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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 21 / Spring 2017

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Better Builder Magazine brings together premium product manufactures and leading builders to create better differentiated homes and buildings that use less energy, save water and reduce our impact on the environment. The magazine is published four times a year.

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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 21 / Spring 2017

  1. 1. ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 Intensification & Affordability Multi-Family Challenges Changing the Building Code Low Energy & Water Conservation Finnigan’s Wake Thermally Protecting Foam IN THIS ISSUE Changing Housing Forms
  2. 2. A b r e a t h o f f r e s h a i r . MAX SERVICE All mechanical and electrical components are accessible from the front of the unit. Heating coil and fan/motor slide out for easy service. One of the most extensive warranties in the business:1-year parts & labour,2-years on parts only,where applicable. MAX COMFORT With the increased efficiency of this optional Electronically Commuted Motor (ECM), homeowners will be free to cycle air continuously with a minimal increase in electricity cost. Continuous fan operation helps improve filtration,reduce temperature variations,and helps keep the air clear of dust and allergens – making your customers’ homes more comfortable. Mini Ducted Hi-Velocity Air Handling System Optional Prioritizing of Comfort Levels with Energy Savings MAX SPACE SAVER The MAXAIR fan coil is so compact that it fits anywhere:laundry room,attic,crawl space,you can even place it in a closet. It can be installed in new or existing homes. It takes less than 1/3 of the space of a conventional heating and air conditioning unit. MAX ENERGY SAVINGS Energy savings,temperature control and comfort levels are achieved in individual levels of the home by prioritizing the requirements.This is achieved by installing optional space thermostats. If any area calls for heating or cooling, the individual thermostat allows the space it serves to achieve optimum comfort and still maintain continuous air circulation throughout the home. This method of prioritizing is a great energy savings measure while offering an increased comfort level to the home owner. FLEXAIRTM DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM MAX FLEXIBILITY The supply outlets can be placed in the wall, ceiling or floor. Each unit has four choices of locations for the return air connections. The FLEXAIR™ insulated 2½" supply duct will fit in a standard 2"x 4" wall cavity. Can be mounted for vertical or horizontal airflow. Can be combined with humidifiers,high efficiency air cleaners or ERVs / HRVs. Snap-together branch duct and diffuser connections. MAX ELECTRICAL SAVINGS ECMs are ultra-high-efficient programmable brushless DC motors that are more efficient than the permanently split capacitor (PSC) motors used in most residential furnaces.This is especially true at lower speeds used for continuous circulation in many new homes. 1-800-453-6669 905-951-0022519-578-5560613-966-5643 416-213-1555 877-254-4729905-264-1414 For distribution of Air Max Technologies products call www.airmaxtechnologies.com209 Citation Drive, Units 5&6, Concord, ON L4K 2Y8, Canada
  3. 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 The Changing Form of Low-Rise Housing by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Intensification, Affordability and the 2017 Ontario Building Code by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 6 Multi-Family Challenges by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY EXPERT 10 Changing the Building Code One Step at a Time by Michael Lio BUILDER NEWS 12 Rodeo Fine Homes – Low Energy with Water Conservation in East Gwillimbury by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 22 Greyter Awards by Better Builder Staff SITE SPECIFIC 25 Finnigan’s Wake by Rob Blackstien FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Thermally Protecting Foam by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 Meeting the Challenge Royalpark Homes is delivering innovative housing options in a challenging environment. by Rob Blackstien 12 22 ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 On our cover: Bob Finnigan, President, Canadian Homebuilders Association & COO Housing, Herity Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited.
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 20172 T he Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is growing by nearly 100,000 people a year. In contrast, the average number of housing units constructed annually is about 35,000. And in 2015, half of these were low-rise and under four storeys. Why this trend in low-rise housing? The answer is simple: single- family homes are expensive to build and service – the average price of a new one has surpassed $1 million. In order to meet market demand for a growing population and government-imposed density regulations, many builders are now offering stacked and row townhouses for a higher yield on a relatively small footprint. This issue examines the benefits and drawbacks of these changing housing forms. There is, of course, the question of cost. Shared walls and multi- family houses can be more affordable because of lower construction costs, and they also reduce energy consumption and heat loss. However, shared floors and walls can cause challenges for sound transmission, fire protection and egress. Gord Cooke offers detailed tips for achieving airtightness on page 6. Many builders, like Rodeo Fine Homes, have experienced the difficulties of air leakage across party walls with programs like ENERGY STAR (“Not Their First Rodeo” on page 12). To be successful, builders, designers and site personnel must collaborate to design, detail and execute party wall construction that minimizes air leakage. By compartmentalizing townhouse units, airborne sound and odour transmission are reduced as more people live closer together. Attached housing is also becoming narrower and taller, thus requiring more stairs. A harmonization between the Ontario Building Code and National Building Code has been proposed that would increase stair tread length, which means that more space in home designs would need to be allocated for stairwells. See “Changing the Building Code, One Step at a Time” by Michael Lio on page 10 for more on potential changes to stair runs. Royalpark Homes is a fine example of a builder who is adapting to different building forms, with offerings from singles to stacked towns to six-storey mid-rises. “Meeting the Challenge,” our feature on Royalpark, is on page 16. (See also “Changing Housing Forms, Royalpark Style” on page 20, for more on specific projects.) With each Code change comes many challenges with interpretation. Doug Tarry rolls up his sleeves to have a discussion with local building officials about thermal protection for foam insulation, and Lou Bada (page 3) and Bob Finnigan of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (page 25) each provide their own take on how government-imposed density regulations, sustainability and affordability are all inextricably linked. At the end of the day, no matter what form the building takes, regulation must be balanced with innovation. BB Singles, Semis, Stacks and Towns The Changing Form of Low-Rise Housing PUBLISHER Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695 Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of PUBLISHING EDITOR John B. Godden MANAGING EDITOR Wendy Shami To advertise, contribute a story, or join our distribution list, please contact FEATURE WRITERS Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman PROOFREADING Carmen Siu CREATIVE Wallflower Design This magazine brings together premium product manufacturers and leading builders to create better, differentiated homes and buildings that use less energy, save water and reduce our impact on the environment. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 Copyright by Better Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the authors and assumed to be original work. Better Builder Magazine cannot be held liable for any damage as a result of publishing such works. TRADEMARK DISCLAIMER All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. UNDELIVERABLE MAIL Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 Better Builder Magazine is published four times a year. publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN John Godden Alex Newman Gord Cooke Michael Lio Lou Bada Doug Tarry CONTRIBUTORS
