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PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
FUTURE
PROOFINGCHALLENGES IN REDUCING CO2
INSIDE
Country Homes Looks to
Carbon Reduction
Building After the Pandemic
Employing Batteries
Future-proofing Regulatory
Requirements
An Electric Mobility Future
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
16
1
FEATURE STORY
16
No Country for Old Ways
This third-generation builder is blazing a trail in carbon reduction
that is likely a preview of things to come for the industry.
by Rob Blackstien
30
ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
On our cover: Watch mechanism © Emre Ogan / istockphoto
Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
22
26
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
2
Future Proofing With
Low-Carbon Choices
by John Godden
THE BADA TEST
3
Building Better After COVID-19
by Lou Bada
INDUSTRY EXPERT
5
Employing Batteries to Keep
a House Going and Going
by Gord Cooke
INDUSTRY NEWS
9
A Practical Approach to
Future-proofing Regulatory
Requirements
by Paul De Berardis
INDUSTRY NEWS
13
Getting on Track with HVAC
Builders can benefit from the
wisdom of an experienced
heating, ventilation and air
conditioning contractor
by R. Blackstien
SITE SPECIFIC
22
Warming Up with Reliance
Helping Builders Build Smarter
by Alex Newman
SPECIAL INTEREST
26
Building an Electric
Mobility Future
Upstartz Helps Drivers and
Builders Save Time and Money
by Alex Newman
FROM THE GROUND UP
30
Why Build a Hundred-
Year Home?
by Doug Tarry
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
Future Proofing
With Low-Carbon
Choices
2
PUBLISHER
Better Builder Magazine
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PUBLICATION NUMBER
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W
hat is future-proofing, exactly? In his 2014 essay, “The Principles
of Future-proofing,” Brian D. Rich describes future-proofing as
“the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of
minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses due to future events.”
Choices about the future need to be made with integrity. The word “integrity”
comes from the Latin root integer, which means “whole,” “complete,” or “entire.”
And when we “integrate” something, which comes from the same root word, it
means we achieve wholeness and balance by considering all things to minimize
unintended consequences.
Future-proofing requires foresight and balance, not compartmentalization
or fundamentalism. The idea of a magic bullet or perfect solution is not a
comprehensive approach to the future. Policy makers frequently look for simple
solutions to complex problems – but by emphasizing the goal, we create a
distortion. The goal is not the means.
We are looking for a process with a purpose rather than a purpose looking for
a process. Nothing could be truer in the case of the goal of “net zero.” Is net zero
energy and carbon a viable goal? Moreover, is the goal achievable? And what will
it take to get us there?
Any human activity – including home building – has anthropogenic impacts.
An example of this is the process of making concrete, which is responsible for
7% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) worldwide. Carbon debt is the GHGEs
created when things like solar panels are produced in an energy-intensive
process. If the manufacturing process minimizes the use of fossil fuels, then the
carbon debt will be lower, and the net energy production will happen sooner for
photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Embodied carbon is the carbon footprint (CF) of a building before it becomes
“operational.” Each material used for construction thus has a global warming
potential (GWP). Almost half of a building’s CF is embodied in its structure, and
a lower amount is used to heat and cool it. The concept of future-proofing means
examining materials we are using to build the net zero home rather than the
energy we choose to operate it with. Net zero or balanced energy is becoming
less important with the advent of battery storage, as the carbon debt of PV panels
is relatively high.
publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
continued on page 4
The concept of future-proofing means examining
materials we are using to build the net zero home
rather than the energy we choose to operate it with.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
feet of home. Generally speaking, the
cost per square foot of a low-rise home
is less than that of a high-rise home.
Interest rates are also historically
low and monthly carrying costs for
the additional square footage are
reasonable.
Our customers are also looking
towards multi-generational homes
where more space is important. In-law
suites and aging-in-place options have
become more popular. The demand for
residential elevators has also grown.
Given the experience with long-term
care homes during the crisis, I would
expect the drive towards larger multi-
generational homes and aging-in-
place options may continue. As well,
municipal governments have begun
changing zoning by-laws for basement
apartments and the Ontario Building
Code has clarified the regulations for
basement units.
I also believe that the trend towards
working from home and added space
for home offices will continue to some
degree post-pandemic. The desire
for a backyard and some extra space
has always had some appeal and I
believe will continue to be in demand.
Locations close to workplaces, such
as those in the Toronto core, seem
to be not as important as they once
were. Employers and employees have
But enough of the gloom and
doom: let me pull out my crystal ball
(I just had it fixed)…
There are some trends in our
industry that began before the
pandemic and which I believe will
continue or accelerate. There was a
tendency for our purchasers to select
the larger homes in our low-rise
housing developments. This trend
contrasted with what was happening
in the high-rise condominium
market, where smaller units were
being purchased based on location
and affordability. I believe there are
a few reasons that larger low-rise
homes were and will continue to be
purchased.
Generally, the proportionate land
cost incorporated into the purchase
price of a low-rise home is greater
than the proportionate land cost
incorporated into the price of a high-
rise home. In the Greater Toronto
Hamilton Area (GTHA), the cost of
the land purchase can be up to 60%
of the purchase price of a low-rise
home. The price increment to get into
a larger home as opposed to a smaller
home on the same lot is relatively less
because the land cost is constant.
For example, if you add $50,000 (5%)
to the price of a $1,000,000 low-rise
home, you can get an extra 250 square
realized that, in many cases, working
from home can be just as productive.
Long commutes to work may no longer
be necessary. Also, the prices of larger
homes close to downtown Toronto
make them largely unattainable. As
such, sales in the periphery of the
GTHA have grown enormously. In some
cases, density is no longer desirable.
So, our homes seem to be getting
bigger and further from the centre of
Toronto – but are they getting better? I
would say so.
Our homes themselves have bene­
fitted greatly from the introduction
3
thebadatest / LOU BADA
Building Better
After COVID-19
A
t the time of this writing, we are still in the throes of the most
significant healthcare crisis in 100 years (lest we forget wars and
famine). This too shall pass, but will we forget the COVID-19 pandemic
and return to “business as usual” when building homes in the future? I don’t
know for sure, but I’d like to think that there will be a sense of normalcy. I’d
also like to believe that we will continue to improve our homes and our lives
in them. On the other hand, I am quite sure that there will be unintended
consequences, both good and bad.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
Given the experience
with long-term care
homes during the crisis,
I would expect the drive
towards larger multi-
generational homes
and aging-in-place
options may continue.
ISTOCKPHOTO956436776
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
of heat or energy recovery ventilators
(HRVs or ERVs). I believe the focus on
proper ventilation was correct with the
introduction of HRVs into the Ontario
Building Code. Given our challenges with
the pandemic, it seems that those changes
were visionary. Good ventilation appears to
mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Likewise,
the trend should be towards ERVs that
help with proper humidification (and
comfort) in the winter months, which may
also help with keeping virus transmission
lower within a home. Additionally, the
advent of sealed ductwork in our homes
has greatly assisted in energy conservation
and good HRV/ERV ventilation. (Good air
filtration systems may be an opportunity
for improving air quality, but I’d like to see
more research and testing done to show
safety and other benefits.)
Finally, I believe the strides we’ve made
to make our homes more energy efficient
have also made them better, healthier,
more flexible and more useful. Although
making our homes “pandemic proof” is not
an eventuality we had given much thought
to, building and designing them more
thoughtfully has made these times a little
more bearable for anyone that lives in a
newer home.
So, what’s to come? Will there be
another pandemic? What do we do next?
As Woody Allen once said: “If you want to
make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” 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).
4
thebadatest / LOU BADApublisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
Low operational carbon through energy efficiency is now at the
point of diminishing marginal returns, where constructing with
low embodied carbon is coming more into focus. To reduce GHGEs,
homes built with more wood (plants) represent material taken out
of the carbon cycle. Buildings made of glass and steel create more
carbon debt. A key question is: does a net zero building, covered
with solar panels and extra insulation required to get balanced
energy, represent more embodied carbon than the low-carbon
and low-energy house built with lower GWP in all its materials?
Choosing lower embodied carbon is a new way to minimize adverse
future effects of global warming. Balancing low energy and low
carbon is future-proofing.
We’ve dedicated this issue to the topic of future-proofing.
One project we’re excited about is a demonstration home built
by Country Homes in Milton. The super-semi contrasts two
approaches side by side: the Canadian Home Builders’ Association
net zero home on the left shares a party wall with the low-
carbon, net zero cost path on the right. Both will be monitored for
operational energy and their carbon footprints. Read about it in our
feature article on page 16.
As we’ve learned over the past few months, pandemics can
create significant implications for future-proofing. Lou Bada
outlines some considerations for home building during COVID-19
on page 3.
Extreme weather is another factor to consider when future-
proofing, and Gord Cooke shares with us detailed and firsthand
experience of living with solar battery storage during a power
outage on page 5.
The 2020 version of the National Building Code is about to be
published. In anticipation of these updates, Paul De Berardis offers
us a practical approach to future-proofing for upcoming regulatory
requirements on page 9.
Meanwhile, the now-repealed Code change requiring electric
vehicle charging stations raises new questions about how to provide
infrastructure for rapid charging stations. A current innovative
approach integrating public transit, car sharing and high-density
development is unveiled on page 26.
Last but not least, Doug Tarry gets the final word, making a case
for building a home that will last for 100 years.
Balancing low-energy, low-carbon debt materials with durability
is our best strategy for future-proofing our homes. I hope you find
this issue helpful for meeting the challenges that lie ahead. BB
Balancing low energy and
low carbon is future-proofing.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
Employing Batteries
to Keep a House Going and Going
This simple “light staying on”
moment seemed to validate the host
of strategies now readily available to
all builders and their customers for
houses that will be resilient, that will
keep going and going, when facing
adversities. Admittedly, batteries may
not be the first resiliency investment
to make. Careful water management
details to avoid leaks, increased
insulation levels and airtightness
for thermal resiliency, foundation
choices to avoid flood potential and
fire-resistant enclosures all need to
be on the decision list. However, my
brothers and I can attest to the fact
that knowing we needn’t worry about
power outages is reassuring.
Much like other electrical and
mechanical system considerations,
there are specific decision steps to take
when selecting a battery for a home. To
help with that, we enlisted the support
of Wil Beardmore of Bluewater Energy
in Guelph, Ont. We have recommended
Wil to many builders because of his
ability to integrate renewable systems
into a wide range of applications. Wil
noted that up until fairly recently,
linking solar photovoltaics (PV) to
the early generations of batteries was
typically only done in remote off-grid
applications (like island cottages) with
very modest capacity expectations.
With great new battery and storage
control options available, grid-
connected applications make sense,
both for power outage security and
optimizing the overall performance of
solar PV systems. With that in mind, Wil
helped us with the following decision
sequence for the lake house (which is
served by a 10 kW capacity solar PV
array but is still grid-connected).
His first question to us was, “What
exactly do you want to have access to
during a power outage?” That is, you
need to determine the peak power
demand in kilowatts: the total of the
wattage of all the appliances you want
to operate during a power outage.
This would be the same decision you
would have to make when selecting a
gas-powered generator. In our case,
we wanted the gas boiler and pumps
needed for the in-floor heating to be
operational, plus the refrigerator,
key light fixtures, the internet and a
selection of wall plugs. Fortunately,
5
industryexpert / GORD COOKE
L
ast spring, a few weeks after my brothers and I took possession of the net
zero energy lake house we had proudly collaborated on, there was a ferocious
windstorm coming off the lake.
No one was at the house that morning, but our builder and friend, Derek
Seaman, called and asked if it would be okay if he went over and checked out
what was happening. I was a little surprised and wondered if he thought there
was a potential problem. It turned out the power had been out in town for over
four hours, and he wanted to see if the Tesla battery we had invested in for the
new place was doing its job. Indeed, he called back excited that everything was
humming along and the switch over to the battery had been so quick and smooth
we didn’t even need to reset the clocks.
With new battery
and storage control
options, grid-connected
applications make
sense for power outage
security and optimizing
overall performance.
ISTOCKPHOTO1205548407
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 20206
in a high-performance home with
ENERGY STAR appliances, variable
speed fans and pumps, and LED
lights, that peak demand is in the
range of just 1.5 to 2.0 kW. Currently,
the smallest Tesla will provide up to 7
kW at peak and 5 kW on a continuous
run. Other battery companies have
smaller capacities available if desired.
The next decision is how much
storage capacity, expressed in kilowatt
hours, is desired. It’s important
to consider how long you want to
be able to provide power without
relying on an electrical grid or solar
PV connection. Unlike a natural
gas generator that could run almost
indefinitely, a battery has a specific,
limited storage capacity. In our case,
power outages are common, but most
are very short (less than a few hours).
