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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 36 / Winter 2020

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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 36 / Winter 2020

  1. 1. PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 FUTURE PROOFINGCHALLENGES IN REDUCING CO2 INSIDE Country Homes Looks to Carbon Reduction Building After the Pandemic Employing Batteries Future-proofing Regulatory Requirements An Electric Mobility Future
  2. 2. 209 Citation Dr. Unit 3 & 4 Concord, ON L4K 2Y8 905-669-7373 · 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. 3. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 16 1 FEATURE STORY 16 No Country for Old Ways This third-generation builder is blazing a trail in carbon reduction that is likely a preview of things to come for the industry. by Rob Blackstien 30 ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 On our cover: Watch mechanism © Emre Ogan / istockphoto Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 22 26 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Future Proofing With Low-Carbon Choices by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Building Better After COVID-19 by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 Employing Batteries to Keep a House Going and Going by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 A Practical Approach to Future-proofing Regulatory Requirements by Paul De Berardis INDUSTRY NEWS 13 Getting on Track with HVAC Builders can benefit from the wisdom of an experienced heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor by R. Blackstien SITE SPECIFIC 22 Warming Up with Reliance Helping Builders Build Smarter by Alex Newman SPECIAL INTEREST 26 Building an Electric Mobility Future Upstartz Helps Drivers and Builders Save Time and Money by Alex Newman FROM THE GROUND UP 30 Why Build a Hundred- Year Home? by Doug Tarry
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Future Proofing With Low-Carbon Choices 2 PUBLISHER Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695 Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of PUBLISHING EDITOR John B. Godden MANAGING EDITORS Crystal Clement 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. W hat is future-proofing, exactly? In his 2014 essay, “The Principles of Future-proofing,” Brian D. Rich describes future-proofing as “the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses due to future events.” Choices about the future need to be made with integrity. The word “integrity” comes from the Latin root integer, which means “whole,” “complete,” or “entire.” And when we “integrate” something, which comes from the same root word, it means we achieve wholeness and balance by considering all things to minimize unintended consequences. Future-proofing requires foresight and balance, not compartmentalization or fundamentalism. The idea of a magic bullet or perfect solution is not a comprehensive approach to the future. Policy makers frequently look for simple solutions to complex problems – but by emphasizing the goal, we create a distortion. The goal is not the means. We are looking for a process with a purpose rather than a purpose looking for a process. Nothing could be truer in the case of the goal of “net zero.” Is net zero energy and carbon a viable goal? Moreover, is the goal achievable? And what will it take to get us there? Any human activity – including home building – has anthropogenic impacts. An example of this is the process of making concrete, which is responsible for 7% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) worldwide. Carbon debt is the GHGEs created when things like solar panels are produced in an energy-intensive process. If the manufacturing process minimizes the use of fossil fuels, then the carbon debt will be lower, and the net energy production will happen sooner for photovoltaic (PV) panels. Embodied carbon is the carbon footprint (CF) of a building before it becomes “operational.” Each material used for construction thus has a global warming potential (GWP). Almost half of a building’s CF is embodied in its structure, and a lower amount is used to heat and cool it. The concept of future-proofing means examining materials we are using to build the net zero home rather than the energy we choose to operate it with. Net zero or balanced energy is becoming less important with the advent of battery storage, as the carbon debt of PV panels is relatively high. publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN continued on page 4 The concept of future-proofing means examining materials we are using to build the net zero home rather than the energy we choose to operate it with.
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 feet of home. Generally speaking, the cost per square foot of a low-rise home is less than that of a high-rise home. Interest rates are also historically low and monthly carrying costs for the additional square footage are reasonable. Our customers are also looking towards multi-generational homes where more space is important. In-law suites and aging-in-place options have become more popular. The demand for residential elevators has also grown. Given the experience with long-term care homes during the crisis, I would expect the drive towards larger multi- generational homes and aging-in- place options may continue. As well, municipal governments have begun changing zoning by-laws for basement apartments and the Ontario Building Code has clarified the regulations for basement units. I also believe that the trend towards working from home and added space for home offices will continue to some degree post-pandemic. The desire for a backyard and some extra space has always had some appeal and I believe will continue to be in demand. Locations close to workplaces, such as those in the Toronto core, seem to be not as important as they once were. Employers and employees have But enough of the gloom and doom: let me pull out my crystal ball (I just had it fixed)… There are some trends in our industry that began before the pandemic and which I believe will continue or accelerate. There was a tendency for our purchasers to select the larger homes in our low-rise housing developments. This trend contrasted with what was happening in the high-rise condominium market, where smaller units were being purchased based on location and affordability. I believe there are a few reasons that larger low-rise homes were and will continue to be purchased. Generally, the proportionate land cost incorporated into the purchase price of a low-rise home is greater than the proportionate land cost incorporated into the price of a high- rise home. In the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), the cost of the land purchase can be up to 60% of the purchase price of a low-rise home. The price increment to get into a larger home as opposed to a smaller home on the same lot is relatively less because the land cost is constant. For example, if you add $50,000 (5%) to the price of a $1,000,000 low-rise home, you can get an extra 250 square realized that, in many cases, working from home can be just as productive. Long commutes to work may no longer be necessary. Also, the prices of larger homes close to downtown Toronto make them largely unattainable. As such, sales in the periphery of the GTHA have grown enormously. In some cases, density is no longer desirable. So, our homes seem to be getting bigger and further from the centre of Toronto – but are they getting better? I would say so. Our homes themselves have bene­ fitted greatly from the introduction 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA Building Better After COVID-19 A t the time of this writing, we are still in the throes of the most significant healthcare crisis in 100 years (lest we forget wars and famine). This too shall pass, but will we forget the COVID-19 pandemic and return to “business as usual” when building homes in the future? I don’t know for sure, but I’d like to think that there will be a sense of normalcy. I’d also like to believe that we will continue to improve our homes and our lives in them. On the other hand, I am quite sure that there will be unintended consequences, both good and bad. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Given the experience with long-term care homes during the crisis, I would expect the drive towards larger multi- generational homes and aging-in-place options may continue. ISTOCKPHOTO956436776
