsville. If we are to
respond to the challenges facing the industry
with respect to skilled labour shortages, we can’t
just lament that “you can’t find good people
anymore.” Rather, let’s go out and invest in
systems that leap-frog past the shortages – such
as more prefabrication – or invest in continual
and progressive training of that most valuable
of resources. As you consider your own path of
continual improvement, consider how much and
how often your people need learning experiences.
Fortunately, there are resources available to you.
For more information on Ci Live, go to
www.constructioninstruction.com.
Gord Cooke is president of Building
Knowledge Canada.
77
NRCan’s Jeremy Sager presents findings on hybrid
heating as a means of reducing CO2 emissions.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20188
buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
D
espite pushing 65 years in
existence, Brookfield Residen­
tial continues to reinvent
itself, as evidenced by taking home
the lowest HERS score by a Canadian
production builder honour in this
year’s Cross Border Builder Challenge.
Cross Border Builder
Challenge veteran
Brookfield’s award-winning home
– part of the company’s Fieldstone
subdivision, located just outside of
Orangeville, Ontario – scored a 38 on
the HERS scale. Of course, excelling
at the Cross Border Builder Challenge
is nothing new to Brookfield. The
company has been participating
since the contest first ran in 2012, says
William Greig, director of contracts
and purchasing.
Given the success in its HERS
scores, Greig says John Godden
recommended Brookfield enter the
challenge. It’s worked out extremely
well, as this marked the third time
Brookfield has won for the lowest score
for production builder, having also
earned the honour in 2015 and 2017.
Brookfield also won the CRESNET
President’s Award in 2015 and 2017.
Often times, companies will build
homes specifically for the purpose of
entering this contest. But Brookfield’s
winning home this year was a prod­
uction model. “Since we did not design
this home with the intention of win­
ning an award, and it was treated the
same as the other homes in the com­
munity, it came as a pleasant surprise,”
Greig says. “It is a testament to how
well we build our standard home.”
Clearly, all these Cross Border
Builder Challenge awards have posi­
tioned Brookfield as an international
leader, but at the end of the day, all this
innovation is simply for its customers.
“We are happy to be viewed as an
international leader. However, we feel
we are simply doing the right thing for
our home owners,” Greig explains.
Balancing energy efficiency
and affordability
To remain a cutting-edge builder,
Brookfield has spent much time
experimenting with different building
techniques in an effort to balance
high energy efficiency with afford­
ability. A couple of years ago, it built a
discovery home in Tottenham,
Ontario. It had a HERS rating of 13
and was 77% above Code, if solar
battery storage is used (a near-zero
rating of 57% better than Code, or a
HERS 31, if achieved without solar).
The home had a bevy of energy-
efficient features:
•	 Fuel switching: a gas-fired furnace,
but also an air conditioner heat
pump. In the shoulder months, the
Brookfield Residential
Pushing Boundaries
88
LOWEST SCORE CANADIAN PRODUCTION BUILDER
This is the third time Brookfield Residential has won the award for lowest score
among Canadian production builders. From left: John Godden, Michael Da Estrela
and Jamie Corbett of Brookfield Residential, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY.
38
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
heat pump can provide the space
heating with the furnace kicking
in when it gets really cold outside
•	 Insulation: two inches of exterior
R-10 polystyrene foam on the
outside, plus R-24 ROCKWOOL™
in the main walls. It’s a panelized
home featuring less wood in the
cavity, meaning more insulation
can be added
•	 Windows: triple-glazed windows
with a U-value of 1.0
•	 Exhaust fans: includes Panasonic
WhisperGreen fans, which
displace more air while using a lot
less electricity, and
•	 Greywater: Greyter Water Systems,
a unit that supports drainwater heat
recovery, collecting that water in a
holding tank to use shower water to
flush toilets.
In addition to all they will learn
from the Tottenham home, Brookfield
has opted to voluntarily rate all its new
construction homes using the HERS.
“We’ve decided to do that standard,”
Greig says.
He also revealed some of the
company’s plans going forward.
“As we learn from past successes
and challenges, we will continue to
push our boundaries by testing new
products and building techniques,”
Greig explains. “Our next ventures
include incorporating smart home
technology into our model homes in
Aurora Woodhaven, and constructing
a discovery home in Pickering New
Seaton featuring a more energy-
efficient building envelope.” BB
9
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
R
oss Tyrell says he could sell just
about anything in a housing
market as hot as this one. But
the site manager for TowerHouse
doesn’t do that – because he and
the construction company he works
for want to create the best product
possible. That’s why he spends
as much time as he can learning
about better building practices and
integrated design.
Recently, Tyrell attended a full-day
workshop that Clearsphere held on
integrated design called Savings by
Design. Bringing together builders
and like-minded suppliers and
manufacturers – like ROCKWOOL™
,
Greyter Water Systems, Uponor and
Enbridge – the intent was to introduce
builders and developers to the latest
products aimed at helping them
reduce their carbon footprint.
At the eight-hour workshop, held at
the TowerHouse presentation centre,
the various suppliers and manufac­
turers demonstrated their products
and discussed existing construction
methods and what could be done
better using these systems or products.
TowerHouse had already imple­
mented many green building prac­
tices, including some of the items
discussed, but Tyrell says they also
“plan to add more of the features to
see just how much we can achieve in
terms of energy savings. We aim to go
better than the standard, but you have
to examine the numbers too and plan
to spend your money wisely.”
A motivating factor in upgrading
to products that improve R-values, or
create more efficient HVAC systems,
is that the upcoming Building Code
in 2020 will contain more stringent
requirements. “We already have a
great building code – one of the best
in the world – but the 2020 Code will
really challenge builders to reduce
their footprint, and to understand that
fundamentally building is about much
more than putting up walls and a roof.
A big benefit of the upcoming code
will be eliminating the fly-by-night
builders,” says Tyrell, who manages
and supervises TowerHouse sites
ranging from multi-residential projects
to luxury singles to east-end Toronto
new-build movie studios.
Currently, Tyrell works with
Clearsphere on the company’s multi-
residential project at 20 Perth Avenue
in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood.
“So far, the collaboration has been
fantastic, because as a builder we
want to be better, greener.” But over
the past year or so, Tyrell has involved
Clearsphere in other projects as well,
to conduct insulation inspections,
provide advice on how to build better
homes, make their recommendations
on improving the building envelope
and connect TowerHouse with
appropriate trades and vendors.
The Savings by Design seminar
pulled it all together by bringing
builders and suppliers together in
one place, demonstrating clearly how
to build greener while keeping costs
down and efficiencies of homes up. “It
11
Savings by Design
Helps TowerHouse Build Better
sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN
TowerHouse’s Jordan Brooks, site manager
Ross Tyrell, and Zachary Schwartz.
“We aim to go better
than the standard, but
you have to examine
the numbers too and
plan to spend your
money wisely.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201812
was all right there, easy to see and
discuss, ask questions,” Tyrell says.
The workshop reinforced some of
the good construction methods and
products TowerHouse was already
using. “A lot of the Savings by Design
workshop was on insulation. We’re
doing ROCKWOOL™
in our homes,
in all dividing party walls, as well as
exterior walls up to a value of R-22.
And we’re using a zoned high-velocity
combination heating system.”
But the program also showed
where they could improve. For
example, Tyrell is considering
roughing in for a greywater system
using the Greyter product, and giving
customers the opportunity to install
later (this would be on single custom
homes). “It’s good to know about
what’s available and to either start
installing now, or to make it so they
can be added later. Right now, some
of these products and systems are
complicated for end users, but part of
the process for us as builders is to learn
how to make it easier for home buyers
to understand how to use it.”
Tyrell, who started working in
construction at 18, says he did not
learn anything about construction
through books. “I did it by using my
hands. The job site is my classroom
and I understand these trades and how
they work.”
He started in construction when
he went to work for his uncle doing
cabling in Quebec, then became an
apprentice in electric, and did fine
woodworking and cabinetry, which
led into construction framing and
concrete work. He decided – with all
that expertise – to become his own
general contractor, but after six years,
he was growing frustrated with the
lack of professionalism he dealt with
in some trades. “I’m a little OCD
that way,” he says. So he looked for
a company that shared his exacting
construction standards, which is how
he ended up working with Jordan
Brooks and Zachary Schwartz at
TowerHouse.
Currently, Tyrell conducts daily site
inspections, looking for safety compli­
ance and work quality, and connecting
directly with trades, architects, devel-
opers and inspectors. His approach is
always about “respect. I value profes­
sionalism, and if you’re professional in
your trade, you should be able to work
in an environment that respects that.
Because the person who does their job
well, and with a level of professional­
ism, will always have work.” BB
 
Alex Newman is a writer, editor and
researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com.
12
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“Right now, some of these products and systems are
complicated for end users, but part of the process
for us as builders is to learn how to make it easier for
home buyers to understand how to use it.”
Better Builder Magazine, Issue 26 / Summer 2018
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 15
buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF
This charrette was organized to
demonstrate that it is possible, at the
design stage of building a home, for
the home building industry to achieve
energy efficiencies 15% above and
beyond the requirements of the 2020
Ontario Building Code.
Enbridge is incentivizing builders
to do this through a $2,000 rebate per
house for up to 50 homes (a cap of
$100,000). The program is founded on
the belief that there has to be a better
way to build a new home and a greener
future, and it starts with bringing all
parties together and getting them on
the same page.
So, how is this energy efficiency
achieved? It’s done through a series
of technical innovations. The
checklist is extensive, but here’s a
top-five summary:
1.	 High-performance building
envelope through the use of new
and advanced building materials,
including an air-barrier system
(such as Blueskin VP [a vapour
permeable adhesive building wrap]
and ROCKWOOL™
insulation)
to ensure airtightness, prevent
condensation and heat loss, and
even reduce sound in exterior walls.
It also includes proper flashing of
windows, doors and mechanical
penetrations in the exterior to
prevent water entry and air leakage.
2.	 High-performance HVAC with
proper installation, commissioning
and balancing of the heating
and cooling system – including
components such as the furnace, air
conditioner, ERV/HRV, humidifier
and distribution ducting – to ensure
indoor quality.
3.	 Precision wood-framed structures,
comprised of panelized wall
and floor sections built off-site
in a controlled manufacturing
environment, to raise the quality of
production.
4.	 Reduce water usage through low-
flush toilets and adding a rough-in
for greywater.
5.	 Efficient lighting and material
management with 90% compact
fluorescent lamps or LED lighting.
Can all this be achieved?
“Yes, it can,” says home builder
Zachary Schwartz of TowerHouse. “We
proved it today through the modelling.
To achieve these kinds of efficiencies
across the industry, the trick is that
everyone has to agree to strengthening
construction practices at the design
stage of a home – but they don’t all have
to be the same.”
Schwartz’s TowerHouse colleague,
Jordan Brooks, added: “There are a few
different ways to get to 15%, and there
are several benefits of building this way:
cleaner air, a smaller carbon footprint,
moisture control, even cost savings. It
was a very eye-opening experience. It
was a pretty amazing meeting of the
minds.”
Perhaps most importantly, there was
agreement from a municipality – the
City of Toronto – that this would be a
program that it could support.