However, we did want to be secure
over an extended outage of up to
two to three days. We felt the 13 kWh
capacity of one Powerwall module
would provide that assurance. For
example, the power draw to run the
in-floor heating draws about 250
watts and the refrigerator another
200 watts. In the unlikely event that
both ran continuously, the 13 kWh
of storage capacity would keep them
both going for 29 hours without any
solar contribution. In other words,
it is pretty straightforward math
to figure out both the desired peak
demand and hours of capacity. You
may well have clients that would want
more appliances or longer outage
protection, in which case incremental
battery modules can be added.
With the desired capacity
determined, the next decisions
include choosing the battery
technology, warranty and support,
installation configurations and
control options. As mentioned, we
chose the Tesla Powerwall, which
employs lithium-ion technology
and offered a 10-year warranty for
at least an 80% capacity. Another
technology, which is available from
Sonnen and employs lithium iron
phosphate modules, is considered
to be more reliable in applications
where the battery is to be charged
and discharged more than in a simple
power outage security application. For
example, in an off-grid application,
or if you wanted the solar power your
house generated to charge the battery
during the day and then discharge it
to power the house each night, there
would be many more cycles than
just keeping a battery topped up and
dumping the excess solar into the
grid. To best match the technology
to the application and installation
needs, be sure to choose a qualified
solar integrator like Wil. They will
meet with your electrician to find the
most effective installation tie-in into
the grid with the safety disconnects
approved for each jurisdiction.
As I write this article, there is yet
another ferocious windstorm whipping
through southern Ontario. The
Gateway App, which Wil recommended
to us, notified me two hours ago that
power was out again at the lake house.
My brother and his family were pleased
that the app was tracking how much
power they were using and how much
power was left within the battery.
They will be warm and cozy and still
have access to internet, lights and the
major appliances for at least another
day. High-performance homes, even
with very low energy loads, empower
you and your home buyers to take the
next logical step of integrating power
security into your offering. BB
Gord Cooke is
president of Building
Knowledge Canada.
Left, the Tesla Powerwall installed at the Cooke cottage
seamlessly supplied energy during a recent power outage.
Above, the Gateway control and monitoring interface.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 7
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With many of the provinces
bringing their own unique challenges
and circumstances to the table,
reaching consensus and pushing
national convergence on technical
requirements is not an easy task.
To further complicate matters,
certain provinces have legislation
enforcing the current 2015 version
of the NBC. Other provinces are
still using the 2010 NBC, and then
some provinces – like Ontario – have
their own provincial building code.
The national movement towards
harmonization has driven greater
interest from Alberta, British
Columbia, Ontario and Quebec,
which have traditionally had their
own building codes that they’ve
independently adapted from the NBC.
Upon releasing the next edition of the
NBC, Ontario can take up to two years
to review and do its own due diligence
and consultation towards increasing
harmonization with the Ontario Build­
ing Code (OBC) and the latest NBC.
With respect to low-rise housing,
the bulk of the proposed NBC changes
relate to advancing energy efficiency.
Most notably, the introduction of tiered
energy performance paths now seems
inevitable in the upcoming NBC. The
tiered energy performance paths were
reportedly based on cost impacts
and energy savings analogous to
existing voluntary housing programs,
with the proposed increasing tiers
approximating the energy savings
targets of ENERGY STAR, R-2000, Net
Zero Energy Ready and Passive House
programs.
The tiered energy paths are
intended to create stepping stones
for builders to meet the increasingly
stringent tiers for new homes that
will be ratcheted up from one tier
to the next, to eventually reach
net zero energy ready. The bean
counters produced costing data to
demonstrate the incremental costs
will be “only” an additional $30,800
to achieve the highest tier for a typical
gas-heated, single-detached home.
It was also concluded that targeting
the highest tier is more difficult to
achieve in gas-heated homes than in
electrically heated homes, propelling
9
A Practical Approach to Future-
proofing Regulatory Requirements
industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS
The tiered energy paths
are intended to create
stepping stones for
builders to meet the
increasingly stringent
tiers for new homes.
T
he next edition of the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) is now
slated to be released by the end of 2021. As part of ongoing regulatory
efforts to transform the development of construction codes, the
provinces, territories and federal government have committed to increasing
the harmonization of technical requirements across Canada. This initiative is
being undertaken supposedly to help streamline the national and provincial
code development processes, while providing greater technical consistency
across Canada. However, since the government’s announcement to harmonize
construction standards, I have taken part and followed along in the ongoing
national code development process – but I cannot describe the process as
streamlined by any means.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202010
an anticipated shift towards all-
electric heating systems over gas. This
is where the national tactic to a tiered
code demonstrates that a one-size-
fits-all approach has its limitations.
In a province like Ontario, where
the Independent Electricity System
Operator (IESO) reports that Ontario’s
current installed energy capacity
largely consists of natural gas (29%)
and is increasing with the phase-
out of coal-fired generation, does
pushing towards electrically heated
homes really make sense across
Canada? For provinces like Alberta
and Saskatchewan, the logic is even
more flawed as electricity is almost
completely produced from fossil
fuels (both coal and natural gas),
yet this fact is not being adequately
considered as national technical
requirements are being derived.
Instead of a natural gas-fired furnace
heating a home, an electrically heated
home would be drawing power
derived from natural gas generation.
Makes sense, eh?
This builds upon my summer
2020 article (“The Pursuit of
Energy Efficiency”), where I tried
to emphasize that building codes
are moving in a direction that is
solely focused on operational energy
efficiency and governments are
making drastic policy decisions
without considering the effects of
embodied carbon. This notion is also
echoed in the article “No Country
for Old Ways” (see page 16), where
builder Country Homes is working
towards being more carbon conscious
in the materials they specify for
their homes. I get it: regulating
operational energy through building
codes is a simpler task then delving
into the world of carbon accounting.
However, if we consider the embodied
carbon from the building materials
and products that go into a home, I
truly believe alternate strategies will
emerge in how we develop future
building code requirements to reduce
housing-related carbon, considering
both embodied and operational
carbon. Ultimately, we must remember
the overarching goal is to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions to combat
climate change – not this fixation of
regulating net zero energy homes
simply because this has become a
politically sensationalized buzzword
that few people truly understand.
This raises the question as to who is
driving this seemingly flawed climate
change policy. The federal government
recently tabled Bill C-12, which, if
enacted, would legally bind Canada to
achieving net zero carbon emissions
by 2050. This would require the feds to
set reduction targets every five years
leading up to 2050, and to regularly
report on the progress two years
before each milestone. However, one
small caveat: the proposed law allows
the current Trudeau government to
avoid the very accountability and
transparency it intends to impose
on future governments. The first
accountability milestone is proposed
for 2030 instead of 2025, so the Trudeau
government must only establish a
greenhouse gas emissions target for
2030, but not actually be accountable
for achieving the change they are
trying to legislate.
Imposing climate change
accountability on future governments
while doing very little during the
current term is an evasive political
manoeuvre, avoiding scrutiny
ahead of the 2023 election year. This
undermines the prime minister’s
position that fighting climate change
should be a non-partisan effort. Going
back to summer 2019, when the House
of Commons declared a national
climate emergency to support the
country’s commitment to meeting the
emissions targets outlined in the Paris
Agreement, very little has been done to
address this “emergency.”
The law doesn’t impose penalties
on governments that fail to meet
their promises. In fact, it almost
foreshadows the possibility that they
may fall short. Therefore, imposing
a framework for creating targets and
periodic check-ins can only do so
much. Unfortunately, there have been
and continue to be a lot of bad ideas
out there for fighting climate change.
What we really need moving
forward to meaningfully chip away
at climate change initiatives is for all
levels of government to bring forward
intelligent and cost-efficient ways of
reducing emissions that don’t harm the
economy or consumers. Governments
need to collaboratively find ways to
meaningfully address climate change
while leaving politics aside, avoiding
If we consider the
embodied carbon from
the building materials
and products that go
into a home, I believe
alternate strategies
will emerge in how we
develop future building
code requirements.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
the many flavour-of-the-month type
solutions.
The anticipated lofty requirements
in the NBC remind me of the
ambitious climate change targets
introduced by the federal government
in Bill C-12, except home builders will
be mandated to meet these technical
code require­ments regardless of
costs or practical challenges, whereas
governments that fall short on their
climate change promises are too
easily forgiven.
As the next edition of the NBC
is finalized in 2021 and Ontario
begins undertaking the process
of harmonizing its technical
requirements in the OBC, it is my
hope that the NBC will provide a
good framework. But Ontario can
build upon the existing OBC to find a
more provincially focused solution to
advance housing emission reductions
while also considering the cost
implications to new home buyers
already facing affordability challenges.
Codes need to focus on pragmatic
solutions to reducing greenhouse gas
emissions to combat climate change,
not regulating these buzzword-type
solutions driven by politics. BB
Paul De Berardis is
RESCON’s director of
building science and
innovation. Email him at
deberardis@rescon.com.
11
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
In particular, it is the HVAC
contractor that offers builders the
greatest insight. That’s because they
have to know what plumbers and
electricians do, “whereas a plumber
and an electrician don’t really care
what the HVAC guy does,” explains
Tony Di Clemente, general manager of
Bolton, Ontario-based Aria Comfort
Systems Inc.
For his part, Di Clemente acts
the role of an HVAC consultant as
much as an HVAC contractor, and for
builders willing to listen, he has a lot
of wisdom to share based on his vast
industry experience. “I educate the
builder, especially with projects that
are higher density and [where] you
have a lot less space to deal with for
mechanical systems,” he explains.
He’ll also advise builders on issues
related to the proper venting of
mechanical systems and gas codes.
A 20-year industry veteran,
Di Clemente has partnered with
many leading-edge builders over his
career, including working on the first
LEED Platinum project in the Greater
Toronto Area in 2003 with Rodeo
Homes.
The Newmarket development
was part of Rodeo’s Ecologic homes
series, and at the time was quite
unique in its use of combi systems
within larger, single-family detached
houses. Previously, he says, hydronic
systems were mostly limited to smaller,
high-density units. Di Clemente is a
big believer of combi systems because,
as the Building Code becomes
more stringent in terms of energy
consumption and efficiency, these
systems will help reduce the home’s
carbon footprint while offering a
better, more efficient solution.
Other key builders Di Clemente
has worked with include National
Homes, Countrywide Homes, Royal
Pine Homes, Crystal Homes, Royalpark
Homes and Treasure Hill Homes. He
also recently engaged with Country
Homes, and his influence was a big
reason why the builder opted to try a
second approach in its discovery home
in Innisfil (for more on this project, see
“No Country for Old Ways,” page 16),
including the use of combi systems.
Working with Country Homes
has been a breath of fresh air for
Di Clemente. “A lot of builders are of
the mentality of ‘hey, don’t tell me
how to build a house – I know what
I’m doing, I don’t need your help,’” he
laments. “Whereas Country Homes
is very open to innovation, energy
conservation and newer, leading-edge
products [and] techniques. They want
to be a leader in the industry.”
Christian Rinomato, head of
sustainability at Country Homes, says
that they knew they had to come up
with a heating/cooling solution that
was not only efficient, but easy to use
for the home owners. That’s where
Di Clemente really helped. “Tony
was able to take us through all of our
options, pinpointing pros and cons,
which allowed us to not only see what
is out there currently, but also what
will make sense for us,” Rinomato says.
Di Clemente maintains that it will
take a group effort across the industry
to drive forward sustainability
solutions. As the government clamps
down even tighter on GHG reduction
and the Building Code becomes even
stricter, “we’re forced to come up with
alternatives,” he says.
13
Getting on Track with HVAC
Builders can benefit from the wisdom of an experienced
heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor
industrynews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
A
n HVAC contractor, a plumber and an electrician walk into a bar...
Sure, this sounds like the start of a bad joke – but in reality, this trio
of trades is very important for builders that are trying to plan the most
energy efficient homes possible.
Glow tankless DHWH with Airmax low
velocity air handler used in the Country
Homes super-semi project (story page 16).
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202014
“There’s got to be a pie in the sky
discussion with different groups in
the industry to say ‘what if we did
something like this? What would it
take to produce this type of product?’”
Isn’t that what Enbridge’s Savings
by Design charrette accomplishes, at
least on a micro level?
Di Clemente definitely agrees,
asserting that all parties emerge
from these sessions better educated
and ready to take more of a house-
as-a-system approach. He says that
based on the program, specific trades
better understand their tasks, which
helps builders develop a more holistic
strategy to airtightness and energy
efficiency.
In many cases, builders will simply
call up an HVAC contractor, tell them
the square footage of the home and
ask them for a quote. Di Clemente’s
approach greatly differs in this regard.
A huge believer in both zoning
and staging as ways to really improve
energy efficiency, he wants to be
brought in at the design stage so he
can ask the builder about not just
the size of the home, but the layout,
the orientation and even the solar
heat gain coefficient of the windows
to ensure he can propose the most
efficient system for that specific house.