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 of heat or energy recovery ventilators (HRVs or ERVs). I believe the focus on proper ventilation was correct with the introduction of HRVs into the Ontario Building Code. Given our challenges with the pandemic, it seems that those changes were visionary. Good ventilation appears to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Likewise, the trend should be towards ERVs that help with proper humidification (and comfort) in the winter months, which may also help with keeping virus transmission lower within a home. Additionally, the advent of sealed ductwork in our homes has greatly assisted in energy conservation and good HRV/ERV ventilation. (Good air filtration systems may be an opportunity for improving air quality, but I’d like to see more research and testing done to show safety and other benefits.) Finally, I believe the strides we’ve made to make our homes more energy efficient have also made them better, healthier, more flexible and more useful. Although making our homes “pandemic proof” is not an eventuality we had given much thought to, building and designing them more thoughtfully has made these times a little more bearable for anyone that lives in a newer home. So, what’s to come? Will there be another pandemic? What do we do next? As Woody Allen once said: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” BB Lou Bada is vice-president of low-rise construction at Starlane Home Corporation and on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). 4 thebadatest / LOU BADApublisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN Low operational carbon through energy efficiency is now at the point of diminishing marginal returns, where constructing with low embodied carbon is coming more into focus. To reduce GHGEs, homes built with more wood (plants) represent material taken out of the carbon cycle. Buildings made of glass and steel create more carbon debt. A key question is: does a net zero building, covered with solar panels and extra insulation required to get balanced energy, represent more embodied carbon than the low-carbon and low-energy house built with lower GWP in all its materials? Choosing lower embodied carbon is a new way to minimize adverse future effects of global warming. Balancing low energy and low carbon is future-proofing. We’ve dedicated this issue to the topic of future-proofing. One project we’re excited about is a demonstration home built by Country Homes in Milton. The super-semi contrasts two approaches side by side: the Canadian Home Builders’ Association net zero home on the left shares a party wall with the low- carbon, net zero cost path on the right. Both will be monitored for operational energy and their carbon footprints. Read about it in our feature article on page 16. As we’ve learned over the past few months, pandemics can create significant implications for future-proofing. Lou Bada outlines some considerations for home building during COVID-19 on page 3. Extreme weather is another factor to consider when future- proofing, and Gord Cooke shares with us detailed and firsthand experience of living with solar battery storage during a power outage on page 5. The 2020 version of the National Building Code is about to be published. In anticipation of these updates, Paul De Berardis offers us a practical approach to future-proofing for upcoming regulatory requirements on page 9. Meanwhile, the now-repealed Code change requiring electric vehicle charging stations raises new questions about how to provide infrastructure for rapid charging stations. A current innovative approach integrating public transit, car sharing and high-density development is unveiled on page 26. Last but not least, Doug Tarry gets the final word, making a case for building a home that will last for 100 years. Balancing low-energy, low-carbon debt materials with durability is our best strategy for future-proofing our homes. I hope you find this issue helpful for meeting the challenges that lie ahead. BB Balancing low energy and low carbon is future-proofing.
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Employing Batteries to Keep a House Going and Going This simple “light staying on” moment seemed to validate the host of strategies now readily available to all builders and their customers for houses that will be resilient, that will keep going and going, when facing adversities. Admittedly, batteries may not be the first resiliency investment to make. Careful water management details to avoid leaks, increased insulation levels and airtightness for thermal resiliency, foundation choices to avoid flood potential and fire-resistant enclosures all need to be on the decision list. However, my brothers and I can attest to the fact that knowing we needn’t worry about power outages is reassuring. Much like other electrical and mechanical system considerations, there are specific decision steps to take when selecting a battery for a home. To help with that, we enlisted the support of Wil Beardmore of Bluewater Energy in Guelph, Ont. We have recommended Wil to many builders because of his ability to integrate renewable systems into a wide range of applications. Wil noted that up until fairly recently, linking solar photovoltaics (PV) to the early generations of batteries was typically only done in remote off-grid applications (like island cottages) with very modest capacity expectations. With great new battery and storage control options available, grid- connected applications make sense, both for power outage security and optimizing the overall performance of solar PV systems. With that in mind, Wil helped us with the following decision sequence for the lake house (which is served by a 10 kW capacity solar PV array but is still grid-connected). His first question to us was, “What exactly do you want to have access to during a power outage?” That is, you need to determine the peak power demand in kilowatts: the total of the wattage of all the appliances you want to operate during a power outage. This would be the same decision you would have to make when selecting a gas-powered generator. In our case, we wanted the gas boiler and pumps needed for the in-floor heating to be operational, plus the refrigerator, key light fixtures, the internet and a selection of wall plugs. Fortunately, 5 industryexpert / GORD COOKE L ast spring, a few weeks after my brothers and I took possession of the net zero energy lake house we had proudly collaborated on, there was a ferocious windstorm coming off the lake. No one was at the house that morning, but our builder and friend, Derek Seaman, called and asked if it would be okay if he went over and checked out what was happening. I was a little surprised and wondered if he thought there was a potential problem. It turned out the power had been out in town for over four hours, and he wanted to see if the Tesla battery we had invested in for the new place was doing its job. Indeed, he called back excited that everything was humming along and the switch over to the battery had been so quick and smooth we didn’t even need to reset the clocks. With new battery and storage control options, grid-connected applications make sense for power outage security and optimizing overall performance. ISTOCKPHOTO1205548407
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 20206 in a high-performance home with ENERGY STAR appliances, variable speed fans and pumps, and LED lights, that peak demand is in the range of just 1.5 to 2.0 kW. Currently, the smallest Tesla will provide up to 7 kW at peak and 5 kW on a continuous run. Other battery companies have smaller capacities available if desired. The next decision is how much storage capacity, expressed in kilowatt hours, is desired. It’s important to consider how long you want to be able to provide power without relying on an electrical grid or solar PV connection. Unlike a natural gas generator that could run almost indefinitely, a battery has a specific, limited storage capacity. In our case, power outages are common, but most are very short (less than a few hours). However, we did want to be secure over an extended outage of up to two to three days. We felt the 13 kWh capacity of one Powerwall module would provide that assurance. For example, the power draw to run the in-floor heating draws about 250 watts and the refrigerator another 200 watts. In the unlikely event that both ran continuously, the 13 kWh of storage capacity would keep them both going for 29 hours without any solar contribution. In other words, it is pretty straightforward math to figure out both the desired peak demand and hours of capacity. You may well have clients that would want more appliances or longer outage protection, in which case incremental battery modules can be added. With the desired capacity determined, the next decisions include choosing the battery technology, warranty and support, installation configurations and control options. As mentioned, we chose the Tesla Powerwall, which employs lithium-ion technology and offered a 10-year warranty for at least an 80% capacity. Another technology, which is available from Sonnen and employs lithium iron phosphate modules, is considered to be more reliable in applications where the battery is to be charged and discharged more than in a simple power outage security application. For example, in an off-grid application, or if you wanted the solar power your house generated to charge the battery during the day and then discharge it to power the house each night, there would be many more cycles than just keeping a battery topped up and dumping the excess solar into the grid. To best match the technology to the application and installation needs, be sure to choose a qualified solar integrator like Wil. They will meet with your electrician to find the most effective installation tie-in into the grid with the safety disconnects approved for each jurisdiction. As I write this article, there is yet another ferocious windstorm whipping through southern Ontario. The Gateway App, which Wil recommended to us, notified me two hours ago that power was out again at the lake house. My brother and his family were pleased that the app was tracking how much power they were using and how much power was left within the battery. They will be warm and cozy and still have access to internet, lights and the major appliances for at least another day. High-performance homes, even with very low energy loads, empower you and your home buyers to take the next logical step of integrating power security into your offering. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. Left, the Tesla Powerwall installed at the Cooke cottage seamlessly supplied energy during a recent power outage. Above, the Gateway control and monitoring interface.