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 3 A s home builders, we navigate a complex and often competing set of governmental rules and regulations to meet market demand. The ambitious goals that all four levels of government aspire to are eventually converted into legislations and regulations that invariably affect home builders. Often though, when government overreaches, it can make for some poorly thought out and contradictory regulation with less than desirable outcomes for everyone. Intensification has become a cornerstone of provincial and municipal planning policy initiatives meant to put us on a path toward more sustainable land development. Loosely defined, intensification, or density, means more people living and working within less space. Essentially, it means trying to do more with fewer resources and strains on the environment, especially where we can have “in-fill” development (built within the current urban boundaries). The most salient effect here is that we build smaller homes for people to live in. Although high- rise buildings represent the densest form of development, they are not always appropriate for certain neighbourhoods or areas. Denser low- rise building forms are sometimes needed instead. “Re-imagined” ground-related housing – known in the building industry as back-to-back semi- detached or back-to-back town­ houses, as well as stacked townhouses – has made its way into our building vocabulary. In the last few years, there has been a rise in demand for these housing types. These homes usually fall under Part 9 of the Ontario Building Code. It is important here to highlight that the Code, in most instances, applies equally to all types and sizes of homes, whether they are 1,000 or 10,000 square feet in size. The reason for this is plain when you understand why and how the Code was developed. I’ll get back to this later. I’ll now turn to other social policy goals of government – namely, foster­ ing affordable housing and accessible housing (for the elderly and physically challenged). Both are laudable goals, along with sustainability. There are hundreds of proposed Code amend­ ments for the current code cycle review, many of which have caught the eye of our industry. In terms of affordability, the proposals to make (legal) secondary suites for low-cost rentals in the basements of homes more plausible have generated several changes. One is to mandate an egress window (e.g., 47 inches wide by 36 inches high) in the basement where an exit door is not provided. This becomes a problem. Imagine a basement of a back-to-back townhouse or stacked townhouse where three of the four walls are common (party) walls with one exterior wall on the front elevation only. There is often no wall space available for any size window, let alone an egress window. With this regulation, these homes cannot be built with a basement at all, preventing new home owners from benefitting from a secondary suite. It also limits the possibility of using the basement as a mechanical/storage room to make these small units more livable. On the other hand, local munici­ palities may preclude secondary suites Intensification, Affordability and the 2017 Ontario Building Code thebadatest / LOU BADA
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 20174 for some types of homes or smaller lot sizes through zoning bylaws. According to the proposed Code amendments, builders would still have to provide a basement egress window and other provisions for secondary suites where none could be built legally. That’s an increased cost with no benefit. Does that make sense to you? New code change proposals to make houses more accessible, most notably for the elderly, have focused on making stair treads (steps) deeper by an inch, from approximately 10 inches to 11 inches. On most homes, this makes the stair openings about one foot, six inches bigger on each floor. For a new, denser, 13- or 14-foot wide townhouse (stacked or otherwise) or semi-detached, this enlargement is almost unworkable in any satisfactory way. Small detached houses will suffer in their designs greatly, too – a new secondary suite will be even smaller. It seems we want to encourage intensi­ fication and sustainability, yet make smaller new homes less livable and more difficult to build at the same time. The examples above are just two proposed code changes – believe me, I could go on – where contradictions exist in the regulations based on the disparate direction of government policies. We want low-rise intensifi­ cation (sustainability), accessibility and affordability all at once – and we want it now. How is this reasonable? And how will anyone be able to afford a new home with all of these changes coming down the pipe all at once? Mind you, none of these proposed regulations are a problem in a 10,000 square foot home that we are discouraged to build; the Code is applied in the same way for these homes. However, few owners of massive homes are interested in renting out their basements. The Code was developed as a minimum standard for the safety of occupants, but these proposed changes are going to increase the cost of a new home and hinder the owner’s ability to earn some cash back on a crucial investment. This leads me to ask two questions: (1) Is regulation the only way to achieve our goals? And (2) where is the robust cost–benefit analysis to prove we need to make these changes? Let’s face it: if builders were to suggest changes without a proper cost–benefit analysis, they would not meet the ministry’s own submission quality standards. The Ontario Building Code and land-use policies have become overly politicized and, quite frankly, dysfunctional in many cases. I support continuous improvement, fairness and environmental consciousness, but uncreative, lazy-minded regulations designed to placate special interests just won’t do. Let’s not harm the industry with more thoughtless regulation. BB Lou Bada is Vice President of Low Rise Construction at Starlane Home Corporation and sits on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON).
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  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 20176 In my opinion, both the volume of multi-family projects and the type of ownership have a tendency to raise the performance expectations of multi-family units by suite owners. Specifically, in this article, I would like to focus on “separation anxiety”: the interest in ensuring high levels of fire safety, noise and odour transmission reduction, and air leakage control between suites. In this regard, I could claim the U.S. is ahead of us – at the time of writing this article, 20 states have adopted a state- wide code that requires airtightness testing of all houses, including multi-family suites. The airtightness requirement (in all but the most southern states) is three air changes per hour at 50 pascal (3 ACH@50) pressure. In Canada, airtightness testing is only required in the city of Vancouver and in the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program, LEED projects and Passive House projects. There is one other fine point of distinction with respect to airtightness. The ENERGY STAR program and Ontario code references (although mandatory testing is not required in code) allow for three different metrics for airtightness: the volume-based metric of ACH@50 plus two metrics based on surface area of the suites. The surface area metrics are considered to be a fairer way to assess airtightness in multi-family suites and thus may be seen as easier to pass than the U.S. metric. Airtightness, beyond simply meeting a code or program require­ ment, is also an important factor in noise and odour transmission control. So let’s explore airtightness strategies and techniques in separation walls. The first strategy should be to have the architect identify and detail the air barrier for separation walls. This sounds straightforward enough, but it has been our experience that architects, and even material suppliers, haven’t given this enough thought, and we end up cobbling together components on site with the construction team. For example, in high-rise buildings in Toronto, demising walls are often, or at least substantially, concrete to carry structural loads. These walls are inherently airtight, so we find builders regularly meet the LEED airtightness requirements for “compartmentaliza­ tion”. (This term was coined out of research that was conducted primarily in Toronto in the early 2000s and is a term we should all commit to.) In low-rise multi-family, the typical demising or party wall is a double 2 x 4 wall with a one-inch air space to R ecently, I was asked to present a building science session to a large group of multi-family home builders in the U.S. In my research for the event, it was interesting to note both a few differences and similarities between the Canadian and U.S. multi-family market. For example, it will probably be no surprise to readers of this article that the CMHC Housing Market Outlook stats for 2016 show that 60% to 65% of total housing starts are multi-family, both in Ontario and in Canada as a whole. In contrast, U.S. housing starts reported by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicates multi-family units represent just 30% to 35% of starts. Moreover, it has been my experience that the U.S. multi- family units are more commonly built as rental properties whereas, specifically in Ontario, the trend has been for projects to be condominium ownership. industryexpert / GORD COOKE Multi-Family Challenges The challenge, though, is still how to detail that air barrier through floor separations, intersecting walls and at the ceiling.