With home owners often shelling
out $1.8 million or more for a
house, their expectations change,
Di Clemente explains. They won’t
accept cold or hot zones and inefficient
energy consumption anymore.
“So, as a builder, how do you deliver
the product that is going to satisfy their
expectations?” he asks.
And that’s exactly where a talk with
Tony can reap benefits for builders. BB
Rob Blackstien is a
Toronto-based freelance
writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
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featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
No Country
From left to right: Anthony Primier (site super), Bill Manzon (vice president of construction),
Christian Rinomato (head of sustainability) of Country Homes and Emma Smetaniuk (sales
representative, building insulation) of ROCKWOOL in front of the super-semi project in Milton.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 17
This third-generation
builder is blazing
a trail in carbon
reduction that is likely
a preview of things to
come for the industry
I
n recent years, the lion’s share of
sustainable building efforts has
focused on improving the energy
efficiency and airtightness of homes.
And while reducing operational
carbon is a valiant goal in the fight
to stem greenhouse gases (GHGs),
large parts of the industry have
been overlooking a more pressing
concern: the materials being used
to actually build these houses.
forOld Ways
MARCIECOSTELLOPHOTOGRAPHY
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202018
This issue is right at the forefront
for Woodbridge, Ontario-based
Country Homes. As a third-generation
builder that has been in business for
more than 50 years, Country Homes
may be fairly new to the sustainable
building game, but it has quickly
recognized where the industry can
make the biggest difference.
“At the end of the day, operational
carbon is less important than
embodied carbon,” says Christian
Rinomato, head of sustainability for
Country Homes and the grandson
of founder Tony Rinomato. “We’re
selling energy back to the United
States because we have a surplus.
That’s not our issue. We need to step
up as an industry and focus our
attention on the building materials
that we’re using in order to have a shot
at saving this planet.”
Rinomato – who is perhaps the
poster child for the next generation
of sustainable-conscious builders
– clearly has a passion for reducing
embodied carbon, and he came
across it honestly. After completing a
degree in sustainability from Ryerson
University, he says he had his eyes
opened about “the true realities that
we face when it comes to construction
materials,” thanks to Chris Magwood
of the Endeavour Centre. Now,
Rinomato is driving these concepts
within Country Homes, where he’s
been working in some capacity
throughout his entire life and full-
time since 2015.
He’s been mentored in the finer
points of home construction by Bill
Manzon, Country’s vice-president
of construction and a 40-plus year
industry veteran. Ironically, it’s been
a two-way relationship as Rinomato
has been teaching Manzon about
sustainable building practices.
“He’s eager on it. It’s good to be
eager on something, and I’ve got his
back in supporting him and trying
to make it realistic,” Manzon says of
Rinomato.
Rinomato’s passion in these prac­
tices is really pushing the company’s
agenda.
“The moment I started under­
standing embodied carbon four years
ago and realizing how important it
was, that’s when I immediately started
taking action,” he explains.
Now it’s become a vital component
of the company’s raison d’être. “We’re
striving to become one of the leaders
in sustainable homes in low-rise
production home building,” he says.
With this in mind, the 25-employee
company is putting these
experiments into practice with a
unique discovery home in Milton
that’s currently under construction.
Dubbed the “super-semi,” one side of
the house is being constructed to net
zero, while the other half is testing
high-performance techniques using
low-carbon materials.
Rinomato says the company is
defining “net zero” – a buzzword that
seems to have different meanings
for different people – as a home that
will produce as much energy as it
consumes. On the other side, they’re
focused on low carbon (both embodied
and operational), minimal operating
costs and minimal construction costs.
Christian Rinomato, Country Homes’
head of sustainability and advocate
for the innovative design process.
“The moment I started under­standing
embodied carbon four years ago and
realizing how important it was, that’s
when I immediately started taking action.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
The net zero portion has a specific
focus on achieving an airtightness of
under one air change per hour. Solar
panels and high efficiency HVAC
systems are being employed to help
deliver the energy balance.
For the low-carbon side, they’re
using the EverVolt battery storage
instead of solar panels. And while
the airtightness will be the same
and the building materials will be
pretty similar, Country will select
only low-carbon finishes, which
they won’t do on the net zero half.
For instance, triple-pane windows
will be employed on the net zero side
whereas the low-carbon portion will
use low U-value windows.
Currently under construction,
the discovery home is expected to
be finished by spring 2022. Country’s
goal is to monitor the energy efficiency
over the course of a year to see how
the two sides compare from an
energy consumption and cost savings
perspective. “Basically, I want to
differentiate the cost over a year,
especially when it comes to battery vs.
solar,” Rinomato says.
Ultimately, he says he’d like to make
it standard practice to use low-carbon
materials, but finding out how financial-
ly feasible this will be on a production
level is step one. If necessary, Rinomato
says that Country Homes could initially
offer this feature as an upgrade.
The reason why embodied carbon is
gaining attention is because there
are many building materials that are
actually doing damage to our GHG
reduction efforts. For instance, XPS
foam is an extremely popular product
for creating airtight homes, but
Rinomato says it’s 1,400 times worse
than carbon from a GHG emissions
perspective. This product will do 150
years of damage, he explains.
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Embodied carbon
is gaining attention
because many building
materials actually do
damage to our GHG
reduction efforts.
Country Homes’ unique discovery home in Milton will test
high-performance techniques featuring low-carbon materials
such as wood fibre sheathing and stone wool insulation.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202020
Another high embodied carbon
material Country Homes now
eschews is pink blown fibreglass.
Instead, they’ve switched to 100%
recycled cellulose – which is a
lot less harmful, Rinomato says
– for the attics in all its homes.
Going forward, he plans to
research products like hemp
insulation (which has a negative
carbon embodied factor) and hemp
concrete:
“We’re looking to experiment with
more holistic materials that could be
healthy for the home as well.”
Hemp insulation is an all-natural
material that provides the same
R-values that are needed, but it’s the
cost that they’re grappling with at the
moment.
While there are instances when
comparable or better materials with
lower embodied carbon are less
expensive, that’s not usually the case.
Clearly, the path to innovation isn’t
always cheap, but it’s necessary to
change the industry and – ultimately
– the world.
The other hurdle? Getting customer
buy-in. While selling sustainable
features that improve the home’s
comfort level and lower utility bills is
easier because they’re tangible benefits,
how do you sell something you can’t
feel or see, like lower embodied carbon?
“It really comes down to people
who are more environmentally
conscious,” Rinomato says.
He believes that the more environ­
mentally conscious generations
to come will be more inclined to
consider these elements.
Manzon has also bought into the
importance of reducing embodied
carbon. “I think it’s a good way to look
at the future, because the younger
people today are more aware of
embodied carbon and [know that] we
have to look after our planet,” he says.
“Our planet’s in trouble, right?”
However, Manzon does concede
that selling this will require educating
the home buyer:
“People buy houses not because
some part of the product came from
low-carbon manufacturing; people
buy houses because of location and
price.”
He thinks customers might not
appreciate it right off the bat, “but in
the long run, people will learn what we
do, and then you build up a reputation
for doing something right.”
As carbon reduction becomes
more urgent, this is an area in
which the industry can really make
strides, especially considering we’ve
nearly tapped out in terms of how
much energy savings we can get out of
homes. So it makes sense that this may
be the next focus for Code changes.
At the very least, this is a value
differentiator for Country Homes,
and as the Building Code becomes
even more stringent and will likely
eventually shift its focus to embodied
carbon, the company will be ahead of
the game.
“It needs to be included in the
Building Code, without a doubt.
Because that’s the only way that it
will force manufacturers to step up
to lower their embodied carbon for
materials and also to find alternatives
for builders,” Rinomato says.
He believes this is when alternative
building materials like hemp
insulation will really come to light.
And builders like Country Homes
will be able to show the industry that
there’s no downside to using it as “it’s
actually a superior product.”
Clearly, the path
to innovation isn’t
always cheap, but it’s
necessary to change
the industry and –
ultimately – the world.
Emma Smetaniuk of ROCKWOOL explains the benefits of using stone
wool in a party wall, including enhanced ASTC and fire separation.
MARCIECOSTELLOPHOTOGRAPHY
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
The next frontier to tackle will
be seeking alternatives to brick
and stone, both heavy hitters for
carbon. Rinomato concedes there’s an
aesthetics issue to overcome here, “but
it could be other materials that are just
as superior and aesthetically pleasing.”
Adding a focus on sustainability
may be a fairly recent development for
Country Homes, but the builder is no
stranger to driving innovations that
put the customer first. For instance,
Rinomato says they were the first
builder to offer 10-foot ceilings on the
ground floor and finished basements
as standard features. “We’re always
striving to include features in the
home so that our home buyers
don’t have to spend a lot of money
[upgrading] once they’ve purchased
the home,” he explains.
Country Homes has certainly had
its share of accolades recently, earning
the Tarion Service Excellence Award
while winning 2020 Home Owner Mark
of Excellence awards for Builder of
Choice and Best Customer Experience.
Meanwhile, Tony Rinomato took
home some hardware as Industry
Ambassador of the Year. The company
also bagged a Green Development
Leadership Award from Halton a
couple of years ago.
Bill Manzon and Christian
Rinomato are grateful for the support
of their many sponsors on the project.
This includes Building Products of
Canada, CRAFT Flooring, Panasonic,
and ROCKWOOL International, to
name a few.
And as the industry catches on to
the importance of reducing embodied
carbon, and the Building Code follows
suit, it’s a safe bet that Country Homes
will be in line for plenty more awards
and recognition for being a pioneer in
this evolving space. BB
Rob Blackstien is a
Toronto-based freelance
writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca  
21
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sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN
W
ith more than 45,000
five-star Google reviews,
Reliance Home Comfort™
has earned its place as a leader in
consumer products.
But the company is just as
dedicated to providing builders with
that same quality service. That’s
something key account manager
Jennifer Hurd has been helping
deliver for the past 14 years through
the Builder Program.
“Let’s face it: builders are looking
to save their home buyers some
money,” Hurd says. “And with our
Builder Program, neither of them has
to purchase water heating, HVAC,
water purification and smart home
equipment. They can rent instead.”
Renting offers other advantages,
too – like no service costs in the future
for home owners. Because of the
greater demand for tankless hot water
heaters and boilers, more builders –
and home buyers – are choosing rental
for water heating as well as for heating
and cooling their homes.
To implement the program, and
to help builders reduce their costs by
reducing their permitting and other
costs, Reliance has teamed up with
Clearsphere. The partnership has
benefitted the company, Hurd says,
because of Clearsphere’s experience
with builders and its commitment to
education through workshops. What
gets covered isn’t just products and
services to increase energy efficiency
while reducing costs, but also navi­
gating legislation and building codes.
Hurd says she’s introduced many
builders to the program and has
learned “something new every time as
well. It’s a great way to help builders
learn how to navigate the Building
Code, save costs and build better –
even more desirable – homes.”
The interest in Reliance’s HVAC
rental program is growing among
builders. They want to know more
about combination applications,
including heating with domestic
Warming Up with Reliance
Helping Builders Build Smarter
“It’s a great way to
help builders learn
how to navigate
the Building Code,
save costs and build
better – even more
desirable – homes.”
Reliance Home Comfort account manager Jennifer Hurd.
ANIAPOTYRALA/ANIAPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202024
hot water, Hurd says. Her
recommendations for new water
heating technology run the gamut
from high-efficiency power vent
tanks, power direct vents, tankless,
boilers for combination applications
and electric water heaters.
Hurd has worked with builders
for a long time. Prior to her current
position with Reliance, she and her
husband owned a security company
for residential housing. “One day,
a headhunter called and asked if I
would be interested in working at a
water heater company. I said I would
go for the interview,” she recalls.
Reliance gave her a choice to work
in either the builder market or the
security side. “Of course, I picked the
new construction builder market,”
Hurd says. “Three weeks in, I signed
my first builder. From then on, I knew
this was my calling.”
Fourteen years later, she’s still there
– winning the President’s Sales Award
three years in a row, and currently
serving on the Board of Directors
for BILD as well as the Selection
Committee for Habitat for Humanity
Durham, and past president for the
Durham Region Home Builders’
Association from 2013 to 2014.
Clearly, Hurd likes housing. And
over the years, she has noticed major
changes. “I’ve seen a continuous move
toward higher efficiency equipment
because of tighter building codes but
also driven by consumer demand
for greener homes. It’s made home
building increasingly complex.”
As a result, she says, “builders are
hungry for solutions, knowledge and
efficiencies. But they’re also keen to
build better homes – not just up to
code, but better than by as much as
20%.” To that end, Reliance is working
on a smart builder series that will help
builders build smarter and better at a
lower cost. Stay tuned. BB
Alex Newman is a writer,
editor and researcher at
alexnewmanwriter.com. 