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  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 With many of the provinces bringing their own unique challenges and circumstances to the table, reaching consensus and pushing national convergence on technical requirements is not an easy task. To further complicate matters, certain provinces have legislation enforcing the current 2015 version of the NBC. Other provinces are still using the 2010 NBC, and then some provinces – like Ontario – have their own provincial building code. The national movement towards harmonization has driven greater interest from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, which have traditionally had their own building codes that they’ve independently adapted from the NBC. Upon releasing the next edition of the NBC, Ontario can take up to two years to review and do its own due diligence and consultation towards increasing harmonization with the Ontario Build­ ing Code (OBC) and the latest NBC. With respect to low-rise housing, the bulk of the proposed NBC changes relate to advancing energy efficiency. Most notably, the introduction of tiered energy performance paths now seems inevitable in the upcoming NBC. The tiered energy performance paths were reportedly based on cost impacts and energy savings analogous to existing voluntary housing programs, with the proposed increasing tiers approximating the energy savings targets of ENERGY STAR, R-2000, Net Zero Energy Ready and Passive House programs. The tiered energy paths are intended to create stepping stones for builders to meet the increasingly stringent tiers for new homes that will be ratcheted up from one tier to the next, to eventually reach net zero energy ready. The bean counters produced costing data to demonstrate the incremental costs will be “only” an additional $30,800 to achieve the highest tier for a typical gas-heated, single-detached home. It was also concluded that targeting the highest tier is more difficult to achieve in gas-heated homes than in electrically heated homes, propelling 9 A Practical Approach to Future- proofing Regulatory Requirements industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS The tiered energy paths are intended to create stepping stones for builders to meet the increasingly stringent tiers for new homes. T he next edition of the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) is now slated to be released by the end of 2021. As part of ongoing regulatory efforts to transform the development of construction codes, the provinces, territories and federal government have committed to increasing the harmonization of technical requirements across Canada. This initiative is being undertaken supposedly to help streamline the national and provincial code development processes, while providing greater technical consistency across Canada. However, since the government’s announcement to harmonize construction standards, I have taken part and followed along in the ongoing national code development process – but I cannot describe the process as streamlined by any means.
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202010 an anticipated shift towards all- electric heating systems over gas. This is where the national tactic to a tiered code demonstrates that a one-size- fits-all approach has its limitations. In a province like Ontario, where the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reports that Ontario’s current installed energy capacity largely consists of natural gas (29%) and is increasing with the phase- out of coal-fired generation, does pushing towards electrically heated homes really make sense across Canada? For provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan, the logic is even more flawed as electricity is almost completely produced from fossil fuels (both coal and natural gas), yet this fact is not being adequately considered as national technical requirements are being derived. Instead of a natural gas-fired furnace heating a home, an electrically heated home would be drawing power derived from natural gas generation. Makes sense, eh? This builds upon my summer 2020 article (“The Pursuit of Energy Efficiency”), where I tried to emphasize that building codes are moving in a direction that is solely focused on operational energy efficiency and governments are making drastic policy decisions without considering the effects of embodied carbon. This notion is also echoed in the article “No Country for Old Ways” (see page 16), where builder Country Homes is working towards being more carbon conscious in the materials they specify for their homes. I get it: regulating operational energy through building codes is a simpler task then delving into the world of carbon accounting. However, if we consider the embodied carbon from the building materials and products that go into a home, I truly believe alternate strategies will emerge in how we develop future building code requirements to reduce housing-related carbon, considering both embodied and operational carbon. Ultimately, we must remember the overarching goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change – not this fixation of regulating net zero energy homes simply because this has become a politically sensationalized buzzword that few people truly understand. This raises the question as to who is driving this seemingly flawed climate change policy. The federal government recently tabled Bill C-12, which, if enacted, would legally bind Canada to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This would require the feds to set reduction targets every five years leading up to 2050, and to regularly report on the progress two years before each milestone. However, one small caveat: the proposed law allows the current Trudeau government to avoid the very accountability and transparency it intends to impose on future governments. The first accountability milestone is proposed for 2030 instead of 2025, so the Trudeau government must only establish a greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030, but not actually be accountable for achieving the change they are trying to legislate. Imposing climate change accountability on future governments while doing very little during the current term is an evasive political manoeuvre, avoiding scrutiny ahead of the 2023 election year. This undermines the prime minister’s position that fighting climate change should be a non-partisan effort. Going back to summer 2019, when the House of Commons declared a national climate emergency to support the country’s commitment to meeting the emissions targets outlined in the Paris Agreement, very little has been done to address this “emergency.” The law doesn’t impose penalties on governments that fail to meet their promises. In fact, it almost foreshadows the possibility that they may fall short. Therefore, imposing a framework for creating targets and periodic check-ins can only do so much. Unfortunately, there have been and continue to be a lot of bad ideas out there for fighting climate change. What we really need moving forward to meaningfully chip away at climate change initiatives is for all levels of government to bring forward intelligent and cost-efficient ways of reducing emissions that don’t harm the economy or consumers. Governments need to collaboratively find ways to meaningfully address climate change while leaving politics aside, avoiding If we consider the embodied carbon from the building materials and products that go into a home, I believe alternate strategies will emerge in how we develop future building code requirements.