“The charrette provided a lot of good
technical information, and I learned a lot
from it,” said a building inspector with the
City of Toronto. “This is a program that I
would recommend to my department.”
Scott Bullock, program manager
with Enbridge, says that the program
has been a success during its seven
years of existence and that they
welcome more low-rise builders to join.
“We were happy to sponsor today’s
Vision 2020 Session and strongly
believe that the incentive we provide for
implementing energy efficiencies in the
construction of new homes encourages
the industry to continue to strive for
excellence,” Bullock says.
But will the buyer know the
difference? Enbridge, and Savings by
Design builders, are betting yes: new-
home buyers will want to know about
the savings on gas and electricity, and
how they can breathe better and feel
more comfortable in their new home.
“I think it’s a bit cynical to say that
all that home buyers care about is
location, location, location,” Schwartz
says. “There are a lot of home buyers
that are hungry for information –
probably more than ever – on their new
homes. That’s why I think they’ll like
what they see through the Savings by
Design program, and we’ll be happy to
give them the homes they want.” BB
Going Green Project
A Towering Achievement in the Making
O
ne scan around the room at the Savings by Design charrette revealed that
every head in the industrial-style office space was, at some point, nodding
in agreement.
When you consider the cross-section of professionals that were in attendance –
builders, civil servants, consultants, engineers, energy evaluators – it’s rare to see
representatives of different sectors all buying into a concept and vision. But that’s
what was unfolding at the Enbridge Vision 2020 Session.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201816
featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
TheBestof
BothWorlds
Lower Junction Townhouses
32 townhouses complete with all associated
servicing, site work and landscaping.
Architecture: TACT Architecture
Interior Design: Jules Valentine
Developer: Castlepoint Numa, and Greybrook
Realty Partners Alfredo Romano, John O’Keefe
About the Developer
Now in its 25th year of leadership in the development industry, The Castlepoint
Group creates communities and employment areas across the Greater Toronto Area
and in select markets in the United States. Castlepoint Numa is the largest private
sector landowner on the Toronto waterfront. Its projects are recognized for their
vision, aesthetics and innovative expertise. Castlepoint Numa excels in heritage
preservation, brownfield reclamation and the revitalization of sites in decline.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 1717
TowerHouse brings commercial construction
precision to the residential market
D
espite being a relatively
new company, TowerHouse
is not short on experience –
or aspirations.
“Our philosophy is just to build
better,” says co-founder/construction
manager Zach Schwartz.
By taking what he and fellow
co-founder Jordan Brooks gleaned from
their years in commercial construction,
and marrying that to residential
construction techniques, TowerHouse is
able to provide custo­mers with the best
of both worlds.
“We took a lot of the knowledge that
we gained in commercial construction
– the precision and expertise that
exists on that side – and began to sort
of transfer it over to the residential
market,” Schwartz explains.
“Part of our goal is to bring this
level of trade in the residential
market up to the production that we
were accustomed to. So we spend a
considerable amount of time making
sure people are performing up to the
way they’re supposed to be performing
– to complete the construction projects
on time, on budget and with the quality
that we’ve come to expect,” he adds.
Eventually Schwartz and Brooks
opted to strike out on their own,
forming TowerHouse in 2013. The name
harkens back to medieval times, when
tower houses were custom homes for
aristocrats – always unique and always
regarded by their owners as a castle.
Hands-on approach
Schwartz says because he and Brooks
both come from the field, they remain
very hands-on. That isn’t likely to change:
“Really our intention is to not grow too
big that we can’t still get our hands in
the field and be there to monitor quality
and what’s actually happening on site.”
The 11-employee company had
built around 40 custom homes before
launching into its first multi-home
project: The Lower Junction, which
consists of 32 luxury townhomes
located at Bloor and Sterling in Toronto,
expected to begin occupancy in October.
TowerHouse’s philosophy “just to
build better” was put to the test with
this project, given that the homes lay
adjacent to train tracks, causing a
serious issue with sound migration.
Schwartz says many townhomes use
less expensive materials on the outside,
but part of vetting sound comes from
mass – so, in this instance, the back of
all these townhomes are solid masonry
brick. The issue was also addressed with
extra ROCKWOOL™
SAFE’n’SOUND®
insulation, a much denser product
which has sound attenuation properties.
What also helps mitigate sound,
Schwartz explains, is a continuous
air barrier “because even a small hole
which allows air to get through will also
allow sound to get through.”
Finally, they employed Henry Blue­
skin VP100 building wrap, while paying
extra attention to insulating those walls
that directly face the train tracks.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201818
For this project, TowerHouse
went through Savings by Design, an
incentive program run by Enbridge
designed to help educate Ontario’s
builders on the latest energy-efficiency
techniques and products with an
eye towards meeting and exceeding
stricter provincial Building Code
changes coming in 2020.
Achievement without
prescription
Savings by Design helps builders
exceed Building Code energy stand­
ards – and get their building permits
approved – without having to use one
of the Code’s prescribed packages.
Calling it a market transformation
effort, program manager Scott Bullock
says “We are encouraging and helping
builders get to the level they want to
get to.”
Here’s how it works, in a nutshell:
builders fill out an application form,
submit to inspections and tests to
ensure the energy goals are being
achieved, and attend valuable semin­
ars where they can learn about the
latest energy-efficiency techniques and
products. Upon successful completion
of Savings by Design, builders receive
a rebate of $2,000 per home, to a
maximum of 50 units.
Bullock says the educational
component is the real gem here. “The
$100,000 to a builder is nice, but there’s
$10 million of builder expertise in the
room.”
Approximately 25 to 30 builders
go through the program annually
(it was 28 last year, and the goal is a
“significantly” higher amount this
year), with over 120 having gone
through it since it launched. Bullock
says because some builders have gone
through it more than once, close to
200 projects have been subsidized by
Savings by Design.
When the program began in 2012,
Bullock said it was geared towards
getting builders to achieve 25% better
than code. When the Ontario Code
changed in 2017, the qualification
threshold was reduced to 15%. Other
alterations made to the program at
that time included: municipalities
were included in the sessions in an
effort to familiarize them with what’s
being planned in the hopes it will help
expedite approvals; energy advisors
(like John Godden) were included to
help run the seminars; and it’s no longer
targeted solely at larger builders.
Forward thinking
That final part is important, Bullock
says, because “in our experience, some
of the smaller builders are the ones that
are doing the most imple­mentations of
these technologies.”
Take TowerHouse, for instance.
Bullock often hears from newer builders
“oh, we’ve only built two or three
subdivisions, we haven’t gotten there
yet” as an excuse not to tackle energy
efficiency.
Not so with TowerHouse. “These
guys wanted to do it in their first devel­
opment, which to me was impressive.
I saw them as very forward thinking.”
For TowerHouse, the program simply
augments their existing goal of building
a better product, Schwartz says. “This
just further incentivizes you to make
those decisions on materials and stuff
that you might not otherwise consider
doing on this type of project.”
He notes that Savings by Design can
become a marketing tool for builders,
but agrees with Bullock that the heart of
the program lies in the training por­
tion. “That’s probably one of the better
parts of the program, is that they’re
really educating the builders on what’s
available and what can be done. We’ve
taken a lot out of it,” Schwartz says.
TowerHouse has an additional
15 townhomes currently under con­
struction beyond the Lower Junction
project, followed by another townhome
project in the west end of Toronto (at
Islington, just south of Bloor Street). BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
The self-sealing permeable Blueskin protective barrier is installed prior to brick installation. Self-sealing Blueskin® VP100 “air tight, water tight and
weather tight” properties eliminate uncontrolled air and moisture movement, resulting in increased thermal performance of the wall assembly.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20182020
L
ike Heathwood, Geranium Homes
turned 40 last year. And similarly,
no one would accuse Geranium
of slowing down as it ostensibly
reaches middle age – certainly not
after another award-winning showing,
with a home in its Bloomington Woods
subdivision in Stouffville earning a
HERS 42, winning Geranium mid-
production builder honours in the
Cross Border Builder Challenge.
Well versed in land acquisition,
planning and process, engineering,
servicing, design and construction,
Geranium calls itself one of the
province’s few fully integrated land
development and building companies.
Not a one-trick pony
The 100-plus employee company has
built over 8,000 homes, including
many master-planned communities.
But Geranium is anything but a one-
trick pony, says Boaz Feiner, president
of homebuilding.
“Our portfolio is very wide ranging,”
including mid-rise construction, estate
homes, single-family units, towns
and stacks. “That’s why we’re forced
to push the envelope, because we
don’t do the same thing over and over
again,” he adds.
Vice president of construction
Louie Morizio, who originally joined
Geranium 30 years ago, explains its
philosophy: “It’s always about building
something you can be proud of... that
you can put your name to.”
He continues: “if you have the
satisfaction of the purchasers, the
people that are buying our homes, they
see the product that goes in, they see
the effort, the outcome – you can’t help
but be proud of the product.” Ultimately,
that translates into repeat business and
success over the company’s lifetime.
Geranium’s formula for becoming
an industry leader is simple: it is always
pushing the envelope through R&D and
always seeking new products. “We have
to hand select products we can stand
behind and are comfortable with,” he
explains.
This approach is especially appli­
cable in Geranium’s approach to energy-
efficient home building: “One of our
main focuses is energy consumption
and how it affects the environment. We
are socially conscious and we want to
make sure we put in the right product so
that we know the people will be happy
and we can stand behind it.”
Willing to try new things
Geranium will steer clear of products
that “aren’t going to cut the mustard,”
Morizio says. But he does believe in
trying out the unproven in a quest to
push the envelope.
buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
Geranium
Ahead of the Curve
LOWEST SCORE CANADIAN MID-SIZE BUILDER
Geranium Homes won the award for lowest score by a Canadian mid-size builder.
From left: John Godden, Luke Giampietri and Brent Shaw of Geranium Homes,
John Bell of Sustainable Housing Foundation, Bill Jewel of Geranium Homes,
and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY.
42
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 21
For instance, Geranium is currently
experimenting with a liquid tar
material for sealing the exterior of
flat roofs. Once poured into place, it
becomes a rubber membrane that
is puncture resistant, eliminating
the common issue of having nails
penetrate the roof and cause leaks.
This could translate into less servicing
for purchasers, a better sealed unit,
less draft and more durability, he adds.
In winning the Cross Border
Builder Challenge, Morizio says the
company spent a lot of time perfecting
its construction techniques – making
sure it sealed the ductwork and units
well, performed inspections to check
everything, and “[did] all sorts of
different things” to perfect airflow and
eliminate leaks to get these results.
“It’s an indicator that we’re doing
something right,” he says of the award.
“It tells me that we are a leader in what
we do. Our efforts have not gone unnot-
iced, which is a great thing. Recognition
is always a positive thing for people that
are trying to put something like this
together to build a better product.”
Further, it tells him that “we are ahead
of the curve from the other guys.”