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202026
specialinterest / ALEX NEWMAN
S
eeing a bright future in the
development of electric
vehicles (EVs), energy storage
and charging, Rick Szymczyk
incorporated Upstartz Energy in 2017
as part of his work leading go-to-
market technology and product
development strategies for energy
storage (battery) based charging
systems. Szymczyk’s career over 30+
years at General Motors included
assignments in the assembly centre
located in Oshawa. His engineering
experience with electric and hybrid
vehicles dates back to 2006 and
includes leadership of the only design
team in Canada assigned to the
first-generation Chevrolet Volt that
launched in 2010.
Szymczyk met Tanya Krackovic
in 2017. They both saw enormous
opportunities developing vehicle
sharing and mobility services that
could advance towards an electrified
future where people could adopt
the technology in a convenient and
cost-effective way. The idea was to
promote “a shared approach to both
EVs and the supporting infrastructure
… to lower the overall cost and enable
more people to adopt the technology,”
Krackovic says.
Doing that meant delivering a
better mobility model, Szymczyk says.
“Today a person goes out to buy an EV,
and either installs a charging station at
home or uses one at work or at a station
on the way to work.” What usually
ends up happening, he says, is that
the EV sits about 95% of the time, and
the charger is actively used only about
10% of the time. That means a lot of
unused car and charging potential.
At workplaces, people often develop
a casual social structure, with one
plugging in the mornings and the
other in the afternoons, Szymczyk
says. “That works fine with one or two
vehicles, but with dozens it gets very
complicated.” The problem for EVs is
always infrastructure, he adds. “Even
when a workplace offers multiple
chargers, the issue is how to divvy up
energy across those cars.”
Upstartz intends to develop a
sharing plan by creating infrastructure
whereby a group of five or six vehicles
connected to one building can share
both the vehicle and the charging
infrastructure. This way, you get
higher usage out of both, achieve
greater cost effectiveness and can
offer access to more people, which
ultimately leads to greater adoption
of the technology. “The beauty of this
is you don’t have to buy the car or
infrastructure,” Szymczyk says, “and
you’re still contributing to the greening
of the economy, because of sharing in
relevant pods.”
The sharing plan works well in both
high-rise and low-rise situations. If a
condo owner has an EV and paid for
parking, they’re normally restricted
to charging at Level 1 (which takes all
Building an Electric Mobility Future
Upstartz Helps Drivers and Builders Save Time and Money
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
night), but this provides access to the
quick charge of Level 3. “You literally
have a charging station right on the
property,” Szymczyk says. “And if you
don’t own the EV, you can become
part of a smaller collective that ‘owns’
one of the cars.” Using the charging
station all the time maxes out the
number of vehicles that can use this
energy simultaneously, he adds.
It also works in suburban low-
rise contexts. The developer sets
aside space for charging stations and
parking spots in a convenient location
in the development (for example,
close to a school, shopping centre or
homes). That way, users have access to
an EV if they don’t own one.
Furthermore, parking your car in a
GO train lot while you take the train has
a vehicle sitting idle all day – so why not
have the charger used by others during
the day? Szymczyk asks. Upstartz’s
e-shuttle bus service will bring people
to and from the train so they can get
to work and home again utilizing a
shared service. And as he points out,
“soon, you’ll be paying for parking
when you drive to the GO. Having
access to an e-shuttle bus – especially
at peak hours – and not having to pay
car parking charges is ideal.”
To test the idea, Upstartz is involved
in a pilot project, called EVability
Maas (it’s an acronym for Mobility As
A Service), where builders host 25 kW
chargers for the use of residents in the
condo or townhome developments as
long as they are within 10 kilometres of
a GO station. The first pilot site at the
Ontario Tech University Automotive
Centre of Excellence in Oshawa will
be used by faculty members and other
stakeholders.
27
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sealing technology, is
transforming the way
residential, multifamily,
and commercial buildings
seal the building envelope.
AeroBarrier can help
builders meet any level
of airtightness required,
in a more consistent
and cost-effective way.
Take the guesswork out
of sealing the envelope
with AeroBarrier’s
proprietary technology.
“The beauty of this is you
don’t have to buy the car or
infrastructure,” Szymczyk
says, “and you’re still
contributing to the greening
of the economy, because of
sharing in relevant pods.”
COURTESYUPSTARTZENERGYLTD©DARKOVUJIC
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202028
This will be followed by a second pilot at a
builder’s site. Upstartz is accepting applications
from builders whose development projects are
close to a GO station and where residents are
driving to the station to get to work.
Funding can be available for any builder
who is interested in piloting the technology in
a development, either high-rise or low-rise. The
bottom line is that multi-unit developments with
100-amp panels in each unit cannot support
widespread Level 2 or Level 3 rapid charging.
Upstartz believes it has the solution for this.
Krackovic and Szymczyk think this is a win
for any developer, in any development model,
because more and more people will be bringing
EVs to their new home, whether it’s a condo
or low rise. “If they know the developer has a
charging station in place, and that the way the
chargers are grouped will be very cost effective,
it becomes a further incentive to purchase,”
explains Krackovic. For the developer, it’s a case
of rightsizing the land use, because parking
minimums cost developers money and take up
land that could otherwise be used for retail. BB
To find out more about the funding and
application process, please contact
tanya@upstartz.com or rick@upstartz.com.
Alex Newman is a writer,
editor and researcher at
alexnewmanwriter.com.
AMVIC AMDECK
MODULAR ONE-WAY
CONCRETE SLAB
ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER
CONNECTOR SYSTEM
ELECTRICAL
OUTLET
Funding can be available for
any builder who is interested
in piloting the technology
in a development, either
high-rise or low-rise.
Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202030
fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY
The general public is seeing car
companies build better vehicles
than ever, with longer warranties
and greater durability, while builder
warranty programs have remained
stagnant. My last SUV went over
200,000 kilometres and was still
running well when I traded it in
– but our industry is designed to
move onward after our mandated
obligations are met. At the same time,
we lose a tremendous opportunity
to build lifetime clients of our brand.
Think of the brand connections made
between the local car dealer and so
many of their customers (“Built Ford
Tough,” “RAM Tough,” “Chevy Drives
the Motor City”). In a seller’s market,
this is a lesser consideration – but
in a tight market, it could make the
difference for your brand’s survival.
These thoughts are running
through my head as I’m writing this
article, just as I’ve finished my four-
week webinar series, “From Bleeding
Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s
Guide to Net Zero Homes.” I feel
honoured that Enbridge picked up the
webinar series, based upon the book I
am writing of the same name, before
the book has even been finished. I’ve
found writing 60+
slides per week
created a real sense of urgency as
well as a great time of reflection and
of reaching conclusions – not just for
concluding the webinar series (and by
extension the book), but also for where
we are as an industry and where we
need to go.
When we think about the decisions
to be made when building a home, it
can be overwhelming. Then consider
what we have to provide for a building
permit, or what needs to be included
for an energy program, and how we
need to balance customer choice,
affordability, durability, health and a
variety of complex issues. There’s a lot
going on, isn’t there?
So, I can appreciate why builders
may ask, “Why are you making me
consider one more thing?” On the
other hand, the homes we are building
will, or at the very least should, stand
for 100 years or more. In my mind,
that creates a moral contract between
ourselves as builders and the future
generations of home owners.
Because of this moral obligation,
I think it is imperative that we think
about the four key considerations I
discuss early in the book. Before we
build, can we improve on the following
future-proofing concepts?
•	 Reduce our carbon footprint,
including embodied carbon.
(Embodied carbon is the sum total
of all the emissions associated
with harvesting, transporting,
manufacturing, installing and,
finally, disposing of building
materials. Of key importance are
the “cradle to jobsite” emissions,
or the upfront carbon footprint of
building materials.)
•	Include climate resilient
construction to help the home be
more durable to withstand more
severe and more frequent storms.
•	 Improve the indoor air quality of
our homes (learn about the My
Home Is a Tree campaign in the last
paragraph of this article).
•	 Design for occupant comfort
(or “Design for humans, not
machines”: beware of energy
modelling programs that favour
windows that gain heat, rather than
high-performance windows).
I understand these four design
concepts are not typical considerations
for either Code-built homes or high-
performance homes such as ENERGY
STAR or net zero. In some cases, they
are touched upon. What I am suggest­
ing is that they be founding principles.
At the very least, they need considering.
Why Build a Hundred-Year Home?
W
ould you buy a new car off the lot today that carried only a one-year
warranty? Probably not. Yet, as builders, that’s exactly what we do
with our new home warranties. Meeting client expectations of a
longer lasting, more durable home is not broadly considered, yet that is what is
becoming the norm in other industries. When you think about it, how long is a
Code-built home designed to last? 50 years? Perhaps.
The home was built by
my dad in 1979, and
boy, has working on
this home been an eye
opener. When people
complain “they don’t
build them like they
used to,” I say, “and
that’s a good thing.”
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
At the same time that all of this has
been going on, I’ve been renovating
one of our rental homes that we
have decided to sell. Up to this time,
I had not been involved with our
rental portfolio. We were looking at
updating the kitchen, replacing the
HVAC system and taking advantage
of the energy retrofit program with an
energy audit.
The home was built by my dad in
1979, and boy, has working on this
home been an eye opener. When
people complain “they don’t build
them like they used to,” I say, “and
that’s a good thing.” This home is proof
of how we build better. I was fortunate
that I’d brought my friend, Scott Davis
from WINMAR, in to do the base ren­
ovation as we were going to upgrade
the kitchen. Scott is a “do it right”
kinda person and we’ve done several
missions to Puerto Rico together, so I
knew we were in good hands.
And then I got the photos from the
reno.
I
t didn’t take long to realize we were
now into a full gut job of the kitchen
and dining area. After Scott’s crew
31
The ravages of time and moisture damage provide lessons for building durable and resilient housing for the future.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202032
dealt with the mould, it was time to
bring in the framers.
There were multiple challenges to
deal with, starting with that famous
1970s detail: the kitchen cantilever.
You know the one: it has tentest on the
wall, no air sealing and virtually no
insulation in the cantilever area. Just
for fun, it has a reduced heel height of
about 3.5" above the wall, so there’s no
room for proper insulation. But wait, it
gets better: somewhere along the way,
several years ago, the deck renovator
who was contracted to replace the
decks decided to save a few hundred
dollars by eliminating a couple of deck
posts and lagged the one end of the
deck right to the cantilever rim joist.
One of our younger framers, Chase
McCormick, got the assignment to
bring the home up to the 2000s and
make it safe. By the time we were
done, the deck was pulled off the wall
awaiting future posts, the cantilever
had to be rebuilt, the roof extended,
continuous insulation added and a
drainage plane installed in advance of
the siding.
Later on, we will be foaming the
cantilever floor, wall and ceiling
along with the home’s rim joist.
We’re insulating the basement with a
variation of our Optimum Basement
Wall, and then the team from
AeroBarrier is going to come in and
tighten up the home. That means the
naturally aspirating water heater and
furnace are gone and a new high-
performance HVAC system is being
installed, including an air source heat
pump and energy recovery ventilator
so the new owner will have continuous
fresh air. Anyway, you get the idea.
Okay, so what’s the connection
between this renovation and
future-proofing of newly built high-
performance homes? This home
was 41 years old and was beginning
to fail. Sure, the warranty had long
since passed, even if you were to
offer an extended warranty. By any
measurement, it would not have made
it to be a century home without a
severe intervention of the envelope.
The flaws in this home are ones that
most builders and building officials
now know need to be avoided. But
it’s a great learning experience for
our renovators on how to add the
next 60 years to a home – and for our
builders to learn about the importance
of considering climate resiliency,
carbon reduction, indoor air quality
and occupant comfort as part of our
long-term strategic plan for building a
hundred-year home.
One final note: As an industry
moving towards even tighter homes,
we need to improve on the indoor
air quality offered to our customers.
As such, I am inviting builders and
renovators to join the My Home Is a
Tree campaign and help reduce our
industry’s carbon footprint by going
to www.myhomeisatreechallenge.com
and taking up the challenge. BB
Doug Tarry Jr is director
of marketing at Doug
Tarry Homes in St.
Thomas, Ontario.
Contact us for product inquiries:
support@airsolutions.ca | 800.267.6830
Your builds aren’t cookie cutter.
Why should your HVAC systems be?
Take your builds to the next level with Navien’s
High performance for better builds.
The H2Air kit is an add-on accessory for the Navien NPE-A Series
tankless water heater that creates a high efficiency space heating and
endless domestic hot water system.
The H2Air Kit comes with the highest rated performance
using CSA P9.11 test standard.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
Trailblazer
Matt Risinger
Builder and building
science expert
COMFORTBOARD™
has received ICC-ES validated product acceptance as continuous
insulation for multiple applications. For more information visit rockwool.com/comfortboard
Continuous stone wool insulation that improves thermal performance
Trailblazing requires confidence, expertise and a desire
to do things right. Matt Risinger uses non-combustible,
vapor-permeable and water-repellent COMFORTBOARD™
to help wall assemblies dry to the outside, keeping clients
comfortable inside. It cuts down on heat loss and
improves energy efficiency so that what you build
today positively impacts your business tomorrow.