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 the many flavour-of-the-month type solutions. The anticipated lofty requirements in the NBC remind me of the ambitious climate change targets introduced by the federal government in Bill C-12, except home builders will be mandated to meet these technical code require­ments regardless of costs or practical challenges, whereas governments that fall short on their climate change promises are too easily forgiven. As the next edition of the NBC is finalized in 2021 and Ontario begins undertaking the process of harmonizing its technical requirements in the OBC, it is my hope that the NBC will provide a good framework. But Ontario can build upon the existing OBC to find a more provincially focused solution to advance housing emission reductions while also considering the cost implications to new home buyers already facing affordability challenges. Codes need to focus on pragmatic solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, not regulating these buzzword-type solutions driven by politics. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at 11 All these products meet ENERGY STAR’s higher standards For more information or to order, contact your local distributor. vänEE 100H vänEE 200HvänEE 60H vänEE 60H-V+ vänEE 90H-V ECMvänEE 40H+vänEE 90H-V+ vänEE 60H+ vänEE 50H1001 HRV vänEE Gold Series 2001 HRV vänEE Gold Series vänEE air exchangers: improved line-up meets ENERGY STAR® standards Superior Energy Efficiency Ideal for LEED homes and new building codes 5-year warranty* FRESH AIR JUST GOT GREENER *ON MOST MODELS. Governments need to collaboratively find ways to meaningfully address climate change while leaving politics aside.
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 In particular, it is the HVAC contractor that offers builders the greatest insight. That’s because they have to know what plumbers and electricians do, “whereas a plumber and an electrician don’t really care what the HVAC guy does,” explains Tony Di Clemente, general manager of Bolton, Ontario-based Aria Comfort Systems Inc. For his part, Di Clemente acts the role of an HVAC consultant as much as an HVAC contractor, and for builders willing to listen, he has a lot of wisdom to share based on his vast industry experience. “I educate the builder, especially with projects that are higher density and [where] you have a lot less space to deal with for mechanical systems,” he explains. He’ll also advise builders on issues related to the proper venting of mechanical systems and gas codes. A 20-year industry veteran, Di Clemente has partnered with many leading-edge builders over his career, including working on the first LEED Platinum project in the Greater Toronto Area in 2003 with Rodeo Homes. The Newmarket development was part of Rodeo’s Ecologic homes series, and at the time was quite unique in its use of combi systems within larger, single-family detached houses. Previously, he says, hydronic systems were mostly limited to smaller, high-density units. Di Clemente is a big believer of combi systems because, as the Building Code becomes more stringent in terms of energy consumption and efficiency, these systems will help reduce the home’s carbon footprint while offering a better, more efficient solution. Other key builders Di Clemente has worked with include National Homes, Countrywide Homes, Royal Pine Homes, Crystal Homes, Royalpark Homes and Treasure Hill Homes. He also recently engaged with Country Homes, and his influence was a big reason why the builder opted to try a second approach in its discovery home in Innisfil (for more on this project, see “No Country for Old Ways,” page 16), including the use of combi systems. Working with Country Homes has been a breath of fresh air for Di Clemente. “A lot of builders are of the mentality of ‘hey, don’t tell me how to build a house – I know what I’m doing, I don’t need your help,’” he laments. “Whereas Country Homes is very open to innovation, energy conservation and newer, leading-edge products [and] techniques. They want to be a leader in the industry.” Christian Rinomato, head of sustainability at Country Homes, says that they knew they had to come up with a heating/cooling solution that was not only efficient, but easy to use for the home owners. That’s where Di Clemente really helped. “Tony was able to take us through all of our options, pinpointing pros and cons, which allowed us to not only see what is out there currently, but also what will make sense for us,” Rinomato says. Di Clemente maintains that it will take a group effort across the industry to drive forward sustainability solutions. As the government clamps down even tighter on GHG reduction and the Building Code becomes even stricter, “we’re forced to come up with alternatives,” he says. 13 Getting on Track with HVAC Builders can benefit from the wisdom of an experienced heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor industrynews / ROB BLACKSTIEN A n HVAC contractor, a plumber and an electrician walk into a bar... Sure, this sounds like the start of a bad joke – but in reality, this trio of trades is very important for builders that are trying to plan the most energy efficient homes possible. Glow tankless DHWH with Airmax low velocity air handler used in the Country Homes super-semi project (story page 16).
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202014 “There’s got to be a pie in the sky discussion with different groups in the industry to say ‘what if we did something like this? What would it take to produce this type of product?’” Isn’t that what Enbridge’s Savings by Design charrette accomplishes, at least on a micro level? Di Clemente definitely agrees, asserting that all parties emerge from these sessions better educated and ready to take more of a house- as-a-system approach. He says that based on the program, specific trades better understand their tasks, which helps builders develop a more holistic strategy to airtightness and energy efficiency. In many cases, builders will simply call up an HVAC contractor, tell them the square footage of the home and ask them for a quote. Di Clemente’s approach greatly differs in this regard. A huge believer in both zoning and staging as ways to really improve energy efficiency, he wants to be brought in at the design stage so he can ask the builder about not just the size of the home, but the layout, the orientation and even the solar heat gain coefficient of the windows to ensure he can propose the most efficient system for that specific house. With home owners often shelling out $1.8 million or more for a house, their expectations change, Di Clemente explains. They won’t accept cold or hot zones and inefficient energy consumption anymore. “So, as a builder, how do you deliver the product that is going to satisfy their expectations?” he asks. And that’s exactly where a talk with Tony can reap benefits for builders. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 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. Visit tolearnmore! orcallusat 1-855-247-4200
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  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202016 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN No Country From left to right: Anthony Primier (site super), Bill Manzon (vice president of construction), Christian Rinomato (head of sustainability) of Country Homes and Emma Smetaniuk (sales representative, building insulation) of ROCKWOOL in front of the super-semi project in Milton.
