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PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014
INSIDE
Canadian Builders Up for the
Challenge Once Again
ICON of Sustainability
Asking the Right Questions
Rethinking Threshold Standards
Thrive in a Changing World
Simply theBestMEET THE WINNERS OF THE 2019 CROSS BORDER BUILDER CHALLENGE
ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
209 Citation Dr. Unit 3 & 4
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
16
1
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
2
Doing Our Best for the Harvest
by John Godden
THE BADA TEST
3
It’s Time to Ask the Right
Questions about Climate
Change and Housing
by Lou Bada
INDUSTRY EXPERT
5
Spring Training Camp
Inspiration with Gene Myers
by Gord Cooke
BUILDER NEWS
8
Canadian Builders:
Empire Ahead of the Curve
by Rob Blackstien
BUILDER NEWS
12
Royalpark Powers On
by Alex Newman
BUILDER NEWS
15
6th Annual Cross Border
Challenge Dinner
SPECIAL INTEREST
22
Rethinking the Three-Storey
Threshold for Part 9 Homes
by Paul De Berardis
BUILDER NEWS
24
North Star: Driven by Higher
Quality
by Rob Blackstien
BUILDER NEWS
28
Campanale Homes: Achieving
True Net Zero
by Alex Newman
BUILDER NEWS
30
Rosehaven Homes: Inspired
to Innovate
by Rob Blackstien
FROM THE GROUND UP
32
Learning How to Thrive in a
Climate Change World
by Doug Tarry
FEATURE STORY
16
ICON Understands the True Nature of Sustainability
by Rob Blackstien
24
ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
On our cover: Stephen Brown,
Principal/Owner, ICON Homes;
Kevin Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON
Homes; Kevin Watt, Vice President
Construction, ICON Homes.
Photographed by John Godden.
Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
3
12
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20192
PUBLISHER
Better Builder Magazine
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FEATURE WRITERS
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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
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“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” — Og Mandino
W
hat do builders and farmers have in common? Both face the uncertainty of
extreme weather, government policy and market fluctuations of supply and
demand. Until recently, the harvest in the housing market has been plentiful, but
the skilled labourers have been few.
But this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge brought us the cream
of the crop. The challenge is a friendly annual competition between American and Canadian
home builders to determine just how energy efficient builders can build. The rule is simple:
the lowest Home Energy Rating System (HERS)/Energy Rating Index (ERI) score wins.
There are six categories for Canadian builders, with awards sponsored by Enbridge,
Building Products of Canada, Icynene and RenewABILITY. This issue features each of the
winners: Empire Communities, Royalpark Homes, North Star Homes, Campanale Homes
and Rosehaven Homes (page 8). These awards were presented at the Sustainable Housing
Foundation dinner on March 21, 2019 in Toronto. The mayor of East Gwillimbury, the
Honourable Virginia Hackson, also publicly challenged the City of Davis, California to build a
home comparable to Rosehaven’s winning discovery home. Davis’ mayor has since accepted.
It is notable that all are graduates of Enbridge’s Savings by Design (SBD) program, which
incentivizes builders to achieve 15% better performance than the 2017 Ontario Building Code.
When we wish to grade Canadian-built homes to American-built ones as we do in the Cross
Border Builder Challenge, the ERI is a standards-based approach to determine the lowest
score of energy performance. In Ontario, under SB-12 2017, a package A1 reference house
scores an ERI or HERS 53 and exceeds the International Efficiency Conservation Code (IECC)
requirement of 54. The newly published ASHRAE 90.2, Energy-efficient Design of Low-rise
Residential Buildings, seeks to deliver 50% more efficiency than the IECC 2006. The document
employs site-to-source and neutral-cost points through a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis
for all weather zones in North America. The chart on page 9 indicates a HERS 46 for Ontario.
This year’s harvest of Cross Border Builder Challenge winners surpassed that benchmark.
We also feature ICON Homes, an ambitious builder, graduate of SBD and the first builder
to use the ANSI 301 standard to individually model units in a mid-rise building, on page 16.
Lou Bada examines the need to get the right people and information together to harvest the
green economy, such as in the ASHRAE 90.2 standard (page 3).
Beyond the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the international theme continues with
Gord Cooke sharing lessons from the sixth annual Building Science Spring Training Camp,
featuring expert presenters from Canada and the U.S. (page 5). From the same event, Doug
Tarry shares the wisdom of Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders from Denver, Colorado
(page 32). As with any endeavour – from farming to home building – planting employee
buy-in is key for growth.
Environmental stewardship and sustainable home building have been described as
tending a garden, and I am in great debt to all who work with me to tend the fields through
this magazine, the Sustainable Housing Foundation, CRESNET and Clearsphere. Together,
we’ve learned that the three most important ingredients for having a successful harvest
are clear thinking, hard work and a sense of humour – after all, as E.B. White said, “A good
farmer is nothing more nor less than a handyman with a sense of humus.” BB
Doing Our Best
for the Harvest
publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
M
uch ink has been spilled on
these pages about how our
industry can become more
sustainable in our building practices:
we often discuss which product,
process or program is best to reduce
our greenhouse gas emissions and
possibly help the environment. But
I wonder sometimes if we are asking
the right questions, given today’s
realities.
I wrote a while ago that the most
important question we ask ourselves
– before we get to the “how” of solving
a problem – is the “why.” Some may
say that we’re causing the planet to
burn, so we’d better start fixing it!
They might even take it a step further,
saying that we should be leaders in
the battle against climate change.
I’d like to respond to these
commonly heard sentiments.
Firstly, I’m not a climate change
denier with some heartless capitalist
agenda at work here. I believe in the
science that points to man-made
climate change, and that action needs
to be taken. I also believe that the
strides we’ve made towards energy
efficiency and improvements in our
buildings are not entirely misguided.
We have achieved much in creating
more efficient new homes.
This leads me to some questions:
Is it possible that we are now at the
limit of what makes the most sense?
For example, are we getting ahead
of ourselves by rabidly pursuing
net zero or near zero homes today?
Should we try to limit housing
choice and only produce dense
forms of housing? Should everyone
be compelled to take public transit
or buy electric cars? Can we modify
human behaviour by regulating and
taxing everything that moves?
It is tragic whenever there is some
weather-related catastrophe in the
world that causes unimaginable pain
and suffering. On the other hand,
when people tear up and exclaim
that we have a “climate emergency in
Canada,” I pause and reflect on what is
being said.
When these same people declare
that Canada should be doing
everything it possibly can to stop
climate change, I ask them, “Can
Canada actually stop climate change,
and at what cost?” It’s clear that
Canada could go back to pre-industrial
levels of CO2 emissions and it wouldn’t
make one lick of difference if the big
emitters on the planet don’t change.
While we should do our part, can we
truly be the leaders in fighting climate
change? Should we commit economic
hara-kiri to show the world how
serious we are? Why?
According to a Globe and Mail
article from May 10, 2019, the City
of Toronto spent six years and $2.6
million for 380 bike storage spaces in
an underground lot at Toronto City
Hall. So we have people living on the
streets while our bikes stay warm and
dry. Many social activists would rightly
say we should attend to both biking
infrastructure and homelessness. In a
perfect world, I would agree.
Overstating the obvious:
economics matter. That is not to say
we should be putting profits over
people and the environment (they are
not mutually exclusive). Economics
is a social construct based on the
3
It’s Time to Ask the Right Questions
about Climate Change and Housing
thebadatest / LOU BADA
If we’re looking
to build a green
economy, then bring
in the scientists,
economists and
business people,
and leave irrational
policies and
interventions behind.
RA2STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20194
scarcity of resources. Fortunately,
economics is not a zero-sum game.
Benefits accrue from growth
through increasing productivity and
innovation. In Canada’s short history,
we have derived many social benefits
from our vibrant economy.
This leads me to more questions:
are we searching for evidence-based
policy or policy-based evidence?
If it is the former, then where are
the best areas to spend our limited
resources? Do we invest in adaptation
for existing homes and infrastructure,
or do we keep adding costs to new
housing for negligible benefits while
pushing people to the margins?
Tax payers and consumers are one
and the same. Home ownership has
become an unattainable dream for
the next generation, and inadequate
housing is becoming a social ailment.
Misguided land use and housing
policy in the name of environmental
stewardship is part of the problem.
Blaming “greedy” developers and
businesses is over-simplistic and will
not produce any meaningful results.
We need to leave any notions of class
warfare behind.
If we’re looking to build a green
economy, then let’s bring in the
scientists, economists and business
people, and let’s leave irrational
policies and interventions behind.
I understand that some politics,
businesses and special interests will
always exist to undermine rational
thought, but I believe the status quo
is insufficient. As imperfect as we are,
there is too much at stake here to not
ask the right questions. 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
This leads me to
more questions:
are we searching
for evidence-based
policy or policy-
based evidence?
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This year, there were over 20
presentations and discussions
(including the fast-paced and always
intriguing Open Mic Night event).
The one session that most inspired
the 160 builders, energy advisors,
researchers, manufacturers and
others in attendance was from Gene
Myers of Thrive Home Builders in
Denver, Colorado.
I’ve known Gene for about 15
years as one of the early advocates
of net zero energy construction in
North America. What I, and others at
Camp, learned is how Gene leveraged
that commitment to zero energy to
navigate through the housing crash
of 2007 so that Thrive Home Builders
came out the other side as a stronger,
more profitable company. I suspect
builders going through our own
current housing slowdown could find
inspiration in Gene’s approach as well.
In our very first segment, Gene
outlined for us his thought process of
becoming the “low-cost producer of
high-performance homes,” combining
two common business principles that
are often at odds. We know that, in
times of declining markets and prices,
there is heightened interest in lowering
or at least optimizing costs. And we
intuitively know that the race to the
bottom is crowded with those who
can’t get there, while our customers
stand on the sidelines, waiting for the
costs to go even lower. On the other
hand, leading marketing advocates
would counsel a strategy of defining
a compelling, marketable difference
to drive interest through periods of
low demand. Thrive Home Builders
combined these two principles
by focusing on a very interesting
approach. Gene detailed how they
scaled up their high-performance
building commitment by “winning
the hearts and minds of their own
people, their trade partners and their
customers – in that order.”
With respect to winning the
hearts of their employees, Gene
cited compelling industry research.
The National Association of Home
Builders’ 2016 Cost of Doing Business
Study showed the average after-tax
margin for builders was 3% to 4%. A
2013 Gallup study outlined that, in the
US and Canada, only 29% of workers
are engaged at work, 54% are not
5
industryexpert / GORD COOKE
Spring Training Camp Inspiration
Gene Myers shares his journey and secrets of success.
R
egular readers of this magazine will know that each spring Tex McLeod,
Andrew Oding and I host Spring Training Camp: an opportunity for
advanced building science topics to be presented, discussed and debated.
Afterwards, in the spring edition of this publication, I have an opportunity to
highlight what I consider to be the most important aspects of this year’s Camp.
Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders inspires at Spring Training Camp.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20196
engaged at work and a full 18% are
actively disengaged at work. Finally,
he noted a 2015 Builder Magazine
article by John McManus that posed
the question “Will a 20-year-old today
choose to enter a career that sheds
65% of its workers every 10 years or
so?” Gene took these hard facts to
his staff and asked them, “Will you
help me build a company with the
financial strength to overcome all
market conditions?”
Together, they wrote a one-page
business plan that galvanized them
in a common cause. The commitment
to high-performance, energy-efficient
homes was a big part of that. The staff
responded well to the performance
benchmarking and validation offered
by third-party labelling programs.
It’s the reason they doubled down on
their commitment to delivering 100%
Department of Energy (DOE) Zero
Energy Ready Homes, 100% of the
Environmental Protection Agency’s
ENERGY STAR for New Homes,
WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS labels
as well as 100% LEED for Homes. Gene
and his 70 staff are fans of labels, and
so are his customers.
The Thrive staff then took the high-
performance challenge to their trade
partners. They did a “lean building
blitz” with industry leader Scott
Sedam of TrueNorth Development.
Through extensive trade partner
interviews, they found over 80 ideas
for improvement that saved both
Thrive and their trade partners over $5
million. Most amazingly to me, they
cut over 45 days from their build cycle
time. They have set up a permanent
trade council with nine individuals
who are tasked to be the voice of all
trade partners, with a common goal
of ensuring Thrive is the best company
to work for in all of Colorado.
With great build processes and
systems in place, they approached
their marketing in much the same
systematic way. They looked closely at
how their homes could meet the needs
of their customers. They focused on a
quote from Jacquelyn A. Ottman’s book
The New Rules of Green Marketing:
“the green consumer revolution has
been led by women aged between 30
and 49 with children and better-than-
average education. They are motivated
by a desire to keep their loved ones
free from harm and to secure their
future.” This quote resonates with
my 30+ years of experience speaking
with new home sales agents and
home buyers. As an engineer, I used to
imagine that home buyers would do
the math and figure out the compelling
energy savings associated with high-
performance homes. Of course, that
rarely happens. This quote reminds
us that the technical features of
high-performance homes have much
deeper, more emotional benefits for
home buyers. In Thrive’s case, they
focused on concepts of credibility,
authenticity and honesty for home
buyers who, in Ottman’s words, “Seek
control, empowerment and peace of
mind by knowing she has done all
she can for the people she loves.” You
can see why third-party labelling
continues to be a core value at Thrive;
it matches the emotional needs of the
buyers Thrive knows will confidently
pay more for things they believe offer
superior value and performance.
Gene concluded his talk by
modestly pointing out that the success
they have achieved is primarily due
to the engagement of his people. He
admits that he has a new, less stressful
job. Rather than having to solve all the
problems and have all the answers,
he is now simply the “Catalyst in
Chief,” empowering his staff and trade
partners to be engaged. It has been
amazingly successful. In a market
not unlike Toronto in its diversity
and relatively high prices, Thrive has
become the highest-volume low-cost
producer of net zero energy ready
homes. At approximately 200 to 250
homes per year, their profits are up
and they have received far too many
accolades to list here, but I will list two.