After trying it out in Stouffville,
Morizio says Geranium is now exploring
sprinkler systems inside its homes as
standard fare. BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
“Our portfolio is very
wide ranging… That’s
why we’re forced to
push the envelope,
because we don’t do
the same thing over
and over again.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201822
buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN
A
lthough custom home builder
Peter Voong had been primed
by Clearsphere that he had the
lowest HERS scores for any custom
builder in the Cross Border Builder
Challenge, he was still stunned to
receive a congratulatory email from
RenewABILITY Energy Inc.
The Cross Border Builder Chal­
lenge is a friendly competition
between Canadian and American
builders that was started by the
Residential Energy Services Network
(RESNET) in hopes of improving
green building practices across
North America.
Voong, president of Castleform
Developments, entered the
competition with a home he built
in south Etobicoke in partnership
with Panasonic. While Voong’s aim
is always high-performance/low-
carbon, this home is super-high
performance.
As would be expected with a joint
effort with Panasonic, the house
was outfitted with solar panels and
Panasonic’s latest storage battery.
But a lot of other energy-efficient
products went into the home as well,
he says. Appliances and interior doors,
water-efficient plumbing fixtures and
AIRMAX high-velocity dual zone HVAC
were just some of the components
that were used. Even the look of the
home was designed to be modern to
match the technological features.
Because Voong sees reducing fossil
fuel use as key to reducing carbon
output, he is all for alternative energy
sources, and he applauds Panasonic’s
efforts to create an appropriate
manageable home battery to draw
power from photovoltaic solar panels.
To accommodate the PV panels – an
extra five pounds per square inch
load on the roof – Panasonic had to
do the rough-in before construction.
Otherwise, the roof structure would
have been compromised.
They considered a dual fuel system
on Clearsphere’s recommendation, but
ultimately didn’t go with it. However,
it makes sense for the future, Voong
says, especially if electricity becomes
cheaper off peak and PV technology
advances allow home owners to easily
generate their own electricity at home.
Super-High Performance,
Super-Low HERS
Peter Voong on Collaborating with Panasonic
Castleform Developments’ HERS score of 20 was the lowest among Canadian custom
builders. From left: John Godden, Peter Voong of Castleform Developments, Eric Belley
of BP Canada, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY.
LOWEST SCORE CANADIAN CUSTOM BUILDER
20
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Learn more at Panasonic.com
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201824
Voong started Castleform 13 years ago after a suc­
cessful career in the financial industry. He wasn’t overly
concerned with energy efficiency until the Ontario
Building Code dramatically raised efficiency expectations
through greater insulation, tighter building envelopes,
higher rated windows, HRVs/ERVs and better use of
building technologies. 
Now Voong’s homes are 40% more energy efficient
than the current building code, which is significant
considering Ontario’s code is already 14% better than
the Paris Accord. He’s achieved it through an integrated
approach combining all aspects: tight envelope, efficient
zoned HVAC and proper ventilation.
When he was approached by Panasonic to work
together on this home, he really didn’t think twice
about it. “A lot of things we’re not scared to try out, like
a building product from BP Canada called R5-XT, an
extruded polystyrene structural insulation board. We’re
the first to use it in Canada, and [when we wanted to
use it] in this project, the suppliers didn’t even have it –
hadn’t even SKU’d it yet.”
Voong’s philosophy is: “how do you know it’s not good
unless you try it?” Once he’s tried something and sees it
works, he will incorporate it into the package of standard
features, which includes a rough-in for an electric
car charger, energy-efficient windows and enhanced
building envelope with walls 24" on centre.
Castleform is big on airtightness, because leaking
air means wasted energy on heating or cooling. So
Voong focuses on using the best products to create
efficiencies, like insulating with ROCKWOOL™
to up the
R-value and wrapping the house in an insulated exterior
sheathing down the foundation wall to the slab to create
a continuous air barrier. Because airtightness requires
proper ventilation, Voong puts a high-efficiency vänEE
ERV in every home to exchange the air and keep fresh air
circulating throughout the house.
The final consideration is the bottom line – you can
build all the energy efficiency you want, but if it’s not
affordable, the public won’t buy it. Voong, who builds
custom homes, always thinks about operating costs.
Home owners want to keep these down, to the point
where they’ll pay more for efficient features. BB
Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at
alexnewmanwriter.com.
Email info@clearsphere.ca or call 416-481-7517
betterthancode.ca
This Platform helps Builders with Municipal
Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Building
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201826
buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
E
mpire Communities, celebrating
its silver anniversary this year,
is another builder that’s well
versed in what it takes to win the
Cross Border Builder Challenge.
Having previously won in the
inaugural challenge with a HERS
37 score, it took home two awards
this year: the Enbridge Innovation
Award for its hybrid home in Breslau,
Ontario, and the Net Zero Canadian
Builder Award for a HERS 19 home in
the same community.
Vaughan, Ontario-based Empire
employs over 350 people and has
crafted over 10,000 new homes and
condominiums in its history.
An impressive resume
This pair of awards further cements
Empire’s reputation as an early
adopter of energy-efficient home
building methodologies and techno­
logy. Consider that it participated in
the launch of the Building Canada
program (the precursor of ENERGY
STAR) way back in 2003. Empire went
on to become one of the first ENERGY
STAR builders, creating a discovery
home in 2005. Three years later, it
built a LEED silver home, and three
years after that (in 2011), it was named
the BILD Low-Rise Builder of the Year.
Indeed, Empire’s resume in green
building has few peers.
Now, says vice president/co-foun­
der Paul Golini, the company is
taking what it learned with its TEETH
(Three Energy Efficient Test Homes)
initiative in Breslau and is “in the
learning phase.”
Golini says winning the awards is
part of an ongoing trend for Empire.
“This is continuing on our tradition
of being an early adopter … [and] just
reinforces our leadership position
and our focus on future proofing our
homes on an approach to continuous
improvement in testing, monitoring
and ultimately exploration of
innovative building techniques.”
He admits that since Canadians
are typically humble, it’s hard for us
to own the concept that we’re world
leaders. However, he points out that
“we in Ontario have one of the best
building codes in the world, and so
the fact that we can build in Ontario
and win an international award
further reinforces the fact that we are
competing on the world stage … We
here in Ontario are building better
than any place in the U.S.”
Empire Communities
The Early Adopter
26
Their hybrid home in Breslau, Ontario netted Empire Communities two awards.
Below, Steve Doty of Empire Communities is joined by John Godden, Sue Swing of Dow,
and Bruce Manwaring of Enbridge. Out of frame: Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY.
NET ZERO AWARD CANADIAN BUILDER
AND ENBRIDGE INNOVATION AWARD
19
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
Improving the user experience
Among Empire’s goals for this year,
Golini says, is to see if there’s a way
to properly incorporate smart home
interfaces that allow the consumer
better access and control of all the
goodies that are being added to their
homes. While they keep building
better and better homes with greater
energy-efficient technologies, “we
tend to put aside the user experience,
the user interface.”
So it’s full speed ahead for Empire.
In fact, about the only thing slowing
down the company these days are
the wheels of bureaucracy, Golini
says. “The speed at which we’re able
to apply some of the learning has been
hampered by the speed at which we’re
able to access permit-ready lots.”
He feels that it’s an “oxymoron”
when governments talk about acceler­
ating change and innovation in energy
efficiency only to see it tied up in the
building permit process. Empire would
like to apply and reapply and test as
quickly as possible, but can’t “because
of the bottleneck in the regulatory
environment” and the effect that’s
having on the new land approvals.
Golini explains that his other
challenge is remaining innovative, yet
still consumer accessible. Trying to
follow where the thread leads – from
the regulatory realm, the Building
Code, the provincial election, the
climate change action plan and how
that will all affect the industry – is
tough while trying to maintain “a
balance of being ahead of the curve,
but not too ahead so that the consumer
can still follow.” BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
27
Services
Green Building Consultants
LEED Canada, ENERGY STAR® and R-2000 for Homes
GreenHouse™ Certified Construction
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Recipient of CaGBC Green Building Champion Award 2010
Clearsphere is a division
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info@clearsphere.ca www.clearsphere.ca416 481 4218
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF
1 On April 27, 2018 the SHF hosted
the 5th annual Cross Border Builder
Challenge awards dinner. The
evening started with a trade show 2
featuring premium products from
Amvic, Airia Brands, Inc., AO Smith,
BP Canada, Dow, Icynene, Power-Pipe,
ROCKWOOL™
, Ventilation Maximum,
and Uponor.
Keynote speaker Bruce Manwaring
of Enbridge 3 kicked off the dinner
with a presentation about achieving the
trifecta of building energy performance:
low carbon emissions, affordability,
and resiliency. Bruce outlined the
importance of delivering the right
energy at the right time with multiple
fuel sources and storage strategies.
Sue Swing of Dow and Trudy Puls
from ROCKWOOL™
4 presented
the preliminary monitoring results
from the Empire TEETH houses
(three energy efficient test houses)
– specifically the research on hybrid
basement insulation systems that
eliminate moisture management
problems at a reasonable cost.
Paul Lowes of BP Canada 5 pre­
28
sented Wendy Shami, Managing Editor
of Better Builder magazine, a stone
carving celebrating the 25th issue.
The VIPs of the evening were the
winning builders of the Cross Border
Builder Challenge who were honoured
for the accomplishments in building
low carbon high performance homes.
The evening ended with a present­
ation from Doug Tarry on his Agua Vita
initiative that stressed the importance
of building resilient homes. A raffle
and auction 6 raised $2,000 for
Doug’s efforts in Puerto Rico. BB
1
6
4
5
3
2
5th Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 29
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.
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018
I’ve said many times that it was
as if Animal, the drummer from the
Muppets, had come to life – only
there were 10 of him and they were
all attacking one house. At least that
might have been how it seemed from
the local perspective. So, while the
team was up and running towards a
successful mission, it took a few days
to gain the trust of the community
outside of our original team of helpers.
Interestingly, it was the women
of San Lorenzo who first started to
engage with us. But within a few days,
we had many residents participating.
And then we saw something really
cool happen – they really wanted
to learn! It was like they wanted
personal empowerment and they
were very curious. I was able to show
a pair of volunteers – that is, a pair of
grandmas – how to flash a window
using the Tyvek window flashing
within about an hour. And boy, did
they enjoy doing it for themselves.
During our mission, we were able
to divide our team into sub-groups so
that we could best help the residents
of barrio San Lorenzo. While one team
continued to work on the reframing
of roofs, another team set up the local
residents with power tools, materials
and professional materials specialists
to repair concrete roofs. Again, we
were thrilled to see the number of
women who wanted to learn. By the
end of our last mission, they were ready
to get to work, and all they needed was
some sunshine.
We also had a small team who
took on a special mission to help an
elderly couple who had a leaking roof
and were sleeping on a wet bed. We
were able to get the roof repaired and
provide them with a new bed and
bedding, repaint their home and make
them comfortable. It was a big moment
to show why we were really there: to
bring hope.