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 17 This third-generation builder is blazing a trail in carbon reduction that is likely a preview of things to come for the industry I n recent years, the lion’s share of sustainable building efforts has focused on improving the energy efficiency and airtightness of homes. And while reducing operational carbon is a valiant goal in the fight to stem greenhouse gases (GHGs), large parts of the industry have been overlooking a more pressing concern: the materials being used to actually build these houses. forOld Ways MARCIECOSTELLOPHOTOGRAPHY
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202018 This issue is right at the forefront for Woodbridge, Ontario-based Country Homes. As a third-generation builder that has been in business for more than 50 years, Country Homes may be fairly new to the sustainable building game, but it has quickly recognized where the industry can make the biggest difference. “At the end of the day, operational carbon is less important than embodied carbon,” says Christian Rinomato, head of sustainability for Country Homes and the grandson of founder Tony Rinomato. “We’re selling energy back to the United States because we have a surplus. That’s not our issue. We need to step up as an industry and focus our attention on the building materials that we’re using in order to have a shot at saving this planet.” Rinomato – who is perhaps the poster child for the next generation of sustainable-conscious builders – clearly has a passion for reducing embodied carbon, and he came across it honestly. After completing a degree in sustainability from Ryerson University, he says he had his eyes opened about “the true realities that we face when it comes to construction materials,” thanks to Chris Magwood of the Endeavour Centre. Now, Rinomato is driving these concepts within Country Homes, where he’s been working in some capacity throughout his entire life and full- time since 2015. He’s been mentored in the finer points of home construction by Bill Manzon, Country’s vice-president of construction and a 40-plus year industry veteran. Ironically, it’s been a two-way relationship as Rinomato has been teaching Manzon about sustainable building practices. “He’s eager on it. It’s good to be eager on something, and I’ve got his back in supporting him and trying to make it realistic,” Manzon says of Rinomato. Rinomato’s passion in these prac­ tices is really pushing the company’s agenda. “The moment I started under­ standing embodied carbon four years ago and realizing how important it was, that’s when I immediately started taking action,” he explains. Now it’s become a vital component of the company’s raison d’être. “We’re striving to become one of the leaders in sustainable homes in low-rise production home building,” he says. With this in mind, the 25-employee company is putting these experiments into practice with a unique discovery home in Milton that’s currently under construction. Dubbed the “super-semi,” one side of the house is being constructed to net zero, while the other half is testing high-performance techniques using low-carbon materials. Rinomato says the company is defining “net zero” – a buzzword that seems to have different meanings for different people – as a home that will produce as much energy as it consumes. On the other side, they’re focused on low carbon (both embodied and operational), minimal operating costs and minimal construction costs. Christian Rinomato, Country Homes’ head of sustainability and advocate for the innovative design process. “The moment I started under­standing embodied carbon four years ago and realizing how important it was, that’s when I immediately started taking action.”
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 The net zero portion has a specific focus on achieving an airtightness of under one air change per hour. Solar panels and high efficiency HVAC systems are being employed to help deliver the energy balance. For the low-carbon side, they’re using the EverVolt battery storage instead of solar panels. And while the airtightness will be the same and the building materials will be pretty similar, Country will select only low-carbon finishes, which they won’t do on the net zero half. For instance, triple-pane windows will be employed on the net zero side whereas the low-carbon portion will use low U-value windows. Currently under construction, the discovery home is expected to be finished by spring 2022. Country’s goal is to monitor the energy efficiency over the course of a year to see how the two sides compare from an energy consumption and cost savings perspective. “Basically, I want to differentiate the cost over a year, especially when it comes to battery vs. solar,” Rinomato says. Ultimately, he says he’d like to make it standard practice to use low-carbon materials, but finding out how financial- ly feasible this will be on a production level is step one. If necessary, Rinomato says that Country Homes could initially offer this feature as an upgrade. The reason why embodied carbon is gaining attention is because there are many building materials that are actually doing damage to our GHG reduction efforts. For instance, XPS foam is an extremely popular product for creating airtight homes, but Rinomato says it’s 1,400 times worse than carbon from a GHG emissions perspective. This product will do 150 years of damage, he explains. 19 Attic Walls Exterior Walls Exposed Floors Basement Walls Cathedral Ceilings R60 Cellulose Panasonic High Static Exhaust Fans Low Solar Heat Gain Windows U-value = 1.53 / SHGC = 0.17 Rockwool Party Walls BP R5 XP Sheathing with R24 Rockwool Batts Battery Storage Combination Heating System Finished Ready R6 CB80 + R14 Rockwool Batts R32 Rockwool Batts PANASONIC ERV EVERVOLT 12 kWh INVERTER T-180 TANKLESS AIRMAX AIR HANDLER COUNTRY HOMES “SUPER-SEMI” LOW CARBON NET COST ZERO Embodied carbon is gaining attention because many building materials actually do damage to our GHG reduction efforts. Country Homes’ unique discovery home in Milton will test high-performance techniques featuring low-carbon materials such as wood fibre sheathing and stone wool insulation.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202020 Another high embodied carbon material Country Homes now eschews is pink blown fibreglass. Instead, they’ve switched to 100% recycled cellulose – which is a lot less harmful, Rinomato says – for the attics in all its homes. Going forward, he plans to research products like hemp insulation (which has a negative carbon embodied factor) and hemp concrete: “We’re looking to experiment with more holistic materials that could be healthy for the home as well.” Hemp insulation is an all-natural material that provides the same R-values that are needed, but it’s the cost that they’re grappling with at the moment. While there are instances when comparable or better materials with lower embodied carbon are less expensive, that’s not usually the case. Clearly, the path to innovation isn’t always cheap, but it’s necessary to change the industry and – ultimately – the world. The other hurdle? Getting customer buy-in. While selling sustainable features that improve the home’s comfort level and lower utility bills is easier because they’re tangible benefits, how do you sell something you can’t feel or see, like lower embodied carbon? “It really comes down to people who are more environmentally conscious,” Rinomato says. He believes that the more environ­ mentally conscious generations to come will be more inclined to consider these elements. Manzon has also bought into the importance of reducing