They were selected as Builder of the
Year in 2017 by Professional Builder
magazine and have been DOE’s
Grand Prize Winner for Housing
In a market not unlike Toronto in its
diversity and relatively high prices, Thrive
has become the highest-volume low-cost
producer of net zero energy ready homes.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
Innovation the last four years in a
row. Perhaps just as importantly,
Scott Sedam says that, from a process
improvement side, “Thrive ‘reported
the biggest year-to-year score
improvement they have ever seen in
10 years running the survey.’”
The mood set by Gene at Spring
Training Camp was inspiring to the
many builders here in Ontario who are
also offering net zero energy homes,
but wondering how this strategy fits
in with the current softening of sales
and the uncertainty of Code changes.
To learn more, you are welcome
to go to our website to download
a copy of Gene’s presentation:
buildingknowledge.ca/resources/
spring-camp
I would also encourage you
to visit Thrive’s website at:
thrivehomebuilders.com
Better yet, go to the upcoming
Energy and Environmental Building
Alliance Summit, to be held in
Denver from October 1–3. Gene will
be there, and I will be pleased to
introduce you to him and perhaps
tour a couple of his amazing model
homes: summit.eeba.org
While you are in Denver, come
see the new Construction Instruction
Ci Live learning centre. We will be
holding a special cold climate building
science session on November 12–13:
constructioninstruction.com/ci-live BB
Gord Cooke is
president of Building
Knowledge Canada.
7
Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
“We strive to continuously grow
and become leaders in the industry,
and [we] are committed to doing
this by constantly testing and
experimenting in order to ensure
we build to standards above both
ENERGY STAR and [the] Ontario
Building Code,” says Paul Golini,
co-founder and executive vice
president, industry relations. “So, it
is always our goal to build the best
product possible for our consumers.”
The award, Golini says, was simply a
by-product of Empire’s efforts to “future
proof” all its homes. Empire earned
the President’s Award by having the
lowest average HERS score (44) across
284 homes. It also bagged an award for
the lowest HERS score for a Canadian
production builder with a score of 38.
Last year, one of the homes
in Empire’s discovery home pilot
program won the Enbridge Innovation
Award. The pilot, located in Empire’s
Riverland community in Breslau,
Ontario, consisted of five model homes,
three of which were built to ENERGY
STAR standards while the other two
were built to what Empire believes will
be the future code, thereby ensuring
a higher standard of energy efficiency
compared to the existing Ontario
Building Code. (See page 23 of the
winter 2017 issue for more details on
Empire’s discovery homes.)
The Hybrid Home (the actual
award-winning home) features the
latest sustainability innovations,
newest insulation materials and
experiments in energy efficiency,
including solar PV with battery storage.
8
buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
Once again, Canadian builders represented the nation brilliantly at this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross
Border Builder Challenge, a competition commemorating excellence in energy-efficient home building
while promoting the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. In particular, Empire Communities stood
out by winning two honours, including the highly coveted President’s Award.
Canadian Builders Up for the Challenge
Once again, the Great White North proved it can excel
at building homes in an energy-efficient manner.
The 2019 Cross Border
Builder Challenge
E
mpire Communities could soon get so accustomed to winning awards that
it may decide to include red carpeting in all its homes. After taking home
two Cross Border Builder Challenge awards for the second straight year, this
company is truly manifesting its goals.
Empire Communities
Ahead of the Curve
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
Golini says this home produces two
metric tonnes less CO2 than its Code
counterpart. What Empire learned
from these homes was paramount in
it being able to win the 2019 awards.
Having won multiple Cross Border
Builder Challenge awards, Empire is
clearly a believer in the initiative. The
awards are “a great way to motivate
our industry to be better and to build
more energy-efficient practices in
our homes,” Golini says. “Sustainable
construction and energy efficiency
have long been part of our building
culture,” but the friendly competition
is “a great way to ensure that we as
an industry are staying on top of
latest green building technologies
and striving to reduce our carbon
footprint.”
Given that “one of our main goals
at Empire has always been to stay
ahead of the curve by being leaders
in sustainable building practices,”
participation in the Cross Border
Builder Challenge is a natural fit.
“Competitions like this help immensely
by allowing us to work with other for­
ward-thinkers and challenge ourselves
with each home we build,” he adds.
Having turned 25 last year, Empire
is one of the largest home builders
in North America, with current
communities in Toronto, southwestern
Ontario and the southern US. The
450-plus employee company has built
over 15,000 new homes and condos in
its history.
38
2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60
44
2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60
PRESIDENT’S AWARD AND LOWEST HERS SCORE
CANADIAN PRODUCTION BUILDER AWARD
90.2 COMPLIANCE
ERI SCORES
BY CLIMATE ZONE
CLIMATE ERI SCORE
ZONE 1 43
ZONE 2 45
ZONE 3 47
ZONE 4 47
ZONE 5 47
ZONE 6 46
ZONE 7 46
ZONE 8 45
9
IN ONTARIO, LOW CARBON
HOMES ARE ERI/HERS 46
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O F E X T R U D E D P O L Y S T Y R E N E
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F O R O V E R 1 0 0 Y E A R S
INSULSHEATHING Panel
Introducing a Unique Innovation:
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
Empire continues to grow, last
year re-entering the high-rise market
in Toronto with a pair of condo towers
while also expanding into Texas with
projects in Houston, Austin and San
Antonio.
Golini says 2019 “is going to be
another big one for us.” Empire
recently announced its debut into
the Atlanta market and will soon be
launching two more high-rise condos
in Toronto. A new collection of home
designs for low-rise communities
was also announced, which includes
redesigned floorplans “with today’s
home buyer in mind,” as well as
modern architectural details and
updated interior features.
“We want to make sure home buyers
have everything they need to fit their
growing lifestyle, and with technologies
and standards constantly changing and
improving, we need to make sure to
stay ahead of the trend,” he adds. BB
Rob Blackstien is a
Toronto-based freelance
writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
11
Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY Energy
Inc. (left) and John Godden (right) present
Steve Doty of Empire Communities with
the President’s Award.
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201912
buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN
The friendly competition between
American and Canadian home
builders highlights the ways that
builders are doing their part to reduce
their carbon footprint. As Royalpark
president Marco De Simone puts it,
the competition is concrete proof that
“we’re good builders, that it’s real and
not just talk, and it also confirms the
brand we’ve carved for ourselves of
being very green conscious.”
For Simcoe Shores, Royalpark part­
nered with Panasonic in 2015 to install
solar panels and storage batteries in
all nine of the site’s homes. With the
project completed in 2018 and home
owners moved in, it became clear that
this package not only ensures good
delivery of electricity – a sometimes iffy
proposition in rural areas like cottage
country – but also assures home owners
they can save money on the system by
sending electricity back to the grid.
Panasonic’s sterling reputation
drew De Simone into the partnership
in the first place. “We don’t take on
things because they’re trendy – they
have to function well and cut energy
costs. As a builder, I have to stand
behind my product, and for this I know
Panasonic has done the research and
testing, and it will run the way they
claim it’s running.”
Royalpark Powers On
Builder’s Winning Community
Balances Efficiency with Value
A
nother winner in this year’s RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge was
Ontario’s Royalpark Homes. As one of an elite group of builders competing
for the coveted awards for energy efficiency, the company’s long-standing
green commitment has resulted in achieving a HERS score of 26 throughout their
Simcoe Shores project in Barrie, Ontario. The good news for other builders is that
these ideas are easily adapted to just about any housing development.
28
2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60
LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN CUSTOM BUILDER AWARD
John Godden (left) presents the award
for the Lowest HERS Score for Custom
Production Builder to Domenic La Neve and
Joe Dilecce of Royalpark Homes.
Better Builder Magazine, Issue 30 / Summer 2019
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201914
The package included a battery
powered by Panasonic, lithium
ion battery cells, solar PV panels,
an inverter and a user-friendly
monitoring system. It allows home­
owners to collect energy for later use.
But solar panels and battery stor­
age are only half of the equation, De
Simone adds. Aptly named PowerHaus,
the homes come with a better building
envelope and feature a wall system
that’s been rated the most efficient
in Ontario by a study undertaken by
Ryerson University. The homes also
boast air conditioning, programmable
thermostat, drain water heat recovery,
R-50 attic insulation, R-31 floor insu­
lation and right-sized, R-24 above-
grade walls. All of that adds up to
46% better energy efficiency than the
Ontario Building Code.
Although slightly more expensive
to build, the homes are good value
for money. De Simone points out that
buyers of luxury, high-end homes
expect a few perks. Where other
builders might offer design-oriented
upgraded amenities, Royalpark
remains consistent with its mandate
that “energy efficiency be part of the
standard package, which lowers utility
bills down the road and even makes
you money when you sell it back to the
utility company,” says De Simone.
The builder payoff is big too, espe­
cially with the Cross Border Builder
Challenge results. “These homes are
like our calling card and proof that this
kind of efficiency can be achieved,” De
Simone says. “You enter these kinds of
events because it gets the name and
product out there, shows people that
experts recognize good quality work as
well on both sides of the border.”
The winning project has paved
the way for the company’s future
developments, like Green Earth Village
in East Gwillimbury, Ontario. “We
tested this in Barrie with the Simcoe
Shores project, but now are looking at
the technology for larger communities,”
says Doug Skeffington, Royalpark’s
director of land development.
That’s where Smartflower power
enters the picture. While Skeffington
says that windmills are “an eyesore,
noisy, and take up a lot of land,
Smartflower is more efficient and more
appealing, so bureaucrats are taking
notice of the results,” he says.
Given how slow bureaucracy
tends to move, Skeffington says that
Royalpark has “looked at moving
things forward, not by trying to
fight the system, but working within
the system we have. And so we
went with solar technology that we
could incorporate into the whole
development, creating an opportunity
to collect power across the whole
community.”
Homeowners are sold when they see
how much money can be saved down
the road with energy efficiency, he says.
“We tend to look at affordability in a
different way, and pose the question
to our buyers: what if that expensive
tech makes you money? And it will –
you can sell energy back to the utility
companies.”
But a lot depends on how builders
nurture their relationships with
the municipality, says De Simone.
“Wouldn’t it be a nice world where the
carbon footprint is low, and you’re not
paying taxes because the community
is making you money?” BB
Alex Newman is a writer,
editor and researcher at
alexnewmanwriter.com.
L–R: Larry Stock (CEO, Nu-NRG Group), Mike Walters (CAO, LSRCA), Anthony Di Battista (President, SigNature Developments), Erica Kelly (Business
Development Manager, CONXCORP), Councillor Scott Crone, Councillor Loralea Carruthers, Andreas Faruki (Partner, Deloitte Canada, hidden), Mark
Conroy (President, SmartFlower Solar), [hidden], Jager Bhoohe (CONXCORP), Virginia Hackson (Mayor, Town of East Gwillimbury), Jason Lightfoot
(President, CONXCORP), Tiger Ali Singh (Tiger Jeet Singh Foundation), Councillor Cathy Morton, Doug Skeffington (Director, Land Development,
Royalpark Homes), Councillor Terry Foster, Brad Rogers (Principal, Groundswell Urban Planners), and Patrick Carew (President, Nu-NRG Group).
SMARTFLOWER BLOOMS
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF
1 On March 21, 2019 the SHF hosted
the 6th Annual Cross Border Builder
Challenge Awards Dinner. The
evening started with a trade show
featuring premium products from
Amvic, Airia Brands, A.O. Smith, BP
Canada, Dow, Icynene, Power-Pipe,
ROCKWOOL™
, Ventilation Maximum,
and iGEN Technologies.
2 The VIPs of the evening were the
winning builders of the Cross Border
Builder Challenge, honoured for their
accomplishments in building low-
carbon, high-performance homes.
3 The Honourable Virginia Hackson,
keynote speaker, presents the Enbridge
Innovation Award to Rosehaven Homes.
4 Bridging the Gap panel discussion.
On the left, builders Joe Laronga, Kevin
Watt, and Anthony Martelli. On the
right and representing municipalities,
Leo Grellette (CBO East Gwillimbury),
Jeremy Bender (Supervisor, Building
Permits, City of Pickering) and Kyle
Bentley (Director of Buildings and
Planning, City of Pickering).
5 Lucky draw for an iGEN Integrated
Combo Heating System presented by
Michael Chatzigrigoriou, Co-founder
and CEO of iGEN Technologies, and
John Godden. And the winner is …
Jeremy Bender! BB
1
2 3
6th Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner
15
54
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
ICON Understands the
featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 17
A
s ICON Homes prepares to celebrate its
30th birthday next year, it has reached
an age when it realizes that profits are
not the be-all and end-all of home building.
Sometimes, it’s more important to do something
simply because it’s the right thing to do.
This mentality surely played a role in the
North York-based company winning the Civic
Award for Sustainability from the City of Picker­
ing in May. The city has made sustainability a
long-standing priority, and it has been honour­
ing leaders in this regard for nearly two decades.
“Through its annual Civic Awards, the city
has recognized leaders in sustainability since
2007, and six years prior to that within an
environmental category,” says Chantal Whitaker,
Pickering’s Supervisor of Sustainability.
“Sustainability is one of our corporate
priorities, and we continue to pursue initiatives
and partnerships that help balance our social,
environmental and economic goals. With
partners like ICON Homes, we are able to take
meaningful strides toward a more sustainable
future, creating a healthy community for
generations to come,” she adds.