Now it is just a few short days
until my wife, Carolyne, and I depart
for our next mission (May 5 to 12),
with a larger team and a much
larger mission. We are thrilled to be
joined by two executives from the
Canadian Home Builders’ Association,
including first vice president Stefanie
Coleman-Dias. We will also be joined
by Sarah Stevenson, an engineering
PhD graduate student from Western
University who is studying hurricane-
resistant construction techniques for
wood-frame construction. Also coming
with us is Jennifer Sanders, a professor
who is a mentor at the Women in
Carpentry program at Fanshawe
College. Stef, Sarah and Jennifer are a
view to the future of construction here
31
Resilient Construction Techniques
If a Puerto Rican Grandmother Can Do It…
fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY
I
’m writing this article as our team prepares for our next mission to barrio San
Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Our mission in late January was very successful…But it
got off to a bit of a rocky start.
Our original mission focus – to help rebuild the school – needed to be changed
to working on individual residences, just two days before we shipped out. That
meant that we arrived to work on homes that had not been prepared for us. We
had the framing team and all the volunteers begin tearing out the remains of the
damage from the hurricane on the first home.
Nancy and Norma, two of our
wonderful local volunteers.
Jennifer Sanders (top) and Sarah Stevenson
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201832
in Canada, and we are
glad to have them join our
team of skilled men and
women who make our
missions possible.
I would be remiss if
I did not mention that
a very significant part
of our focus during our
mission will be to look at
more hurricane-resistant
construction techniques for Puerto Rico, and how we
can apply these lessons back here in Canada. If we can
make it simple and cost effective to install in barrio San
Lorenzo, by a largely unskilled workforce, then perhaps
it will not be overly difficult to use as best practice back
home. We believe this added resiliency will also help
home owners reduce their home insurance costs by
purchasing a new home that has these details:
•	 Flashing windows to prevent water penetration into
the wall cavity,
•	 Taping or covering sheathing seams on the roof to
stop water intrusion if shingles are lost,
•	 Using a tighter nailing patter and ring shank nails to
keep the sheathing on the roof,
•	 Installing gable lookouts back into the next truss, and
•	 Using hurricane clips, tie downs and wall sheathing
with rigid insulation (or other combined products) to
strengthen the home’s resiliency.
We hope to share these lessons openly with our
peers back here in Ontario. After all, if a Puerto Rican
grandmother can learn how to do it, we should be able to
make it work here. BB
If you would like to know more about our ongoing missions
or make a contribution, you can find us on the web at:
www.hopeaguavita.com
www.facebook.com/hopeaguavita
www.gofundme.com/hopeaguavita
Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at
Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.
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
John Godden presents Doug
Tarry with an honorary award
for Hope House.
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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 26 / Summer 2018

  • 1. OBC 2012 OBC 2017 NEAR ZERO 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 INSIDE Meet Our Award Winners Savings by Design TowerHouse: The Best of Both Worlds Getting Better Every Day Resilient Construction Techniques Simply theBest!Winners of the 2018 Cross Border Builder Challenge
  • 2. Tanklesswaterheatersarethefutureofhotwatersupply.Theysaveenergy,takeuplessspace, andofferanendlesssupplyofhotwater.Atanultra-efficientEnergyFactorof97%,thefuture is now with the ENERGY STAR® -approved Glow Brand T180. The only system of its kind, the GlowBrandT180hason board storage of one gallon of hot waterwithinastainlesssteelheat exchanger, firing up automatically to 95F in Comfort Mode. Instead of waiting for hot water, you’re treated to endless on-demand hot water. The Glow Brand T180 is fully modulating and canbeinstalledforcombinationspaceheatingapplications. Glow Brand T180 Tankless Condensing Water Heater Brand TM ENDLESS ON-DEMAND HOT WATER ONE-OF-A-KIND TECHNOLOGY 97% ENERGY FACTOR 95% 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 Tanklesswaterheatersarethefutureofhotwatersupply.Theysaveenergy,takeuplessspace, andofferanendlesssupplyofhotwater.Atanultra-efficientEnergyFactorof97%,thefuture is now with the ENERGY STAR® -approved Glow Brand T180. The only system of its kind, the GlowBrandT180hason board storage of one gallon of hot waterwithinastainlesssteelheat exchanger, firing up automatically to 95F in Comfort Mode. Instead of waiting for hot water, you’re treated to endless on-demand hot water. The Glow Brand T180 is fully modulating and canbeinstalledforcombinationspaceheatingapplications. Glow Brand T180 Tankless Condensing Water Heater Brand TM ENDLESS ON-DEMAND HOT WATER ONE-OF-A-KIND TECHNOLOGY 97% ENERGY FACTOR 95% 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 Tanklesswaterheatersarethefutureofhotwatersupply.Theysaveenergy,takeuplessspace, andofferanendlesssupplyofhotwater.Atanultra-efficientEnergyFactorof97%,thefuture is now with the ENERGY STAR® -approved Glow Brand T180. The only system of its kind, the GlowBrandT180hason board storage of one gallon of hot waterwithinastainlesssteelheat exchanger, firing up automatically to 95F in Comfort Mode. Instead of waiting for hot water, you’re treated to endless on-demand hot water. The Glow Brand T180 is fully modulating and canbeinstalledforcombinationspaceheatingapplications. Glow Brand T180 Tankless Condensing Water Heater Brand TM ENDLESS ON-DEMAND HOT WATER ONE-OF-A-KIND TECHNOLOGY 97% ENERGY FACTOR 95% 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 Tanklesswaterheatersarethefutureofhotwatersupply.Theysaveenergy,takeuplessspace, andofferanendlesssupplyofhotwater.Atanultra-efficientEnergyFactorof97%,thefuture is now with the ENERGY STAR® -approved Glow Brand T180. The only system of its kind, the GlowBrandT180hason board storage of one gallon of hot waterwithinastainlesssteelheat exchanger, firing up automatically to 95F in Comfort Mode. Instead of waiting for hot water, you’re treated to endless on-demand hot water. The Glow Brand T180 is fully modulating and canbeinstalledforcombinationspaceheatingapplications. Glow Brand T180 Tankless Condensing Water Heater Brand TM ENDLESS ON-DEMAND HOT WATER ONE-OF-A-KIND TECHNOLOGY 97% ENERGY FACTOR 95% 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 26 | SUMMER 2018 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Peace, Order and Good Building by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 My Experience with Savings by Design by Lou Bada INDUSTRY NEWS 4 Heathwood Homes Inspired to Make a Difference by Rob Blackstien INDUSTRY EXPERT 6 Getting Better Every Day by Gord Cooke BUILDER NEWS 8 Brookfield Residential by Rob Blackstien SITE SPECIFIC 11 Savings by Design Helps TowerHouse Build Better by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 15 Going Green Project by Better Builder Staff 20 Geranium Homes by Rob Blackstien 22 Castleform Developments by Alex Newman 26 Empire Communities by Rob Blackstien INDUSTRY NEWS 28 Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner by Better Builder Staff FROM THE GROUND UP 31 Resilient Construction Techniques by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 TowerHouse: The Best of Both Worlds Bringing commercial construction precision to the residential market by Rob Blackstien 22 ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 11 26
  • 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20182 “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson In a rapidly changing world of politics, ideas and technologies, the free press provides a context where objective, fact-based decisions can emerge. Single-minded government agendas, programs or policies need to be vetted against concrete facts and measurements. When we wish to compare Canadian built homes to America’s built ones as we do in the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the ERI is “a standards based approach” to determine the lowest score of energy performance. In the Ontario context under SB-12 2017 a package A1 reference house scores an ERI or HERS 53 and exceeds the IECC requirement of 54 (see chart page 5). On April 27, the Sustainable Housing Foundation hosted a dinner to celebrate the winners of the RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge. The challenge is a friendly annual competition between American and Canadian home builders to determine just how energy efficient builders can build. The rule is simple: the lowest HERS/ERI score wins. Like the free press, the HERS index draws a line where we can objectively determine how home builders can compete in a free and open market to determine leadership and excellence. There are six categories for Canadian builders, with awards sponsored by Enbridge, Dow, Icynene and RenewABILITY. This issue features each of the winners. It is notable that all the winners (with the exception of one custom builder) are graduates of Enbridge’s Savings by Design (SBD) program, which incentivizes builders to achieve 15% better performance than the 2017 Ontario Building Code. SBD empowers builders through an integrated design process (IDP) to retool their production to meet new energy performance required by the Building Code. We delve into the Enbridge Vision 2020 Session on page 15. We also feature TowerHouse, an ambitious new builder and graduate of SBD, on page 16. And in his column, Lou Bada reflects on how the IDP works, as he is the first of a few builders to utilize the SBD program a second time (page 3). Beyond the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the international theme continues with Gord Cooke sharing lessons from the fifth annual Building Science Spring Training Camp, featuring expert presenters from Canada and the U.S. (page 6). Doug Tarry reports on his Project Agua Vita humani­ tarian work initiative in Puerto Rico (page 31). With a new mission and a larger team, the project is truly ramping up, and donations can make a big difference. The Sustainable Housing Foundation is proud to have raised $2,000 for Project Agua Vita through a raffle and auction. Thanks also to Lifebreath, RenewABILITY, ROCKWOOL™ and others for their kind donations. Like the “newspapers without a government” invoked by Jefferson, this magazine will always strive to objectively and impartially measure, report on and celebrate the best of sustainable building. Congratulations to all of this year’s Cross Border Builder Challenge winners – I look forward to next year’s competition. BB Peace, Order and Good Building 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 editorial@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 26 | SUMMER 2018 My Experience with Enbridge’s Savings by Design 3 S tarlane Homes recently participated in an integrated design process (IDP) with Enbridge for their Savings by Design program for a second time. Savings by Design is part of Enbridge’s demand- side management (DSM) program. Implementing a DSM program for energy conservation is part of a utility’s mandate, which is regulated by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). Power and gas utilities not only sell you electricity or natural gas, but must also help you conserve it. Setting aside the debate on the value and challenges of programs and incentives for the moment, Savings by Design is not only a financial incentive but also a tool for builders of production homes. It enables builders to reach for “better than code” conservation targets that are being (properly or improperly) mandated by municipal governments. One of Savings by Design’s greatest attributes is that it facilitates and imparts knowledge through sharing and collaboration. The IDP is a requirement of Savings by Design – however, it is also an opportunity for builders. It brings together a group of individuals from different sectors to explore, evaluate and ultimately decide on the best path forward to achieve greater energy efficiency in our homes. Included in this group were: home designers, construction management staff and executive staff from Starlane; staff members from plans examination, building inspections and planning from the municipalities involved; energy evaluators; and building thebadatest / LOU BADA product manufacturers. Through­ out the IDP, Enbridge program administrators were available to quickly answer questions. A very knowledgeable facilitator provided by Enbridge led the day-long process. The product of the IDP for Starlane is not only a recipe for the construction of more energy-efficient homes but, more importantly, the creation of a culture within our company of continuous product and process improvements and a clearer under­ standing of our goals. Our people now have insight and, crucially, input into the direction we are going. We also can learn together and team build. “Integrated” is the operative word in IDP. All attendees are encouraged to freely share experiences, challenges and concerns. These ideas are distilled and absorbed into an integrated solution that everyone had a share in crafting. Networking also takes place in a collegial atmosphere. The IDP builds trust between all parties because we are able to see the challenges through each others’ lenses. So, we not only acquire knowledge but we also understand each other better. The Savings by Design program through the IDP also exposed us to new ideas and technologies that we may not have otherwise known about. We were able to discuss and begin to evaluate hybrid heating, fuel switching and electrical peak-shaving technologies that may very well be the future of sustainable home building in Ontario. The integrated design process has been used in architecture and sustainable building design for some time and is a valuable and necessary step in deriving competent solutions with the input of multidisciplinary teams. It’s a holistic approach to design that will help drive continuous improvements in home building. Our experience with the Savings by Design program at Starlane has been positive because of the IDP and the support of Enbridge and all those involved in the process. 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). One of Savings by Design’s greatest attributes is that it facilitates and imparts knowledge through collaboration.
