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Better Builder, Issue 32 / Winter 2019


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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, Issue 32 / Winter 2019

  1. 1. FutureProofing and EnergyChoices PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 INSIDE The Heat Is On Resilient Construction The GHGST Credit Ready, Set, Charge! TEETH Checkup What’s Your Carbon Footprint? ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019
  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 32 | WINTER 2019 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 The Third Wave Building Resiliency and Future Proofing Our Homes by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 ‘Charging’ Ahead with Electric Vehicles by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 Resilient Construction by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 9 Incentivize Green Construction and Builders Will Build It The Greenhouse Gas Sales Tax Credit by Paul De Berardis INDUSTRY NEWS 13 Clean and Green Canadian Carbon Pricing Policy by Alex Newman SITE SPECIFIC 22 ROCKWOOL Uses a Team Approach with Builders by Alex Newman SPECIAL INTEREST 26 TEETH Checkup A Look Inside a Collaborative Research Project by Steffanie Adams BUILDER NEWS 28 Ready, Set, Charge! by Rob Blackstien FROM THE GROUND UP 30 What’s Your Carbon Footprint? Future Proofing for the Carbon Tax by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 The Heat Is On A small Richmond Hill company may have the next big thing in home heating innovation on its hands. by Rob Blackstien 30 ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 On our cover: Alan Clarke of iGEN Technologies (left) and Dugald Wells of Marshall Homes. Photograph by Patricia Howell. Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 5 28
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 20192 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. “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” — Alvin Toffler I n 1980, Alvin Toffler published a bestseller called The Third Wave. He described three historic phases in which civilization has developed. The first was the agricultural transition from a hunter-gatherer structure. The second was the industrial age, largely driven by the burning of cheap fossil fuels like coal and petroleum. The third is the information age, where we connect to the internet using our smartphones in a process that is highly dependent on base metals. We know now that the drivers of our prosperity have brought us to our current situation. When we think about Toffler’s quote today, the “big thing” is climate change. The “small things” are what we do to move towards resiliency and future proofing our homes. This is our annual future proofing issue. Inside, you’ll find information and tips on future proofing (the process of anticipating the future and developing methods to minimize the effects of future events) and resiliency (the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty). The Ontario Building Code package A1 reference house only requires 28 KBtu per hour on the coldest day of the year, but this load is too small for most furnaces. Our feature article on iGEN Technologies (page 16) explores a combination heating system that provides heat and hot water. It can power itself through a blackout in a winter storm by generating electricity. Dugald Wells from Marshall Homes is test driving this technology in his own cottage for potential use in a project in Pickering. In a now-repealed Code change, electric vehicle charging stations had been required to be roughed in. Lou Bada explains why he supports the repeal on page 3. In “Ready, Set, Charge!” (page 28), we profile eCAMION, a Scarborough company that knows bigger batteries in cars require new technology for rapid charging. Alice Wang explains how they are working toward a network of high-tech rapid charging stations. In “Resilient Construction” (page 5), Gord Cooke talks about resiliency planning for builders and how it can help us with a more demanding climate. Additionally, Doug Tarry reviews five significant ways we can reduce our carbon footprint (page 30). The third wave requires that we think differently, and collectively, about clean prosperity. The Sustainable Housing Foundation (SHF) brings together thought leaders, builders and manufacturers to create an informed path forward. You can find a recap of the recent Sustainable Housing Foundation Dinner on page 13. It seems fitting to quote Toffler again for his views of future success: “The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. If you do not have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.” Ask yourself: Is your strategy stuck in the second wave or is it moving forward in the third wave? BB The Third Wave Building Resiliency and Future Proofing Our Homes publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 O ntario’s current Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing moved quickly in its mandate to repeal regulations in the Ontario Building Code requiring the rough-in of car charging stations in Part 9 buildings (low-rise) and suspended plans to implement them in larger buildings. This was met with great relief within our industry, but not for the reasons you might think. Cost implications are not the only thing on builders’ minds: we are more concerned with the implementation and the value proposition of new regulations for our customers. Although the policy to further “green-up” new homes through regulations is a no-brainer for any government looking