When ICON changed plans on Market District
(its four-storey stacked townhouse development
featuring 92 units) to add more energy-efficient
features (such as more efficient windows,
upgraded mechanical systems and insulation),
it wasn’t because the company needed to do so
to meet municipal approvals or increase sales.
In fact, the changes were enacted after all the
homes were already sold. Clearly, ICON simply
wanted to offer more sustainable housing.
“Pickering recognized that we were doing
that,” says Kevin Watt, vice president of
construction and one of three members of
ICON’s leadership team (along with Kevin Brown
and Stephen Brown).
True Nature of Sustainability
ICONHOMES/GLADSTONEMEDIA
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
“One of the attributes that makes
this development remarkable is that,
despite the fact they had building
permits issued in October 2018 and
already sold the units, they decided
to pause and re-examine how the
townhomes could be constructed in a
more sustainable manner,” says Kyle
Bentley, director of city development
and chief building official for Pickering.
Even though this initiative would
require extra effort and time for both
staff and trades, as well as increased
expenses and more difficulty,
ICON proceeded. Forty-two of the
units were enhanced with a goal
of increasing comfort, providing
uniform temperatures throughout,
improving air quality, reducing noise
(by including triple-glazed windows)
and decreasing heating/cooling costs
– all done at no added expense to the
home owners. Among the energy-
efficient features added to these
homes were improved Lifebreath
heat recovery ventilators (sensible
recovery efficiency [SRE] of 75%),
Radiant combo heating with Eco
Smart high-velocity air handlers, an
exterior expanded polystyrene (EPS)
system (R-8 was added to the exterior
walls) and R-31 foam in the roof
cavities. All told, 18.2% less energy is
used in the enhanced models when
compared to Code requirements.
Stacks are a sweet spot for ICON,
and one of its main differentiators,
Watt says. Very similar to the new six-
storey wood frame form factor, stacks
are something many builders don’t
really want to tackle, he says, because
“it’s a tough product to build – but we
feel it is a product we have mastered.”
Watt explains that because it’s
somewhat of a new sector, neither
high-rise nor detached home builders
18
really specialize in it. “That’s one of the
things we pride ourselves in – knowing
how to do things very efficiently
and effectively. It is the day-to-day
involvement of myself, Kevin and
Steve that allows us to be successful
with this product. You’re going to see
more and more stacked product called
for in development, and a lot of guys
are shying away from it while we’re
eager to actually do it,” Watt says. With
density by-laws tightening, you can
expect stacks to increase in popularity,
positioning ICON well going forward.
For a builder this size, ICON is
pretty prolific, churning out around
100 houses per year. The company has
just rolled out its ICare program, which
provides a proactive approach to meet
its customers’ needs before, during
and after move in. The three-pillared
program consists of:
A commitment to communication
ICON provides streamlined
communication with all of their clients
to better the home buying experience
from point of sale to after move in.
Each home buyer receives a dedicated
ICON ambassador to create a strong
buyer-builder relationship.
Exceptional building quality
ICON is committed to building quality
homes that exceed the expectations
of local building codes. Their quality
craftsmanship and construction
methods include the implementation
of home details that add long-term
value for their customers.
A long-standing pledge of
consistent service ICON is dedicated
to providing a positive home buying
experience. They recognize that their
reputation is built on happy home
owners and strive to provide consistent,
reliable service to all of their customers.
Next up for ICON is Forest District,
a 108-unit development in Pickering
featuring three-storey semis and
towns. ICON is really excited by the
designs, and Watt says “we think
they’re second to none.” This project
will include the launch of its smart
home technology, part of the ICare
program. ICON is partnering with
Enercare on this initiative. Forest
District will be built adjacent to
Toronto and Region Conservation
Authority ravine lands, and ICON has
been involved in restoring these lands
to their natural environment.
From left: Stephen Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON Homes; Chantal Whitaker,
Supervisor, Sustainability, City of Pickering; Mayor Dave Ryan, City of Pickering;
Kevin Watt, Vice President Construction, ICON Homes.
ICON Homes
thanks you.
At ICON Homes we value our partnerships and would like to thank you
for helping us build sustainable communities we can all be proud of.
Enbridge Guthrie Muscovitch
Enercare United Mechanical
City of Pickering Ecosmart
Region of Durham Radiant
Clearsphere Lifebreath
Campoli Electric Pollard Windows
DMS Upscale Stucco
Nelmar Drywall Paul Duffy & Associates
Discover our newest community at forestdistrict.ca
or visit iconhomes.com to learn more about us.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201920
This will be the debut project to
launch the ICare program before sales
(it was introduced at Market District
after sales were complete) so the
team is very excited by this. It is also
anticipated that Forest District will
participate in Enbridge’s Savings by
Design program.
Watt had previous experience with
Savings by Design (for more on this
program, see the summer 2018 issue).
When he joined ICON a year and a
half ago, he introduced the Browns
to the program and “Kevin and Steve
were right on board with it. For them,
it was just the right way to go.”
In fact, Market District broke new
ground by becoming the first stacked
townhouse development built under
Part 3 with Alternative Solutions to
participate in Savings by Design. It used
a unit-by-unit approach with Home
Energy Rating System (HERS) and ANSI
301-2019 multi-unit standards. This is
one reason for their award.
Like many truly innovation-driven
builders have lamented, ICON is
frustrated by its desire to add more
energy-efficient solutions relative to
what the market will bear. “We feel
limited by the competitiveness of the
sales market. We would love to do
more, but purchasers are not yet wil­
ling to embrace the long-term benefits
of improved home efficiency and cost
savings. We are currently in the process
of designing an optional sustainability
package over and above our current
program that will be made available on
our future projects,” says Kevin Brown.
Still, the company’s efforts have not
gone unappreciated. “ICON Homes is
leading by example,” says Pickering
Mayor Dave Ryan, “furthering
Pickering’s sustainability goals by
embedding sustainability into their
corporate culture.” BB
Rob Blackstien is a
Toronto-based freelance
writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
2018 residential builder ad
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 21
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BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201922
specialinterest / PAUL DE BERARDIS
This isn’t a joke – it’s a crazy reality
in this province. Quite frankly, a four-
storey stacked townhome has more
in common with a single, semi or
townhouse than it does with a high-
rise condo apartment in the sky. And
yet, that stacked townhome and the
condo unit are both lumped into the
same grouping – buildings within the
scope of Part 3 of the Ontario Building
Code (OBC) follow Supplementary
Standard SB-10, “Energy Efficiency
Requirements” – to determine how
they are designed, modelled and
built. Since Part 9 is only applicable to
housing and “small” buildings up to
three storeys in height and up to 600
square metres in building area, Part
3 applies to any building larger than
this. (And why the threshold was set
at three storeys is fodder for another
Better Builder column…)
Certain mid-rise housing types are
more similar to low-rise housing, with
grade-oriented exterior entry doors,
minimal or no common corridors,
individual mechanical systems, lower
window-to-wall ratios and similar air
leakage characteristics.
Consider this, for example: accor­
ding to a University of Toronto study
on tall buildings, the envelope of a
typical residential tower possesses
a window-to-wall ratio anywhere
between 40% to 90% glazing. Yet the
average townhouse block may possess
somewhere in the 20% to 30% range
of window glazing area. In addition,
condo units are typically served by
common corridors and centralized
heating/cooling systems.
Meanwhile, when you model a
low-rise townhouse under Part 9
and Supplementary Standard SB-12,
“Energy Efficiency for Housing,” you
don’t model the entire block – you
do it individually by unit. And when
you model a condo according to the
requirements of SB-10, you model and
evaluate the entire building as a whole.
Under SB-10, the window-to-wall
ratio is calculated on the basis of the
whole building (instead of on a living-
unit basis), so the party walls are not
included in the calculation. This is
inconsistent with the window-wall
ratio calculation using SB-12 as it does
not consider the number of units in
the building and the individual unit’s
glazing area. There are fundamental
differences in the application of
SB-10 and SB-12, which place certain
gentle-density typologies – such as
stacked townhouses – in a grey zone,
seemingly caught between the two
standards. Clearly, making each of
these different housing types energy
efficient involves completely different
methods and processes.
So how can you lump these two
in the same group when it comes
to making design, construction
and spending decisions on energy
efficiency, when their mechanical
systems and building envelopes are
completely different?
Or look at it this way: a traditional
three-storey townhouse falls under
Part 9, while a four-storey stacked
townhouse project falls under Part
3. Does this really make sense to
anybody, considering this four-storey
townhouse will be modelled the same
way as a high-rise condo, even though
it shares more similarities with a Part 9
home (single, semi, town, laneway)?
Speaking rationally, you would hope
it would make sense that any form of
gentle density – the lowest forms of
Rethinking the Three-Storey
Threshold for Part 9 Homes
H
ere’s a conundrum: What do a four-storey stacked townhome and a
50-storey condo in Ontario have in common? The answer: Their energy
efficiency is designed and measured the same way.
BOVLD/SHUTTERSTOCK
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
mid-rise which currently fall under
Part 3 – will one day be modelled
similarly to their Part 9 counterparts.
The simple answer is this
shouldn’t be happening. RESCON
suggests that mid-rise wood-frame
buildings up to six storeys – including
stacked townhouses and back-to-
back townhouses – should be covered
under Part 9 of the OBC and SB-12
when it comes to energy efficiency.
Something must be done for this
growing category of housing types,
especially as home buyers are looking
to live in an alternative from the two
extremes (freehold singles and high-
rise towers). Meanwhile, builders are
trying to market new products and are
encouraged by the province’s A Place
to Grow growth plan to build new
multi-family housing types, making
this move all the more important.
The OBC has not kept pace with
the growing and diverse mix of
housing alternatives trying to come
to market. But it’s important that we
keep innovation in mind so that the
OBC can work to facilitate flexibility
in the housing market while still
maintaining a high-performance level
of energy efficiency in Ontario.
It’s a category of housing often
referred to as “the Missing Middle.”
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
municipalities such as Hamilton,
Halton Hills and Whitby are leading
the way in the region when it comes
to building missing-middle homes,
according to a recent report published
by the Canadian Centre for Economic
Analysis and the Residential and Civil
Construction Alliance of Ontario.
Given the range of what’s covered
under Part 3 of the OBC, the parts of
the missing-middle housing stock
that could fit under Part 3 include
stacked townhouses, back-to-back
stacked townhouses and even six-
storey wood-frame mid-rise condos.
That’s where Paul Duffy comes
in. He’s an accomplished consulting
engineer, current principal of Paul
Duffy and Associates Inc. and president
of CRESNET. He suggests that mid-
rise buildings should be treated like
low-rise ones because (you’ve heard
this before) they have more in common
with ground-related housing types
than they do with a high-rise tower.
It’s a simple concept, and Ontario
and Canada don’t have to look far to
see it in action. Just look south of the
49th parallel – our friends in the United
States take a more practical approach
to energy modelling for mid-rise
buildings, like that four-storey stacked
townhome we’ve been mentioning.
In order to better represent these
housing types in energy modelling,
the American National Standards
Institute (ANSI) has rolled out the ANSI/
RESNET/ICC 301-2019 standard, which
now addresses the calculation and the
labelling of the energy performance
of multi-family building units. This
new standard builds upon the existing
ANSI 301-2014 standard, which covers
more traditional, low-rise, single-
family housing types. The new ANSI
301-2019 standard has been revised to
now include these missing-middle/
gentle-density multi-family projects
as mid-rise construction is considered
more similar to low-rise than high-rise
towers. ANSI 301 allows individual
rating of units with an Energy Rating
Index (ERI) used by the International
Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
This enables builders to devise their
own proprietary marketing platform
to best cater to home buyer needs and
preferences through individual unit
labelling. This is the source of the newly
adopted American ENERGY STAR for
mid-rise that is being piloted in Ontario.
There is also the accompanying
ANSI 380 standard (referenced in ANSI
301) for testing airtightness of building
enclosures, which addresses multi-
family unit compartmentalization
through blower-door testing and proto­
cols. Air testing units under ANSI 380
in a missing-middle type residential
unit is relatively straightforward with
a single blower door, whereas high-rise
buildings experience large pressure
differentials between lower and upper
floors, making it difficult to determine
air leakage rates.
ANSI 301 enables energy ratings to
be performed and evaluated on multi-
family units as opposed to an entire
building, which makes this approach
well tailored for projects such as all the
variants of stacked and back-to-back
townhouses.
With the original OBC dating back
to 1975, and housing types changing
a great deal since then to deliver more
compact, transit-oriented development
and greater housing affordability, this
is the time to look at how these gentle-
density types may be more efficiently
and effectively designed and energy
modelled. It’s time to take a hard look
at what can be done to help home
buyers, municipalities and builders. BB
Paul De Berardis is
RESCON’s director of
building science and
innovation. Email him at
deberardis@rescon.com.
23
Mid-rise buildings
should be treated like
low-rise ones … they
have more in common
with ground-related
housing types than
with a high-rise tower.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201924
buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
S
ome say that you can’t learn
new skills in your thirties.
North Star Homes, for one, is
debunking that myth.
The two-time Toronto Homebuild­er
of the Year turns 30 next year, but by
winning the award for the Lowest
HERS Index Score by a Canadian
mid-size production builder with a
score of 36 (while averaging 43 across
a 30-home development), North
Star has proved that it’s definitely
continuing to accrue new skills.
“Our aim was to achieve a
signature efficient community, to
surpass the municipal approval
requirements,” says project manager
Tony Priori. “This award shows that
North Star continues to differentiate
its product from neighbouring
competition,” he adds.
The Rivau 4203 model in the Chateau
Collection in Richmond Hill bagged
North Star this honour, thanks to a bevy
of energy-efficient features, including:
roofs with R-60 insulation in the attics;
ready-for-future solar panels; triple-
glazed low-e vinyl casement windows;
and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV)
unit and 96% high-efficiency forced
air gas furnace with electronically
commutated motor (ECM).