3773
* HST is not applicable and will not be added to incentive payments. Terms and conditions apply. To be eligible for the Savings by Design
Residential program, projects must be located in the former Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. service area. Visit savingsbydesign.ca for
details. © 2020 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved.
Savings by Design | Residential
Designforenergyefficiency
and sustainability
—
Savings by Design gives builders free access to industry experts, energy modelling
and financial incentives to help build the high-performance and sustainable homes
that buyers want.
Get free expert help and up to $
100,000* in incentives
Why participate?
Improve energy
performance.
Avoid costly changes
during construction.
Enhance comfort,
health and wellness.
Future-proof for
a changing climate.
Reduce
environmental impact.
Meet buyers’
changing needs.
Visitsavingsbydesign.ca
togetthemostoutofyournextproject.

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 36 / Winter 2020

  • 1. PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 FUTURE PROOFINGCHALLENGES IN REDUCING CO2 INSIDE Country Homes Looks to Carbon Reduction Building After the Pandemic Employing Batteries Future-proofing Regulatory Requirements An Electric Mobility Future
  • 2. 209 Citation Dr. Unit 3 & 4 Concord, ON L4K 2Y8 905-669-7373 · glowbrand.ca Models C95 & C140 Condensing Combination Boiler Glow Brand C95 and C140 instantaneous combination ASME boilers for heating and on-demand hot water supply. The ultra-efficient compact design combination boiler has an AFUE rating of 95%. These units are fully modulating at 10 to 1 and 2 inch PVC venting up to 100 feet. Canadian Made
  • 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 16 1 FEATURE STORY 16 No Country for Old Ways This third-generation builder is blazing a trail in carbon reduction that is likely a preview of things to come for the industry. by Rob Blackstien 30 ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 On our cover: Watch mechanism © Emre Ogan / istockphoto Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 22 26 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Future Proofing With Low-Carbon Choices by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Building Better After COVID-19 by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 Employing Batteries to Keep a House Going and Going by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 A Practical Approach to Future-proofing Regulatory Requirements by Paul De Berardis INDUSTRY NEWS 13 Getting on Track with HVAC Builders can benefit from the wisdom of an experienced heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor by R. Blackstien SITE SPECIFIC 22 Warming Up with Reliance Helping Builders Build Smarter by Alex Newman SPECIAL INTEREST 26 Building an Electric Mobility Future Upstartz Helps Drivers and Builders Save Time and Money by Alex Newman FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Why Build a Hundred- Year Home? by Doug Tarry
  • 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Future Proofing With Low-Carbon Choices 2 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 EDITORS Crystal Clement 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. W hat is future-proofing, exactly? In his 2014 essay, “The Principles of Future-proofing,” Brian D. Rich describes future-proofing as “the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses due to future events.” Choices about the future need to be made with integrity. The word “integrity” comes from the Latin root integer, which means “whole,” “complete,” or “entire.” And when we “integrate” something, which comes from the same root word, it means we achieve wholeness and balance by considering all things to minimize unintended consequences. Future-proofing requires foresight and balance, not compartmentalization or fundamentalism. The idea of a magic bullet or perfect solution is not a comprehensive approach to the future. Policy makers frequently look for simple solutions to complex problems – but by emphasizing the goal, we create a distortion. The goal is not the means. We are looking for a process with a purpose rather than a purpose looking for a process. Nothing could be truer in the case of the goal of “net zero.” Is net zero energy and carbon a viable goal? Moreover, is the goal achievable? And what will it take to get us there? Any human activity – including home building – has anthropogenic impacts. An example of this is the process of making concrete, which is responsible for 7% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) worldwide. Carbon debt is the GHGEs created when things like solar panels are produced in an energy-intensive process. If the manufacturing process minimizes the use of fossil fuels, then the carbon debt will be lower, and the net energy production will happen sooner for photovoltaic (PV) panels. Embodied carbon is the carbon footprint (CF) of a building before it becomes “operational.” Each material used for construction thus has a global warming potential (GWP). Almost half of a building’s CF is embodied in its structure, and a lower amount is used to heat and cool it. The concept of future-proofing means examining materials we are using to build the net zero home rather than the energy we choose to operate it with. Net zero or balanced energy is becoming less important with the advent of battery storage, as the carbon debt of PV panels is relatively high. publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN continued on page 4 The concept of future-proofing means examining materials we are using to build the net zero home rather than the energy we choose to operate it with.
  • 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 feet of home. Generally speaking, the cost per square foot of a low-rise home is less than that of a high-rise home. Interest rates are also historically low and monthly carrying costs for the additional square footage are reasonable. Our customers are also looking towards multi-generational homes where more space is important. In-law suites and aging-in-place options have become more popular. The demand for residential elevators has also grown. Given the experience with long-term care homes during the crisis, I would expect the drive towards larger multi- generational homes and aging-in- place options may continue. As well, municipal governments have begun changing zoning by-laws for basement apartments and the Ontario Building Code has clarified the regulations for basement units. I also believe that the trend towards working from home and added space for home offices will continue to some degree post-pandemic. The desire for a backyard and some extra space has always had some appeal and I believe will continue to be in demand. Locations close to workplaces, such as those in the Toronto core, seem to be not as important as they once were. Employers and employees have But enough of the gloom and doom: let me pull out my crystal ball (I just had it fixed)… There are some trends in our industry that began before the pandemic and which I believe will continue or accelerate. There was a tendency for our purchasers to select the larger homes in our low-rise housing developments. This trend contrasted with what was happening in the high-rise condominium market, where smaller units were being purchased based on location and affordability. I believe there are a few reasons that larger low-rise homes were and will continue to be purchased. Generally, the proportionate land cost incorporated into the purchase price of a low-rise home is greater than the proportionate land cost incorporated into the price of a high- rise home. In the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), the cost of the land purchase can be up to 60% of the purchase price of a low-rise home. The price increment to get into a larger home as opposed to a smaller home on the same lot is relatively less because the land cost is constant. For example, if you add $50,000 (5%) to the price of a $1,000,000 low-rise home, you can get an extra 250 square realized that, in many cases, working from home can be just as productive. Long commutes to work may no longer be necessary. Also, the prices of larger homes close to downtown Toronto make them largely unattainable. As such, sales in the periphery of the GTHA have grown enormously. In some cases, density is no longer desirable. So, our homes seem to be getting bigger and further from the centre of Toronto – but are they getting better? I would say so. Our homes themselves have bene­ fitted greatly from the introduction 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA Building Better After COVID-19 A t the time of this writing, we are still in the throes of the most significant healthcare crisis in 100 years (lest we forget wars and famine). This too shall pass, but will we forget the COVID-19 pandemic and return to “business as usual” when building homes in the future? I don’t know for sure, but I’d like to think that there will be a sense of normalcy. I’d also like to believe that we will continue to improve our homes and our lives in them. On the other hand, I am quite sure that there will be unintended consequences, both good and bad. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Given the experience with long-term care homes during the crisis, I would expect the drive towards larger multi- generational homes and aging-in-place options may continue. ISTOCKPHOTO956436776
  • 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 of heat or energy recovery ventilators (HRVs or ERVs). I believe the focus on proper ventilation was correct with the introduction of HRVs into the Ontario Building Code. Given our challenges with the pandemic, it seems that those changes were visionary. Good ventilation appears to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Likewise, the trend should be towards ERVs that help with proper humidification (and comfort) in the winter months, which may also help with keeping virus transmission lower within a home. Additionally, the advent of sealed ductwork in our homes has greatly assisted in energy conservation and good HRV/ERV ventilation. (Good air filtration systems may be an opportunity for improving air quality, but I’d like to see more research and testing done to show safety and other benefits.) Finally, I believe the strides we’ve made to make our homes more energy efficient have also made them better, healthier, more flexible and more useful. Although making our homes “pandemic proof” is not an eventuality we had given much thought to, building and designing them more thoughtfully has made these times a little more bearable for anyone that lives in a newer home. So, what’s to come? Will there be another pandemic? What do we do next? As Woody Allen once said: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” 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). 4 thebadatest / LOU BADApublisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN Low operational carbon through energy efficiency is now at the point of diminishing marginal returns, where constructing with low embodied carbon is coming more into focus. To reduce GHGEs, homes built with more wood (plants) represent material taken out of the carbon cycle. Buildings made of glass and steel create more carbon debt. A key question is: does a net zero building, covered with solar panels and extra insulation required to get balanced energy, represent more embodied carbon than the low-carbon and low-energy house built with lower GWP in all its materials? Choosing lower embodied carbon is a new way to minimize adverse future effects of global warming. Balancing low energy and low carbon is future-proofing. We’ve dedicated this issue to the topic of future-proofing. One project we’re excited about is a demonstration home built by Country Homes in Milton. The super-semi contrasts two approaches side by side: the Canadian Home Builders’ Association net zero home on the left shares a party wall with the low- carbon, net zero cost path on the right. Both will be monitored for operational energy and their carbon footprints. Read about it in our feature article on page 16. As we’ve learned over the past few months, pandemics can create significant implications for future-proofing. Lou Bada outlines some considerations for home building during COVID-19 on page 3. Extreme weather is another factor to consider when future- proofing, and Gord Cooke shares with us detailed and firsthand experience of living with solar battery storage during a power outage on page 5. The 2020 version of the National Building Code is about to be published. In anticipation of these updates, Paul De Berardis offers us a practical approach to future-proofing for upcoming regulatory requirements on page 9. Meanwhile, the now-repealed Code change requiring electric vehicle charging stations raises new questions about how to provide infrastructure for rapid charging stations. A current innovative approach integrating public transit, car sharing and high-density development is unveiled on page 26. Last but not least, Doug Tarry gets the final word, making a case for building a home that will last for 100 years. Balancing low-energy, low-carbon debt materials with durability is our best strategy for future-proofing our homes. I hope you find this issue helpful for meeting the challenges that lie ahead. BB Balancing low energy and low carbon is future-proofing.
  • 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Employing Batteries to Keep a House Going and Going This simple “light staying on” moment seemed to validate the host of strategies now readily available to all builders and their customers for houses that will be resilient, that will keep going and going, when facing adversities. Admittedly, batteries may not be the first resiliency investment to make. Careful water management details to avoid leaks, increased insulation levels and airtightness for thermal resiliency, foundation choices to avoid flood potential and fire-resistant enclosures all need to be on the decision list. However, my brothers and I can attest to the fact that knowing we needn’t worry about power outages is reassuring. Much like other electrical and mechanical system considerations, there are specific decision steps to take when selecting a battery for a home. To help with that, we enlisted the support of Wil Beardmore of Bluewater Energy in Guelph, Ont. We have recommended Wil to many builders because of his ability to integrate renewable systems into a wide range of applications. Wil noted that up until fairly recently, linking solar photovoltaics (PV) to the early generations of batteries was typically only done in remote off-grid applications (like island cottages) with very modest capacity expectations. With great new battery and storage control options available, grid- connected applications make sense, both for power outage security and optimizing the overall performance of solar PV systems. With that in mind, Wil helped us with the following decision sequence for the lake house (which is served by a 10 kW capacity solar PV array but is still grid-connected). His first question to us was, “What exactly do you want to have access to during a power outage?” That is, you need to determine the peak power demand in kilowatts: the total of the wattage of all the appliances you want to operate during a power outage. This would be the same decision you would have to make when selecting a gas-powered generator. In our case, we wanted the gas boiler and pumps needed for the in-floor heating to be operational, plus the refrigerator, key light fixtures, the internet and a selection of wall plugs. Fortunately, 5 industryexpert / GORD COOKE L ast spring, a few weeks after my brothers and I took possession of the net zero energy lake house we had proudly collaborated on, there was a ferocious windstorm coming off the lake. No one was at the house that morning, but our builder and friend, Derek Seaman, called and asked if it would be okay if he went over and checked out what was happening. I was a little surprised and wondered if he thought there was a potential problem. It turned out the power had been out in town for over four hours, and he wanted to see if the Tesla battery we had invested in for the new place was doing its job. Indeed, he called back excited that everything was humming along and the switch over to the battery had been so quick and smooth we didn’t even need to reset the clocks. With new battery and storage control options, grid-connected applications make sense for power outage security and optimizing overall performance. ISTOCKPHOTO1205548407
  • 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 20206 in a high-performance home with ENERGY STAR appliances, variable speed fans and pumps, and LED lights, that peak demand is in the range of just 1.5 to 2.0 kW. Currently, the smallest Tesla will provide up to 7 kW at peak and 5 kW on a continuous run. Other battery companies have smaller capacities available if desired. The next decision is how much storage capacity, expressed in kilowatt hours, is desired. It’s important to consider how long you want to be able to provide power without relying on an electrical grid or solar PV connection. Unlike a natural gas generator that could run almost indefinitely, a battery has a specific, limited storage capacity. In our case, power outages are common, but most are very short (less than a few hours). However, we did want to be secure over an extended outage of up to two to three days. We felt the 13 kWh capacity of one Powerwall module would provide that assurance. For example, the power draw to run the in-floor heating draws about 250 watts and the refrigerator another 200 watts. In the unlikely event that both ran continuously, the 13 kWh of storage capacity would keep them both going for 29 hours without any solar contribution. In other words, it is pretty straightforward math to figure out both the desired peak demand and hours of capacity. You may well have clients that would want more appliances or longer outage protection, in which case incremental battery modules can be added. With the desired capacity determined, the next decisions include choosing the battery technology, warranty and support, installation configurations and control options. As mentioned, we chose the Tesla Powerwall, which employs lithium-ion technology and offered a 10-year warranty for at least an 80% capacity. Another technology, which is available from Sonnen and employs lithium iron phosphate modules, is considered to be more reliable in applications where the battery is to be charged and discharged more than in a simple power outage security application. For example, in an off-grid application, or if you wanted the solar power your house generated to charge the battery during the day and then discharge it to power the house each night, there would be many more cycles than just keeping a battery topped up and dumping the excess solar into the grid. To best match the technology to the application and installation needs, be sure to choose a qualified solar integrator like Wil. They will meet with your electrician to find the most effective installation tie-in into the grid with the safety disconnects approved for each jurisdiction. As I write this article, there is yet another ferocious windstorm whipping through southern Ontario. The Gateway App, which Wil recommended to us, notified me two hours ago that power was out again at the lake house. My brother and his family were pleased that the app was tracking how much power they were using and how much power was left within the battery. They will be warm and cozy and still have access to internet, lights and the major appliances for at least another day. High-performance homes, even with very low energy loads, empower you and your home buyers to take the next logical step of integrating power security into your offering. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. Left, the Tesla Powerwall installed at the Cooke cottage seamlessly supplied energy during a recent power outage. Above, the Gateway control and monitoring interface.