to score cheap political points, putting the cart before the horse (or the charger before the electric vehicle [EV], as the case may be) ultimately creates bad policy. Here’s why. Many in our industry were quick to point out that requirements for car charger rough-ins were problematic and not well thought out. Our industry indicated we were willing to work on more rational solutions in order to achieve the goal of curbing carbon emissions. However, in expressing our concerns, we were often labelled as uninspired (or worse). The pitfalls, unworkability and ineffectiveness of the requirements mattered little to the policy makers as long as they could be seen to be doing the right thing. Although the goal of electrifying everything from housing to transportation seems like a good idea from 10,000 feet (given Ontario’s relatively low-carbon electrical generation system), builders have to build with their feet on the ground. When we examined Ontario’s microFIT program and reverse metering with photovoltaic solar panels, we quickly found out that the electrical grid was not always ready for a mass uptake of the new program. The infrastructure and utilities were often inadequate and unprepared. Similarly, when speaking to the local distribution companies (LDCs) about car charging stations, it appeared that our grid wouldn’t be ready for a mass uptake. If many people come home at the end of a work day, plug in their EVs and turn on the stove to cook dinner all at the same time, our electrical distribution system would be overwhelmed. However, builders were being compelled to put car charger rough-ins into thousands of new homes every year. It is not solely the problem of overall capacity of the electrical system: it’s the peak capacity of the system and infrastructure that matters more. “Peak shaving” and trying to match capacity and demand is the more salient issue for the LDCs. Utility scale energy storage systems are not adequately installed on Ontario’s energy grid. If we had to rough-in anything in a home, I believe it would be better to rough-in for home battery storage. A home battery could be charged off- peak and discharged on-peak. It could also charge a car while discharging on-peak. It would help the electrical grid “load-shift” and reduce the use of natural gas-fired “peaker plants.” A home storage battery could also provide some relief in the case of a blackout, which would also be a strategy for building in a measure of climate resilience. As the technology evolves and improves, battery prices will go down and electrical prices will go up. By using a home storage battery, home owners could realize the value proposition of storing electricity at home and take advantage of time- of-use rates. It would also be a step towards a distributed energy system. Following the argument above, you may ask: “Wouldn’t you still need a car charger and rough-in for a home?” Not necessarily. Firstly, we need to distinguish the level of charging most drivers will require. Builders were 3 1349968124/SHUTTERSTOCK thebadatest / LOU BADA ‘Charging’ Ahead with Electric Vehicles
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 20194 being asked to provide a rough-in for a 240-volt, 30-amp level 2 charger, which can charge an EV to travel about a 290-kilometre range over an eight-hour charge. A car charging unit and installation would have to be purchased by the home owner at significant additional costs. If, on the other hand, a purchaser wanted a level 1 charge, a regular 120-volt plug would suffice and give an EV a 65-kilometre range over an eight-hour charge. In this case, our rough-in would be a waste of material and money. According to Statistics Canada’s Journey to Work: Key Results from the 2016 Census survey, the median distance travelled to work for those who worked outside the home (6% work from home) was 8.7 kilometres (9.6 kilometres in Toronto). In Canada, 12.4% of people take public transit; in the Greater Toronto Area, that number doubles to nearly 25%. About 6.9% in urban areas walk or bike to work. If I were investigating the purchase of a new car, I would seriously look at a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), which has both an all-electric operating mode and a conventional gas engine operating mode (used after the battery has been fully discharged). There are a number of affordable PHEVs that can travel about 45 kilometres on an eight-hour, level 1 charge. I believe it would be perfectly adequate for most people, based on the Statistics Canada’s survey. A PHEV would also work better for those living in rural areas (who may need to drive further, more often) or drivers occasionally taking a long road trip. In light of this, why would we be mandated to install rough-ins for level 2 charging stations (with the requisite 200-amp service) in every new home today and in the foreseeable future, when someone could use a level 1 charger for their daily commute to work and back? New technology and level 3 chargers on a commercial basis are also evolving quickly and becoming more commonplace. At the time the requirements were in effect, I really believed that we were wastefully stranding a lot of infrastructure inside our houses for no good reason. Someday, driverless cars may make an appearance and upset the apple cart altogether. If that day comes, hopefully the horse will be pulling the cart and not vice versa. 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 A PHEV would also work better for those living in rural areas (who may need to drive further, more often) or drivers occasionally taking a long road trip.