“We take pride in winning the Cross
Border Builder Challenge as it draws
attention to energy-efficient efforts,”
Priori says. This contest can open new
doors, he adds, given the potential to
spur collaboration with other builders
or even expand markets throughout
North America.
North Star
Driven by Higher Quality
36LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN MID-SIZE BUILDER AWARD
“Our aim was to achieve
a signature efficient
community, to surpass
the municipal approval
requirements.”
Ī
Ī
Ī
Ī
Ī
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201926
This was North Star’s first Cross
Border Builder Challenge award, but
it aligns with the company’s mandate.
“Our specific goals are to keep in line
with industry standards and aim
to excel in energy efficiency,” Priori
says. “By winning this award, it has
demonstrated to our home buyers our
commitment to not only building a
sound home but also our commitment
to building a greener future.”
He says North Star wanted to do a
signature energy-efficient community
to surpass the municipal approval
requirements and to distinguish the
project from others nearby.
One of the 20-employee, Concord-
based company’s stated goals is to
innovate. That’s why it uses energy-
efficiency modelling with the HERS
method as opposed to a proprietary
method like ENERGY STAR, he says.
“At North Star Homes, we see what
we do as more than construct homes,”
Priori explains. “We build excellence
in quality homes and inspired
communities that help your family
live, grow and thrive.” That’s why
North Star has been recognized by
BILD on multiple occasions, he says.
Obviously, the company’s philo­
sophy on constructing energy-
efficient homes is a big part of this.
“We believe it is important to make
long-lasting buildings with higher
energy efficiency and sustainability,”
Priori says. For example, North Star’s
Pacific Villas project was among the
first in Markham to achieve the LEED
for Homes Silver classification. (For
more on this project, see our Spring
2014 issue.)
Customers are seeking “worry-free
homes” that allow them more time
to engage in leisure activities – so
with that in mind, North Star homes
“require very little maintenance.” For
example, the company uses lifetime
shingles designed to last much longer
than the typical 15-year shingle. In the
award-winning Rivau model, North
Star offered a pre-finished insulated
metal garage door which decreases
future costs and maintenance for
home owners, Priori says.
Priori points out that in addition to
its commitment to providing excellent
customer service, the company
remains dedicated to maintaining
energy efficiency as a top priority in
its homes: “With a global push toward
saving our planet, North Star Homes
is committed to building greener
communities and moving toward
energy-efficiency excellence.”
“Working with craftsmen, trades
and a hardworking staff who are
dedicated to the home owner is
what makes North Star special,” says
president Frank Dodaro. “Builders
must understand what buyers are
looking for and deliver a high-quality
home at a good price.” BB
Rob Blackstien is a
Toronto-based freelance
writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
With innovation
being one of their
stated goals, North
Star uses energy-
efficient modelling
with the HERS method
as opposed to a
proprietary method
like ENERGY STAR.
Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY (left) presents Tony Priori and Nino Bosco of North Star Homes
(centre) with the award for Lowest HERS Index Score by a Canadian Mid-Size Production Builder,
flanked by energy rater Moti Markizano (right).
Better Builder Magazine, Issue 30 / Summer 2019
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20192828
buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN
F
or six years now, the RESNET
Cross Border Builder Challenge
has been a friendly competition
between American and Canadian
home builders to determine just how
energy efficient they can get.
This year’s challenge, which
culminated in an awards conference
held in New Orleans this past
February, highlighted some of the
most energy-efficient houses being
built in the United States and Canada,
measured using the HERS Index.
But it was also an educational
and networking experience, says
Tim Campanale, whose company,
Campanale Homes, won the Net
Zero Canadian Builder Award with
a HERS Index score of 0. “The point
of attending is to learn from others
about their better building practices,
to see how others in the industry are
doing things,” he says. “You usually
come away with some good ideas to
try on your homes.”
He’s in a good position to share
as well. The winning model home
is what the company uses to help
potential buyers see what’s available
in energy-efficient upgrades. “You can
talk all you want about thicker wall
sheathing and ERVs (energy recovery
ventilators), but most people don’t get
it until they see it.”
Creating the model home was a
lengthy process of negotiation with
many partners whose products
they admired. “When we found a
green product that was really cool,
we’d research the manufacturer,
then approach them to partner on
the model,” says Campanale, who
manages contracts and estimating for
the family business.
They partnered with Building
Products Canada (BPC) for the R-5
exterior sheathing (R-5 XP), which
is non-toxic and breathable, which
means it’s healthy in addition to being
more energy efficient.
Switch Energy supplied the home’s
solar panels – which are the best pro­
ducer of electricity and the best way to
get net zero now, Campanale explains.
But what made Switch stand out from
all the other suppliers of the same
products was their customer service.
The Greyter Water System in the
Campanale Homes
Achieving True Net Zero
0
2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60
NET ZERO AWARD
From left to right: Franklin Menendez (HERS rater), Tim Campanale, Tony Campanale and
Christian Campanale of Campanale Homes, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY Energy Inc.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
home saves big on annual water bills.
The system works in tandem with an
Uponor Logic plumbing system that
supplies the piping for Greyter – their
smaller pipes run through a manifold
system to deliver hot water 45% faster.
Ecobee’s smart, web-based
thermostat saves energy when no
one is home. Leviton provided the
40-amp electric vehicle (EV) charger.
EnerCare supplied several energy-
efficiency appliances. The HVAC
system also has an upgraded energy
recovery ventilator (ERV) which is
84% efficient, and an air conditioner
heat pump that reverses itself to
provide supplemental heat during fall
and spring with off-peak electricity.
Although the model is the gold
standard of what’s achievable for
energy efficiency, Campanale’s
standard homes still offer a minimum
of 10% better than code. But he also
points out that they offer packages
20% better than code on most of
their homes. This is what Campanale
Homes calls its 20/20 vision home.
Their 20/30 vision home could be Net
Zero and happens through upgrade
packages that include solar power and
greywater. “It’s about future proofing
your house now, so the house you
have today will meet code and save
money for the years to come.” Even if
home owners can’t put things in place
right away, the company has built in
supports to facilitate for those later
improvements – like trusses designed
to take solar panels and a conduit up
to the roof.
Efficiency makes good money
sense, especially with utility prices
going up all the time. Hydro prices
will increase 25% over the next two
years, when the Fair Hydro Plan
ends in 2021 and the 25% artificially
deflated prices are added back in.
“The Cross Border Builder Chal­
lenge is great for encouraging other
builders to head in the right direction.
Hydro prices keep going up. And there
are other environmental realities,”
Campanale says. “If we can get more
builders purchasing these products, it
brings the price down for everyone.”
If only “appraisers and banks would
recognize the lower operating costs
associated with a low HERS score,” he
adds, “more home buyers could afford
energy efficiency, and the industry
would be motivated to raise their
building standards across [all their
developments] because it would be
more affordable.”
HERS is now recognized in the US
for appraising and measuring a home’s
energy performance – but in Canada,
the banks only recognize government-
run programs that will result in energy
savings for mortgage insurance rebates.
Campanale says that one of the
speakers at the RESNET conference
described how “she managed to work
out something in the States, and wrote
a number of appraisal directives for it.”
He adds: “I’d like to look at applying it
here, because it’s a serious challenge in
Canada. Builders have to team up and
work together on initiatives like this
with financial institutions.” BB
Alex Newman is a writer,
editor and researcher at
alexnewmanwriter.com.
29
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20193030
winning anything here; it was simply
a reward for doing things the right
way. “We are pleased that the building
technology in the discovery house has
been recognized in such a way, but the
Innovation Award was a by-product of
the building technology in the home,”
explains Joe Laronga, Rosehaven’s
architecture and engineering manager.
Having also won a Cross Border
Builder Challenge award in 2016,
Rosehaven has definitely bought in on
the value of this competition. “I think
it is a good idea,” Laronga says. “It is
a platform that inspires people and
organizations to participate, innovate,
lead and share ideas.”
Rosehaven owner Marco Guglietti
was equally thrilled to earn another
honour. “It is very satisfying to
receive an award in recognition of
the discovery house initiative,” he
said. “Winning the award was not
the goal, but rather the initiative was
undertaken to effect change.”
Change is exactly what Rosehaven
did effect with its discovery home.
East Gwillimbury had a very prescrip­
tive building initiative called the
Sustainable Development Incentive
Program (SDIP), which limited build­
ers to using ENERGY STAR methods.
The Rosehaven discovery home was
specifically built to prove that other
building rating methods (in this
instance, HERS) could be employed to
achieve the same – or better – results.
Mayor Virginia Hackson was so
impressed with what Rosehaven was
able to accomplish that the town
modified the program requirements.
“We are very pleased that the Town of
East Gwillimbury has recognized that
technology is always evolving, and as
such, its SDIP should become a more
flexible document,” Laronga says.
The town has now updated the lan­
guage and specific requirements in its
R
osehaven Homes knows a thing
or two about innovating. In
fact, you could say it’s one of
its raisons d’être. And if the Oakville,
Ontario-based builder happens to
win some awards along the way, that’s
merely gravy.
Still, given this company’s track
record of innovation, they may want
to invest in a larger trophy case.
You can now add the Enbridge
Innovation Award to Rosehaven’s list
of achievements, as the company’s
Total Water Solution – a unique
technology featuring contributions
from several different companies –
was recognized.
Of course, keen readers of these
pages will recall that we dissected
the Total Water Solution in the winter
2018 issue. It took a group effort to
create this North American first,
a system consisting of: Phyn flow
monitor; drain water heat recovery
system; Greywater recycling system;
Uponor Logic plumbing; Radiant
dual-purpose condensing hot water
and air handler; air conditioner heat
pump; and energy recovery ventilator.
The Total Water Solution, combined
with several other energy-efficient
technologies in this East Gwillimbury,
Ontario-based discovery home, will
provide the home owner with an
estimated $510 savings in utility costs
per year based on reduced consump­
tion of natural gas, space heating, hot
water heating and domestic water
use. It’s yet another example of how
“Rosehaven will always strive to be an
innovative builder and industry
leader,” Laronga says.
Rosehaven didn’t have designs on
buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN
Rosehaven Homes
Inspired to Innovate
41
INNOVATION AWARD
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
program, and Rosehaven is grateful for the flexibility. “We
appreciate the town’s participation and are thankful that it
embraces and values change as much as we do,” he added. 
Most recently, in an effort to offer more affordable
housing, he says the company is venturing into higher-
density forms: 233 units in Grimsby in the form of a
20-storey tower and townhomes; a 14-storey tower in
downtown Hamilton; and Rosehaven’s first six-storey
wood frame building, totalling 175 units, in Burlington.
Later this year, a 98-townhouse project in Brampton will
be launched.
Rosehaven’s results in East Gwillimbury have even
inspired a similar challenge south of the border. At the
Sustainable Housing Foundation dinner in March, Mayor
Hackson issued a challenge to Brett Lee, the mayor of
Davis, California, to match the level of sustainability
achieved in Rosehaven’s award-winning discovery
home. In April, John Godden personally delivered this
challenge in the council chambers to Mayor Lee in a
public meeting: “In the spirit of the Cross Border Builder
Challenge, the Town of East Gwillimbury would like to
extend a friendly challenge to the City of Davis, California,
to promote the construction of energy-efficient, durable
and water-conserving homes in their municipality.”
Mayor Lee accepted the challenge, and a builder
in the audience stepped up to start planning to build
the demonstration home. Stay tuned for further
developments. BB
Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based
freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca
31
SILVERBOARD®
ROOF/CEILING:
TAPED AND SEALED
TO ACT AS VAPOR
BARRIER
SILVERBOARD® GRAPHITE
EXTERIOR ABOVE GRADE:
TAPED TO ACT AS A“SECOND
PLANE OF PROTECTION”AND
PROVIDE CONTINUOUS
INSULATION
MASONRY VENEER
SIDING
SILVERBOARD®
UNDERSLAB:
TAPED AND SEALED TO
ACT AS VAPOR BARRIER
SILVERBOARD® GRAPHITE
INTERIOR BELOW GRADE:
DECOUPLE WOOD STUD
WALL FROM CONCRETESILVERBOARD®
EXTERIOR BELOW GRADE:
MAINTAINS CONTINUOUS
INSULATION
Mayor Virginia Hackson (left) presents the Enbridge Innovation
Award to Rosehaven’s Joe Laronga, Mary Jafarpour and Nick
Sanci for their Discovery Home grey water recycling and
combination hybrid heat systems.
BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20193232
fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY
E
very spring, the top residential
building experts in Canada
(and some from the USA) gather
together to discuss the latest in
advanced building science and best
practices for more energy efficient
and resilient construction. As a
regular participant, I always look
forward to seeing old friends and
meeting new ones. Hosted by Gord
Cooke, Andy Oding and Tex McLeod,
this year’s Spring Training Camp was
one of the best sessions ever.
Over two days, a number of
speakers and panelists shared their
thoughts on how we might continue
to improve our industry. Our very
first speaker was Gene Myers, the
CEO of Thrive Home Builders (based
in Denver, Colorado). Both Gord and
Andy had given me the heads-up
that it was going to be a very special
presentation, so I was ready to listen
and hoping it would be as good
as promised. Gene told us how he
survived the Great Recession and
rebranded his company as Thrive. It
was a fascinating story from a great
storyteller – Gene managed to have
us laugh, cry and think about where
we are going as an industry and as
humanity, often in a single anecdote.
Gene’s presentation was titled
“Scaling Up High-Performance
Home Building.” As I listened, I was
enthralled by his story of how Thrive
had weathered the recession and
how it had forced them to completely
rethink their brand, their product and
their philosophy. For me, it was also
a validation, as I recognized a more
fully developed version of what I have
aspired to for Doug Tarry Homes.