embodied carbon. “I think it’s a good way to look at the future, because the younger people today are more aware of embodied carbon and [know that] we have to look after our planet,” he says. “Our planet’s in trouble, right?” However, Manzon does concede that selling this will require educating the home buyer: “People buy houses not because some part of the product came from low-carbon manufacturing; people buy houses because of location and price.” He thinks customers might not appreciate it right off the bat, “but in the long run, people will learn what we do, and then you build up a reputation for doing something right.” As carbon reduction becomes more urgent, this is an area in which the industry can really make strides, especially considering we’ve nearly tapped out in terms of how much energy savings we can get out of homes. So it makes sense that this may be the next focus for Code changes. At the very least, this is a value differentiator for Country Homes, and as the Building Code becomes even more stringent and will likely eventually shift its focus to embodied carbon, the company will be ahead of the game. “It needs to be included in the Building Code, without a doubt. Because that’s the only way that it will force manufacturers to step up to lower their embodied carbon for materials and also to find alternatives for builders,” Rinomato says. He believes this is when alternative building materials like hemp insulation will really come to light. And builders like Country Homes will be able to show the industry that there’s no downside to using it as “it’s actually a superior product.” Clearly, the path to innovation isn’t always cheap, but it’s necessary to change the industry and – ultimately – the world. Emma Smetaniuk of ROCKWOOL explains the benefits of using stone wool in a party wall, including enhanced ASTC and fire separation. MARCIECOSTELLOPHOTOGRAPHY
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 The next frontier to tackle will be seeking alternatives to brick and stone, both heavy hitters for carbon. Rinomato concedes there’s an aesthetics issue to overcome here, “but it could be other materials that are just as superior and aesthetically pleasing.” Adding a focus on sustainability may be a fairly recent development for Country Homes, but the builder is no stranger to driving innovations that put the customer first. For instance, Rinomato says they were the first builder to offer 10-foot ceilings on the ground floor and finished basements as standard features. “We’re always striving to include features in the home so that our home buyers don’t have to spend a lot of money [upgrading] once they’ve purchased the home,” he explains. Country Homes has certainly had its share of accolades recently, earning the Tarion Service Excellence Award while winning 2020 Home Owner Mark of Excellence awards for Builder of Choice and Best Customer Experience. Meanwhile, Tony Rinomato took home some hardware as Industry Ambassador of the Year. The company also bagged a Green Development Leadership Award from Halton a couple of years ago. Bill Manzon and Christian Rinomato are grateful for the support of their many sponsors on the project. This includes Building Products of Canada, CRAFT Flooring, Panasonic, and ROCKWOOL International, to name a few. And as the industry catches on to the importance of reducing embodied carbon, and the Building Code follows suit, it’s a safe bet that Country Homes will be in line for plenty more awards and recognition for being a pioneer in this evolving space. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer.   21 IT’S OUR NATURE 11 877 828 1888 CRAFT is dedicated to creating uncommonly beautiful wood floors that are as kind to the planet as they are luxurious. SHOP AND SAMPLE NOW:
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202022 sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN W ith more than 45,000 five-star Google reviews, Reliance Home Comfort™ has earned its place as a leader in consumer products. But the company is just as dedicated to providing builders with that same quality service. That’s something key account manager Jennifer Hurd has been helping deliver for the past 14 years through the Builder Program. “Let’s face it: builders are looking to save their home buyers some money,” Hurd says. “And with our Builder Program, neither of them has to purchase water heating, HVAC, water purification and smart home equipment. They can rent instead.” Renting offers other advantages, too – like no service costs in the future for home owners. Because of the greater demand for tankless hot water heaters and boilers, more builders – and home buyers – are choosing rental for water heating as well as for heating and cooling their homes. To implement the program, and to help builders reduce their costs by reducing their permitting and other costs, Reliance has teamed up with Clearsphere. The partnership has benefitted the company, Hurd says, because of Clearsphere’s experience with builders and its commitment to education through workshops. What gets covered isn’t just products and services to increase energy efficiency while reducing costs, but also navi­ gating legislation and building codes. Hurd says she’s introduced many builders to the program and has learned “something new every time as well. It’s a great way to help builders learn how to navigate the Building Code, save costs and build better – even more desirable – homes.” The interest in Reliance’s HVAC rental program is growing among builders. They want to know more about combination applications, including heating with domestic Warming Up with Reliance Helping Builders Build Smarter “It’s a great way to help builders learn how to navigate the Building Code, save costs and build better – even more desirable – homes.” Reliance Home Comfort account manager Jennifer Hurd. ANIAPOTYRALA/ANIAPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202024 hot water, Hurd says. Her recommendations for new water heating technology run the gamut from high-efficiency power vent tanks, power direct vents, tankless, boilers for combination applications and electric water heaters. Hurd has worked with builders for a long time. Prior to her current position with Reliance, she and her husband owned a security company for residential housing. “One day, a headhunter called and asked if I would be interested in working at a water heater company. I said I would go for the interview,” she recalls. Reliance gave her a choice to work in either the builder market or the security side. “Of course, I picked the new construction builder market,” Hurd says. “Three weeks in, I signed my first builder. From then on, I knew this was my calling.” Fourteen years later, she’s still there – winning the President’s Sales Award three years in a row, and currently serving on the Board of Directors for BILD as well as the Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity Durham, and past president for the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association from 2013 to 2014. Clearly, Hurd likes housing. And over the years, she has noticed major changes. “I’ve seen a continuous move toward higher efficiency equipment because of tighter building codes but also driven by consumer demand for greener homes. It’s made home building increasingly complex.” As a result, she says, “builders are hungry for solutions, knowledge and efficiencies. But they’re also keen to build better homes – not just up to code, but better than by as much as 20%.” To that end, Reliance is working on a smart builder series that will help builders build smarter and better at a lower cost. Stay tuned. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at  LowCostCodeCompliancewiththeBetterThanCodePlatform This rating is available for homes built by leading edge builders who have chosen to advance beyond current energy efficiency programs and have taken the next step on the path to full sustainability. BetterThanCode This Platform helps Builders with Municipal Approvals, Subdivision Agreements and Building Permits. Navigating the performance path can be complicated. A code change happened in 2017 which is causing some confusion. A new code will be coming in 2022. How will you comply with the new requirements? Let the BTC Platform – including the HERS Index – help you secure Municipal Subdivision Approvals and Building Permits and enhance your marketing by selling your homes’ energy efficiency. 45 BetterThanCodeUsestheHERSIndextoMeasureEnergyEfficiency TheLowertheScoretheBetter–MeasureableandMarketable OBC 2012 OBC 2017 NEAR ZERO 80 60 40 20 Email or call 416-481-7517