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 A t the time of writing this article work is being completed on a new family cottage for my brothers and I and our growing extended families. The cottage is on the eastern shores of Lake Huron in Southampton, Ontario which means we will see the most beautiful sunsets unfold from the balcony all summer long and experience the wrath of relentless westerly winds howling across 80 kilometers of icy waters from Michigan all winter long. Regular readers of this magazine will recall we completed a modest Net Zero cottage in Southampton 4 years ago. Derek Seaman of Seaman and Sons Builders was so great to work with on that project, it was obvious we would be working with him again. That 2015 project was on a small infill lot 2 streets back from the shore and Derek was very quick to point out that building right on the shore had very different, exaggerated challenges. For that reason, while it was a given that we would be building again to the Canadian Home Builders Association Net Zero Labelling Program, we decided to add the theme of resilient construction to the project. As climate change and sustain­ ability permeates most every industry, a rather obvious response by the building industry would be, of course, to build ever more energy efficient homes. Perhaps, though, a more compelling story is to focus on the lasting legacy of the homes you build. I have the great pleasure of working with hundreds of builders across North America each year and I can say with complete confidence that every one of them takes pride in knowing that, unlike virtually any other consumer product, the projects they build will provide comfort and safety for generations of families. Homes designed to better handle the extremes of what ever Mother Nature has in store has been a consistent theme of every housing conference I have been to over the last 2 years. It will be no surprise that the specifics of the conversation always relate to the imminent risks of the region I happen to be in. In BC it’s about fire and seismic resiliency with the added challenge in coastal regions of months of rain with little time for drying. In California, the recent images of devastating wild fires fuelled by parched winds are driving design and construction decisions. In Texas and the Southeast of the US, right up into the Maritimes the conversations are about flooding and severe wind driven rain. In the Midwest, including our prairie provinces more frequent and more severe tornados dominant new design objectives. Thus, when we enlisted architect Mark Rosen of Building Energy Inc in Ottawa to design the project we asked him to consider the goal of a family cottage that should be enjoyed for generations to come and the 5 industryexpert / GORD COOKE Resilient Construction The Amvic R-30 ICF system forms the building’s structure.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 20196 climate challenges most likely to affect a lakefront property in south western Ontario. Let me share just a few of those considerations and the decisions that followed, some that are simple and obvious and others that require changes to Derek’s normal build process. It started with the decision to build fully slab on grade, even though it might be normal to think of the extra living space that a basement would afford the extended family. The decision seemed vindicated even during the build as neighbours up and down the shore had to mobilize to clean up and dry out flooded basements due to one those seemingly more frequent harsh storms. That slab was protected by the 20 mil thick gas barrier called Radon Block that provides both superior moisture management and soil gas protection. The entire slab assembly shown in the picture here included the Radon Guard foam block that provides R10 insulation value while creating a vent space. This can be used to eliminate the need for the typical crushed stone under a slab. All together we ended up with approximately R28 under the slab, included the top layer of the AMPEX foam that allows for quick and effective installation of in-floor heating pipe. If you recall in the now four year old first Net Zero cottage we built, 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. Roof tie-down clips anchor roof trusses to ICF walls.