What I appreciated, as a great
leap of faith, was his recognition that
high-performance home building was
not just about building his homes to a
higher standard of quality or energy
efficiency than the competition – it was
about ensuring that his employees were
fully engaged and empowered, and that
his trades became a part of their team.
According to Gene, Thrive decided
that in order for them to prosper in a
market dominated by large national
builders, they needed to carve out
a unique niche for their identity.
Specifically, they needed to be the
builder who builds the healthiest, most
energy-efficient homes. And they knew
that they had to exploit their local
advantage over the larger competitors.
These are all cornerstones of the Doug
Tarry Homes philosophy as well, but
Thrive has taken it up a couple of
notches. For example, in Colorado,
the forests are being devastated by the
pine beetle. Thrive has turned this
to their advantage by becoming the
largest builder user of dead pine trees
for their construction, which speaks to
their home buyers.
Thrive are also disciples of the lean
construction movement. The constant
drive to eliminate waste, time and
unnecessary trips to the job site is
something we have also embraced.
They have also set up a trade council
to have continual feedback on how
to improve their work environment
for the company, its employees and
the trades. Again, I kept noting the
similarities between our companies.
And then Gene flipped the script on
everybody. We all talk about employee
buy-in and the need for training. Some
companies do it better than others,
and this has been a major area of effort
within Doug Tarry Homes over the last
few years. But I was floored by Thrive’s
employee empowerment and how
Gene got everybody in the company
on the same page. In a completely
game-changing move, the Thrive staff
literally wrote a one-page business
plan together, all of them. Then, the
staff were all trained how to read the
balance sheet and income statement
for the company, so that everyone
understands the financial updates,
both good and bad.
Later that night, I had the oppor­
tunity to speak with Gene at length
and enjoyed his openness, kindness
and insights. It was another wonderful
example of peers helping each other to
improve our industry.
There was so much more to the
presentation and to the overall Spring
Training Camp session this year.
Just like every year, it’s like drinking
through a fire hose. If you haven’t
attended Spring Training Camp, you
might want to check it out. You never
know what you might learn to give you
a leg up on your competition. BB
Doug Tarry Jr is director
of marketing at Doug
Tarry Homes in St.
Thomas, Ontario. 
Learning How to Thrive
in a Climate Change World
It was another example of
peers helping each other
to improve our industry.
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
Better Builder Magazine, Issue 30 / Summer 2019

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 30 / Summer 2019

  • 1. PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 INSIDE Canadian Builders Up for the Challenge Once Again ICON of Sustainability Asking the Right Questions Rethinking Threshold Standards Thrive in a Changing World Simply theBestMEET THE WINNERS OF THE 2019 CROSS BORDER BUILDER CHALLENGE ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
  • 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 30 | SUMMER 2019 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Doing Our Best for the Harvest by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 It’s Time to Ask the Right Questions about Climate Change and Housing by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 Spring Training Camp Inspiration with Gene Myers by Gord Cooke BUILDER NEWS 8 Canadian Builders: Empire Ahead of the Curve by Rob Blackstien BUILDER NEWS 12 Royalpark Powers On by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 15 6th Annual Cross Border Challenge Dinner SPECIAL INTEREST 22 Rethinking the Three-Storey Threshold for Part 9 Homes by Paul De Berardis BUILDER NEWS 24 North Star: Driven by Higher Quality by Rob Blackstien BUILDER NEWS 28 Campanale Homes: Achieving True Net Zero by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 30 Rosehaven Homes: Inspired to Innovate by Rob Blackstien FROM THE GROUND UP 32 Learning How to Thrive in a Climate Change World by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 ICON Understands the True Nature of Sustainability by Rob Blackstien 24 ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 On our cover: Stephen Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON Homes; Kevin Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON Homes; Kevin Watt, Vice President Construction, ICON Homes. Photographed by John Godden. Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 3 12
  • 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20192 PUBLISHER Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695 sales@betterbuilder.ca Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of PUBLISHING EDITOR John B. Godden MANAGING EDITOR Wendy Shami editorial@betterbuilder.ca To advertise, contribute a story, or join our distribution list, please contact editorial@betterbuilder.ca FEATURE WRITERS Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman PROOFREADING Carmen Siu CREATIVE Wallflower Design www.wallflowerdesign.com This magazine brings together premium product manufacturers and leading builders to create better, differentiated homes and buildings that use less energy, save water and reduce our impact on the environment. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 Copyright by Better Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the authors and assumed to be original work. Better Builder Magazine cannot be held liable for any damage as a result of publishing such works. TRADEMARK DISCLAIMER All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. UNDELIVERABLE MAIL Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 Better Builder Magazine is published four times a year. “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” — Og Mandino W hat do builders and farmers have in common? Both face the uncertainty of extreme weather, government policy and market fluctuations of supply and demand. Until recently, the harvest in the housing market has been plentiful, but the skilled labourers have been few. But this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge brought us the cream of the crop. The challenge is a friendly annual competition between American and Canadian home builders to determine just how energy efficient builders can build. The rule is simple: the lowest Home Energy Rating System (HERS)/Energy Rating Index (ERI) score wins. There are six categories for Canadian builders, with awards sponsored by Enbridge, Building Products of Canada, Icynene and RenewABILITY. This issue features each of the winners: Empire Communities, Royalpark Homes, North Star Homes, Campanale Homes and Rosehaven Homes (page 8). These awards were presented at the Sustainable Housing Foundation dinner on March 21, 2019 in Toronto. The mayor of East Gwillimbury, the Honourable Virginia Hackson, also publicly challenged the City of Davis, California to build a home comparable to Rosehaven’s winning discovery home. Davis’ mayor has since accepted. It is notable that all are graduates of Enbridge’s Savings by Design (SBD) program, which incentivizes builders to achieve 15% better performance than the 2017 Ontario Building Code. When we wish to grade Canadian-built homes to American-built ones as we do in the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the ERI is a standards-based approach to determine the lowest score of energy performance. In Ontario, under SB-12 2017, a package A1 reference house scores an ERI or HERS 53 and exceeds the International Efficiency Conservation Code (IECC) requirement of 54. The newly published ASHRAE 90.2, Energy-efficient Design of Low-rise Residential Buildings, seeks to deliver 50% more efficiency than the IECC 2006. The document employs site-to-source and neutral-cost points through a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for all weather zones in North America. The chart on page 9 indicates a HERS 46 for Ontario. This year’s harvest of Cross Border Builder Challenge winners surpassed that benchmark. We also feature ICON Homes, an ambitious builder, graduate of SBD and the first builder to use the ANSI 301 standard to individually model units in a mid-rise building, on page 16. Lou Bada examines the need to get the right people and information together to harvest the green economy, such as in the ASHRAE 90.2 standard (page 3). Beyond the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the international theme continues with Gord Cooke sharing lessons from the sixth annual Building Science Spring Training Camp, featuring expert presenters from Canada and the U.S. (page 5). From the same event, Doug Tarry shares the wisdom of Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders from Denver, Colorado (page 32). As with any endeavour – from farming to home building – planting employee buy-in is key for growth. Environmental stewardship and sustainable home building have been described as tending a garden, and I am in great debt to all who work with me to tend the fields through this magazine, the Sustainable Housing Foundation, CRESNET and Clearsphere. Together, we’ve learned that the three most important ingredients for having a successful harvest are clear thinking, hard work and a sense of humour – after all, as E.B. White said, “A good farmer is nothing more nor less than a handyman with a sense of humus.” BB Doing Our Best for the Harvest publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  • 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 M uch ink has been spilled on these pages about how our industry can become more sustainable in our building practices: we often discuss which product, process or program is best to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and possibly help the environment. But I wonder sometimes if we are asking the right questions, given today’s realities. I wrote a while ago that the most important question we ask ourselves – before we get to the “how” of solving a problem – is the “why.” Some may say that we’re causing the planet to burn, so we’d better start fixing it! They might even take it a step further, saying that we should be leaders in the battle against climate change. I’d like to respond to these commonly heard sentiments. Firstly, I’m not a climate change denier with some heartless capitalist agenda at work here. I believe in the science that points to man-made climate change, and that action needs to be taken. I also believe that the strides we’ve made towards energy efficiency and improvements in our buildings are not entirely misguided. We have achieved much in creating more efficient new homes. This leads me to some questions: Is it possible that we are now at the limit of what makes the most sense? For example, are we getting ahead of ourselves by rabidly pursuing net zero or near zero homes today? Should we try to limit housing choice and only produce dense forms of housing? Should everyone be compelled to take public transit or buy electric cars? Can we modify human behaviour by regulating and taxing everything that moves? It is tragic whenever there is some weather-related catastrophe in the world that causes unimaginable pain and suffering. On the other hand, when people tear up and exclaim that we have a “climate emergency in Canada,” I pause and reflect on what is being said. When these same people declare that Canada should be doing everything it possibly can to stop climate change, I ask them, “Can Canada actually stop climate change, and at what cost?” It’s clear that Canada could go back to pre-industrial levels of CO2 emissions and it wouldn’t make one lick of difference if the big emitters on the planet don’t change. While we should do our part, can we truly be the leaders in fighting climate change? Should we commit economic hara-kiri to show the world how serious we are? Why? According to a Globe and Mail article from May 10, 2019, the City of Toronto spent six years and $2.6 million for 380 bike storage spaces in an underground lot at Toronto City Hall. So we have people living on the streets while our bikes stay warm and dry. Many social activists would rightly say we should attend to both biking infrastructure and homelessness. In a perfect world, I would agree. Overstating the obvious: economics matter. That is not to say we should be putting profits over people and the environment (they are not mutually exclusive). Economics is a social construct based on the 3 It’s Time to Ask the Right Questions about Climate Change and Housing thebadatest / LOU BADA If we’re looking to build a green economy, then bring in the scientists, economists and business people, and leave irrational policies and interventions behind. RA2STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK
  • 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20194 scarcity of resources. Fortunately, economics is not a zero-sum game. Benefits accrue from growth through increasing productivity and innovation. In Canada’s short history, we have derived many social benefits from our vibrant economy. This leads me to more questions: are we searching for evidence-based policy or policy-based evidence? If it is the former, then where are the best areas to spend our limited resources? Do we invest in adaptation for existing homes and infrastructure, or do we keep adding costs to new housing for negligible benefits while pushing people to the margins? Tax payers and consumers are one and the same. Home ownership has become an unattainable dream for the next generation, and inadequate housing is becoming a social ailment. Misguided land use and housing policy in the name of environmental stewardship is part of the problem. Blaming “greedy” developers and businesses is over-simplistic and will not produce any meaningful results. We need to leave any notions of class warfare behind. If we’re looking to build a green economy, then let’s bring in the scientists, economists and business people, and let’s leave irrational policies and interventions behind. I understand that some politics, businesses and special interests will always exist to undermine rational thought, but I believe the status quo is insufficient. As imperfect as we are, there is too much at stake here to not ask the right questions. 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 This leads me to more questions: are we searching for evidence-based policy or policy- based evidence? 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.
  • 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 This year, there were over 20 presentations and discussions (including the fast-paced and always intriguing Open Mic Night event). The one session that most inspired the 160 builders, energy advisors, researchers, manufacturers and others in attendance was from Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders in Denver, Colorado. I’ve known Gene for about 15 years as one of the early advocates of net zero energy construction in North America. What I, and others at Camp, learned is how Gene leveraged that commitment to zero energy to navigate through the housing crash of 2007 so that Thrive Home Builders came out the other side as a stronger, more profitable company. I suspect builders going through our own current housing slowdown could find inspiration in Gene’s approach as well. In our very first segment, Gene outlined for us his thought process of becoming the “low-cost producer of high-performance homes,” combining two common business principles that are often at odds. We know that, in times of declining markets and prices, there is heightened interest in lowering or at least optimizing costs. And we intuitively know that the race to the bottom is crowded with those who can’t get there, while our customers stand on the sidelines, waiting for the costs to go even lower. On the other hand, leading marketing advocates would counsel a strategy of defining a compelling, marketable difference to drive interest through periods of low demand. Thrive Home Builders combined these two principles by focusing on a very interesting approach. Gene detailed how they scaled up their high-performance building commitment by “winning the hearts and minds of their own people, their trade partners and their customers – in that order.” With respect to winning the hearts of their employees, Gene cited compelling industry research. The National Association of Home Builders’ 2016 Cost of Doing Business Study showed the average after-tax margin for builders was 3% to 4%. A 2013 Gallup study outlined that, in the US and Canada, only 29% of workers are engaged at work, 54% are not 5 industryexpert / GORD COOKE Spring Training Camp Inspiration Gene Myers shares his journey and secrets of success. R egular readers of this magazine will know that each spring Tex McLeod, Andrew Oding and I host Spring Training Camp: an opportunity for advanced building science topics to be presented, discussed and debated. Afterwards, in the spring edition of this publication, I have an opportunity to highlight what I consider to be the most important aspects of this year’s Camp. Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders inspires at Spring Training Camp.