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202026 specialinterest / ALEX NEWMAN S eeing a bright future in the development of electric vehicles (EVs), energy storage and charging, Rick Szymczyk incorporated Upstartz Energy in 2017 as part of his work leading go-to- market technology and product development strategies for energy storage (battery) based charging systems. Szymczyk’s career over 30+ years at General Motors included assignments in the assembly centre located in Oshawa. His engineering experience with electric and hybrid vehicles dates back to 2006 and includes leadership of the only design team in Canada assigned to the first-generation Chevrolet Volt that launched in 2010. Szymczyk met Tanya Krackovic in 2017. They both saw enormous opportunities developing vehicle sharing and mobility services that could advance towards an electrified future where people could adopt the technology in a convenient and cost-effective way. The idea was to promote “a shared approach to both EVs and the supporting infrastructure … to lower the overall cost and enable more people to adopt the technology,” Krackovic says. Doing that meant delivering a better mobility model, Szymczyk says. “Today a person goes out to buy an EV, and either installs a charging station at home or uses one at work or at a station on the way to work.” What usually ends up happening, he says, is that the EV sits about 95% of the time, and the charger is actively used only about 10% of the time. That means a lot of unused car and charging potential. At workplaces, people often develop a casual social structure, with one plugging in the mornings and the other in the afternoons, Szymczyk says. “That works fine with one or two vehicles, but with dozens it gets very complicated.” The problem for EVs is always infrastructure, he adds. “Even when a workplace offers multiple chargers, the issue is how to divvy up energy across those cars.” Upstartz intends to develop a sharing plan by creating infrastructure whereby a group of five or six vehicles connected to one building can share both the vehicle and the charging infrastructure. This way, you get higher usage out of both, achieve greater cost effectiveness and can offer access to more people, which ultimately leads to greater adoption of the technology. “The beauty of this is you don’t have to buy the car or infrastructure,” Szymczyk says, “and you’re still contributing to the greening of the economy, because of sharing in relevant pods.” The sharing plan works well in both high-rise and low-rise situations. If a condo owner has an EV and paid for parking, they’re normally restricted to charging at Level 1 (which takes all Building an Electric Mobility Future Upstartz Helps Drivers and Builders Save Time and Money
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 night), but this provides access to the quick charge of Level 3. “You literally have a charging station right on the property,” Szymczyk says. “And if you don’t own the EV, you can become part of a smaller collective that ‘owns’ one of the cars.” Using the charging station all the time maxes out the number of vehicles that can use this energy simultaneously, he adds. It also works in suburban low- rise contexts. The developer sets aside space for charging stations and parking spots in a convenient location in the development (for example, close to a school, shopping centre or homes). That way, users have access to an EV if they don’t own one. Furthermore, parking your car in a GO train lot while you take the train has a vehicle sitting idle all day – so why not have the charger used by others during the day? Szymczyk asks. Upstartz’s e-shuttle bus service will bring people to and from the train so they can get to work and home again utilizing a shared service. And as he points out, “soon, you’ll be paying for parking when you drive to the GO. Having access to an e-shuttle bus – especially at peak hours – and not having to pay car parking charges is ideal.” To test the idea, Upstartz is involved in a pilot project, called EVability Maas (it’s an acronym for Mobility As A Service), where builders host 25 kW chargers for the use of residents in the condo or townhome developments as long as they are within 10 kilometres of a GO station. The first pilot site at the Ontario Tech University Automotive Centre of Excellence in Oshawa will be used by faculty members and other stakeholders. 27 519-489-2541 As energy continues to become a bigger concern, North American building codes and energy programs are moving towards giving credit for and/or requiring Airtightness testing. AeroBarrier, a new and innovative envelope sealing technology, is transforming the way residential, multifamily, and commercial buildings seal the building envelope. AeroBarrier can help builders meet any level of airtightness required, in a more consistent and cost-effective way. Take the guesswork out of sealing the envelope with AeroBarrier’s proprietary technology. “The beauty of this is you don’t have to buy the car or infrastructure,” Szymczyk says, “and you’re still contributing to the greening of the economy, because of sharing in relevant pods.” COURTESYUPSTARTZENERGYLTD©DARKOVUJIC
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202028 This will be followed by a second pilot at a builder’s site. Upstartz is accepting applications from builders whose development projects are close to a GO station and where residents are driving to the station to get to work. Funding can be available for any builder who is interested in piloting the technology in a development, either high-rise or low-rise. The bottom line is that multi-unit developments with 100-amp panels in each unit cannot support widespread Level 2 or Level 3 rapid charging. Upstartz believes it has the solution for this. Krackovic and Szymczyk think this is a win for any developer, in any development model, because more and more people will be bringing EVs to their new home, whether it’s a condo or low rise. “If they know the developer has a charging station in place, and that the way the chargers are grouped will be very cost effective, it becomes a further incentive to purchase,” explains Krackovic. For the developer, it’s a case of rightsizing the land use, because parking minimums cost developers money and take up land that could otherwise be used for retail. BB To find out more about the funding and application process, please contact or Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET Funding can be available for any builder who is interested in piloting the technology in a development, either high-rise or low-rise.