  • 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 7 • PROVIDES A CONTINUOUS THERMAL RESISTANCE OF R-5; perfect for meeting the requirements of the Quebec & Ontario Building Code. • DOES NOT REQUIRE ADDITIONAL BRACING; one-step installation saving time and cost. • INTEGRATED AIR-BARRIER; no additional housewrap required saving material costs. • LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO INSTALL; allows for fast installation saving time and cost. R-5 XP C O M B I N E S T H E W I N D B R A C I N G P R O P E R T I E S O F W O O D F I B R E W I T H T H E T H E R M A L R E S I S T A N C E O F E X T R U D E D P O L Y S T Y R E N E bpcan.com F O R O V E R 1 0 0 Y E A R S INSULSHEATHING Panel Introducing a Unique Innovation:
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  • 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 With many of the provinces bringing their own unique challenges and circumstances to the table, reaching consensus and pushing national convergence on technical requirements is not an easy task. To further complicate matters, certain provinces have legislation enforcing the current 2015 version of the NBC. Other provinces are still using the 2010 NBC, and then some provinces – like Ontario – have their own provincial building code. The national movement towards harmonization has driven greater interest from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, which have traditionally had their own building codes that they’ve independently adapted from the NBC. Upon releasing the next edition of the NBC, Ontario can take up to two years to review and do its own due diligence and consultation towards increasing harmonization with the Ontario Build­ ing Code (OBC) and the latest NBC. With respect to low-rise housing, the bulk of the proposed NBC changes relate to advancing energy efficiency. Most notably, the introduction of tiered energy performance paths now seems inevitable in the upcoming NBC. The tiered energy performance paths were reportedly based on cost impacts and energy savings analogous to existing voluntary housing programs, with the proposed increasing tiers approximating the energy savings targets of ENERGY STAR, R-2000, Net Zero Energy Ready and Passive House programs. The tiered energy paths are intended to create stepping stones for builders to meet the increasingly stringent tiers for new homes that will be ratcheted up from one tier to the next, to eventually reach net zero energy ready. The bean counters produced costing data to demonstrate the incremental costs will be “only” an additional $30,800 to achieve the highest tier for a typical gas-heated, single-detached home. It was also concluded that targeting the highest tier is more difficult to achieve in gas-heated homes than in electrically heated homes, propelling 9 A Practical Approach to Future- proofing Regulatory Requirements industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS The tiered energy paths are intended to create stepping stones for builders to meet the increasingly stringent tiers for new homes. T he next edition of the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) is now slated to be released by the end of 2021. As part of ongoing regulatory efforts to transform the development of construction codes, the provinces, territories and federal government have committed to increasing the harmonization of technical requirements across Canada. This initiative is being undertaken supposedly to help streamline the national and provincial code development processes, while providing greater technical consistency across Canada. However, since the government’s announcement to harmonize construction standards, I have taken part and followed along in the ongoing national code development process – but I cannot describe the process as streamlined by any means.
  • 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202010 an anticipated shift towards all- electric heating systems over gas. This is where the national tactic to a tiered code demonstrates that a one-size- fits-all approach has its limitations. In a province like Ontario, where the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reports that Ontario’s current installed energy capacity largely consists of natural gas (29%) and is increasing with the phase- out of coal-fired generation, does pushing towards electrically heated homes really make sense across Canada? For provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan, the logic is even more flawed as electricity is almost completely produced from fossil fuels (both coal and natural gas), yet this fact is not being adequately considered as national technical requirements are being derived. Instead of a natural gas-fired furnace heating a home, an electrically heated home would be drawing power derived from natural gas generation. Makes sense, eh? This builds upon my summer 2020 article (“The Pursuit of Energy Efficiency”), where I tried to emphasize that building codes are moving in a direction that is solely focused on operational energy efficiency and governments are making drastic policy decisions without considering the effects of embodied carbon. This notion is also echoed in the article “No Country for Old Ways” (see page 16), where builder Country Homes is working towards being more carbon conscious in the materials they specify for their homes. I get it: regulating operational energy through building codes is a simpler task then delving into the world of carbon accounting. However, if we consider the embodied carbon from the building materials and products that go into a home, I truly believe alternate strategies will emerge in how we develop future building code requirements to reduce housing-related carbon, considering both embodied and operational carbon. Ultimately, we must remember the overarching goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change – not this fixation of regulating net zero energy homes simply because this has become a politically sensationalized buzzword that few people truly understand. This raises the question as to who is driving this seemingly flawed climate change policy. The federal government recently tabled Bill C-12, which, if enacted, would legally bind Canada to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This would require the feds to set reduction targets every five years leading up to 2050, and to regularly report on the progress two years before each milestone. However, one small caveat: the proposed law allows the current Trudeau government to avoid the very accountability and transparency it intends to impose on future governments. The first accountability milestone is proposed for 2030 instead of 2025, so the Trudeau government must only establish a greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030, but not actually be accountable for achieving the change they are trying to legislate. Imposing climate change accountability on future governments while doing very little during the current term is an evasive political manoeuvre, avoiding scrutiny ahead of the 2023 election year. This undermines the prime minister’s position that fighting climate change should be a non-partisan effort. Going back to summer 2019, when the House of Commons declared a national climate emergency to support the country’s commitment to meeting the emissions targets outlined in the Paris Agreement, very little has been done to address this “emergency.” The law doesn’t impose penalties on governments that fail to meet their promises. In fact, it almost foreshadows the possibility that they may fall short. Therefore, imposing a framework for creating targets and periodic check-ins can only do so much. Unfortunately, there have been and continue to be a lot of bad ideas out there for fighting climate change. What we really need moving forward to meaningfully chip away at climate change initiatives is for all levels of government to bring forward intelligent and cost-efficient ways of reducing emissions that don’t harm the economy or consumers. Governments need to collaboratively find ways to meaningfully address climate change while leaving politics aside, avoiding If we consider the embodied carbon from the building materials and products that go into a home, I believe alternate strategies will emerge in how we develop future building code requirements.
  • 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 the many flavour-of-the-month type solutions. The anticipated lofty requirements in the NBC remind me of the ambitious climate change targets introduced by the federal government in Bill C-12, except home builders will be mandated to meet these technical code require­ments regardless of costs or practical challenges, whereas governments that fall short on their climate change promises are too easily forgiven. As the next edition of the NBC is finalized in 2021 and Ontario begins undertaking the process of harmonizing its technical requirements in the OBC, it is my hope that the NBC will provide a good framework. But Ontario can build upon the existing OBC to find a more provincially focused solution to advance housing emission reductions while also considering the cost implications to new home buyers already facing affordability challenges. Codes need to focus on pragmatic solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, not regulating these buzzword-type solutions driven by politics. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at deberardis@rescon.com. 11 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. Governments need to collaboratively find ways to meaningfully address climate change while leaving politics aside.
  • 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
  • 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 In particular, it is the HVAC contractor that offers builders the greatest insight. That’s because they have to know what plumbers and electricians do, “whereas a plumber and an electrician don’t really care what the HVAC guy does,” explains Tony Di Clemente, general manager of Bolton, Ontario-based Aria Comfort Systems Inc. For his part, Di Clemente acts the role of an HVAC consultant as much as an HVAC contractor, and for builders willing to listen, he has a lot of wisdom to share based on his vast industry experience. “I educate the builder, especially with projects that are higher density and [where] you have a lot less space to deal with for mechanical systems,” he explains. He’ll also advise builders on issues related to the proper venting of mechanical systems and gas codes. A 20-year industry veteran, Di Clemente has partnered with many leading-edge builders over his career, including working on the first LEED Platinum project in the Greater Toronto Area in 2003 with Rodeo Homes. The Newmarket development was part of Rodeo’s Ecologic homes series, and at the time was quite unique in its use of combi systems within larger, single-family detached houses. Previously, he says, hydronic systems were mostly limited to smaller, high-density units. Di Clemente is a big believer of combi systems because, as the Building Code becomes more stringent in terms of energy consumption and efficiency, these systems will help reduce the home’s carbon footprint while offering a better, more efficient solution. Other key builders Di Clemente has worked with include National Homes, Countrywide Homes, Royal Pine Homes, Crystal Homes, Royalpark Homes and Treasure Hill Homes. He also recently engaged with Country Homes, and his influence was a big reason why the builder opted to try a second approach in its discovery home in Innisfil (for more on this project, see “No Country for Old Ways,” page 16), including the use of combi systems. Working with Country Homes has been a breath of fresh air for Di Clemente. “A lot of builders are of the mentality of ‘hey, don’t tell me how to build a house – I know what I’m doing, I don’t need your help,’” he laments. “Whereas Country Homes is very open to innovation, energy conservation and newer, leading-edge products [and] techniques. They want to be a leader in the industry.” Christian Rinomato, head of sustainability at Country Homes, says that they knew they had to come up with a heating/cooling solution that was not only efficient, but easy to use for the home owners. That’s where Di Clemente really helped. “Tony was able to take us through all of our options, pinpointing pros and cons, which allowed us to not only see what is out there currently, but also what will make sense for us,” Rinomato says. Di Clemente maintains that it will take a group effort across the industry to drive forward sustainability solutions. As the government clamps down even tighter on GHG reduction and the Building Code becomes even stricter, “we’re forced to come up with alternatives,” he says. 13 Getting on Track with HVAC Builders can benefit from the wisdom of an experienced heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor industrynews / ROB BLACKSTIEN A n HVAC contractor, a plumber and an electrician walk into a bar... Sure, this sounds like the start of a bad joke – but in reality, this trio of trades is very important for builders that are trying to plan the most energy efficient homes possible. Glow tankless DHWH with Airmax low velocity air handler used in the Country Homes super-semi project (story page 16).
  • 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202014 “There’s got to be a pie in the sky discussion with different groups in the industry to say ‘what if we did something like this? What would it take to produce this type of product?’” Isn’t that what Enbridge’s Savings by Design charrette accomplishes, at least on a micro level? Di Clemente definitely agrees, asserting that all parties emerge from these sessions better educated and ready to take more of a house- as-a-system approach. He says that based on the program, specific trades better understand their tasks, which helps builders develop a more holistic strategy to airtightness and energy efficiency. In many cases, builders will simply call up an HVAC contractor, tell them the square footage of the home and ask them for a quote. Di Clemente’s approach greatly differs in this regard. A huge believer in both zoning and staging as ways to really improve energy efficiency, he wants to be brought in at the design stage so he can ask the builder about not just the size of the home, but the layout, the orientation and even the solar heat gain coefficient of the windows to ensure he can propose the most efficient system for that specific house. With home owners often shelling out $1.8 million or more for a house, their expectations change, Di Clemente explains. They won’t accept cold or hot zones and inefficient energy consumption anymore. “So, as a builder, how do you deliver the product that is going to satisfy their expectations?” he asks. And that’s exactly where a talk with Tony can reap benefits for builders. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca Don’t just breathe, BREATHE BETTER. As the industry leader in Indoor Air Quality systems, Lifebreath offers effective, energy efficient and Ontario Building Code compliant solutions for residential and commercial applications. To learn more about our lineup of products contact us today. lifebreath.com Visit Lifebreath.com tolearnmore! orcallusat 1-855-247-4200
  • 17. 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
  • 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202016 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN No Country From left to right: Anthony Primier (site super), Bill Manzon (vice president of construction), Christian Rinomato (head of sustainability) of Country Homes and Emma Smetaniuk (sales representative, building insulation) of ROCKWOOL in front of the super-semi project in Milton.