  • 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20196 engaged at work and a full 18% are actively disengaged at work. Finally, he noted a 2015 Builder Magazine article by John McManus that posed the question “Will a 20-year-old today choose to enter a career that sheds 65% of its workers every 10 years or so?” Gene took these hard facts to his staff and asked them, “Will you help me build a company with the financial strength to overcome all market conditions?” Together, they wrote a one-page business plan that galvanized them in a common cause. The commitment to high-performance, energy-efficient homes was a big part of that. The staff responded well to the performance benchmarking and validation offered by third-party labelling programs. It’s the reason they doubled down on their commitment to delivering 100% Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Homes, 100% of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR for New Homes, WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS labels as well as 100% LEED for Homes. Gene and his 70 staff are fans of labels, and so are his customers. The Thrive staff then took the high- performance challenge to their trade partners. They did a “lean building blitz” with industry leader Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development. Through extensive trade partner interviews, they found over 80 ideas for improvement that saved both Thrive and their trade partners over $5 million. Most amazingly to me, they cut over 45 days from their build cycle time. They have set up a permanent trade council with nine individuals who are tasked to be the voice of all trade partners, with a common goal of ensuring Thrive is the best company to work for in all of Colorado. With great build processes and systems in place, they approached their marketing in much the same systematic way. They looked closely at how their homes could meet the needs of their customers. They focused on a quote from Jacquelyn A. Ottman’s book The New Rules of Green Marketing: “the green consumer revolution has been led by women aged between 30 and 49 with children and better-than- average education. They are motivated by a desire to keep their loved ones free from harm and to secure their future.” This quote resonates with my 30+ years of experience speaking with new home sales agents and home buyers. As an engineer, I used to imagine that home buyers would do the math and figure out the compelling energy savings associated with high- performance homes. Of course, that rarely happens. This quote reminds us that the technical features of high-performance homes have much deeper, more emotional benefits for home buyers. In Thrive’s case, they focused on concepts of credibility, authenticity and honesty for home buyers who, in Ottman’s words, “Seek control, empowerment and peace of mind by knowing she has done all she can for the people she loves.” You can see why third-party labelling continues to be a core value at Thrive; it matches the emotional needs of the buyers Thrive knows will confidently pay more for things they believe offer superior value and performance. Gene concluded his talk by modestly pointing out that the success they have achieved is primarily due to the engagement of his people. He admits that he has a new, less stressful job. Rather than having to solve all the problems and have all the answers, he is now simply the “Catalyst in Chief,” empowering his staff and trade partners to be engaged. It has been amazingly successful. In a market not unlike Toronto in its diversity and relatively high prices, Thrive has become the highest-volume low-cost producer of net zero energy ready homes. At approximately 200 to 250 homes per year, their profits are up and they have received far too many accolades to list here, but I will list two. They were selected as Builder of the Year in 2017 by Professional Builder magazine and have been DOE’s Grand Prize Winner for Housing In a market not unlike Toronto in its diversity and relatively high prices, Thrive has become the highest-volume low-cost producer of net zero energy ready homes.
  • 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 Innovation the last four years in a row. Perhaps just as importantly, Scott Sedam says that, from a process improvement side, “Thrive ‘reported the biggest year-to-year score improvement they have ever seen in 10 years running the survey.’” The mood set by Gene at Spring Training Camp was inspiring to the many builders here in Ontario who are also offering net zero energy homes, but wondering how this strategy fits in with the current softening of sales and the uncertainty of Code changes. To learn more, you are welcome to go to our website to download a copy of Gene’s presentation: buildingknowledge.ca/resources/ spring-camp I would also encourage you to visit Thrive’s website at: thrivehomebuilders.com Better yet, go to the upcoming Energy and Environmental Building Alliance Summit, to be held in Denver from October 1–3. Gene will be there, and I will be pleased to introduce you to him and perhaps tour a couple of his amazing model homes: summit.eeba.org While you are in Denver, come see the new Construction Instruction Ci Live learning centre. We will be holding a special cold climate building science session on November 12–13: constructioninstruction.com/ci-live BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 7 Check out our website at www.gsw-wh.com
  • 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 “We strive to continuously grow and become leaders in the industry, and [we] are committed to doing this by constantly testing and experimenting in order to ensure we build to standards above both ENERGY STAR and [the] Ontario Building Code,” says Paul Golini, co-founder and executive vice president, industry relations. “So, it is always our goal to build the best product possible for our consumers.” The award, Golini says, was simply a by-product of Empire’s efforts to “future proof” all its homes. Empire earned the President’s Award by having the lowest average HERS score (44) across 284 homes. It also bagged an award for the lowest HERS score for a Canadian production builder with a score of 38. Last year, one of the homes in Empire’s discovery home pilot program won the Enbridge Innovation Award. The pilot, located in Empire’s Riverland community in Breslau, Ontario, consisted of five model homes, three of which were built to ENERGY STAR standards while the other two were built to what Empire believes will be the future code, thereby ensuring a higher standard of energy efficiency compared to the existing Ontario Building Code. (See page 23 of the winter 2017 issue for more details on Empire’s discovery homes.) The Hybrid Home (the actual award-winning home) features the latest sustainability innovations, newest insulation materials and experiments in energy efficiency, including solar PV with battery storage. 8 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN Once again, Canadian builders represented the nation brilliantly at this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge, a competition commemorating excellence in energy-efficient home building while promoting the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. In particular, Empire Communities stood out by winning two honours, including the highly coveted President’s Award. Canadian Builders Up for the Challenge Once again, the Great White North proved it can excel at building homes in an energy-efficient manner. The 2019 Cross Border Builder Challenge E mpire Communities could soon get so accustomed to winning awards that it may decide to include red carpeting in all its homes. After taking home two Cross Border Builder Challenge awards for the second straight year, this company is truly manifesting its goals. Empire Communities Ahead of the Curve
  • 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 Golini says this home produces two metric tonnes less CO2 than its Code counterpart. What Empire learned from these homes was paramount in it being able to win the 2019 awards. Having won multiple Cross Border Builder Challenge awards, Empire is clearly a believer in the initiative. The awards are “a great way to motivate our industry to be better and to build more energy-efficient practices in our homes,” Golini says. “Sustainable construction and energy efficiency have long been part of our building culture,” but the friendly competition is “a great way to ensure that we as an industry are staying on top of latest green building technologies and striving to reduce our carbon footprint.” Given that “one of our main goals at Empire has always been to stay ahead of the curve by being leaders in sustainable building practices,” participation in the Cross Border Builder Challenge is a natural fit. “Competitions like this help immensely by allowing us to work with other for­ ward-thinkers and challenge ourselves with each home we build,” he adds. Having turned 25 last year, Empire is one of the largest home builders in North America, with current communities in Toronto, southwestern Ontario and the southern US. The 450-plus employee company has built over 15,000 new homes and condos in its history. 38 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 44 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 PRESIDENT’S AWARD AND LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN PRODUCTION BUILDER AWARD 90.2 COMPLIANCE ERI SCORES BY CLIMATE ZONE CLIMATE ERI SCORE ZONE 1 43 ZONE 2 45 ZONE 3 47 ZONE 4 47 ZONE 5 47 ZONE 6 46 ZONE 7 46 ZONE 8 45 9 IN ONTARIO, LOW CARBON HOMES ARE ERI/HERS 46
  • 12. • 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:
  • 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 Empire continues to grow, last year re-entering the high-rise market in Toronto with a pair of condo towers while also expanding into Texas with projects in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Golini says 2019 “is going to be another big one for us.” Empire recently announced its debut into the Atlanta market and will soon be launching two more high-rise condos in Toronto. A new collection of home designs for low-rise communities was also announced, which includes redesigned floorplans “with today’s home buyer in mind,” as well as modern architectural details and updated interior features. “We want to make sure home buyers have everything they need to fit their growing lifestyle, and with technologies and standards constantly changing and improving, we need to make sure to stay ahead of the trend,” he adds. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 11 Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY Energy Inc. (left) and John Godden (right) present Steve Doty of Empire Communities with the President’s Award. 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
  • 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201912 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN The friendly competition between American and Canadian home builders highlights the ways that builders are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint. As Royalpark president Marco De Simone puts it, the competition is concrete proof that “we’re good builders, that it’s real and not just talk, and it also confirms the brand we’ve carved for ourselves of being very green conscious.” For Simcoe Shores, Royalpark part­ nered with Panasonic in 2015 to install solar panels and storage batteries in all nine of the site’s homes. With the project completed in 2018 and home owners moved in, it became clear that this package not only ensures good delivery of electricity – a sometimes iffy proposition in rural areas like cottage country – but also assures home owners they can save money on the system by sending electricity back to the grid. Panasonic’s sterling reputation drew De Simone into the partnership in the first place. “We don’t take on things because they’re trendy – they have to function well and cut energy costs. As a builder, I have to stand behind my product, and for this I know Panasonic has done the research and testing, and it will run the way they claim it’s running.” Royalpark Powers On Builder’s Winning Community Balances Efficiency with Value A nother winner in this year’s RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge was Ontario’s Royalpark Homes. As one of an elite group of builders competing for the coveted awards for energy efficiency, the company’s long-standing green commitment has resulted in achieving a HERS score of 26 throughout their Simcoe Shores project in Barrie, Ontario. The good news for other builders is that these ideas are easily adapted to just about any housing development. 28 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN CUSTOM BUILDER AWARD John Godden (left) presents the award for the Lowest HERS Score for Custom Production Builder to Domenic La Neve and Joe Dilecce of Royalpark Homes.
  • 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201914 The package included a battery powered by Panasonic, lithium ion battery cells, solar PV panels, an inverter and a user-friendly monitoring system. It allows home­ owners to collect energy for later use. But solar panels and battery stor­ age are only half of the equation, De Simone adds. Aptly named PowerHaus, the homes come with a better building envelope and feature a wall system that’s been rated the most efficient in Ontario by a study undertaken by Ryerson University. The homes also boast air conditioning, programmable thermostat, drain water heat recovery, R-50 attic insulation, R-31 floor insu­ lation and right-sized, R-24 above- grade walls. All of that adds up to 46% better energy efficiency than the Ontario Building Code. Although slightly more expensive to build, the homes are good value for money. De Simone points out that buyers of luxury, high-end homes expect a few perks. Where other builders might offer design-oriented upgraded amenities, Royalpark remains consistent with its mandate that “energy efficiency be part of the standard package, which lowers utility bills down the road and even makes you money when you sell it back to the utility company,” says De Simone. The builder payoff is big too, espe­ cially with the Cross Border Builder Challenge results. “These homes are like our calling card and proof that this kind of efficiency can be achieved,” De Simone says. “You enter these kinds of events because it gets the name and product out there, shows people that experts recognize good quality work as well on both sides of the border.” The winning project has paved the way for the company’s future developments, like Green Earth Village in East Gwillimbury, Ontario. “We tested this in Barrie with the Simcoe Shores project, but now are looking at the technology for larger communities,” says Doug Skeffington, Royalpark’s director of land development. That’s where Smartflower power enters the picture. While Skeffington says that windmills are “an eyesore, noisy, and take up a lot of land, Smartflower is more efficient and more appealing, so bureaucrats are taking notice of the results,” he says. Given how slow bureaucracy tends to move, Skeffington says that Royalpark has “looked at moving things forward, not by trying to fight the system, but working within the system we have. And so we went with solar technology that we could incorporate into the whole development, creating an opportunity to collect power across the whole community.” Homeowners are sold when they see how much money can be saved down the road with energy efficiency, he says. “We tend to look at affordability in a different way, and pose the question to our buyers: what if that expensive tech makes you money? And it will – you can sell energy back to the utility companies.” But a lot depends on how builders nurture their relationships with the municipality, says De Simone. “Wouldn’t it be a nice world where the carbon footprint is low, and you’re not paying taxes because the community is making you money?” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. L–R: Larry Stock (CEO, Nu-NRG Group), Mike Walters (CAO, LSRCA), Anthony Di Battista (President, SigNature Developments), Erica Kelly (Business Development Manager, CONXCORP), Councillor Scott Crone, Councillor Loralea Carruthers, Andreas Faruki (Partner, Deloitte Canada, hidden), Mark Conroy (President, SmartFlower Solar), [hidden], Jager Bhoohe (CONXCORP), Virginia Hackson (Mayor, Town of East Gwillimbury), Jason Lightfoot (President, CONXCORP), Tiger Ali Singh (Tiger Jeet Singh Foundation), Councillor Cathy Morton, Doug Skeffington (Director, Land Development, Royalpark Homes), Councillor Terry Foster, Brad Rogers (Principal, Groundswell Urban Planners), and Patrick Carew (President, Nu-NRG Group). SMARTFLOWER BLOOMS
  • 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF 1 On March 21, 2019 the SHF hosted the 6th Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner. The evening started with a trade show featuring premium products from Amvic, Airia Brands, A.O. Smith, BP Canada, Dow, Icynene, Power-Pipe, ROCKWOOL™ , Ventilation Maximum, and iGEN Technologies. 2 The VIPs of the evening were the winning builders of the Cross Border Builder Challenge, honoured for their accomplishments in building low- carbon, high-performance homes. 3 The Honourable Virginia Hackson, keynote speaker, presents the Enbridge Innovation Award to Rosehaven Homes. 4 Bridging the Gap panel discussion. On the left, builders Joe Laronga, Kevin Watt, and Anthony Martelli. On the right and representing municipalities, Leo Grellette (CBO East Gwillimbury), Jeremy Bender (Supervisor, Building Permits, City of Pickering) and Kyle Bentley (Director of Buildings and Planning, City of Pickering). 5 Lucky draw for an iGEN Integrated Combo Heating System presented by Michael Chatzigrigoriou, Co-founder and CEO of iGEN Technologies, and John Godden. And the winner is … Jeremy Bender! BB 1 2 3 6th Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner 15 54
  • 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 ICON Understands the featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
  • 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 17 A s ICON Homes prepares to celebrate its 30th birthday next year, it has reached an age when it realizes that profits are not the be-all and end-all of home building. Sometimes, it’s more important to do something simply because it’s the right thing to do. This mentality surely played a role in the North York-based company winning the Civic Award for Sustainability from the City of Picker­ ing in May. The city has made sustainability a long-standing priority, and it has been honour­ ing leaders in this regard for nearly two decades. “Through its annual Civic Awards, the city has recognized leaders in sustainability since 2007, and six years prior to that within an environmental category,” says Chantal Whitaker, Pickering’s Supervisor of Sustainability. “Sustainability is one of our corporate priorities, and we continue to pursue initiatives and partnerships that help balance our social, environmental and economic goals. With partners like ICON Homes, we are able to take meaningful strides toward a more sustainable future, creating a healthy community for generations to come,” she adds. When ICON changed plans on Market District (its four-storey stacked townhouse development featuring 92 units) to add more energy-efficient features (such as more efficient windows, upgraded mechanical systems and insulation), it wasn’t because the company needed to do so to meet municipal approvals or increase sales. In fact, the changes were enacted after all the homes were already sold. Clearly, ICON simply wanted to offer more sustainable housing. “Pickering recognized that we were doing that,” says Kevin Watt, vice president of construction and one of three members of ICON’s leadership team (along with Kevin Brown and Stephen Brown). True Nature of Sustainability ICONHOMES/GLADSTONEMEDIA
  • 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 “One of the attributes that makes this development remarkable is that, despite the fact they had building permits issued in October 2018 and already sold the units, they decided to pause and re-examine how the townhomes could be constructed in a more sustainable manner,” says Kyle Bentley, director of city development and chief building official for Pickering. Even though this initiative would require extra effort and time for both staff and trades, as well as increased expenses and more difficulty, ICON proceeded. Forty-two of the units were enhanced with a goal of increasing comfort, providing uniform temperatures throughout, improving air quality, reducing noise (by including triple-glazed windows) and decreasing heating/cooling costs – all done at no added expense to the home owners. Among the energy- efficient features added to these homes were improved Lifebreath heat recovery ventilators (sensible recovery efficiency [SRE] of 75%), Radiant combo heating with Eco Smart high-velocity air handlers, an exterior expanded polystyrene (EPS) system (R-8 was added to the exterior walls) and R-31 foam in the roof cavities. All told, 18.2% less energy is used in the enhanced models when compared to Code requirements. Stacks are a sweet spot for ICON, and one of its main differentiators, Watt says. Very similar to the new six- storey wood frame form factor, stacks are something many builders don’t really want to tackle, he says, because “it’s a tough product to build – but we feel it is a product we have mastered.” Watt explains that because it’s somewhat of a new sector, neither high-rise nor detached home builders 18 really specialize in it. “That’s one of the things we pride ourselves in – knowing how to do things very efficiently and effectively. It is the day-to-day involvement of myself, Kevin and Steve that allows us to be successful with this product. You’re going to see more and more stacked product called for in development, and a lot of guys are shying away from it while we’re eager to actually do it,” Watt says. With density by-laws tightening, you can expect stacks to increase in popularity, positioning ICON well going forward. For a builder this size, ICON is pretty prolific, churning out around 100 houses per year. The company has just rolled out its ICare program, which provides a proactive approach to meet its customers’ needs before, during and after move in. The three-pillared program consists of: A commitment to communication ICON provides streamlined communication with all of their clients to better the home buying experience from point of sale to after move in. Each home buyer receives a dedicated ICON ambassador to create a strong buyer-builder relationship. Exceptional building quality ICON is committed to building quality homes that exceed the expectations of local building codes. Their quality craftsmanship and construction methods include the implementation of home details that add long-term value for their customers. A long-standing pledge of consistent service ICON is dedicated to providing a positive home buying experience. They recognize that their reputation is built on happy home owners and strive to provide consistent, reliable service to all of their customers. Next up for ICON is Forest District, a 108-unit development in Pickering featuring three-storey semis and towns. ICON is really excited by the designs, and Watt says “we think they’re second to none.” This project will include the launch of its smart home technology, part of the ICare program. ICON is partnering with Enercare on this initiative. Forest District will be built adjacent to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority ravine lands, and ICON has been involved in restoring these lands to their natural environment. From left: Stephen Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON Homes; Chantal Whitaker, Supervisor, Sustainability, City of Pickering; Mayor Dave Ryan, City of Pickering; Kevin Watt, Vice President Construction, ICON Homes.