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 meet the one-hour fire separation requirements. That one-inch air space, often directly connected to outside and the attic, presents a problem. It means both sides of the wall need to be treated as outside walls and need to be detailed as such. In Canada, we typically use poly as the primary air barrier on exterior walls. Thus we get asked if we can use poly on either side of the party walls. Some would worry that this presents a double vapour barrier risk. In fact, both sides of the wall are warm, so it doesn’t really present a vapour risk – but if water did happen to get in the wall, it would have very low drying potential and thus not a very forgiving assembly. The poly could be replaced with a permeable membrane, such as Tyvek, to avoid that concern. The challenge, though, is still how to detail that air barrier through floor separations, intersecting walls and at the ceiling. Of course, drywall on its own is an excellent air barrier if detailed correctly at all intersections. Indeed, in the U.S., I see shaft liner as the demising wall of choice: two layers of one-inch drywall in a metal H-clip assembly erected between the 2 x 4 interior walls. These assemblies typically provide a two-hour fire separation and have excellent sound transmission co-efficient (STC) ratings of over 60. Oddly though, I know of none that have an approved air sealing strategy for the H-clips, and thus they still leak air, even though they look to be very airtight. There is a relatively new assembly coming our way called FlameBlock by LP. It is a fire-coated oriented strand board (OSB) that is used for both structural integrity and fire protection of partition walls (as well as exterior wall applications). It too has excellent STC ratings in the 60+ range. Check out the assembly on the Construction Instruction App (available in the App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android). The second strategy, after the architect identifies the overall air 7 FIBERGLASS INSULATION 1-SIDED LP® FLAMEBLOCK® 1-SIDED LP® FLAMEBLOCK® TYPE X GYPSUM TYPE X GYPSUM 2" x 4" STUDS (MINIMUM) GP Shaftliner assembly with H-clips. Still needs air sealing details. LP FlameBlock assembly. See for an animation.
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 20178 barrier assembly, is to work out all the ever-more complex intersections, transitions and penetrations on site. Start by compartmentalizing those one-inch air spaces. Use a fully detailed exterior house wrap to transition across the fire separation wall on exterior walls. Use a thin sheet metal plate between floors and at attics to seal the one-inch space between those separations. Use blocking and caulking to seal between the primary air barrier and any steel or concrete block structural elements at each and every floor or wall penetration. We often see confusion on how to handle bumped-out walls or chases for mechanical systems. Again, first identify the primary air barrier plane and seal to that. This often means the best thing to do is to drywall or use a thin ply sheathing or OSB behind the bump-out to maintain the air barrier plane (much like you would treat behind a tub or shower on an exterior wall) and then build the bump-out in front of that. Finally, air test early. In a multi- family project, complete a mock-up suite to demonstrate the accepted air barrier details to all trades early in the process. Have them experience an airtightness test to feel the impact of the work they do. Given the high expectations of the residents who are likely to invest in these beautiful, but often complex, urban multi-family projects, you need every trade to commit to ensuring high levels of separation between units. It all starts with excellent airtightness details. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. The second strategy is to work out all the ever-more complex intersections, transitions and penetrations on site.
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 Barrie, GTA West, GTA North Eric Byle | 416-937-8793 Toronto East Al Crost | 416-676-0168 Available to water heater customers whose equipment is not operational (i.e. no hot water)
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201710 industryexpert / MICHAEL LIO So why did the NBC change the run dimension? According to the National Research Council, in 2012, falls on stairs resulted in approxi­ mately 300 deaths, 9,000 hospitaliza­ tions and almost 100,000 emergency room visits across Canada. This resulted in direct health care spend­ ing of $476 million. The scientific literature was finally available that established a relationship between stair geometry and falls. It showed that the stair run is directly correlated to the falls that are experienced. As part of the Code review cycle for the 2015 NBC, a national joint task group on step dimensions (JTG) was established. The JTG reviewed technical literature, studies and reports, and was tasked with delivering a cost-benefit analysis of various step geometries. The JTG included three representatives from the health sector, three home/stair builders, one regulator and two general-interest representatives. Here is what they found: larger runs will reduce the number of falls on stairs and significantly increase the safety of stairs in homes. The result: dramatically fewer ER visits, hospitalizations and deaths, and a reduction in health care spending across Canada. Five run sizes over 210 millimetres were analyzed for their cost–benefit to society. A 255-millimetre run provides the best net positive benefits under conservative assumptions. Shorter runs can result in loss of balance, slipping off the step, missteps, oversteps, heel scuffs, crabbing and foot overhang. Larger runs result in higher stability by offering increased space for foot placement. The technical literature revealed that larger runs mitigate risk falls for all age groups in all conditions (including when users are intoxicated, when wearing high heels, or where stairs are poorly lit). How will this Code change impact builders? If the proposed change is successful and the next OBC requires a minimum run dimension of 255 millimetres, stair designs will need to be reworked as the stairs will require more space. The JTG studied the impact of the change on space- constrained designs. They found that some unusual space-constrained designs would be challenged with the new stair geometry. But for the vast majority of houses, the change will be easily accommodated. This is an important change, and the JTG report highlights the need to implement it: across Canada, one in 200 homes with the current step dimensions will be the scene of a stair-related fall that results in death or permanent total disability (over a 75-year service life). It is estimated that this Code change would reduce fall incidents by 64%. Given this significant potential safety benefit, builders are looking to the upcoming OBC review cycle to take that next step. BB Michael Lio is the former executive director of the Consumers Council of Canada and the Homeowner Protection Centre. Changing the Building Code, One Step at a Time T here is currently a proposed change to the Ontario Building Code (OBC) relating to the minimum run dimension of stairs. The change would harmonize the OBC with the 2015 National Building Code (NBC), which changed the minimum run for a private stair with a rectangular tread from 210 millimetres to 255 millimetres. The change would also harmonize requirements in the province with those in the U.S. Larger runs will reduce the number of falls on stairs and significantly increase the safety of stairs in homes. RISE RUN TREAD DEPTH NOSING STAIR TERMINOLOGY