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 unless there is a code change. I would encourage all readers of this magazine who are clearly interested, as indicated by the title of the magazine, in the continual improvement of new homes to start including tie-down straps or strategies on every project. Then put a sample of these simple pieces of metal in the hands of every one of your salespeople. Let them know this is one of the most cost effective things any caring builder can do to ensure the resiliency of homes in the face of ever more severe storms. BB We have tracked the construction of the Cooke Family Cottage project through a series of film clips. I hope you will check those out at Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. we used a pretty standard 2x6 wall with exterior XPS foam insulation. In this project we felt an insulated concrete form structure provided the generational durability we were looking for. I was very pleased that at least one ICF manufacture, Amvic, has invested in the tooling to get to higher effective R-values than the typical industry R22. In this case we used their ICF-R30 product. This allowed us to get to the levels of wall insulation needed to achieve Net Zero with out adding supplemental insulation and still benefit from the inherent air tightness, thermal mass and climate resistance of a concrete structure. Winter power outages are pretty common in this windy area and it’s comforting for the family to know that the house will be freeze- protected for weeks at a time. Mark, the architect, envisioned the use a natural stone façade from a local quarry to create a protective boundary between the lake and the house. Drifting sand and wind driven rain always affect houses on this shoreline. With the water level up to historically high levels this year, up over 12 just this year over last, it is nice to have this feeling of safety, especially since it gives such a beautiful look as well. The prevailing architectural look on the lakefront in this area is a lapped wood siding and Mark wanted to retain that history even though painted wood takes a beating off the wind swept sand beaches. That look though is preserved with the use of a far more durable engineered wood siding product. In this case, the pre- treated substrate from LPs Smart Side format has a 50-year warranty and the paint coating is specifically engineered for the Canadian climate. I was particularly pleased that Derek always installs siding over strapping to ensure the optimized drainage and drying of a true rainscreen, backed up the DuPont Tyvek water management system. Although there are many other details that will ensure the resiliency of this family project that I hope to outline in future articles, there is one last one I want to mention in this article. There has been talk in the industry of our code being updated to include wind resistant elements that are common throughout the US. One example is the interest in roof tie- downs, often referred to as hurricane straps. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), established by a segment of the insurance industry and affiliated with the University of Western Ontario has been sponsoring research and submitting code requests for roof tie-down strategies. It is one of those low cost items that can be so quickly overlooked in construction and thus seldom implemented by builders 7 LP Smartside panels on strapping over a Tyvek “drain wrap” drainage plane.
  10. 10. • PROVIDES A CONTINUOUS THERMAL RESISTANCE OF R-5; perfect for meeting the requirements of the Quebec Ontario Building Code. • DOES NOT REQUIRE ADDITIONAL BRACING; one-step installation saving time and cost. • INTEGRATED AIR-BARRIER; no additional housewrap required saving material costs. • LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO INSTALL; allows for fast installation saving time and cost. R-5 XP C O M B I N E S T H E W I N D B R A C I N G P R O P E R T I E S O F W O O D F I B R E W I T H T H E T H E R M A L R E S I S T A N C E O F E X T R U D E D P O L Y S T Y R E N E F O R O V E R 1 0 0 Y E A R S INSULSHEATHING Panel Introducing a Unique Innovation:
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 9 industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS If builders’ initiatives support the goals of government policy, we firmly believe they should be rewarded through some type of monetary incentive or carbon tax break for reducing carbon emissions in the homes they build. There are currently numerous different types of rebates and incentives that exist for auto manufacturers and car buyers in relation to hybrid and/or electric vehicles. And there are energy-efficient renovation rebates and tax credits that exist for home owners who try to improve the energy efficiency of their existing residences. As a matter of fact, the City of Toronto just launched their BetterHomesTO program to provide rebates and incentives for home owners and renters. However, once again, there’s nothing for builders and new-home buyers looking to ease the financial burden of building and buying a high-performance home. In terms of value for money, it is obviously much simpler and more cost efficient to construct energy-efficient homes from the get-go – especially since some components, like a wall assembly, are difficult to upgrade after the fact. Why not offer incentives for future-built homes rather than solely for existing homes, which face a much more costly and uphill battle to be retrofitted for energy efficiency? Look: we all know regulations continue to come down the pipeline to reduce GHG emissions from new homes. This is a highly regulated industry that becomes an easy target for rigorous performance mandates on new homes through mechanisms like the National Building Code (NBC) and Ontario Building Code (OBC), which up the ante on energy efficiency with every iteration. In addition, there are other municipal or regional government requirements – such as green standards, community energy plans or even energy mandates within subdivision agreements – that thrust additional beyond-Code measures onto new-home builders. The challenge for the home-building industry and their clients (new-home buyers) is that various levels of government are addressing their climate-change reduction targets through lowering GHG emissions on the backs of new- home buyers, further exacerbating housing affordability concerns. So how can builders soften both their own financial blow and the added costs borne by new-home buyers when it comes to improving energy efficiency and lowering GHG emissions? A framework needs to be created for home builders exceeding Code requirements and buyers alike to tap into the many tax breaks and rebates already offered to existing home owners (which seem to generally have little uptake). After all, we’re building houses that will be in operation for the next 75 to 100 years. The government needs to devise a means to incentivize more low-carbon new builds, without further financially burdening builders and home buyers. Under the federal carbon tax regime, many manufactured building products and materials will cost more for builders, who will then need to recoup those added costs from home buyers. Material costs for products such as concrete, insulation and masonry cladding will rise. We’re not knocking the carbon tax per se, but some of the funds generated from carbon taxation could possibly be directed to incentivizing high-performance homes – hence the GHGST concept. Let’s compare the home-building industry to the auto industry. There is a federal rebate (as well as various provincial rebates) for electric and hybrid vehicle purchasers, and these rebates are ultimately funded by Incentivize Green Construction and Builders Will Build It The government needs to devise a means to incentivize more low- carbon new builds, without further financially burdening builders and home buyers. H ave you ever thought about the greenhouse gas sales tax (GHGST)? Of course you haven’t. We made it up. But bear with us: what if this concept, the GHGST, was created to give the federal government (or even the provincial government) a revenue mechanism to incentivize home buyers to opt for new homes built with green building practices and technologies? And then, through a fully realized green program, builders could be given financial incentives to deliver this type of product.