  • 21. ICON Homes thanks you. At ICON Homes we value our partnerships and would like to thank you for helping us build sustainable communities we can all be proud of. Enbridge Guthrie Muscovitch Enercare United Mechanical City of Pickering Ecosmart Region of Durham Radiant Clearsphere Lifebreath Campoli Electric Pollard Windows DMS Upscale Stucco Nelmar Drywall Paul Duffy & Associates Discover our newest community at forestdistrict.ca or visit iconhomes.com to learn more about us.
  • 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201920 This will be the debut project to launch the ICare program before sales (it was introduced at Market District after sales were complete) so the team is very excited by this. It is also anticipated that Forest District will participate in Enbridge’s Savings by Design program. Watt had previous experience with Savings by Design (for more on this program, see the summer 2018 issue). When he joined ICON a year and a half ago, he introduced the Browns to the program and “Kevin and Steve were right on board with it. For them, it was just the right way to go.” In fact, Market District broke new ground by becoming the first stacked townhouse development built under Part 3 with Alternative Solutions to participate in Savings by Design. It used a unit-by-unit approach with Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and ANSI 301-2019 multi-unit standards. This is one reason for their award. Like many truly innovation-driven builders have lamented, ICON is frustrated by its desire to add more energy-efficient solutions relative to what the market will bear. “We feel limited by the competitiveness of the sales market. We would love to do more, but purchasers are not yet wil­ ling to embrace the long-term benefits of improved home efficiency and cost savings. We are currently in the process of designing an optional sustainability package over and above our current program that will be made available on our future projects,” says Kevin Brown. Still, the company’s efforts have not gone unappreciated. “ICON Homes is leading by example,” says Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, “furthering Pickering’s sustainability goals by embedding sustainability into their corporate culture.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 2018 residential builder ad Designs that install faster and connections you can count on with customer care that gives you confidence to advance your business. See how progress is made at uponor.ca. Progress means plumbing systems that conserve water, energy and peace of mind.
  • 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 21 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
  • 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201922 specialinterest / PAUL DE BERARDIS This isn’t a joke – it’s a crazy reality in this province. Quite frankly, a four- storey stacked townhome has more in common with a single, semi or townhouse than it does with a high- rise condo apartment in the sky. And yet, that stacked townhome and the condo unit are both lumped into the same grouping – buildings within the scope of Part 3 of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) follow Supplementary Standard SB-10, “Energy Efficiency Requirements” – to determine how they are designed, modelled and built. Since Part 9 is only applicable to housing and “small” buildings up to three storeys in height and up to 600 square metres in building area, Part 3 applies to any building larger than this. (And why the threshold was set at three storeys is fodder for another Better Builder column…) Certain mid-rise housing types are more similar to low-rise housing, with grade-oriented exterior entry doors, minimal or no common corridors, individual mechanical systems, lower window-to-wall ratios and similar air leakage characteristics. Consider this, for example: accor­ ding to a University of Toronto study on tall buildings, the envelope of a typical residential tower possesses a window-to-wall ratio anywhere between 40% to 90% glazing. Yet the average townhouse block may possess somewhere in the 20% to 30% range of window glazing area. In addition, condo units are typically served by common corridors and centralized heating/cooling systems. Meanwhile, when you model a low-rise townhouse under Part 9 and Supplementary Standard SB-12, “Energy Efficiency for Housing,” you don’t model the entire block – you do it individually by unit. And when you model a condo according to the requirements of SB-10, you model and evaluate the entire building as a whole. Under SB-10, the window-to-wall ratio is calculated on the basis of the whole building (instead of on a living- unit basis), so the party walls are not included in the calculation. This is inconsistent with the window-wall ratio calculation using SB-12 as it does not consider the number of units in the building and the individual unit’s glazing area. There are fundamental differences in the application of SB-10 and SB-12, which place certain gentle-density typologies – such as stacked townhouses – in a grey zone, seemingly caught between the two standards. Clearly, making each of these different housing types energy efficient involves completely different methods and processes. So how can you lump these two in the same group when it comes to making design, construction and spending decisions on energy efficiency, when their mechanical systems and building envelopes are completely different? Or look at it this way: a traditional three-storey townhouse falls under Part 9, while a four-storey stacked townhouse project falls under Part 3. Does this really make sense to anybody, considering this four-storey townhouse will be modelled the same way as a high-rise condo, even though it shares more similarities with a Part 9 home (single, semi, town, laneway)? Speaking rationally, you would hope it would make sense that any form of gentle density – the lowest forms of Rethinking the Three-Storey Threshold for Part 9 Homes H ere’s a conundrum: What do a four-storey stacked townhome and a 50-storey condo in Ontario have in common? The answer: Their energy efficiency is designed and measured the same way. BOVLD/SHUTTERSTOCK
  • 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 mid-rise which currently fall under Part 3 – will one day be modelled similarly to their Part 9 counterparts. The simple answer is this shouldn’t be happening. RESCON suggests that mid-rise wood-frame buildings up to six storeys – including stacked townhouses and back-to- back townhouses – should be covered under Part 9 of the OBC and SB-12 when it comes to energy efficiency. Something must be done for this growing category of housing types, especially as home buyers are looking to live in an alternative from the two extremes (freehold singles and high- rise towers). Meanwhile, builders are trying to market new products and are encouraged by the province’s A Place to Grow growth plan to build new multi-family housing types, making this move all the more important. The OBC has not kept pace with the growing and diverse mix of housing alternatives trying to come to market. But it’s important that we keep innovation in mind so that the OBC can work to facilitate flexibility in the housing market while still maintaining a high-performance level of energy efficiency in Ontario. It’s a category of housing often referred to as “the Missing Middle.” Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area municipalities such as Hamilton, Halton Hills and Whitby are leading the way in the region when it comes to building missing-middle homes, according to a recent report published by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis and the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario. Given the range of what’s covered under Part 3 of the OBC, the parts of the missing-middle housing stock that could fit under Part 3 include stacked townhouses, back-to-back stacked townhouses and even six- storey wood-frame mid-rise condos. That’s where Paul Duffy comes in. He’s an accomplished consulting engineer, current principal of Paul Duffy and Associates Inc. and president of CRESNET. He suggests that mid- rise buildings should be treated like low-rise ones because (you’ve heard this before) they have more in common with ground-related housing types than they do with a high-rise tower. It’s a simple concept, and Ontario and Canada don’t have to look far to see it in action. Just look south of the 49th parallel – our friends in the United States take a more practical approach to energy modelling for mid-rise buildings, like that four-storey stacked townhome we’ve been mentioning. In order to better represent these housing types in energy modelling, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has rolled out the ANSI/ RESNET/ICC 301-2019 standard, which now addresses the calculation and the labelling of the energy performance of multi-family building units. This new standard builds upon the existing ANSI 301-2014 standard, which covers more traditional, low-rise, single- family housing types. The new ANSI 301-2019 standard has been revised to now include these missing-middle/ gentle-density multi-family projects as mid-rise construction is considered more similar to low-rise than high-rise towers. ANSI 301 allows individual rating of units with an Energy Rating Index (ERI) used by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This enables builders to devise their own proprietary marketing platform to best cater to home buyer needs and preferences through individual unit labelling. This is the source of the newly adopted American ENERGY STAR for mid-rise that is being piloted in Ontario. There is also the accompanying ANSI 380 standard (referenced in ANSI 301) for testing airtightness of building enclosures, which addresses multi- family unit compartmentalization through blower-door testing and proto­ cols. Air testing units under ANSI 380 in a missing-middle type residential unit is relatively straightforward with a single blower door, whereas high-rise buildings experience large pressure differentials between lower and upper floors, making it difficult to determine air leakage rates. ANSI 301 enables energy ratings to be performed and evaluated on multi- family units as opposed to an entire building, which makes this approach well tailored for projects such as all the variants of stacked and back-to-back townhouses. With the original OBC dating back to 1975, and housing types changing a great deal since then to deliver more compact, transit-oriented development and greater housing affordability, this is the time to look at how these gentle- density types may be more efficiently and effectively designed and energy modelled. It’s time to take a hard look at what can be done to help home buyers, municipalities and builders. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at deberardis@rescon.com. 23 Mid-rise buildings should be treated like low-rise ones … they have more in common with ground-related housing types than with a high-rise tower.
  • 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201924 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN S ome say that you can’t learn new skills in your thirties. North Star Homes, for one, is debunking that myth. The two-time Toronto Homebuild­er of the Year turns 30 next year, but by winning the award for the Lowest HERS Index Score by a Canadian mid-size production builder with a score of 36 (while averaging 43 across a 30-home development), North Star has proved that it’s definitely continuing to accrue new skills. “Our aim was to achieve a signature efficient community, to surpass the municipal approval requirements,” says project manager Tony Priori. “This award shows that North Star continues to differentiate its product from neighbouring competition,” he adds. The Rivau 4203 model in the Chateau Collection in Richmond Hill bagged North Star this honour, thanks to a bevy of energy-efficient features, including: roofs with R-60 insulation in the attics; ready-for-future solar panels; triple- glazed low-e vinyl casement windows; and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) unit and 96% high-efficiency forced air gas furnace with electronically commutated motor (ECM). “We take pride in winning the Cross Border Builder Challenge as it draws attention to energy-efficient efforts,” Priori says. This contest can open new doors, he adds, given the potential to spur collaboration with other builders or even expand markets throughout North America. North Star Driven by Higher Quality 36LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN MID-SIZE BUILDER AWARD “Our aim was to achieve a signature efficient community, to surpass the municipal approval requirements.”