  • 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20184 industrynews / ROB BLACKSTIEN A lways well respected for its brand, Heathwood Homes added yet another feather to its cap by winning the 2018 CRESNET President’s Award, bestowed upon the company for its Forest Hill on the Green subdivision in Richmond Hill, Ontario. All 113 homes in this subdivision earned a HERS rating well under 54, with the average home rating being 44 (almost 17% better than Code). Having just turned 40 last year, Heathwood is clearly getting better, not older. There’s no secret formula to how Heathwood’s brand has become so revered: the company has always prided itself on going the extra mile to ensure its customers’ happiness. Its goal is to leave people with the feeling that they’re being treated differently. The award-winning subdivision consists of single-family homes on 43- and 50-foot lots that feature nine-foot basements, 10-foot main floors and nine-foot second floors. Other premium items include ROCKWOOL™ thermal insulated sheathing board, insulation under basement concrete floors, and solar and greywater rough-ins. Since the Richmond Hill project, Heathwood has begun construction on a new discovery home in Whitby to be completed next year, says Silvio Longo, chief operating officer of construction. Hot water tanks that can also help heat the home and ERV systems are just two of the energy-efficient features that Heathwood will be test driving in the Whitby house, he says. Inspired by success For Heathwood, winning the Presi­ dent’s Award “gives us inspiration to move forward with” plans for more energy-efficient homes. Longo says that the award indicates “that we’re on the right track and can make a difference for the industry.” The award confirms that Heathwood is doing a better job and can give consumers a better house that doesn’t produce too much carbon. He says that keeping the entire fleet under HERS 54 was accomplished “by keeping track of what we were doing and the site management making sure that” they had airtightness. Heathwood employed a variety of features – upgraded furnaces, ERVs, drainwater heat recovery systems – “everything that made the house very green in terms of consumption.” Longo says the whole community was built that way. In typical Canuck fashion, Longo brushed off suggestions that his company is now an international leader, saying he doesn’t give much thought In this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge – an event celebrating excellence in energy-efficient home building while promoting the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) index – Canadian firms fared very well, taking home several prestigious awards. Interestingly, despite the modern and cutting-edge technology on display, the winners were old-school builders, all at least a quarter-century old. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Canada Shines in 2018 Cross Border Builder Challenge Heathwood Homes Inspired to make a difference
  • 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 to that and prefers to focus on doing what he’s doing. But compared to other builders across North America, Heathwood is clearly doing pretty well. Driven to improve Now that it’s achieved an entire subdivision with no homes higher than a HERS 54, Heathwood wants to improve on that “in the very near future.” It’s not easy, Longo says, but it’s better to be a leader than a follower: “We’ve always strived toward that.” Next up for Heathwood is a new subdivision of 240 single homes in Whitby, a project that’s just starting. He says they again plan on using the HERS scale. “We’ll use this experience with this new (test) house that we’re building to see what else we can do.” A veteran of the Savings by Design program – which charges builders to create homes at least 15% better than Code – Longo says it was “quite challenging,” but created a win-win scenario for both Heathwood and its home owners. Heathwood employees also take great pride in the company’s charity initiative, The Mikey Network. Named in honour of former company partner Mike Salem, who died of a heart attack in 2002, the Mikey Network places defibrillators across the world and is responsible for saving 39 lives since its inception. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 5 PRESIDENT’S AWARD Heathwood Homes received the President’s Award for all 113 homes in their Forest Hill on the Green subdivision. From left: John Godden, Rocco Longo and Silvio Longo of Heathwood Homes, Bruce Young of Icynene, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY. 44 2015 IECC ADOPTED ERI SCORES BY CLIMATE ZONE CLIMATE 2015 IECC ADOPTED SCORES ZONE 1 52 ZONE 2 52 ZONE 3 51 ZONE 4 54 ZONE 5 55 ZONE 6 54 ZONE 7 53 ZONE 8 53
  • 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20186 industryexpert / GORD COOKE I mention this because it reinforces the important theme of the overall agenda: continual improvement. In fact, this year’s agenda was influenced by a pre-Camp survey of attendees as to the major challenges the industry faces as we all strive to improve the health, safety, comfort, durability, efficiency and profitability of our building industry. It will come as no surprise that on the minds of the 120 attendees were two main themes: the ever increasing expectations of home buyers with respect to quality and comfort, and the ever greater difficulty in finding skilled and motivated labour and trade partners. These themes played out in a number of sessions presented over the two days. For example, John Straube of RDH Building Science labs offered a nice historical perspective of how prefabrication of housing components helped the industry respond to the significant labour challenges in the post-World War II era. This era spawned the development of prefabricated windows, cabinetry and trusses that helped overcome the on-site shortage of these important skills. John then showed a variety of project prefabrication ideas from around North America and beyond that should be considered by the industry today: wall panels at various stages of completion, completed floor and roof assemblies and modular building sections can all help overcome the skilled labour shortages the industry faces. John pointed out that a transition to more prefabrication would require better planning and significant capital investment – in short, a longer-term vision for an industry that struggles to look past the next piece of land or the next economic slowdown. A complementary session by Jeff Armstrong of Cold Climate Building in Ottawa highlighted work he has been doing on creating a panelization system for deep energy retrofits of existing homes. The premise of Jeff’s work is that we are going to need a way of effectively re-skinning the millions of poorly insulated existing homes with high levels of insulation if we are to really make a dent in aggressive energy efficiency targets. Jeff’s process is helped by new technology that can precisely and quickly measure the exterior façade of a building to facilitate the off-site manufacturing of precision insulated panels to reface the building. Jeff and his team, with help from Natural Resources Canada, have demonstrated proof of concept on a simple trailer building and now will apply it to an actual row house project. Both John and Jeff reminded the audience that the off-site manufacturing of components requires a fanatical focus on methods that ensure on-site assembly results in thoroughly water- managed building enclosures. After all, the longevity and sustainability of houses starts with proper detailing of water-resistant barriers. I was so pleased that my good friends, Mark LaLiberte and Justin Wilson of Construction Instruction from the U.S., were able to come to Spring Training Camp. In preparation for Camp, Mark and Justin had sent up plans for mock-up walls so that they could demonstrate valuable techniques for proper installation of water-managed windows and doors. Mark and Justin are so passionate Getting Better Every Day T his April saw the fifth annual Building Science Spring Training Camp, which we at Building Knowledge Canada were pleased to host with Tex McLeod. Tex always designs a comprehensive and complementary agenda that incorporates a nice range of different learning experiences to ensure the event is fun, interactive and memorable. This year was no exception, with a formal debate (well, more fun than formal, along the lines of the popular CBC Radio The Debaters program), followed by an open mic night and a movie night (including popcorn). Mark LaLiberte (left) and Justin Wilson of Construction Instruction.
  • 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 about the importance of hands-on learning for our industry that they have set up a new learning centre in Phoenix, Arizona. In this new facility, builders and their trade partners can attend a two- to three-day learning event and play around with different materials and installation techniques for weather barriers, thermal barriers and air barriers, and then actually test the performance of what they have learned. This new, unique learning experience is called Ci Live. I am certain many readers can think of more than a few of their staff or partners who would benefit from a high-level, in-depth opportunity to learn. Ci Live helps participants really understand the attention to detail required by our increasingly complex buildings (and expected by our home buyers). The three Camp sessions mentioned above were just Day One in Huntsville. If we are to respond to the challenges facing the industry with respect to skilled labour shortages, we can’t just lament that “you can’t find good people anymore.” Rather, let’s go out and invest in systems that leap-frog past the shortages – such as more prefabrication – or invest in continual and progressive training of that most valuable of resources. As you consider your own path of continual improvement, consider how much and how often your people need learning experiences. Fortunately, there are resources available to you. For more information on Ci Live, go to www.constructioninstruction.com. Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 77 NRCan’s Jeremy Sager presents findings on hybrid heating as a means of reducing CO2 emissions.
  • 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20188 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN D espite pushing 65 years in existence, Brookfield Residen­ tial continues to reinvent itself, as evidenced by taking home the lowest HERS score by a Canadian production builder honour in this year’s Cross Border Builder Challenge. Cross Border Builder Challenge veteran Brookfield’s award-winning home – part of the company’s Fieldstone subdivision, located just outside of Orangeville, Ontario – scored a 38 on the HERS scale. Of course, excelling at the Cross Border Builder Challenge is nothing new to Brookfield. The company has been participating since the contest first ran in 2012, says William Greig, director of contracts and purchasing. Given the success in its HERS scores, Greig says John Godden recommended Brookfield enter the challenge. It’s worked out extremely well, as this marked the third time Brookfield has won for the lowest score for production builder, having also earned the honour in 2015 and 2017. Brookfield also won the CRESNET President’s Award in 2015 and 2017. Often times, companies will build homes specifically for the purpose of entering this contest. But Brookfield’s winning home this year was a prod­ uction model. “Since we did not design this home with the intention of win­ ning an award, and it was treated the same as the other homes in the com­ munity, it came as a pleasant surprise,” Greig says. “It is a testament to how well we build our standard home.” Clearly, all these Cross Border Builder Challenge awards have posi­ tioned Brookfield as an international leader, but at the end of the day, all this innovation is simply for its customers. “We are happy to be viewed as an international leader. However, we feel we are simply doing the right thing for our home owners,” Greig explains. Balancing energy efficiency and affordability To remain a cutting-edge builder, Brookfield has spent much time experimenting with different building techniques in an effort to balance high energy efficiency with afford­ ability. A couple of years ago, it built a discovery home in Tottenham, Ontario. It had a HERS rating of 13 and was 77% above Code, if solar battery storage is used (a near-zero rating of 57% better than Code, or a HERS 31, if achieved without solar). The home had a bevy of energy- efficient features: • Fuel switching: a gas-fired furnace, but also an air conditioner heat pump. In the shoulder months, the Brookfield Residential Pushing Boundaries 88 LOWEST SCORE CANADIAN PRODUCTION BUILDER This is the third time Brookfield Residential has won the award for lowest score among Canadian production builders. From left: John Godden, Michael Da Estrela and Jamie Corbett of Brookfield Residential, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY. 38
  • 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 heat pump can provide the space heating with the furnace kicking in when it gets really cold outside • Insulation: two inches of exterior R-10 polystyrene foam on the outside, plus R-24 ROCKWOOL™ in the main walls. It’s a panelized home featuring less wood in the cavity, meaning more insulation can be added • Windows: triple-glazed windows with a U-value of 1.0 • Exhaust fans: includes Panasonic WhisperGreen fans, which displace more air while using a lot less electricity, and • Greywater: Greyter Water Systems, a unit that supports drainwater heat recovery, collecting that water in a holding tank to use shower water to flush toilets. In addition to all they will learn from the Tottenham home, Brookfield has opted to voluntarily rate all its new construction homes using the HERS. “We’ve decided to do that standard,” Greig says. He also revealed some of the company’s plans going forward. “As we learn from past successes and challenges, we will continue to push our boundaries by testing new products and building techniques,” Greig explains. “Our next ventures include incorporating smart home technology into our model homes in Aurora Woodhaven, and constructing a discovery home in Pickering New Seaton featuring a more energy- efficient building envelope.” BB 9 vanee.ca All these products meet ENERGY STAR’s higher standards For more information or to order, contact your local distributor. vänEE 100H vänEE 200HvänEE 60H vänEE 60H-V+ vänEE 90H-V ECMvänEE 40H+vänEE 90H-V+ vänEE 60H+ vänEE 50H1001 HRV vänEE Gold Series 2001 HRV vänEE Gold Series vänEE air exchangers: improved line-up meets ENERGY STAR® standards Superior Energy Efficiency Ideal for LEED homes and new building codes 5-year warranty* FRESH AIR JUST GOT GREENER *ON MOST MODELS.