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201910 taxpayers – yet this analogy eludes governments when it comes to the new-home building market. To me, it seems like a win-win scenario, where housing affordability concerns and climate change woes can be addressed through the same green building incentivization policy. Through this same program – and bear with us, we’re throwing out ideas here – let’s set the table for builders and home owners to share in some type of carbon tax credit, tax break, rebate or whatever other creative policy mechanism to reward exceptional green building practices. Our friend, Better Builder publisher John Godden of Clearsphere, was involved in rating 1,523 homes last year built to standards beyond the OBC. There are five builders shown in the chart below. They deserve more credit for reducing carbon because they produced 15% less CO2 emissions 2018 residential builder ad Designs that install faster and connections you can count on with customer care that gives you confidence to advance your business. See how progress is made at Progress means plumbing systems that conserve water, energy and peace of mind. CARBON EMISSION SAVINGS FROM FIVE GTA BUILDERS BUILDER CO2 EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS (TONS)* NUMBER OF HOUSES CO2 REDUCTIONS CARS OFF THE ROAD BROOKFIELD 1.303 196 255.38 151 EMPIRE 1.657 484 801.98 160.4 HEATHWOOD 1.658 168 278.54 55.7 STARLANE 1.520 261 409.77 82 ROSEHAVEN 1.516 414 627.62 125.5 TOTAL — 1523 2373.29 474.7 *Note: Emissions based on individual builder performance calculated on reference house, when compared to NBC 2015.
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 than other builders in other provinces who build strictly to NBC. When we benchmark these builders’ homes built in 2019 compared to the NBC emissions, the chart shows how many cars they took off the road by building houses that were 30% more efficient. These five builders’ homes have taken 475 cars off the road per year in perpetuity (think five tonnes of CO2 per car against reductions). While that makes a difference, we have to be vocal and engage with government so they can understand and also support what our industry is doing to make a difference. In fact, there is more potential to making houses greener than cars because of their vastly longer lifespan – you can get maybe 10 to 15 years out of a brand new car before it is replaced or scrapped, whereas a home has a useful service life of at least 75 years. You tell me: where is there more bang for your buck when it comes to reducing emissions? So we’re suggesting various levels of government engage with the building industry to support and incentivize low-carbon, new-home building. Sure, the government can continue gradually raising the bar simply through increasing regulation – but to truly get builders and home buyers on board in a meaningful way, they need the financial support to bring high- performance building to the masses. A high-performance green home should get incentives: the buyer needs an incentive to buy it, but the builder also needs incentives to build it so that it’s still financially accessible to consumers. Everyone loves Tesla as a disruptive game-changer – so why can’t we do the same with high-performance green homes? Where will that Tesla be in 100 years – when today’s new homes are still standing, while contributing less and less to greenhouse gases? Let’s give the GHGST concept some serious consideration. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at 11 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
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 13 industrynews / ALEX NEWMAN M ichael Bernstein is no stranger to party politics – and he’s heard pretty much every question there is about carbon tax. He believes that the carbon tax is the best action to lower costs while spurring innovation in the economy. And he’s not alone in that view, either – he points out that putting a price on carbon use is widely considered as the most affordable way of reducing carbon while staying profitable. The 30-something director of Canadians for Clean Prosperity has plenty of experience in this area. He has an economics degree from Yale and a master’s in public administra­ tion from Harvard, plus practical experience as director of two profitable organic food delivery companies (Mama Earth and Farms Forks). Speaking at a recent Sustainable Housing Foundation dinner, he says he tries “to walk people through the logic of carbon tax, why it’s needed and why it should not be a partisan issue.” Although the provincial and federal Conservatives are in favour of eliminating the carbon tax, Bernstein observes that the tax doesn’t have to run counter to conservative values: “Preston Manning, for example, is in favour [of carbon pricing]. Mark Cameron, senior policy advisor to [Stephen] Harper, is in favour. Conservatives have led on environmental issues in the past – like Brian Mulroney, who made an impact on the environment by taking Clean and Green Making the Case for a Canadian Carbon Pricing Policy PHOTOGRAPHYBYMIKEDAY Top: Michael Bernstein of Canadians for Clean Prosperity presents the economics of carbon taxation. Bottom: John Godden hosts a carbon tax game show. Dinner guests purchased carbon offset tickets for the cash draw. The winner, Jiri Skopek, donated his prize to Canadians for Clean Prosperity.