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201712 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN That’s a lot of water, and regions want to make sure that doesn’t go up. In fact, York Region has developed stringent water conservation guide­ lines, and some municipalities within the region are even more austere. The town of East Gwillimbury, for example, outlines a three-pronged approach in its Sustainable Development Invest­ ment Partnership (SDIP) conservation guidelines for new builders: water conservation, ENERGY STAR construction and landscaping measures. Two years ago, a local developer purchased a parcel of land with those sustainability guidelines in place. While higher densities were permitted in these cases, the town’s stringent water conservation expectations affected other aspects of building the site, such as ENERGY STAR home construction, which must deal with the air leakage so typical in the townhouse form, certain landscaping require­ ments, and dealing with developing water mains that don’t leak. It involves working with a third party to conduct leak detection checks. This would be an onerous undertaking for any builder, A s water becomes scarcer, government bodies will be looking for ways to conserve the precious commodity. In Canada, it is plentiful for now – but global water tables are dropping and piping in water is growing more costly. The Great Lakes, which hold 20% of the world’s fresh water, isn’t an answer, since eight American states have already looked into diverting water from there. The best answer isn’t only to secure resources, but to work at reducing consumption. Right now, Canadians are one of the highest per capita water users in the world, averaging out at 251 litres per person per day. Not Their First Rodeo Markham Builder Leads in Sustainable Building
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 but the developer was familiar with Rodeo Fine Homes’ previous experience in sustainable building. In 2009, Rodeo built Canada’s first LEED Platinum-certified community in Newmarket. That’s when Rodeo principals Frank Morrow and Vince Naccarato were first introduced to Clearsphere’s John Godden, who facilitated the LEED designation by helping to design the most appropriate components. Then, in 2014, when Naccarato and Morrow purchased the East Gwillimbury property, they again consulted Godden – this time to help design a set of components that would satisfy the region’s water conservation guidelines, says Frank Muto, Rodeo’s construction manager. Muto first started with Rodeo once they’d purchased the East Gwillimbury property. His extensive construction background both in operations and administration – he started in the industry in 1985 after getting an economics degree – gave him the on-site know-how and the administrative overview to tackle the challenges of the sustainability guidelines. Since the land was already developed, Rodeo only had to under­ stand the guidelines within the context of construction – developing construction drawings and model types, and handling marketing and sales, Muto says. “It’s what every builder working in that town would have to deal with.” But it’s not necessarily something that builders – or their trades – have a lot of experience with, Muto says. “Some trades have never been trained in this, so we have to inspect the work afterward just to make sure. I don’t understand why the union doesn’t train the workers on this stuff so 13 Left to right: David Fifield (Assistant), Frank Muto (Construction Manager) and Sergio Conforti (Site Supervisor) of Rodeo Fine Homes. As water becomes scarcer, government bodies will be looking for ways to conserve the precious commodity. The best answer isn’t only to secure resources, but to work at reducing consumption.
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201714 everyone’s on the same page. This is where building is going, and better to learn now and be ahead of the pack when the time comes.” To help Rodeo’s management more fully understand water conservation, as well as building to ENERGY STAR standards, Godden held seminars in the office. At the Heritage Collection site, water conservation meant including low-flow toilets and faucets for sinks and showers, low-usage dishwashers and washing machines, on-demand hot water recirculation systems and an approved residential humidifier. Grey water recycling was not one of the required features. To ensure proper drainage (and not water runoff), the landscaping had to have a minimum six inches of topsoil. To satisfy ENERGY STAR, the homes have HVAC systems using a Flowmax/Airmax combination heating system, EXCEL exterior insulated sheathing, solar ready rough-in and high-efficiency appliances. A big challenge with townhomes is the sound issues and air leakage that come from the party wall. Muto says architects aren’t usually involved in the building process, “so their drawings don’t always reflect what’s required for building party walls.” That meant redrawing the party wall for building purposes and beefing it up, over and above ENERGY STAR requirements. “We could have used fibreglass insulation, which would have been less expensive,” Muto says, “but I decided in consultation with Sergio Conforti and others to use ROXUL COMFORTBATT R14 on both sides of the party wall, which provided greater sound attenuation and a higher fire grading.” They also used ROXUL between the floor joists. It was recommended to add Super Six poly to one side of the party wall to help compartmentalize each unit for air leakage purposes. And where the party wall ends, at both the front and back of the unit, extra attention had to be paid to capping and taping. While townhomes are a better way to go for efficiency and density (reducing impact on the land), there are challenges with meeting some of the ENERGY STAR requirements, particularly when it comes to the party wall and air leakage. On the inside and outside corners of the units, where there is higher potential for air leakage because they don’t always overlap properly, a four-inch flashing is required. The one Muto uses is Dow’s Weathermate straight flashing, coupled with Weathermate construction tape for sealing the butt joints in the sheathing and around windows and doors for a complete weather barrier. “It does make a difference what you use, even on what seems like a small detail, like tape,” Muto says. “We used another brand but it peeled, and even though it ultimately gets covered up with the exterior cladding, it’s still important to get proper adhesion. The tape is double the price, but we haven’t had any problems with it since switching.” There is also sound attenuation to consider (as well as odours), and the aim is to achieve “compartmental­ ization,” which means creating each unit to be as airtight as possible to reduce sound, odour and air leakage, as well as maximizing the fire separation. Muto, in consultation with the manufacturer, decided that ROXUL would provide the best opportunity to combat all of those issues. Because ROXUL doesn’t burn and is three times more dense than fibreglass, it’s a better fire separation and also raises the sound transmission class (STC). Part 9 of the Building Code requires a minimum of 53; ROXUL, because of its properties, increases that to 60. Most builders don’t use ROXUL because it’s more expensive, but Muto very quickly saw the wisdom in using it. “We’re not going to mess around with saving a few dollars when there’s a superior product that can cover all those bases – higher fire separation, sound and odour block – and reduce air leakage.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at ROXUL Comfortbatt and Firestop reduce air leakage and provide an STC of 60. The second strategy is to work out all the ever-more complex intersections, transitions and penetrations on site.