  • 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201926 This was North Star’s first Cross Border Builder Challenge award, but it aligns with the company’s mandate. “Our specific goals are to keep in line with industry standards and aim to excel in energy efficiency,” Priori says. “By winning this award, it has demonstrated to our home buyers our commitment to not only building a sound home but also our commitment to building a greener future.” He says North Star wanted to do a signature energy-efficient community to surpass the municipal approval requirements and to distinguish the project from others nearby. One of the 20-employee, Concord- based company’s stated goals is to innovate. That’s why it uses energy- efficiency modelling with the HERS method as opposed to a proprietary method like ENERGY STAR, he says. “At North Star Homes, we see what we do as more than construct homes,” Priori explains. “We build excellence in quality homes and inspired communities that help your family live, grow and thrive.” That’s why North Star has been recognized by BILD on multiple occasions, he says. Obviously, the company’s philo­ sophy on constructing energy- efficient homes is a big part of this. “We believe it is important to make long-lasting buildings with higher energy efficiency and sustainability,” Priori says. For example, North Star’s Pacific Villas project was among the first in Markham to achieve the LEED for Homes Silver classification. (For more on this project, see our Spring 2014 issue.) Customers are seeking “worry-free homes” that allow them more time to engage in leisure activities – so with that in mind, North Star homes “require very little maintenance.” For example, the company uses lifetime shingles designed to last much longer than the typical 15-year shingle. In the award-winning Rivau model, North Star offered a pre-finished insulated metal garage door which decreases future costs and maintenance for home owners, Priori says. Priori points out that in addition to its commitment to providing excellent customer service, the company remains dedicated to maintaining energy efficiency as a top priority in its homes: “With a global push toward saving our planet, North Star Homes is committed to building greener communities and moving toward energy-efficiency excellence.” “Working with craftsmen, trades and a hardworking staff who are dedicated to the home owner is what makes North Star special,” says president Frank Dodaro. “Builders must understand what buyers are looking for and deliver a high-quality home at a good price.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca With innovation being one of their stated goals, North Star uses energy- efficient modelling with the HERS method as opposed to a proprietary method like ENERGY STAR. Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY (left) presents Tony Priori and Nino Bosco of North Star Homes (centre) with the award for Lowest HERS Index Score by a Canadian Mid-Size Production Builder, flanked by energy rater Moti Markizano (right).
  • 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20192828 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN F or six years now, the RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge has been a friendly competition between American and Canadian home builders to determine just how energy efficient they can get. This year’s challenge, which culminated in an awards conference held in New Orleans this past February, highlighted some of the most energy-efficient houses being built in the United States and Canada, measured using the HERS Index. But it was also an educational and networking experience, says Tim Campanale, whose company, Campanale Homes, won the Net Zero Canadian Builder Award with a HERS Index score of 0. “The point of attending is to learn from others about their better building practices, to see how others in the industry are doing things,” he says. “You usually come away with some good ideas to try on your homes.” He’s in a good position to share as well. The winning model home is what the company uses to help potential buyers see what’s available in energy-efficient upgrades. “You can talk all you want about thicker wall sheathing and ERVs (energy recovery ventilators), but most people don’t get it until they see it.” Creating the model home was a lengthy process of negotiation with many partners whose products they admired. “When we found a green product that was really cool, we’d research the manufacturer, then approach them to partner on the model,” says Campanale, who manages contracts and estimating for the family business. They partnered with Building Products Canada (BPC) for the R-5 exterior sheathing (R-5 XP), which is non-toxic and breathable, which means it’s healthy in addition to being more energy efficient. Switch Energy supplied the home’s solar panels – which are the best pro­ ducer of electricity and the best way to get net zero now, Campanale explains. But what made Switch stand out from all the other suppliers of the same products was their customer service. The Greyter Water System in the Campanale Homes Achieving True Net Zero 0 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 NET ZERO AWARD From left to right: Franklin Menendez (HERS rater), Tim Campanale, Tony Campanale and Christian Campanale of Campanale Homes, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY Energy Inc.
  • 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 home saves big on annual water bills. The system works in tandem with an Uponor Logic plumbing system that supplies the piping for Greyter – their smaller pipes run through a manifold system to deliver hot water 45% faster. Ecobee’s smart, web-based thermostat saves energy when no one is home. Leviton provided the 40-amp electric vehicle (EV) charger. EnerCare supplied several energy- efficiency appliances. The HVAC system also has an upgraded energy recovery ventilator (ERV) which is 84% efficient, and an air conditioner heat pump that reverses itself to provide supplemental heat during fall and spring with off-peak electricity. Although the model is the gold standard of what’s achievable for energy efficiency, Campanale’s standard homes still offer a minimum of 10% better than code. But he also points out that they offer packages 20% better than code on most of their homes. This is what Campanale Homes calls its 20/20 vision home. Their 20/30 vision home could be Net Zero and happens through upgrade packages that include solar power and greywater. “It’s about future proofing your house now, so the house you have today will meet code and save money for the years to come.” Even if home owners can’t put things in place right away, the company has built in supports to facilitate for those later improvements – like trusses designed to take solar panels and a conduit up to the roof. Efficiency makes good money sense, especially with utility prices going up all the time. Hydro prices will increase 25% over the next two years, when the Fair Hydro Plan ends in 2021 and the 25% artificially deflated prices are added back in. “The Cross Border Builder Chal­ lenge is great for encouraging other builders to head in the right direction. Hydro prices keep going up. And there are other environmental realities,” Campanale says. “If we can get more builders purchasing these products, it brings the price down for everyone.” If only “appraisers and banks would recognize the lower operating costs associated with a low HERS score,” he adds, “more home buyers could afford energy efficiency, and the industry would be motivated to raise their building standards across [all their developments] because it would be more affordable.” HERS is now recognized in the US for appraising and measuring a home’s energy performance – but in Canada, the banks only recognize government- run programs that will result in energy savings for mortgage insurance rebates. Campanale says that one of the speakers at the RESNET conference described how “she managed to work out something in the States, and wrote a number of appraisal directives for it.” He adds: “I’d like to look at applying it here, because it’s a serious challenge in Canada. Builders have to team up and work together on initiatives like this with financial institutions.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at alexnewmanwriter.com. 29
  • 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20193030 winning anything here; it was simply a reward for doing things the right way. “We are pleased that the building technology in the discovery house has been recognized in such a way, but the Innovation Award was a by-product of the building technology in the home,” explains Joe Laronga, Rosehaven’s architecture and engineering manager. Having also won a Cross Border Builder Challenge award in 2016, Rosehaven has definitely bought in on the value of this competition. “I think it is a good idea,” Laronga says. “It is a platform that inspires people and organizations to participate, innovate, lead and share ideas.” Rosehaven owner Marco Guglietti was equally thrilled to earn another honour. “It is very satisfying to receive an award in recognition of the discovery house initiative,” he said. “Winning the award was not the goal, but rather the initiative was undertaken to effect change.” Change is exactly what Rosehaven did effect with its discovery home. East Gwillimbury had a very prescrip­ tive building initiative called the Sustainable Development Incentive Program (SDIP), which limited build­ ers to using ENERGY STAR methods. The Rosehaven discovery home was specifically built to prove that other building rating methods (in this instance, HERS) could be employed to achieve the same – or better – results. Mayor Virginia Hackson was so impressed with what Rosehaven was able to accomplish that the town modified the program requirements. “We are very pleased that the Town of East Gwillimbury has recognized that technology is always evolving, and as such, its SDIP should become a more flexible document,” Laronga says. The town has now updated the lan­ guage and specific requirements in its R osehaven Homes knows a thing or two about innovating. In fact, you could say it’s one of its raisons d’être. And if the Oakville, Ontario-based builder happens to win some awards along the way, that’s merely gravy. Still, given this company’s track record of innovation, they may want to invest in a larger trophy case. You can now add the Enbridge Innovation Award to Rosehaven’s list of achievements, as the company’s Total Water Solution – a unique technology featuring contributions from several different companies – was recognized. Of course, keen readers of these pages will recall that we dissected the Total Water Solution in the winter 2018 issue. It took a group effort to create this North American first, a system consisting of: Phyn flow monitor; drain water heat recovery system; Greywater recycling system; Uponor Logic plumbing; Radiant dual-purpose condensing hot water and air handler; air conditioner heat pump; and energy recovery ventilator. The Total Water Solution, combined with several other energy-efficient technologies in this East Gwillimbury, Ontario-based discovery home, will provide the home owner with an estimated $510 savings in utility costs per year based on reduced consump­ tion of natural gas, space heating, hot water heating and domestic water use. It’s yet another example of how “Rosehaven will always strive to be an innovative builder and industry leader,” Laronga says. Rosehaven didn’t have designs on buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN Rosehaven Homes Inspired to Innovate 41 INNOVATION AWARD
  • 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 program, and Rosehaven is grateful for the flexibility. “We appreciate the town’s participation and are thankful that it embraces and values change as much as we do,” he added.  Most recently, in an effort to offer more affordable housing, he says the company is venturing into higher- density forms: 233 units in Grimsby in the form of a 20-storey tower and townhomes; a 14-storey tower in downtown Hamilton; and Rosehaven’s first six-storey wood frame building, totalling 175 units, in Burlington. Later this year, a 98-townhouse project in Brampton will be launched. Rosehaven’s results in East Gwillimbury have even inspired a similar challenge south of the border. At the Sustainable Housing Foundation dinner in March, Mayor Hackson issued a challenge to Brett Lee, the mayor of Davis, California, to match the level of sustainability achieved in Rosehaven’s award-winning discovery home. In April, John Godden personally delivered this challenge in the council chambers to Mayor Lee in a public meeting: “In the spirit of the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the Town of East Gwillimbury would like to extend a friendly challenge to the City of Davis, California, to promote the construction of energy-efficient, durable and water-conserving homes in their municipality.” Mayor Lee accepted the challenge, and a builder in the audience stepped up to start planning to build the demonstration home. Stay tuned for further developments. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Pen-Ultimate.ca 31 SILVERBOARD® ROOF/CEILING: TAPED AND SEALED TO ACT AS VAPOR BARRIER SILVERBOARD® GRAPHITE EXTERIOR ABOVE GRADE: TAPED TO ACT AS A“SECOND PLANE OF PROTECTION”AND PROVIDE CONTINUOUS INSULATION MASONRY VENEER SIDING SILVERBOARD® UNDERSLAB: TAPED AND SEALED TO ACT AS VAPOR BARRIER SILVERBOARD® GRAPHITE INTERIOR BELOW GRADE: DECOUPLE WOOD STUD WALL FROM CONCRETESILVERBOARD® EXTERIOR BELOW GRADE: MAINTAINS CONTINUOUS INSULATION Mayor Virginia Hackson (left) presents the Enbridge Innovation Award to Rosehaven’s Joe Laronga, Mary Jafarpour and Nick Sanci for their Discovery Home grey water recycling and combination hybrid heat systems.
  • 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20193232 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY E very spring, the top residential building experts in Canada (and some from the USA) gather together to discuss the latest in advanced building science and best practices for more energy efficient and resilient construction. As a regular participant, I always look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Hosted by Gord Cooke, Andy Oding and Tex McLeod, this year’s Spring Training Camp was one of the best sessions ever. Over two days, a number of speakers and panelists shared their thoughts on how we might continue to improve our industry. Our very first speaker was Gene Myers, the CEO of Thrive Home Builders (based in Denver, Colorado). Both Gord and Andy had given me the heads-up that it was going to be a very special presentation, so I was ready to listen and hoping it would be as good as promised. Gene told us how he survived the Great Recession and rebranded his company as Thrive. It was a fascinating story from a great storyteller – Gene managed to have us laugh, cry and think about where we are going as an industry and as humanity, often in a single anecdote. Gene’s presentation was titled “Scaling Up High-Performance Home Building.” As I listened, I was enthralled by his story of how Thrive had weathered the recession and how it had forced them to completely rethink their brand, their product and their philosophy. For me, it was also a validation, as I recognized a more fully developed version of what I have aspired to for Doug Tarry Homes. What I appreciated, as a great leap of faith, was his recognition that high-performance home building was not just about building his homes to a higher standard of quality or energy efficiency than the competition – it was about ensuring that his employees were fully engaged and empowered, and that his trades became a part of their team. According to Gene, Thrive decided that in order for them to prosper in a market dominated by large national builders, they needed to carve out a unique niche for their identity. Specifically, they needed to be the builder who builds the healthiest, most energy-efficient homes. And they knew that they had to exploit their local advantage over the larger competitors. These are all cornerstones of the Doug Tarry Homes philosophy as well, but Thrive has taken it up a couple of notches. For example, in Colorado, the forests are being devastated by the pine beetle. Thrive has turned this to their advantage by becoming the largest builder user of dead pine trees for their construction, which speaks to their home buyers. Thrive are also disciples of the lean construction movement. The constant drive to eliminate waste, time and unnecessary trips to the job site is something we have also embraced. They have also set up a trade council to have continual feedback on how to improve their work environment for the company, its employees and the trades. Again, I kept noting the similarities between our companies. And then Gene flipped the script on everybody. We all talk about employee buy-in and the need for training. Some companies do it better than others, and this has been a major area of effort within Doug Tarry Homes over the last few years. But I was floored by Thrive’s employee empowerment and how Gene got everybody in the company on the same page. In a completely game-changing move, the Thrive staff literally wrote a one-page business plan together, all of them. Then, the staff were all trained how to read the balance sheet and income statement for the company, so that everyone understands the financial updates, both good and bad. Later that night, I had the oppor­ tunity to speak with Gene at length and enjoyed his openness, kindness and insights. It was another wonderful example of peers helping each other to improve our industry. There was so much more to the presentation and to the overall Spring Training Camp session this year. Just like every year, it’s like drinking through a fire hose. If you haven’t attended Spring Training Camp, you might want to check it out. You never know what you might learn to give you a leg up on your competition. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.  Learning How to Thrive in a Climate Change World It was another example of peers helping each other to improve our industry.
  • 35. 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