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  • 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 R oss Tyrell says he could sell just about anything in a housing market as hot as this one. But the site manager for TowerHouse doesn’t do that – because he and the construction company he works for want to create the best product possible. That’s why he spends as much time as he can learning about better building practices and integrated design. Recently, Tyrell attended a full-day workshop that Clearsphere held on integrated design called Savings by Design. Bringing together builders and like-minded suppliers and manufacturers – like ROCKWOOL™ , Greyter Water Systems, Uponor and Enbridge – the intent was to introduce builders and developers to the latest products aimed at helping them reduce their carbon footprint. At the eight-hour workshop, held at the TowerHouse presentation centre, the various suppliers and manufac­ turers demonstrated their products and discussed existing construction methods and what could be done better using these systems or products. TowerHouse had already imple­ mented many green building prac­ tices, including some of the items discussed, but Tyrell says they also “plan to add more of the features to see just how much we can achieve in terms of energy savings. We aim to go better than the standard, but you have to examine the numbers too and plan to spend your money wisely.” A motivating factor in upgrading to products that improve R-values, or create more efficient HVAC systems, is that the upcoming Building Code in 2020 will contain more stringent requirements. “We already have a great building code – one of the best in the world – but the 2020 Code will really challenge builders to reduce their footprint, and to understand that fundamentally building is about much more than putting up walls and a roof. A big benefit of the upcoming code will be eliminating the fly-by-night builders,” says Tyrell, who manages and supervises TowerHouse sites ranging from multi-residential projects to luxury singles to east-end Toronto new-build movie studios. Currently, Tyrell works with Clearsphere on the company’s multi- residential project at 20 Perth Avenue in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. “So far, the collaboration has been fantastic, because as a builder we want to be better, greener.” But over the past year or so, Tyrell has involved Clearsphere in other projects as well, to conduct insulation inspections, provide advice on how to build better homes, make their recommendations on improving the building envelope and connect TowerHouse with appropriate trades and vendors. The Savings by Design seminar pulled it all together by bringing builders and suppliers together in one place, demonstrating clearly how to build greener while keeping costs down and efficiencies of homes up. “It 11 Savings by Design Helps TowerHouse Build Better sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN TowerHouse’s Jordan Brooks, site manager Ross Tyrell, and Zachary Schwartz. “We aim to go better than the standard, but you have to examine the numbers too and plan to spend your money wisely.”
  • 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201812 was all right there, easy to see and discuss, ask questions,” Tyrell says. The workshop reinforced some of the good construction methods and products TowerHouse was already using. “A lot of the Savings by Design workshop was on insulation. We’re doing ROCKWOOL™ in our homes, in all dividing party walls, as well as exterior walls up to a value of R-22. And we’re using a zoned high-velocity combination heating system.” But the program also showed where they could improve. For example, Tyrell is considering roughing in for a greywater system using the Greyter product, and giving customers the opportunity to install later (this would be on single custom homes). “It’s good to know about what’s available and to either start installing now, or to make it so they can be added later. Right now, some of these products and systems are complicated for end users, but part of the process for us as builders is to learn how to make it easier for home buyers to understand how to use it.” Tyrell, who started working in construction at 18, says he did not learn anything about construction through books. “I did it by using my hands. The job site is my classroom and I understand these trades and how they work.” He started in construction when he went to work for his uncle doing cabling in Quebec, then became an apprentice in electric, and did fine woodworking and cabinetry, which led into construction framing and concrete work. He decided – with all that expertise – to become his own general contractor, but after six years, he was growing frustrated with the lack of professionalism he dealt with in some trades. “I’m a little OCD that way,” he says. So he looked for a company that shared his exacting construction standards, which is how he ended up working with Jordan Brooks and Zachary Schwartz at TowerHouse. Currently, Tyrell conducts daily site inspections, looking for safety compli­ ance and work quality, and connecting directly with trades, architects, devel- opers and inspectors. His approach is always about “respect. I value profes­ sionalism, and if you’re professional in your trade, you should be able to work in an environment that respects that. Because the person who does their job well, and with a level of professional­ ism, will always have work.” BB   Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. 12 Yasmine Goodwin Principal My Design Studio’s proven process has made us the decor studio of choice for builders who value service, quality and want to maximize their revenue. Our experienced design team is ready to partner with you from our beautifully appointed new decor centre, or at your location. Make us part of your next project. Call today. 20 Hanlan Road, Unit 19 Woodbridge, ON L4L 3P6 416.742.2882 yasmine@my-designstudio.com my-designstudio.com DECOR SALES·MODEL HOMES·CUSTOM HOMES “Right now, some of these products and systems are complicated for end users, but part of the process for us as builders is to learn how to make it easier for home buyers to understand how to use it.”
  • 16. OneSolutionFOR CONTINUOUS INSULATION ®™ The DOW Diamond Logo is a trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company © 2018 STYROFOAM™ CLADMATE™ CM20 insulation is designed with the builder and contractor in mind. Changes to many Building Codes include requirements for increased R-values and improved air sealing control measures. With these new requirements come many options, which sometimes leads to confusion over howto meet code and which products to use. One of the biggest changes to complying with the Code, is the requirement of continuous insulation (ci). Continuous Insulation (ci): An uninterrupted layer of insulation that spans over structural members without thermal bridging, otherthan fasteners and services. A continuous layer of insulation helps reduce the potential for condensation within the wall where mold and mildew can accumulate undetected. DOW BUILDING SOLUTIONS 1-866-583-BLUE (2583) www.dowbuildingsolutions.com
  • 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 15 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF This charrette was organized to demonstrate that it is possible, at the design stage of building a home, for the home building industry to achieve energy efficiencies 15% above and beyond the requirements of the 2020 Ontario Building Code. Enbridge is incentivizing builders to do this through a $2,000 rebate per house for up to 50 homes (a cap of $100,000). The program is founded on the belief that there has to be a better way to build a new home and a greener future, and it starts with bringing all parties together and getting them on the same page. So, how is this energy efficiency achieved? It’s done through a series of technical innovations. The checklist is extensive, but here’s a top-five summary: 1. High-performance building envelope through the use of new and advanced building materials, including an air-barrier system (such as Blueskin VP [a vapour permeable adhesive building wrap] and ROCKWOOL™ insulation) to ensure airtightness, prevent condensation and heat loss, and even reduce sound in exterior walls. It also includes proper flashing of windows, doors and mechanical penetrations in the exterior to prevent water entry and air leakage. 2. High-performance HVAC with proper installation, commissioning and balancing of the heating and cooling system – including components such as the furnace, air conditioner, ERV/HRV, humidifier and distribution ducting – to ensure indoor quality. 3. Precision wood-framed structures, comprised of panelized wall and floor sections built off-site in a controlled manufacturing environment, to raise the quality of production. 4. Reduce water usage through low- flush toilets and adding a rough-in for greywater. 5. Efficient lighting and material management with 90% compact fluorescent lamps or LED lighting. Can all this be achieved? “Yes, it can,” says home builder Zachary Schwartz of TowerHouse. “We proved it today through the modelling. To achieve these kinds of efficiencies across the industry, the trick is that everyone has to agree to strengthening construction practices at the design stage of a home – but they don’t all have to be the same.” Schwartz’s TowerHouse colleague, Jordan Brooks, added: “There are a few different ways to get to 15%, and there are several benefits of building this way: cleaner air, a smaller carbon footprint, moisture control, even cost savings. It was a very eye-opening experience. It was a pretty amazing meeting of the minds.” Perhaps most importantly, there was agreement from a municipality – the City of Toronto – that this would be a program that it could support. “The charrette provided a lot of good technical information, and I learned a lot from it,” said a building inspector with the City of Toronto. “This is a program that I would recommend to my department.” Scott Bullock, program manager with Enbridge, says that the program has been a success during its seven years of existence and that they welcome more low-rise builders to join. “We were happy to sponsor today’s Vision 2020 Session and strongly believe that the incentive we provide for implementing energy efficiencies in the construction of new homes encourages the industry to continue to strive for excellence,” Bullock says. But will the buyer know the difference? Enbridge, and Savings by Design builders, are betting yes: new- home buyers will want to know about the savings on gas and electricity, and how they can breathe better and feel more comfortable in their new home. “I think it’s a bit cynical to say that all that home buyers care about is location, location, location,” Schwartz says. “There are a lot of home buyers that are hungry for information – probably more than ever – on their new homes. That’s why I think they’ll like what they see through the Savings by Design program, and we’ll be happy to give them the homes they want.” BB Going Green Project A Towering Achievement in the Making O ne scan around the room at the Savings by Design charrette revealed that every head in the industrial-style office space was, at some point, nodding in agreement. When you consider the cross-section of professionals that were in attendance – builders, civil servants, consultants, engineers, energy evaluators – it’s rare to see representatives of different sectors all buying into a concept and vision. But that’s what was unfolding at the Enbridge Vision 2020 Session.
  • 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201816 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN TheBestof BothWorlds Lower Junction Townhouses 32 townhouses complete with all associated servicing, site work and landscaping. Architecture: TACT Architecture Interior Design: Jules Valentine Developer: Castlepoint Numa, and Greybrook Realty Partners Alfredo Romano, John O’Keefe About the Developer Now in its 25th year of leadership in the development industry, The Castlepoint Group creates communities and employment areas across the Greater Toronto Area and in select markets in the United States. Castlepoint Numa is the largest private sector landowner on the Toronto waterfront. Its projects are recognized for their vision, aesthetics and innovative expertise. Castlepoint Numa excels in heritage preservation, brownfield reclamation and the revitalization of sites in decline.