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 15 ProjectFutureProof:ACanadianHERSProviderusingthe BetterThanCodePlatform This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Build- ing Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change is coming in 2017 which will cause more confusion. The new code will be notionally 15% better than 2012 (HERS 51). How are you getting there? Let the BTC Platform including the HERS Index help you secure Municipal Subdivision Approvals and Building Permits and enhance your marketing by selling your homes’ energy efficiency. BetterThanCodeusestheHERSIndextomeasureenergyefficiency–thelowerthescorethebetter–MeasureableandMarketable. OBC2012 OBC2017 100 80 60 40 20 0 Formoreinformationemailinfo@projectfutureproof.comorcallusat416-481-7517 Better ThanCode This rating is available for homes built by leading edge builders who have chosen to advance beyond current energy efficiency programs and have taken the next step on the path to full sustainability. PROJECTFUTUREPROOF.COM HOMEADDRESS 123 Stone Street, Toronto, ON M6K 2T0 RATINGDATE July 23, 2015 HOME ENERGY RATING 45 HERSSCORE 100 80 60 40 20 0 OBC2012 NearZero YOURSCORE
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 Meeting featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 17 Royalpark Homes is delivering innovative housing options in a challenging environment Royalpark Homes has been leaving its mark in Ontario for over three decades, having developed housing communities in Toronto, Alliston, Markham, Brampton, Barrie and Mississauga. The company’s raison d’etre is building quality homes that will enhance the communities in which they’re situated. In a nutshell, Royalpark’s philosophy is building homes with the communities’ and purchasers’ interests at heart. As a small, hands-on company, Royalpark can provide home owners with a personal touch – but its size has not prohibited it from also being an innovator. Royalpark considers itself a next- generation builder, one that has been pushing the envelope for years with a key focus on sustainability and adopting innovative techno­ logies designed to raise the bar for all builders. the Challenge The Bean – A six storey mixed use building with 69 residential units and four commercial units.
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201718 The company’s track record in green building speaks for itself: the first LEED Silver house in Markham; the first Enbridge Savings by Design home in Brampton; the most efficient wall system in Ontario as per a Ryerson University study; and, most recently, a partnership with Panasonic Eco Solutions that resulted in battery storage systems being included in homes at Royalpark’s Simcoe Shores in Barrie – a first in Canadian housing history, according to Doug Skeffington, director of land development. “It was mandatory that every single house had to have [the Pana­ sonic battery storage system],” says project manager Chris Glassow. “We looked into providing it as an option in the past,” but the market did not seem ready to accept it at the time. But surpassing the Building Code has been a long-standing goal of Royalpark’s, Glassow explains: “People have been building houses the same way in Ontario for genera­ tions, and a lot of times people want to just do it the same way they’ve always done it… We kind of move along incrementally, as the Building Code pushes us in a certain direction – and it does take that political heaviness to sort of hit us in the head every now and then, much like what’s happen­ ing now – but certainly what we’re proposing to do extends well beyond where the Building Code is right now.” Driving the market forward through innovation is not always as simple as it sounds, because it requires buy-in from both the home buyers and – more importantly – city hall, Skeffington says. “We’ve been trying to sort of do things with more of a comprehensive package, including land development ideas. It wasn’t necessarily that the market was a bit of an issue, but the bureaucracy had a real difficult time understanding it, so we had to really try to dummy it down a lot and focus on three or four elements of the overall game plan.” That’s exactly what Royalpark did to push through its Barrie plan, and now “everyone’s pretty excited about getting this thing off the ground.” He says Royalpark is working with the City of Barrie and the power company to understand the ramifications this development will have on the grid and on the house construction requirements. “It adds a bit more of an expense, but this is the only thing in your house that’s actually going to make you money,” Skeffington adds. (For more on the ongoing issue of extra costs associated with net zero initiatives butting up against the housing affordability crisis, see “Finnigan’s Wake” on page 25.) Skeffington says he has a different take on the affordability issue. His belief is that if the home has sustainable features and is going to reduce municipalities’ operating budgets in terms of maintenance of roads, garbage collection, etc., “then perhaps there’s an opportunity to take a look at how these kinds of houses get taxed and how we pay development charges on these kinds of homes if we’re creating this benefit.” Beyond that, home buyers are paying less in utilities thanks to some of these innovations. For instance, Skeffington says the solar battery storage system can provide annual savings of $2,500 to $3,000. “So operationally, your home can become more affordable the more you embrace these kinds of things that reduce other components of what affordability is, because it’s not just the house construction: it’s the taxation, it’s Houses at Simcoe Shores include a solar battery storage system and sold out under the Power Haus brand.
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 19 maintenance and everything else that goes in. So if you can attack it from a bunch of different angles, it might be able to offset the additional cost of construction.” Skeffington also hopes that, as sustainable construction becomes more mainstream, it will become much less expensive to deploy this technology. Banks need to play a role here, too, he adds. “Why not provide the bonuses? As developer/builder, we’re prepared to take the leap in pushing our community ahead, but [banks should] give the benefit to the end user because they’re the ones that are, at the end of the day, going to drive how much we’re able to do. So give them a better deal on their mortgage. Create affordability that way, with low interest on sustainable programs that can incorporate into homes.” He believes the time to drive this forward is now. “To affect real change, you’ve got to get on with it. You have to do it and you have to show real world examples that work and get rid of that notion that the whole world is going to fall apart because you’ve got some solar panels on your roof, you’re dealing with grey water and you’re doing things a little differently – because you’re always going to get naysayers that suggest there’s going to be severe economic collapse if we do this,” Skeffington says. Roof truss and wood sill connection. Simpson Strong Tie MGT system shown Drywall screwed into amvic polypropylene webs as per building code Electrical outlet Wood sub-floor installed as per local building Simpson strong tie ICFLC and wood floor joists connection Amvic insulating concrete forms Amdeck floor & roof system Exterior wood siding installed as per local building code Amvic high impact polypropylene webs Acrylic, standard ptucco or eifs applied to exterior face of Amvic ICF Brick veneer Parge face of exposed brick ledge Grade Peel-and-stick waterproofing membrane (or equivalent) as per local building code Perforated weeping tile INSULATED CONCRETEFORMS FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: AMVIC.COM