  31. 31. Check out our website at
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202030 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY The general public is seeing car companies build better vehicles than ever, with longer warranties and greater durability, while builder warranty programs have remained stagnant. My last SUV went over 200,000 kilometres and was still running well when I traded it in – but our industry is designed to move onward after our mandated obligations are met. At the same time, we lose a tremendous opportunity to build lifetime clients of our brand. Think of the brand connections made between the local car dealer and so many of their customers (“Built Ford Tough,” “RAM Tough,” “Chevy Drives the Motor City”). In a seller’s market, this is a lesser consideration – but in a tight market, it could make the difference for your brand’s survival. These thoughts are running through my head as I’m writing this article, just as I’ve finished my four- week webinar series, “From Bleeding Edge to Leading Edge: A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes.” I feel honoured that Enbridge picked up the webinar series, based upon the book I am writing of the same name, before the book has even been finished. I’ve found writing 60+ slides per week created a real sense of urgency as well as a great time of reflection and of reaching conclusions – not just for concluding the webinar series (and by extension the book), but also for where we are as an industry and where we need to go. When we think about the decisions to be made when building a home, it can be overwhelming. Then consider what we have to provide for a building permit, or what needs to be included for an energy program, and how we need to balance customer choice, affordability, durability, health and a variety of complex issues. There’s a lot going on, isn’t there? So, I can appreciate why builders may ask, “Why are you making me consider one more thing?” On the other hand, the homes we are building will, or at the very least should, stand for 100 years or more. In my mind, that creates a moral contract between ourselves as builders and the future generations of home owners. Because of this moral obligation, I think it is imperative that we think about the four key considerations I discuss early in the book. Before we build, can we improve on the following future-proofing concepts? • Reduce our carbon footprint, including embodied carbon. (Embodied carbon is the sum total of all the emissions associated with harvesting, transporting, manufacturing, installing and, finally, disposing of building materials. Of key importance are the “cradle to jobsite” emissions, or the upfront carbon footprint of building materials.) • Include climate resilient construction to help the home be more durable to withstand more severe and more frequent storms. • Improve the indoor air quality of our homes (learn about the My Home Is a Tree campaign in the last paragraph of this article). • Design for occupant comfort (or “Design for humans, not machines”: beware of energy modelling programs that favour windows that gain heat, rather than high-performance windows). I understand these four design concepts are not typical considerations for either Code-built homes or high- performance homes such as ENERGY STAR or net zero. In some cases, they are touched upon. What I am suggest­ ing is that they be founding principles. At the very least, they need considering. Why Build a Hundred-Year Home? W ould you buy a new car off the lot today that carried only a one-year warranty? Probably not. Yet, as builders, that’s exactly what we do with our new home warranties. Meeting client expectations of a longer lasting, more durable home is not broadly considered, yet that is what is becoming the norm in other industries. When you think about it, how long is a Code-built home designed to last? 50 years? Perhaps. The home was built by my dad in 1979, and boy, has working on this home been an eye opener. When people complain “they don’t build them like they used to,” I say, “and that’s a good thing.”
  33. 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 At the same time that all of this has been going on, I’ve been renovating one of our rental homes that we have decided to sell. Up to this time, I had not been involved with our rental portfolio. We were looking at updating the kitchen, replacing the HVAC system and taking advantage of the energy retrofit program with an energy audit. The home was built by my dad in 1979, and boy, has working on this home been an eye opener. When people complain “they don’t build them like they used to,” I say, “and that’s a good thing.” This home is proof of how we build better. I was fortunate that I’d brought my friend, Scott Davis from WINMAR, in to do the base ren­ ovation as we were going to upgrade the kitchen. Scott is a “do it right” kinda person and we’ve done several missions to Puerto Rico together, so I knew we were in good hands. And then I got the photos from the reno. I t didn’t take long to realize we were now into a full gut job of the kitchen and dining area. After Scott’s crew 31 The ravages of time and moisture damage provide lessons for building durable and resilient housing for the future.
  34. 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 202032 dealt with the mould, it was time to bring in the framers. There were multiple challenges to deal with, starting with that famous 1970s detail: the kitchen cantilever. You know the one: it has tentest on the wall, no air sealing and virtually no insulation in the cantilever area. Just for fun, it has a reduced heel height of about 3.5" above the wall, so there’s no room for proper insulation. But wait, it gets better: somewhere along the way, several years ago, the deck renovator who was contracted to replace the decks decided to save a few hundred dollars by eliminating a couple of deck posts and lagged the one end of the deck right to the cantilever rim joist. One of our younger framers, Chase McCormick, got the assignment to bring the home up to the 2000s and make it safe. By the time we were done, the deck was pulled off the wall awaiting future posts, the cantilever had to be rebuilt, the roof extended, continuous insulation added and a drainage plane installed in advance of the siding. Later on, we will be foaming the cantilever floor, wall and ceiling along with the home’s rim joist. We’re insulating the basement with a variation of our Optimum Basement Wall, and then the team from AeroBarrier is going to come in and tighten up the home. That means the naturally aspirating water heater and furnace are gone and a new high- performance HVAC system is being installed, including an air source heat pump and energy recovery ventilator so the new owner will have continuous fresh air. Anyway, you get the idea. Okay, so what’s the connection between this renovation and future-proofing of newly built high- performance homes? This home was 41 years old and was beginning to fail. Sure, the warranty had long since passed, even if you were to offer an extended warranty. By any measurement, it would not have made it to be a century home without a severe intervention of the envelope. The flaws in this home are ones that most builders and building officials now know need to be avoided. But it’s a great learning experience for our renovators on how to add the next 60 years to a home – and for our builders to learn about the importance of considering climate resiliency, carbon reduction, indoor air quality and occupant comfort as part of our long-term strategic plan for building a hundred-year home. One final note: As an industry moving towards even tighter homes, we need to improve on the indoor air quality offered to our customers. As such, I am inviting builders and renovators to join the My Home Is a Tree campaign and help reduce our industry’s carbon footprint by going to and taking up the challenge. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario. Contact us for product inquiries: | 800.267.6830 Your builds aren’t cookie cutter. Why should your HVAC systems be? Take your builds to the next level with Navien’s High performance for better builds. The H2Air kit is an add-on accessory for the Navien NPE-A Series tankless water heater that creates a high efficiency space heating and endless domestic hot water system. The H2Air Kit comes with the highest rated performance using CSA P9.11 test standard.
  35. 35. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 36 | WINTER 2020 Trailblazer Matt Risinger Builder and building science expert COMFORTBOARD™ has received ICC-ES validated product acceptance as continuous insulation for multiple applications. For more information visit Continuous stone wool insulation that improves thermal performance Trailblazing requires confidence, expertise and a desire to do things right. Matt Risinger uses non-combustible, vapor-permeable and water-repellent COMFORTBOARD™ to help wall assemblies dry to the outside, keeping clients comfortable inside. It cuts down on heat loss and improves energy efficiency so that what you build today positively impacts your business tomorrow. 3773
  36. 36. * HST is not applicable and will not be added to incentive payments. Terms and conditions apply. To be eligible for the Savings by Design Residential program, projects must be located in the former Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. service area. Visit for details. © 2020 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. Savings by Design | Residential Designforenergyefficiency and sustainability — Savings by Design gives builders free access to industry experts, energy modelling and financial incentives to help build the high-performance and sustainable homes that buyers want. Get free expert help and up to $ 100,000* in incentives Why participate? Improve energy performance. Avoid costly changes during construction. Enhance comfort, health and wellness. Future-proof for a changing climate. Reduce environmental impact. Meet buyers’ changing needs. togetthemostoutofyournextproject.