  • 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 17 This third-generation builder is blazing a trail in carbon reduction that is likely a preview of things to come for the industry I n recent years, the lion’s share of sustainable building efforts has focused on improving the energy efficiency and airtightness of homes. And while reducing operational carbon is a valiant goal in the fight to stem greenhouse gases (GHGs), large parts of the industry have been overlooking a more pressing concern: the materials being used to actually build these houses. forOld Ways MARCIECOSTELLOPHOTOGRAPHY
  • 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202018 This issue is right at the forefront for Woodbridge, Ontario-based Country Homes. As a third-generation builder that has been in business for more than 50 years, Country Homes may be fairly new to the sustainable building game, but it has quickly recognized where the industry can make the biggest difference. “At the end of the day, operational carbon is less important than embodied carbon,” says Christian Rinomato, head of sustainability for Country Homes and the grandson of founder Tony Rinomato. “We’re selling energy back to the United States because we have a surplus. That’s not our issue. We need to step up as an industry and focus our attention on the building materials that we’re using in order to have a shot at saving this planet.” Rinomato – who is perhaps the poster child for the next generation of sustainable-conscious builders – clearly has a passion for reducing embodied carbon, and he came across it honestly. After completing a degree in sustainability from Ryerson University, he says he had his eyes opened about “the true realities that we face when it comes to construction materials,” thanks to Chris Magwood of the Endeavour Centre. Now, Rinomato is driving these concepts within Country Homes, where he’s been working in some capacity throughout his entire life and full- time since 2015. He’s been mentored in the finer points of home construction by Bill Manzon, Country’s vice-president of construction and a 40-plus year industry veteran. Ironically, it’s been a two-way relationship as Rinomato has been teaching Manzon about sustainable building practices. “He’s eager on it. It’s good to be eager on something, and I’ve got his back in supporting him and trying to make it realistic,” Manzon says of Rinomato. Rinomato’s passion in these prac­ tices is really pushing the company’s agenda. “The moment I started under­ standing embodied carbon four years ago and realizing how important it was, that’s when I immediately started taking action,” he explains. Now it’s become a vital component of the company’s raison d’être. “We’re striving to become one of the leaders in sustainable homes in low-rise production home building,” he says. With this in mind, the 25-employee company is putting these experiments into practice with a unique discovery home in Milton that’s currently under construction. Dubbed the “super-semi,” one side of the house is being constructed to net zero, while the other half is testing high-performance techniques using low-carbon materials. Rinomato says the company is defining “net zero” – a buzzword that seems to have different meanings for different people – as a home that will produce as much energy as it consumes. On the other side, they’re focused on low carbon (both embodied and operational), minimal operating costs and minimal construction costs. Christian Rinomato, Country Homes’ head of sustainability and advocate for the innovative design process. “The moment I started under­standing embodied carbon four years ago and realizing how important it was, that’s when I immediately started taking action.”
  • 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 The net zero portion has a specific focus on achieving an airtightness of under one air change per hour. Solar panels and high efficiency HVAC systems are being employed to help deliver the energy balance. For the low-carbon side, they’re using the EverVolt battery storage instead of solar panels. And while the airtightness will be the same and the building materials will be pretty similar, Country will select only low-carbon finishes, which they won’t do on the net zero half. For instance, triple-pane windows will be employed on the net zero side whereas the low-carbon portion will use low U-value windows. Currently under construction, the discovery home is expected to be finished by spring 2022. Country’s goal is to monitor the energy efficiency over the course of a year to see how the two sides compare from an energy consumption and cost savings perspective. “Basically, I want to differentiate the cost over a year, especially when it comes to battery vs. solar,” Rinomato says. Ultimately, he says he’d like to make it standard practice to use low-carbon materials, but finding out how financial- ly feasible this will be on a production level is step one. If necessary, Rinomato says that Country Homes could initially offer this feature as an upgrade. The reason why embodied carbon is gaining attention is because there are many building materials that are actually doing damage to our GHG reduction efforts. For instance, XPS foam is an extremely popular product for creating airtight homes, but Rinomato says it’s 1,400 times worse than carbon from a GHG emissions perspective. This product will do 150 years of damage, he explains. 19 Attic Walls Exterior Walls Exposed Floors Basement Walls Cathedral Ceilings R60 Cellulose Panasonic High Static Exhaust Fans Low Solar Heat Gain Windows U-value = 1.53 / SHGC = 0.17 Rockwool Party Walls BP R5 XP Sheathing with R24 Rockwool Batts Battery Storage Combination Heating System Finished Ready R6 CB80 + R14 Rockwool Batts R32 Rockwool Batts PANASONIC ERV EVERVOLT 12 kWh INVERTER T-180 TANKLESS AIRMAX AIR HANDLER COUNTRY HOMES “SUPER-SEMI” LOW CARBON NET COST ZERO Embodied carbon is gaining attention because many building materials actually do damage to our GHG reduction efforts. Country Homes’ unique discovery home in Milton will test high-performance techniques featuring low-carbon materials such as wood fibre sheathing and stone wool insulation.
  • 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202020 Another high embodied carbon material Country Homes now eschews is pink blown fibreglass. Instead, they’ve switched to 100% recycled cellulose – which is a lot less harmful, Rinomato says – for the attics in all its homes. Going forward, he plans to research products like hemp insulation (which has a negative carbon embodied factor) and hemp concrete: “We’re looking to experiment with more holistic materials that could be healthy for the home as well.” Hemp insulation is an all-natural material that provides the same R-values that are needed, but it’s the cost that they’re grappling with at the moment. While there are instances when comparable or better materials with lower embodied carbon are less expensive, that’s not usually the case. Clearly, the path to innovation isn’t always cheap, but it’s necessary to change the industry and – ultimately – the world. The other hurdle? Getting customer buy-in. While selling sustainable features that improve the home’s comfort level and lower utility bills is easier because they’re tangible benefits, how do you sell something you can’t feel or see, like lower embodied carbon? “It really comes down to people who are more environmentally conscious,” Rinomato says. He believes that the more environ­ mentally conscious generations to come will be more inclined to consider these elements. Manzon has also bought into the importance of reducing embodied carbon. “I think it’s a good way to look at the future, because the younger people today are more aware of embodied carbon and [know that] we have to look after our planet,” he says. “Our planet’s in trouble, right?” However, Manzon does concede that selling this will require educating the home buyer: “People buy houses not because some part of the product came from low-carbon manufacturing; people buy houses because of location and price.” He thinks customers might not appreciate it right off the bat, “but in the long run, people will learn what we do, and then you build up a reputation for doing something right.” As carbon reduction becomes more urgent, this is an area in which the industry can really make strides, especially considering we’ve nearly tapped out in terms of how much energy savings we can get out of homes. So it makes sense that this may be the next focus for Code changes. At the very least, this is a value differentiator for Country Homes, and as the Building Code becomes even more stringent and will likely eventually shift its focus to embodied carbon, the company will be ahead of the game. “It needs to be included in the Building Code, without a doubt. Because that’s the only way that it will force manufacturers to step up to lower their embodied carbon for materials and also to find alternatives for builders,” Rinomato says. He believes this is when alternative building materials like hemp insulation will really come to light. And builders like Country Homes will be able to show the industry that there’s no downside to using it as “it’s actually a superior product.” Clearly, the path to innovation isn’t always cheap, but it’s necessary to change the industry and – ultimately – the world. Emma Smetaniuk of ROCKWOOL explains the benefits of using stone wool in a party wall, including enhanced ASTC and fire separation. MARCIECOSTELLOPHOTOGRAPHY
  • 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 The next frontier to tackle will be seeking alternatives to brick and stone, both heavy hitters for carbon. Rinomato concedes there’s an aesthetics issue to overcome here, “but it could be other materials that are just as superior and aesthetically pleasing.” Adding a focus on sustainability may be a fairly recent development for Country Homes, but the builder is no stranger to driving innovations that put the customer first. For instance, Rinomato says they were the first builder to offer 10-foot ceilings on the ground floor and finished basements as standard features. “We’re always striving to include features in the home so that our home buyers don’t have to spend a lot of money [upgrading] once they’ve purchased the home,” he explains. Country Homes has certainly had its share of accolades recently, earning the Tarion Service Excellence Award while winning 2020 Home Owner Mark of Excellence awards for Builder of Choice and Best Customer Experience. Meanwhile, Tony Rinomato took home some hardware as Industry Ambassador of the Year. The company also bagged a Green Development Leadership Award from Halton a couple of years ago. Bill Manzon and Christian Rinomato are grateful for the support of their many sponsors on the project. This includes Building Products of Canada, CRAFT Flooring, Panasonic, and ROCKWOOL International, to name a few. And as the industry catches on to the importance of reducing embodied carbon, and the Building Code follows suit, it’s a safe bet that Country Homes will be in line for plenty more awards and recognition for being a pioneer in this evolving space. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca   21 IT’S OUR NATURE craftfloor.com 11 877 828 1888 hello@craftfloor.com CRAFT is dedicated to creating uncommonly beautiful wood floors that are as kind to the planet as they are luxurious. SHOP AND SAMPLE NOW:
  • 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202022 sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN W ith more than 45,000 five-star Google reviews, Reliance Home Comfort™ has earned its place as a leader in consumer products. But the company is just as dedicated to providing builders with that same quality service. That’s something key account manager Jennifer Hurd has been helping deliver for the past 14 years through the Builder Program. “Let’s face it: builders are looking to save their home buyers some money,” Hurd says. “And with our Builder Program, neither of them has to purchase water heating, HVAC, water purification and smart home equipment. They can rent instead.” Renting offers other advantages, too – like no service costs in the future for home owners. Because of the greater demand for tankless hot water heaters and boilers, more builders – and home buyers – are choosing rental for water heating as well as for heating and cooling their homes. To implement the program, and to help builders reduce their costs by reducing their permitting and other costs, Reliance has teamed up with Clearsphere. The partnership has benefitted the company, Hurd says, because of Clearsphere’s experience with builders and its commitment to education through workshops. What gets covered isn’t just products and services to increase energy efficiency while reducing costs, but also navi­ gating legislation and building codes. Hurd says she’s introduced many builders to the program and has learned “something new every time as well. It’s a great way to help builders learn how to navigate the Building Code, save costs and build better – even more desirable – homes.” The interest in Reliance’s HVAC rental program is growing among builders. They want to know more about combination applications, including heating with domestic Warming Up with Reliance Helping Builders Build Smarter “It’s a great way to help builders learn how to navigate the Building Code, save costs and build better – even more desirable – homes.” Reliance Home Comfort account manager Jennifer Hurd. ANIAPOTYRALA/ANIAPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
  • 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
  • 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202024 hot water, Hurd says. Her recommendations for new water heating technology run the gamut from high-efficiency power vent tanks, power direct vents, tankless, boilers for combination applications and electric water heaters. Hurd has worked with builders for a long time. Prior to her current position with Reliance, she and her husband owned a security company for residential housing. “One day, a headhunter called and asked if I would be interested in working at a water heater company. I said I would go for the interview,” she recalls. Reliance gave her a choice to work in either the builder market or the security side. “Of course, I picked the new construction builder market,” Hurd says. “Three weeks in, I signed my first builder. From then on, I knew this was my calling.” Fourteen years later, she’s still there – winning the President’s Sales Award three years in a row, and currently serving on the Board of Directors for BILD as well as the Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity Durham, and past president for the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association from 2013 to 2014. Clearly, Hurd likes housing. And over the years, she has noticed major changes. “I’ve seen a continuous move toward higher efficiency equipment because of tighter building codes but also driven by consumer demand for greener homes. It’s made home building increasingly complex.” As a result, she says, “builders are hungry for solutions, knowledge and efficiencies. But they’re also keen to build better homes – not just up to code, but better than by as much as 20%.” To that end, Reliance is working on a smart builder series that will help builders build smarter and better at a lower cost. Stay tuned. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com.  LowCostCodeCompliancewiththeBetterThanCodePlatform 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 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. A new code will be coming in 2022. How will you comply with the new requirements? 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. 45 BetterThanCodeUsestheHERSIndextoMeasureEnergyEfficiency TheLowertheScoretheBetter–MeasureableandMarketable OBC 2012 OBC 2017 NEAR ZERO 80 60 40 20 betterthancode.ca Email info@clearsphere.ca or call 416-481-7517
  • 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020