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201720 Baker Street Featuring 81 stacked townhomes, Baker Street is not named after the 1978 Gerry Rafferty song, but rather the bakery that previously existed there. Apparently, the location also once featured an afterhours house that rumours suggest may have been a booze can. “You’ve got to create the opportun­ ities for developers to go in and create in these communities. Get rid of the old and bring in something that’s new and vibrant and not a nuisance. And if it becomes overly cost-prohibitive, then those mid-rise sites that are scattered throughout the city will continue to be dormant and attract the wrong kind of neighbours for the existing residents,” explains Doug Skeffington. Chris Glassow says Royalpark did some technically innovative things at this project, including a groundwater filtration system that employs a Jellyfish filter to clean both groundwater and storm water. Baker Street is currently about one- quarter occupied as some of the units are still being finished. Final landscaping is expected to be wrapped up this year. The Bean This six-storey mid-rise building will include 69 residential units and three or four commercial units, one of which will possibly be a coffee shop. The bean theme abounds, as each suite type is named after a different type of bean. Changing Housing Forms, Royalpark Style Originally slated to be a wood frame, the building would have been unique given its height, but it is now currently designed with a light-gauge structural steel frame, Glassow says. The property is situated on an old service station, so Royalpark remediated that land and the contaminated soil as that area has had nothing but service stations and mechanics shops since around the 1960s, he explains. Located about 600 metres west of Baker Street, The Bean is completely sold, with construction expected to begin shortly once a couple of items are approved by the city. Green Earth Village Green Earth Village in East Gwillimbury will be built in partnership with Signature Developments and will be one of the first near zero communities developed in Canada. All elements of the community plan will be designed to minimize greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the smallest GHG footprint and environmental impact possible. The plan includes the adoption of state-of-the-art energy technologies, including solar panels, home battery storage, geothermal systems and grey water abatement systems. Green Earth Village building and planning innovation will demonstrate that greenfield communities can incorporate cutting-edge technologies and remain affordable for all their valued customers, says Skeffington. – RB Traditionally players in the single-family home space, Royalpark is at the forefront of the current transition to different housing forms. Their two recent projects in Toronto – Baker Street (a stacked townhouse development) and The Bean (a mid- rise) – and Green Earth Village (coming soon to East Gwillimbury) showcase the builder’s continuing innovation.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 21 Clearly, when dealing with an innovative builder like Royalpark, there is a learning curve for the city. Take Toronto’s handling of some issues that cropped up with two newer Royalpark projects that involved different housing forms: Baker Street (stacked townhouses) and The Bean (a mid-rise). (For more on these developments, see the sidebar “Changing Housing Forms, Royalpark Style.”) Royalpark is fairly new to the mid-rise market and they quickly discovered that the city may still be trying to develop its own approach to this housing form, too. “There is a lot of planning work that’s gone into trying to promote mid-rise developments, as they are less impactful on communities and it helps create the hierarchy of built forms that people have different opportunities to live in if you don’t want to live in a high-rise,” Glassow says. However, given the paucity of these projects, “the bureaucracy treats that project type like a high-rise because it’s what they’re used to.” Glassow said that tendency manifested itself in section 37 requests that are much more easily absorbed in a high-rise, as opposed to a mid-rise where the costs will only be spread out over 60 or 70 units. “It creates a difficult financial model to push it because you’re not making tons of profit on these kinds of homes, so you’re hopeful of filling in a market where you can get in and out fairly quick – and that creates benefit, but the bureaucracy needs to start to take a look at how they can advance these projects in a cost-effective way,” he says. At Baker Street, two major issues cropped up after the units had been sold and the original approvals had gone through, delaying the project and adding some serious costs. One involved Royalpark having to replace a water main, and the second saw the builder forced to retrofit the building to accommodate an emergency generator while having to revise the parking garage plans before its discharge permit could be approved. It’s a scenario that tends to arise when one planner has moved on and a second one is reviewing the plans, seem­ ingly through an entirely different lens – a situation that can wreak havoc on a builder’s bottom line. It only seems to cement the old adage that you can’t fight city hall. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer.
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201722 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF W ith more than 400 entries in nine categories, the 2017 National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show (NAHB IBS) features the best home building products of the year. Toronto-based Greyter Water Systems was extremely honoured and humbled to receive the Best Green Building Product award in Orlando, Florida in January for the Greyter HOME – a residential system that recycles shower and bath water so that it can be reused for toilet flushing or irrigation. The Greyter HOME is an affordable and easy to install solution that is capable of meeting water quality standards of major markets, requires little maintenance and leaves a small footprint in the home.  A very special thank you to both the NAHB for their nomination and to the judges – 28 industry and media professionals – for selecting the Greyter HOME as this year’s winner. We also recognize and salute this year’s finalists for all of their accom­ plishments. We would like to extend a huge thank you to the Greyter Water Systems team for their hard work and perseverance. And, of course, thank you to our extended family and friends for always supporting us. We are also deeply grateful to Craig Wardlaw (National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assist­ ance Program), the WaterTAP team, the MaRS team, Brenda Lucas (Southern Ontario Water Consortium), Rita Patlan (Ministry of International Trade) and Dr. Brent Wootton and the Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment staff. BB Greyter Voted the Best by NAHB Mark Sales, Dana Morgoch and John Bell, part of the proud Greyter team. John Bell and Mark Sales presented with the Best Green Building Product award.