  • 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 1717 TowerHouse brings commercial construction precision to the residential market D espite being a relatively new company, TowerHouse is not short on experience – or aspirations. “Our philosophy is just to build better,” says co-founder/construction manager Zach Schwartz. By taking what he and fellow co-founder Jordan Brooks gleaned from their years in commercial construction, and marrying that to residential construction techniques, TowerHouse is able to provide custo­mers with the best of both worlds. “We took a lot of the knowledge that we gained in commercial construction – the precision and expertise that exists on that side – and began to sort of transfer it over to the residential market,” Schwartz explains. “Part of our goal is to bring this level of trade in the residential market up to the production that we were accustomed to. So we spend a considerable amount of time making sure people are performing up to the way they’re supposed to be performing – to complete the construction projects on time, on budget and with the quality that we’ve come to expect,” he adds. Eventually Schwartz and Brooks opted to strike out on their own, forming TowerHouse in 2013. The name harkens back to medieval times, when tower houses were custom homes for aristocrats – always unique and always regarded by their owners as a castle. Hands-on approach Schwartz says because he and Brooks both come from the field, they remain very hands-on. That isn’t likely to change: “Really our intention is to not grow too big that we can’t still get our hands in the field and be there to monitor quality and what’s actually happening on site.” The 11-employee company had built around 40 custom homes before launching into its first multi-home project: The Lower Junction, which consists of 32 luxury townhomes located at Bloor and Sterling in Toronto, expected to begin occupancy in October. TowerHouse’s philosophy “just to build better” was put to the test with this project, given that the homes lay adjacent to train tracks, causing a serious issue with sound migration. Schwartz says many townhomes use less expensive materials on the outside, but part of vetting sound comes from mass – so, in this instance, the back of all these townhomes are solid masonry brick. The issue was also addressed with extra ROCKWOOL™ SAFE’n’SOUND® insulation, a much denser product which has sound attenuation properties. What also helps mitigate sound, Schwartz explains, is a continuous air barrier “because even a small hole which allows air to get through will also allow sound to get through.” Finally, they employed Henry Blue­ skin VP100 building wrap, while paying extra attention to insulating those walls that directly face the train tracks.
  • 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201818 For this project, TowerHouse went through Savings by Design, an incentive program run by Enbridge designed to help educate Ontario’s builders on the latest energy-efficiency techniques and products with an eye towards meeting and exceeding stricter provincial Building Code changes coming in 2020. Achievement without prescription Savings by Design helps builders exceed Building Code energy stand­ ards – and get their building permits approved – without having to use one of the Code’s prescribed packages. Calling it a market transformation effort, program manager Scott Bullock says “We are encouraging and helping builders get to the level they want to get to.” Here’s how it works, in a nutshell: builders fill out an application form, submit to inspections and tests to ensure the energy goals are being achieved, and attend valuable semin­ ars where they can learn about the latest energy-efficiency techniques and products. Upon successful completion of Savings by Design, builders receive a rebate of $2,000 per home, to a maximum of 50 units. Bullock says the educational component is the real gem here. “The $100,000 to a builder is nice, but there’s $10 million of builder expertise in the room.” Approximately 25 to 30 builders go through the program annually (it was 28 last year, and the goal is a “significantly” higher amount this year), with over 120 having gone through it since it launched. Bullock says because some builders have gone through it more than once, close to 200 projects have been subsidized by Savings by Design. When the program began in 2012, Bullock said it was geared towards getting builders to achieve 25% better than code. When the Ontario Code changed in 2017, the qualification threshold was reduced to 15%. Other alterations made to the program at that time included: municipalities were included in the sessions in an effort to familiarize them with what’s being planned in the hopes it will help expedite approvals; energy advisors (like John Godden) were included to help run the seminars; and it’s no longer targeted solely at larger builders. Forward thinking That final part is important, Bullock says, because “in our experience, some of the smaller builders are the ones that are doing the most imple­mentations of these technologies.” Take TowerHouse, for instance. Bullock often hears from newer builders “oh, we’ve only built two or three subdivisions, we haven’t gotten there yet” as an excuse not to tackle energy efficiency. Not so with TowerHouse. “These guys wanted to do it in their first devel­ opment, which to me was impressive. I saw them as very forward thinking.” For TowerHouse, the program simply augments their existing goal of building a better product, Schwartz says. “This just further incentivizes you to make those decisions on materials and stuff that you might not otherwise consider doing on this type of project.” He notes that Savings by Design can become a marketing tool for builders, but agrees with Bullock that the heart of the program lies in the training por­ tion. “That’s probably one of the better parts of the program, is that they’re really educating the builders on what’s available and what can be done. We’ve taken a lot out of it,” Schwartz says. TowerHouse has an additional 15 townhomes currently under con­ struction beyond the Lower Junction project, followed by another townhome project in the west end of Toronto (at Islington, just south of Bloor Street). BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca The self-sealing permeable Blueskin protective barrier is installed prior to brick installation. Self-sealing Blueskin® VP100 “air tight, water tight and weather tight” properties eliminate uncontrolled air and moisture movement, resulting in increased thermal performance of the wall assembly.
  • 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 For a more comfortable, durable and energy-efficient home Drawing on decades of commercial air barrier experience, Henry® Company has created Blueskin® VP100.This fully-adhered water-resistant air barrier helps stop uncontrolled air leakage to improve building comfort, safety and energy efficiency. • Vapor permeable water and air barrier • Fully adhered and nail sealable • Reduces energy costs • Helps to eliminate drafts to improve comfort • Helps maximize insulation performance Picks up where traditional house wraps leave off! Henry® Blueskin® VP100 © 2018 Henry Company All rights reserved. Building Envelope Systems® Roofing | Air Barrier | Waterproofing Fully adhered means: Air tight Water tight Weather tight For more information on Blueskin® VP100, call 800-486-1278 or visit www.henry.com #stickwithblueskin
  • 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 20182020 L ike Heathwood, Geranium Homes turned 40 last year. And similarly, no one would accuse Geranium of slowing down as it ostensibly reaches middle age – certainly not after another award-winning showing, with a home in its Bloomington Woods subdivision in Stouffville earning a HERS 42, winning Geranium mid- production builder honours in the Cross Border Builder Challenge. Well versed in land acquisition, planning and process, engineering, servicing, design and construction, Geranium calls itself one of the province’s few fully integrated land development and building companies. Not a one-trick pony The 100-plus employee company has built over 8,000 homes, including many master-planned communities. But Geranium is anything but a one- trick pony, says Boaz Feiner, president of homebuilding. “Our portfolio is very wide ranging,” including mid-rise construction, estate homes, single-family units, towns and stacks. “That’s why we’re forced to push the envelope, because we don’t do the same thing over and over again,” he adds. Vice president of construction Louie Morizio, who originally joined Geranium 30 years ago, explains its philosophy: “It’s always about building something you can be proud of... that you can put your name to.” He continues: “if you have the satisfaction of the purchasers, the people that are buying our homes, they see the product that goes in, they see the effort, the outcome – you can’t help but be proud of the product.” Ultimately, that translates into repeat business and success over the company’s lifetime. Geranium’s formula for becoming an industry leader is simple: it is always pushing the envelope through R&D and always seeking new products. “We have to hand select products we can stand behind and are comfortable with,” he explains. This approach is especially appli­ cable in Geranium’s approach to energy- efficient home building: “One of our main focuses is energy consumption and how it affects the environment. We are socially conscious and we want to make sure we put in the right product so that we know the people will be happy and we can stand behind it.” Willing to try new things Geranium will steer clear of products that “aren’t going to cut the mustard,” Morizio says. But he does believe in trying out the unproven in a quest to push the envelope. buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN Geranium Ahead of the Curve LOWEST SCORE CANADIAN MID-SIZE BUILDER Geranium Homes won the award for lowest score by a Canadian mid-size builder. From left: John Godden, Luke Giampietri and Brent Shaw of Geranium Homes, John Bell of Sustainable Housing Foundation, Bill Jewel of Geranium Homes, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY. 42
  • 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 21 For instance, Geranium is currently experimenting with a liquid tar material for sealing the exterior of flat roofs. Once poured into place, it becomes a rubber membrane that is puncture resistant, eliminating the common issue of having nails penetrate the roof and cause leaks. This could translate into less servicing for purchasers, a better sealed unit, less draft and more durability, he adds. In winning the Cross Border Builder Challenge, Morizio says the company spent a lot of time perfecting its construction techniques – making sure it sealed the ductwork and units well, performed inspections to check everything, and “[did] all sorts of different things” to perfect airflow and eliminate leaks to get these results. “It’s an indicator that we’re doing something right,” he says of the award. “It tells me that we are a leader in what we do. Our efforts have not gone unnot- iced, which is a great thing. Recognition is always a positive thing for people that are trying to put something like this together to build a better product.” Further, it tells him that “we are ahead of the curve from the other guys.” After trying it out in Stouffville, Morizio says Geranium is now exploring sprinkler systems inside its homes as standard fare. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca “Our portfolio is very wide ranging… That’s why we’re forced to push the envelope, because we don’t do the same thing over and over again.”