  • 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202026 specialinterest / ALEX NEWMAN S eeing a bright future in the development of electric vehicles (EVs), energy storage and charging, Rick Szymczyk incorporated Upstartz Energy in 2017 as part of his work leading go-to- market technology and product development strategies for energy storage (battery) based charging systems. Szymczyk’s career over 30+ years at General Motors included assignments in the assembly centre located in Oshawa. His engineering experience with electric and hybrid vehicles dates back to 2006 and includes leadership of the only design team in Canada assigned to the first-generation Chevrolet Volt that launched in 2010. Szymczyk met Tanya Krackovic in 2017. They both saw enormous opportunities developing vehicle sharing and mobility services that could advance towards an electrified future where people could adopt the technology in a convenient and cost-effective way. The idea was to promote “a shared approach to both EVs and the supporting infrastructure … to lower the overall cost and enable more people to adopt the technology,” Krackovic says. Doing that meant delivering a better mobility model, Szymczyk says. “Today a person goes out to buy an EV, and either installs a charging station at home or uses one at work or at a station on the way to work.” What usually ends up happening, he says, is that the EV sits about 95% of the time, and the charger is actively used only about 10% of the time. That means a lot of unused car and charging potential. At workplaces, people often develop a casual social structure, with one plugging in the mornings and the other in the afternoons, Szymczyk says. “That works fine with one or two vehicles, but with dozens it gets very complicated.” The problem for EVs is always infrastructure, he adds. “Even when a workplace offers multiple chargers, the issue is how to divvy up energy across those cars.” Upstartz intends to develop a sharing plan by creating infrastructure whereby a group of five or six vehicles connected to one building can share both the vehicle and the charging infrastructure. This way, you get higher usage out of both, achieve greater cost effectiveness and can offer access to more people, which ultimately leads to greater adoption of the technology. “The beauty of this is you don’t have to buy the car or infrastructure,” Szymczyk says, “and you’re still contributing to the greening of the economy, because of sharing in relevant pods.” The sharing plan works well in both high-rise and low-rise situations. If a condo owner has an EV and paid for parking, they’re normally restricted to charging at Level 1 (which takes all Building an Electric Mobility Future Upstartz Helps Drivers and Builders Save Time and Money
  • 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 night), but this provides access to the quick charge of Level 3. “You literally have a charging station right on the property,” Szymczyk says. “And if you don’t own the EV, you can become part of a smaller collective that ‘owns’ one of the cars.” Using the charging station all the time maxes out the number of vehicles that can use this energy simultaneously, he adds. It also works in suburban low- rise contexts. The developer sets aside space for charging stations and parking spots in a convenient location in the development (for example, close to a school, shopping centre or homes). That way, users have access to an EV if they don’t own one. Furthermore, parking your car in a GO train lot while you take the train has a vehicle sitting idle all day – so why not have the charger used by others during the day? Szymczyk asks. Upstartz’s e-shuttle bus service will bring people to and from the train so they can get to work and home again utilizing a shared service. And as he points out, “soon, you’ll be paying for parking when you drive to the GO. Having access to an e-shuttle bus – especially at peak hours – and not having to pay car parking charges is ideal.” To test the idea, Upstartz is involved in a pilot project, called EVability Maas (it’s an acronym for Mobility As A Service), where builders host 25 kW chargers for the use of residents in the condo or townhome developments as long as they are within 10 kilometres of a GO station. The first pilot site at the Ontario Tech University Automotive Centre of Excellence in Oshawa will be used by faculty members and other stakeholders. 27 519-489-2541 airsealingpros.ca As energy continues to become a bigger concern, North American building codes and energy programs are moving towards giving credit for and/or requiring Airtightness testing. AeroBarrier, a new and innovative envelope sealing technology, is transforming the way residential, multifamily, and commercial buildings seal the building envelope. AeroBarrier can help builders meet any level of airtightness required, in a more consistent and cost-effective way. Take the guesswork out of sealing the envelope with AeroBarrier’s proprietary technology. “The beauty of this is you don’t have to buy the car or infrastructure,” Szymczyk says, “and you’re still contributing to the greening of the economy, because of sharing in relevant pods.” COURTESYUPSTARTZENERGYLTD©DARKOVUJIC
  • 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202028 This will be followed by a second pilot at a builder’s site. Upstartz is accepting applications from builders whose development projects are close to a GO station and where residents are driving to the station to get to work. Funding can be available for any builder who is interested in piloting the technology in a development, either high-rise or low-rise. The bottom line is that multi-unit developments with 100-amp panels in each unit cannot support widespread Level 2 or Level 3 rapid charging. Upstartz believes it has the solution for this. Krackovic and Szymczyk think this is a win for any developer, in any development model, because more and more people will be bringing EVs to their new home, whether it’s a condo or low rise. “If they know the developer has a charging station in place, and that the way the chargers are grouped will be very cost effective, it becomes a further incentive to purchase,” explains Krackovic. For the developer, it’s a case of rightsizing the land use, because parking minimums cost developers money and take up land that could otherwise be used for retail. BB To find out more about the funding and application process, please contact tanya@upstartz.com or rick@upstartz.com. Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET Funding can be available for any builder who is interested in piloting the technology in a development, either high-rise or low-rise.
  • 31. Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
  • 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202030 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY The general public is seeing car companies build better vehicles than ever, with longer warranties and greater durability, while builder warranty programs have remained stagnant. My last SUV went over 200,000 kilometres and was still running well when I traded it in – but our industry is designed to move onward after our mandated obligations are met. At the same time, we lose a tremendous opportunity to build lifetime clients of our brand. Think of the brand connections made between the local car dealer and so many of their customers (“Built Ford Tough,” “RAM Tough,” “Chevy Drives the Motor City”). In a seller’s market, this is a lesser consideration – but in a tight market, it could make the difference for your brand’s survival. These thoughts are running through my head as I’m writing this article, just as I’ve finished my four- week webinar series, “From Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes.” I feel honoured that Enbridge picked up the webinar series, based upon the book I am writing of the same name, before the book has even been finished. I’ve found writing 60+ slides per week created a real sense of urgency as well as a great time of reflection and of reaching conclusions – not just for concluding the webinar series (and by extension the book), but also for where we are as an industry and where we need to go. When we think about the decisions to be made when building a home, it can be overwhelming. Then consider what we have to provide for a building permit, or what needs to be included for an energy program, and how we need to balance customer choice, affordability, durability, health and a variety of complex issues. There’s a lot going on, isn’t there? So, I can appreciate why builders may ask, “Why are you making me consider one more thing?” On the other hand, the homes we are building will, or at the very least should, stand for 100 years or more. In my mind, that creates a moral contract between ourselves as builders and the future generations of home owners. Because of this moral obligation, I think it is imperative that we think about the four key considerations I discuss early in the book. Before we build, can we improve on the following future-proofing concepts? • Reduce our carbon footprint, including embodied carbon. (Embodied carbon is the sum total of all the emissions associated with harvesting, transporting, manufacturing, installing and, finally, disposing of building materials. Of key importance are the “cradle to jobsite” emissions, or the upfront carbon footprint of building materials.) • Include climate resilient construction to help the home be more durable to withstand more severe and more frequent storms. • Improve the indoor air quality of our homes (learn about the My Home Is a Tree campaign in the last paragraph of this article). • Design for occupant comfort (or “Design for humans, not machines”: beware of energy modelling programs that favour windows that gain heat, rather than high-performance windows). I understand these four design concepts are not typical considerations for either Code-built homes or high- performance homes such as ENERGY STAR or net zero. In some cases, they are touched upon. What I am suggest­ ing is that they be founding principles. At the very least, they need considering. Why Build a Hundred-Year Home? W ould you buy a new car off the lot today that carried only a one-year warranty? Probably not. Yet, as builders, that’s exactly what we do with our new home warranties. Meeting client expectations of a longer lasting, more durable home is not broadly considered, yet that is what is becoming the norm in other industries. When you think about it, how long is a Code-built home designed to last? 50 years? Perhaps. The home was built by my dad in 1979, and boy, has working on this home been an eye opener. When people complain “they don’t build them like they used to,” I say, “and that’s a good thing.”
  • 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 At the same time that all of this has been going on, I’ve been renovating one of our rental homes that we have decided to sell. Up to this time, I had not been involved with our rental portfolio. We were looking at updating the kitchen, replacing the HVAC system and taking advantage of the energy retrofit program with an energy audit. The home was built by my dad in 1979, and boy, has working on this home been an eye opener. When people complain “they don’t build them like they used to,” I say, “and that’s a good thing.” This home is proof of how we build better. I was fortunate that I’d brought my friend, Scott Davis from WINMAR, in to do the base ren­ ovation as we were going to upgrade the kitchen. Scott is a “do it right” kinda person and we’ve done several missions to Puerto Rico together, so I knew we were in good hands. And then I got the photos from the reno. I t didn’t take long to realize we were now into a full gut job of the kitchen and dining area. After Scott’s crew 31 The ravages of time and moisture damage provide lessons for building durable and resilient housing for the future.
  • 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202032 dealt with the mould, it was time to bring in the framers. There were multiple challenges to deal with, starting with that famous 1970s detail: the kitchen cantilever. You know the one: it has tentest on the wall, no air sealing and virtually no insulation in the cantilever area. Just for fun, it has a reduced heel height of about 3.5" above the wall, so there’s no room for proper insulation. But wait, it gets better: somewhere along the way, several years ago, the deck renovator who was contracted to replace the decks decided to save a few hundred dollars by eliminating a couple of deck posts and lagged the one end of the deck right to the cantilever rim joist. One of our younger framers, Chase McCormick, got the assignment to bring the home up to the 2000s and make it safe. By the time we were done, the deck was pulled off the wall awaiting future posts, the cantilever had to be rebuilt, the roof extended, continuous insulation added and a drainage plane installed in advance of the siding. Later on, we will be foaming the cantilever floor, wall and ceiling along with the home’s rim joist. We’re insulating the basement with a variation of our Optimum Basement Wall, and then the team from AeroBarrier is going to come in and tighten up the home. That means the naturally aspirating water heater and furnace are gone and a new high- performance HVAC system is being installed, including an air source heat pump and energy recovery ventilator so the new owner will have continuous fresh air. Anyway, you get the idea. Okay, so what’s the connection between this renovation and future-proofing of newly built high- performance homes? This home was 41 years old and was beginning to fail. Sure, the warranty had long since passed, even if you were to offer an extended warranty. By any measurement, it would not have made it to be a century home without a severe intervention of the envelope. The flaws in this home are ones that most builders and building officials now know need to be avoided. But it’s a great learning experience for our renovators on how to add the next 60 years to a home – and for our builders to learn about the importance of considering climate resiliency, carbon reduction, indoor air quality and occupant comfort as part of our long-term strategic plan for building a hundred-year home. One final note: As an industry moving towards even tighter homes, we need to improve on the indoor air quality offered to our customers. As such, I am inviting builders and renovators to join the My Home Is a Tree campaign and help reduce our industry’s carbon footprint by going to www.myhomeisatreechallenge.com and taking up the challenge. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. Contact us for product inquiries: support@airsolutions.ca | 800.267.6830 Your builds aren’t cookie cutter. Why should your HVAC systems be? Take your builds to the next level with Navien’s High performance for better builds. The H2Air kit is an add-on accessory for the Navien NPE-A Series tankless water heater that creates a high efficiency space heating and endless domestic hot water system. The H2Air Kit comes with the highest rated performance using CSA P9.11 test standard.
  • 35. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Trailblazer Matt Risinger Builder and building science expert COMFORTBOARD™ has received ICC-ES validated product acceptance as continuous insulation for multiple applications. For more information visit rockwool.com/comfortboard Continuous stone wool insulation that improves thermal performance Trailblazing requires confidence, expertise and a desire to do things right. Matt Risinger uses non-combustible, vapor-permeable and water-repellent COMFORTBOARD™ to help wall assemblies dry to the outside, keeping clients comfortable inside. It cuts down on heat loss and improves energy efficiency so that what you build today positively impacts your business tomorrow. 3773
  • 36. * HST is not applicable and will not be added to incentive payments. Terms and conditions apply. To be eligible for the Savings by Design Residential program, projects must be located in the former Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. service area. Visit savingsbydesign.ca for details. © 2020 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. Savings by Design | Residential Designforenergyefficiency and sustainability — Savings by Design gives builders free access to industry experts, energy modelling and financial incentives to help build the high-performance and sustainable homes that buyers want. Get free expert help and up to $ 100,000* in incentives Why participate? Improve energy performance. Avoid costly changes during construction. Enhance comfort, health and wellness. Future-proof for a changing climate. Reduce environmental impact. Meet buyers’ changing needs. Visitsavingsbydesign.ca togetthemostoutofyournextproject.