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  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 25 sitespecific / ROB BLACKSTIEN However, it’s hard to be envious of the task he faces – namely, trying to balance a national housing market that has very different regional concerns, while attempting to address two somewhat conflicting issues: the affordability crisis and the government’s goal to mandate sweeping energy efficiency and environment-related initiatives. Going back to Finnigan’s roots, it seems he’s always been destined to work with Hugh Heron. As a 16-year- old in the late 1970s, Finnigan’s first job was cleaning straw out of new basements before Heron’s building company put floors down. It would take about a half hour to complete, and Finnigan would split $200 between four workers. Not bad, considering his other friends were making $1.50 an hour working at McDonald’s, he said. (Ontario’s minimum wage was actually $3 an hour in 1979.) Finnigan continued to work as a labourer in the housing industry over the next few summers, and when he finished university in 1982 (studying economic geography retail locations), the job market was pretty spotty, so he wound up back at Heron Homes, spending about a year in its services department. Finnigan finally landed a gig in his chosen field, working briefly for Dominion Stores before spending about four years doing retail location analysis for a subsidiary of Sobeys. In 1988, just before the end of an economic boom, he returned to Heron Homes (then called The Heron Group) and he’s been there since. Finnigan is currently Heron’s COO, Acquisitions and Housing. Now 57, he is married with children (two daughters) and enjoys golfing, skiing and playing hockey in his “spare” time. Of course, much of that leisure time is now being ticketed towards perhaps his greatest challenge yet as the head of the CHBA. He officially took the reins in early summer, but got going in earnest in the fall. Now, Finnigan is confident his time at the local and provincial levels prepared him well for the national gig. “They’re very, very similar. I think the only difference is the people who you’re talking to and how wide a spectrum you have to have in your discussions,” he says. At the local level, Finnigan would deal with mayors and chief municipal planners about issues specific to them. Moving up to the provincial level, he’d deal with Queen’s Park, where “it’s a little more nebulous as to direct involve­ ment,” as he addressed issues like development charges and the Building Code. And on the national scale, “it’s Finnigan’s Wake The new president of the CHBA is trying to make waves with the government to help solve the housing affordability crisis. B ob Finnigan certainly has the background to be very successful as the new president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). His long-time experience in the housing industry, combined with his extensive association background (he is past president of both the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association [now BILD] and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, and also served a six-year stint as a Tarion Warranty Corporation board member), makes him an ideal person for the job. Bob Finnigan President, Canadian Home Builders’ Association COO Housing, Herity
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 just trading an MPP for an MP.” Finnigan can easily outline an array of issues the Canadian home building industry is currently facing – including mortgage rates, down payment requirements, development charges, energy efficiency, and affordable housing vs. housing affordability – but points out that “they all roll up to one thing – affordability.” He explains that in Toronto and, to a lesser extent, Vancouver, it’s simply a matter of demand outstripping supply. However, Finnigan’s challenge is that at the national level, you can’t affect what the province does with that supply. Nevertheless, he’s doing his best to “spread the message that if you screw with the economics of housing – I shouldn’t say ‘screw’: ‘get involved’ or ‘alter the effects of the natural supply-demand schedule’ – in any way, shape or form, including interest rate changes, it sort of caters to a shortage of supply.” Given that 100,000 people come to Toronto every year, no one has yet figured out how to curb demand, so the prices just keep skyrocketing. What’s not helping the affordability situation is the fact that municipalities are getting more demanding, to the point where development charges are going through the roof, while provincial mandates and municipal-level pressures regarding energy efficiency and the move towards net zero just keep increasing – both major factors in rising construction costs that are passed on to home buyers. Finnigan says that at the federal level, over the next half-year, the CHBA plans to concentrate on interest 26 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. Finnigan says that at the federal level, over the next half-year, the CHBA plans to concen­ trate on interest rates and mortgage rules.
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 Save more. Worry less. Professionals who install Uponor PEX plumbing, radiant floor heating, and fire sprinkler systems report faster installation times, fewer callbacks and greater peace of mind. Exceptional products, tools and support. Uponor. Tested in the lab. Proven in the field. Connect with Uponor. Connect with confidence. PEX PLUMBING FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS RADIANT HEATING COOLING PRE-INSULATED PIPEFind your solution at
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201728 rates and mortgage rules. Given that housing markets vary so widely across the country, they’d like to explore the possibility of regionalizing the mortgage rules. “Don’t lump every city in the same boat,” he advises. Another area Finnigan has been pushing the feds on is in recognizing work that goes into existing homes to make them more energy efficient. Given the rising cost of utilities, the CHBA has been lobbying the federal government to introduce a renovation tax credit based on energy savings – especially in light of the fact, according to the association, every dollar in energy retrofits yields four to seven times more energy savings than each dollar spent upgrading a new home. “We’re hoping that’s going to be in the budget in the spring, and we’ve made some strong cases for that,” he explains. The CHBA is, of course, backing the net zero initiative (in which several governments have set a goal of 2031 to be carbon-free) with its own Net Zero Energy Council, but Finnigan is a big believer that government should not mandate the issue, and instead should “let us do our jobs” by having the building industry bring along the technologies through proper trials and testing. “We don’t need a guy like [Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change] Glen Murray who would like to have net zero in four or five years,” he argues. “Let us do the time-tested studies that we need to do to make sure what we put into the houses is right and works.” To wit, he references when ENERGY STAR was first introduced and cost $7,500 to achieve. A year and a half later, it was down to $3,500, and then just $2,000, as builders developed efficiencies for adopting this standard, Finnigan says. He maintains that a good place to start is by building homes that are net zero ready, which is a whole lot easier than getting to net zero because “you’re not doing the batteries, you’re not doing the solar panels.” Finnigan’s message to the govern­ ment? “We’ll get there. We understand the rules. We’re already performing way better than any other country, so don’t push, because every time we get mandated to do something, there’s mistakes made or people adopt stuff that – three, four years down the road – is bad. It doesn’t work.” Another challenge facing the industry is the changing house form as we move away from single-family homes into a world of semis, stacks and towns. Finnigan points to two factors driving this: provincially mandated density regulations and affordability. He says this is specifically an issue in Toronto, but in other parts of the country too, “the single family home is becoming a thing of the past.” And even in places where land density is not a factor, the fact that housing prices are rising so much faster than wages “just reduces the amount of choice people have to buy.” This is particularly a concern for families in the Golden Horseshoe and in Vancouver, as the government is essentially mandating smaller homes through densities, zoning and energy efficiency, Finnigan says. “We have made a tremendous switch from ground-oriented housing to high-rise, but what’s being offered in those higher-density options is too small for families,” he explains. “So my concern as a builder, and as a citizen, is that government policy has really affected consumer choice and affordability, far beyond I’m sure what they intended in the beginning, but they won’t put up their hand and say ‘that was us.’” Of course, Finnigan has enough on his plate without trying to force a mea culpa from the government, but if he can somehow manage to get them to listen to reason about net zero mandates, we may finally see some progress in the affordability crisis. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Another challenge facing the industry is the changing house form as we move away from single-family homes into a world of semis, stacks and towns. Finnigan points to two factors driving this: provincially mandated density regulations and affordability.