  • 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201822 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN A lthough custom home builder Peter Voong had been primed by Clearsphere that he had the lowest HERS scores for any custom builder in the Cross Border Builder Challenge, he was still stunned to receive a congratulatory email from RenewABILITY Energy Inc. The Cross Border Builder Chal­ lenge is a friendly competition between Canadian and American builders that was started by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in hopes of improving green building practices across North America. Voong, president of Castleform Developments, entered the competition with a home he built in south Etobicoke in partnership with Panasonic. While Voong’s aim is always high-performance/low- carbon, this home is super-high performance. As would be expected with a joint effort with Panasonic, the house was outfitted with solar panels and Panasonic’s latest storage battery. But a lot of other energy-efficient products went into the home as well, he says. Appliances and interior doors, water-efficient plumbing fixtures and AIRMAX high-velocity dual zone HVAC were just some of the components that were used. Even the look of the home was designed to be modern to match the technological features. Because Voong sees reducing fossil fuel use as key to reducing carbon output, he is all for alternative energy sources, and he applauds Panasonic’s efforts to create an appropriate manageable home battery to draw power from photovoltaic solar panels. To accommodate the PV panels – an extra five pounds per square inch load on the roof – Panasonic had to do the rough-in before construction. Otherwise, the roof structure would have been compromised. They considered a dual fuel system on Clearsphere’s recommendation, but ultimately didn’t go with it. However, it makes sense for the future, Voong says, especially if electricity becomes cheaper off peak and PV technology advances allow home owners to easily generate their own electricity at home. Super-High Performance, Super-Low HERS Peter Voong on Collaborating with Panasonic Castleform Developments’ HERS score of 20 was the lowest among Canadian custom builders. From left: John Godden, Peter Voong of Castleform Developments, Eric Belley of BP Canada, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY. LOWEST SCORE CANADIAN CUSTOM BUILDER 20
  • 25. EcoVent™ —The fan that meets designed airflow requirements. For true performance under the hood, install Panasonic EcoVent™ with Veri-Boost.™ Ideal for new residential construction, EcoVent is the perfect solution for home builders looking to meet designed airflow requirements the first time and avoid the hassle of replacing underperforming fans. EcoVent is a cost effective ENERGY STAR® rated solution that delivers strong performance. If you need to bump up the CFM output to achieve airflow design, simply flip the Veri-Boost switch and increase the flow from 70 to 90 CFM and you’re good to go! Learn more at Panasonic.com
  • 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201824 Voong started Castleform 13 years ago after a suc­ cessful career in the financial industry. He wasn’t overly concerned with energy efficiency until the Ontario Building Code dramatically raised efficiency expectations through greater insulation, tighter building envelopes, higher rated windows, HRVs/ERVs and better use of building technologies.  Now Voong’s homes are 40% more energy efficient than the current building code, which is significant considering Ontario’s code is already 14% better than the Paris Accord. He’s achieved it through an integrated approach combining all aspects: tight envelope, efficient zoned HVAC and proper ventilation. When he was approached by Panasonic to work together on this home, he really didn’t think twice about it. “A lot of things we’re not scared to try out, like a building product from BP Canada called R5-XT, an extruded polystyrene structural insulation board. We’re the first to use it in Canada, and [when we wanted to use it] in this project, the suppliers didn’t even have it – hadn’t even SKU’d it yet.” Voong’s philosophy is: “how do you know it’s not good unless you try it?” Once he’s tried something and sees it works, he will incorporate it into the package of standard features, which includes a rough-in for an electric car charger, energy-efficient windows and enhanced building envelope with walls 24" on centre. Castleform is big on airtightness, because leaking air means wasted energy on heating or cooling. So Voong focuses on using the best products to create efficiencies, like insulating with ROCKWOOL™ to up the R-value and wrapping the house in an insulated exterior sheathing down the foundation wall to the slab to create a continuous air barrier. Because airtightness requires proper ventilation, Voong puts a high-efficiency vänEE ERV in every home to exchange the air and keep fresh air circulating throughout the house. The final consideration is the bottom line – you can build all the energy efficiency you want, but if it’s not affordable, the public won’t buy it. Voong, who builds custom homes, always thinks about operating costs. Home owners want to keep these down, to the point where they’ll pay more for efficient features. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. Email info@clearsphere.ca or call 416-481-7517 betterthancode.ca This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Building Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change happened in 2017 which is causing some confusion. The new code will be notionally 15% better than 2017. How are you getting there in 2020? 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. LowCostCodeCompliancewith theBetterThanCodePlatform 45 BetterThanCodeUsestheHERSIndextoMeasureEnergyEfficiency TheLowertheScoretheBetter–MeasureableandMarketable OBC 2012 OBC 2017 NEAR ZERO 80 60 40 20 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. BetterThanCode
  • 27. 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)
  • 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201826 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN E mpire Communities, celebrating its silver anniversary this year, is another builder that’s well versed in what it takes to win the Cross Border Builder Challenge. Having previously won in the inaugural challenge with a HERS 37 score, it took home two awards this year: the Enbridge Innovation Award for its hybrid home in Breslau, Ontario, and the Net Zero Canadian Builder Award for a HERS 19 home in the same community. Vaughan, Ontario-based Empire employs over 350 people and has crafted over 10,000 new homes and condominiums in its history. An impressive resume This pair of awards further cements Empire’s reputation as an early adopter of energy-efficient home building methodologies and techno­ logy. Consider that it participated in the launch of the Building Canada program (the precursor of ENERGY STAR) way back in 2003. Empire went on to become one of the first ENERGY STAR builders, creating a discovery home in 2005. Three years later, it built a LEED silver home, and three years after that (in 2011), it was named the BILD Low-Rise Builder of the Year. Indeed, Empire’s resume in green building has few peers. Now, says vice president/co-foun­ der Paul Golini, the company is taking what it learned with its TEETH (Three Energy Efficient Test Homes) initiative in Breslau and is “in the learning phase.” Golini says winning the awards is part of an ongoing trend for Empire. “This is continuing on our tradition of being an early adopter … [and] just reinforces our leadership position and our focus on future proofing our homes on an approach to continuous improvement in testing, monitoring and ultimately exploration of innovative building techniques.” He admits that since Canadians are typically humble, it’s hard for us to own the concept that we’re world leaders. However, he points out that “we in Ontario have one of the best building codes in the world, and so the fact that we can build in Ontario and win an international award further reinforces the fact that we are competing on the world stage … We here in Ontario are building better than any place in the U.S.” Empire Communities The Early Adopter 26 Their hybrid home in Breslau, Ontario netted Empire Communities two awards. Below, Steve Doty of Empire Communities is joined by John Godden, Sue Swing of Dow, and Bruce Manwaring of Enbridge. Out of frame: Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY. NET ZERO AWARD CANADIAN BUILDER AND ENBRIDGE INNOVATION AWARD 19
  • 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 Improving the user experience Among Empire’s goals for this year, Golini says, is to see if there’s a way to properly incorporate smart home interfaces that allow the consumer better access and control of all the goodies that are being added to their homes. While they keep building better and better homes with greater energy-efficient technologies, “we tend to put aside the user experience, the user interface.” So it’s full speed ahead for Empire. In fact, about the only thing slowing down the company these days are the wheels of bureaucracy, Golini says. “The speed at which we’re able to apply some of the learning has been hampered by the speed at which we’re able to access permit-ready lots.” He feels that it’s an “oxymoron” when governments talk about acceler­ ating change and innovation in energy efficiency only to see it tied up in the building permit process. Empire would like to apply and reapply and test as quickly as possible, but can’t “because of the bottleneck in the regulatory environment” and the effect that’s having on the new land approvals. Golini explains that his other challenge is remaining innovative, yet still consumer accessible. Trying to follow where the thread leads – from the regulatory realm, the Building Code, the provincial election, the climate change action plan and how that will all affect the industry – is tough while trying to maintain “a balance of being ahead of the curve, but not too ahead so that the consumer can still follow.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 27 Services Green Building Consultants LEED Canada, ENERGY STAR® and R-2000 for Homes GreenHouse™ Certified Construction Building System Design Optimization & Performance Testing On-Site Training Renewable Energy Integration Building Code Compliance Using HERS John B Godden B.E.S. Recipient of CaGBC Green Building Champion Award 2010 Clearsphere is a division of Alpha-Tec Consulting & Construction Proud sponsor of the Best Wall Study info@clearsphere.ca www.clearsphere.ca416 481 4218
  • 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF 1 On April 27, 2018 the SHF hosted the 5th annual Cross Border Builder Challenge awards dinner. The evening started with a trade show 2 featuring premium products from Amvic, Airia Brands, Inc., AO Smith, BP Canada, Dow, Icynene, Power-Pipe, ROCKWOOL™ , Ventilation Maximum, and Uponor. Keynote speaker Bruce Manwaring of Enbridge 3 kicked off the dinner with a presentation about achieving the trifecta of building energy performance: low carbon emissions, affordability, and resiliency. Bruce outlined the importance of delivering the right energy at the right time with multiple fuel sources and storage strategies. Sue Swing of Dow and Trudy Puls from ROCKWOOL™ 4 presented the preliminary monitoring results from the Empire TEETH houses (three energy efficient test houses) – specifically the research on hybrid basement insulation systems that eliminate moisture management problems at a reasonable cost. Paul Lowes of BP Canada 5 pre­ 28 sented Wendy Shami, Managing Editor of Better Builder magazine, a stone carving celebrating the 25th issue. The VIPs of the evening were the winning builders of the Cross Border Builder Challenge who were honoured for the accomplishments in building low carbon high performance homes. The evening ended with a present­ ation from Doug Tarry on his Agua Vita initiative that stressed the importance of building resilient homes. A raffle and auction 6 raised $2,000 for Doug’s efforts in Puerto Rico. BB 1 6 4 5 3 2 5th Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner
  • 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 29
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  • 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 2018 I’ve said many times that it was as if Animal, the drummer from the Muppets, had come to life – only there were 10 of him and they were all attacking one house. At least that might have been how it seemed from the local perspective. So, while the team was up and running towards a successful mission, it took a few days to gain the trust of the community outside of our original team of helpers. Interestingly, it was the women of San Lorenzo who first started to engage with us. But within a few days, we had many residents participating. And then we saw something really cool happen – they really wanted to learn! It was like they wanted personal empowerment and they were very curious. I was able to show a pair of volunteers – that is, a pair of grandmas – how to flash a window using the Tyvek window flashing within about an hour. And boy, did they enjoy doing it for themselves. During our mission, we were able to divide our team into sub-groups so that we could best help the residents of barrio San Lorenzo. While one team continued to work on the reframing of roofs, another team set up the local residents with power tools, materials and professional materials specialists to repair concrete roofs. Again, we were thrilled to see the number of women who wanted to learn. By the end of our last mission, they were ready to get to work, and all they needed was some sunshine. We also had a small team who took on a special mission to help an elderly couple who had a leaking roof and were sleeping on a wet bed. We were able to get the roof repaired and provide them with a new bed and bedding, repaint their home and make them comfortable. It was a big moment to show why we were really there: to bring hope. Now it is just a few short days until my wife, Carolyne, and I depart for our next mission (May 5 to 12), with a larger team and a much larger mission. We are thrilled to be joined by two executives from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, including first vice president Stefanie Coleman-Dias. We will also be joined by Sarah Stevenson, an engineering PhD graduate student from Western University who is studying hurricane- resistant construction techniques for wood-frame construction. Also coming with us is Jennifer Sanders, a professor who is a mentor at the Women in Carpentry program at Fanshawe College. Stef, Sarah and Jennifer are a view to the future of construction here 31 Resilient Construction Techniques If a Puerto Rican Grandmother Can Do It… fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY I ’m writing this article as our team prepares for our next mission to barrio San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Our mission in late January was very successful…But it got off to a bit of a rocky start. Our original mission focus – to help rebuild the school – needed to be changed to working on individual residences, just two days before we shipped out. That meant that we arrived to work on homes that had not been prepared for us. We had the framing team and all the volunteers begin tearing out the remains of the damage from the hurricane on the first home. Nancy and Norma, two of our wonderful local volunteers. Jennifer Sanders (top) and Sarah Stevenson
  • 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 26 | SUMMER 201832 in Canada, and we are glad to have them join our team of skilled men and women who make our missions possible. I would be remiss if I did not mention that a very significant part of our focus during our mission will be to look at more hurricane-resistant construction techniques for Puerto Rico, and how we can apply these lessons back here in Canada. If we can make it simple and cost effective to install in barrio San Lorenzo, by a largely unskilled workforce, then perhaps it will not be overly difficult to use as best practice back home. We believe this added resiliency will also help home owners reduce their home insurance costs by purchasing a new home that has these details: • Flashing windows to prevent water penetration into the wall cavity, • Taping or covering sheathing seams on the roof to stop water intrusion if shingles are lost, • Using a tighter nailing patter and ring shank nails to keep the sheathing on the roof, • Installing gable lookouts back into the next truss, and • Using hurricane clips, tie downs and wall sheathing with rigid insulation (or other combined products) to strengthen the home’s resiliency. We hope to share these lessons openly with our peers back here in Ontario. After all, if a Puerto Rican grandmother can learn how to do it, we should be able to make it work here. BB If you would like to know more about our ongoing missions or make a contribution, you can find us on the web at: www.hopeaguavita.com www.facebook.com/hopeaguavita www.gofundme.com/hopeaguavita Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. 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 John Godden presents Doug Tarry with an honorary award for Hope House.
  • 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. 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™
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