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201730 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY O ver the years, it has been my great privilege to work with a number of building inspectors and chief building officials (“CBOs”), locally and provincially, on a number of Building Code matters. In that time, I have worked on building partnerships (pun intended) between the members of our two associations: the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and the Ontario Building Officials Association. I am honoured that many inspectors and CBOs seek my advice and opinion to work through Code-related challenges. I believe that when we share knowledge and expertise between us, it helps us all to produce the best possible quality of homes for our customers. The Ontario Building Code is not a simple document, and it is fairly easy to end up with a misinterpretation of what a sentence or clause actually means (for example, the radon logic trap I mentioned in issue 19). Recently, I became aware of some area building officials questioning the use of ROXUL as a thermal barrier for the protection of foamed plastics. Let me be clear: if you are using rigid insulation or other types of foamed plastics, you must protect them with a thermal barrier. There are a number of options for this, but in an unfinished basement – be it the mechanical room, in an exposed header, or a walk-out wall – we are looking for cost-effective ways to meet the insulation requirements and the requirements for the protection of foamed plastics. This requirement is extremely important and building inspectors are, and need to be, very diligent in making sure required thermal barriers are installed correctly. I commend their efforts toward making sure our home owners are safe in their homes. The reason is that, with a home fire, the foamed plastic insulation produces a deadly toxic gas when it smoulders. It can kill very quickly, before a fire is even fully engaged. There were three main concerns raised by building officials: 1) They were concerned that ROXUL batts could be used in a header as a thermal barrier, but could not be used in a stud wall unless there was ROXUL COMFORTBOARD installed behind the stud. This misinterpretation may have been due to a ROXUL detail that shows the product installed in the header, but not in the stud wall. 2) They were concerned that ROXUL cannot be used as a thermal barrier as the foam insulation has a flame-spread rating higher than 25, with the logic that when flame spreads are between 25 and 500, the material must pass CAN/ULC-S101, which ROXUL has not been tested to meet. 3) They were concerned that ROXUL COMFORTBOARD might not have a tested or approved R-value. Ironically, I have been working with ROXUL and Dow on some of these details for several years, Using Foam Insulation? You Need to Protect It!
  33. 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 2017 ultimately leading to our work on the Optimum Basement Wall. So I was somewhat concerned when I was brought into this discussion. If these points were correct, and ROXUL was not an acceptable thermal barrier, the implications for our industry would be significant as we move towards the greater basement insulation requirements of the new SB-12. Fortunately for our industry, this situation turned out to be a misunderstanding of testing requirements and was resolved with a more thorough review of the OBC requirements for the protection of foamed plastics. Let’s take a look at the concerns so that we all have a better understanding of this important Code requirement: There are two separate tests that have been conducted on the use of ROXUL as a thermal barrier: one by Dow in 2006 for protecting their FROTH-PAK product and one by ROXUL in 2014 for protecting foam insulation. Here is the actual notice provided by ROXUL from the report COMFORTBATT CBIS Thermal Barriers: Addressing industry needs for thermal barrier solutions for the protection of foamed plastics, ROXUL COMFORT­ BATT® at 5 ½ and COMFORTBOARD™ IS at 2 3 have been tested and approved in accordance with CAN/ULC S124-06. These products meet the requirements of a thermal barrier as specified in clauses and of the 2010 National Building Code of Canada. These requirements outline the need to protect foamed plastic insulation with “any thermal barrier that meets the requirements of classification B when tested in conformance with CAN/ULC- 124-, ‘Test for the Evaluation of Protec­ tive Coverings for Foamed Plastic’.” The header detail that was referenced was created to show industry stakeholders the method for installation of ROXUL into the header and what kept it there (friction fit). This detail was never intended to limit the use to headers. I reached out to Rick Roos from ROXUL and asked him for information regarding the testing that was done for meeting the requirement of As it turns out, the test was conducted by simulating a wall system that is the same wall system as for our net zero homes. There is no limitation on the location of its use in a wall or a header. The second point correctly identifies that the flame-spread rating of foam is greater than 25, but incorrectly suggests that the testing requirement for the standard CAN/ ULC-S101 noted in applies. That specific clause is actually referencing two exemptions: one for buildings that are not sprinklered and are more than 18 metres high, and another for non-sprinklered buildings that are regulated by subsection 3.2.6. Neither of these conditions apply in this situation., when identifying insulation with a flame-spread rating between 25 and 500, redirects you back to the same requirement found in, or a Class B thermal barrier, just like the reports indicate. Here is where it gets really simple for residential builders on this topic. When a permit is applied for under Part 9 of the OBC, the applicable Code requirement is (Protec­ 31
  34. 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 21 | SPRING 201732 tion of Foam Plastics), and there is no mention of a flame-spread rating. It merely points you back specifically to clause, not sentence – so the flame-spread rating is not a limitation for a Part 9 permit. Therefore, the use of ROXUL is compliant by either Code path. The last concern questioned if there was a tested and approved R-value for ROXUL COMFORTBOARD specifically. ROXUL COMFORTBOARD is a product that we worked directly with ROXUL to develop, right down to the fastener details – and we are very proud to have been associated with its development. So I can assure readers that ROXUL COMFORTBOARD has a well-published R-value of R4 per inch as established by the ASTM testing standards C177 and C518. As builders, building inspectors and home designers, it is important that we account for and include a thermal barrier when using foamed plastics. The OBC does not provide details on how to do it; it just indicates that we have to. I hope this has helped to address any remaining concerns about using ROXUL, or any other mineral wool that has a Class B rating, in a thermal barrier assembly. If we work together on solutions, we will continue to lead the country in building the best homes possible. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. Dow’s full house of insulation, air sealants and adhesives work together to create an airtight, moisture resistant structure from roof to foundation, helping builders and contractors meet or exceed building codes, reduce callbacks and create a comfortable, durable, energy efficient structure for their customers. Dow BuilDing SolutionS 1-866-583-BluE (2583) ®™The DOW Diamond Logo is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company © 2014 Whole-House SolutionstHAt HElP BuilDERS AnD ContRACtoRS outPERFoRM As builders, building inspectors and home designers, it is important that we account for and include a thermal barrier when using foamed plastics. The OBC does not provide details on how to do it; it just indicates that we have to.
  35. 35. Your reputation is built, or crumbles, long after the keys have been handed over. That’s why projects like The Edelweiss Home – Canada’s first LEED® v4 home, and second in the world to achieve Platinum status – rely on the continuous insulation of ROXUL® COMFORTBOARD™ exterior sheathing. Its vapour permeability enables your wall assembly to dry to the outside, providing your clients with durability and comfort. See why ROXUL is a better fit for your next project at A BETTER WAY TO BUILD YOUR HOMES – AND YOUR REPUTATION. CAVITYROCK ® and COMFORTBOARD TM . For a better way to build. COMFORTBOARD™ . For the better way to build.LEED® is a registered trademark of United States Green Building Council.
  36. 36. Together,wemakebetter energyperformancepossible. Building energy efficient buildings doesn’t need to be costly and complicated. Savings by Design can help, whether you’re a residential or commercial builder. This comprehensive program gives you free access to industry experts and performance incentives for constructing energy efficient, sustainable buildings beyond code requirements. Learn more at