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201914 important steps on acid rain. At the end of the day, though, this should not be a partisan issue.” While he agrees with a more conservative/less interventionist perspective, he notes that “if you want to address climate change, there are only two ways to go about it: [either] set a price on carbon pollution and let business owners figure out how to work around that, or have government step in and dictate how to reduce emissions.” It would be fair to say that the 85 people who attended the event were committed to greener construction practices. Even so, Bernstein says there were lots of questions about carbon pricing and varying view­ points on the policy. He explains that “the money goes back to you first, and then you decide what you want to do: pay higher prices on what you used to pay, or save money by purchasing things that are not manufactured by those who pollute. It’s like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk. The money is there; the choice is yours whether you’ll pay up for something that pollutes or save the money.” How it affects business – and builders – is a question he gets a lot. The answer is that the federal government has compensation programs around energy efficiency. He points specifically to two programs that provide grants of up to 50% on home retrofits and new energy equipment, like HVAC and boilers. Bernstein argues the programs “should stimulate some new construction demand. These funds comprise about 7% of the total carbon tax revenue.” But the biggest possible benefit to builders is “avoiding the economic consequences that come with a warming climate, something the Bank of Canada (BOC) has warned is a major threat to the Canadian economy. In fact, the BOC sees investors pulling out if a company doesn’t have a sustainability plan in place. This affects the economy directly.” While net zero is technically feasi­ ble through the use of more efficient envelopes and mechanical systems, it would add substantial costs to build­ ing. But Bernstein expects that will change “since the pace of technologi­ cal innovation happens very fast. Take the battery and solar panel industry – the price has come down a lot, and home owners are very interested.” Growth spurs more growth – and with the rapid rise of the clean tech sector, ever more energy-efficient products are coming to market. The demand for green building will continue as buyers become more informed, and wise builders will prepare now to capitalize on that, Bernstein says. Tridel, for example, is currently piloting CarbonCure concrete products in their buildings. “Consumers are increasingly going to look for, and even expect, these things when they set out to purchase a home. If you build homes that are ready for an EV [which had been part of the Ontario Building Code until the provincial government recently rescinded it], for example ... consumers will be appreciative,” Bernstein says. He adds that builders who are on the cutting edge of low-carbon construction should be able to export their knowledge to other jurisdictions. Although the Doug Ford government has put the carbon tax on the shelf for the time being, Bernstein argues that the carbon tax is inevitable. China has now put carbon pricing in place, and the US has carbon pricing on a third of its economy. “From a business perspective, the world is moving to a cleaner economy, which means renewable energy and products will be at a premium. We should capitalize on that now – because if we delay, we’ll miss the opportunity and ultimately our economy will suffer.” Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg has shown the importance of climate change activism around the world, including in Canada. Nevertheless, Bernstein writes in a recent Maclean’s article that “it’s also important for [Canadians] to know that we don’t all have to stop flying, swear off meat or close down our heavy industry to address climate change.” Instead, we already have a much better solution: an economy-wide carbon tax and rebate. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at Bernstein explains that “the money goes back to you first, and then you decide what you want to do: pay higher prices on what you used to pay, or save money by purchasing things that are not manufactured by those who pollute.”
  16. 16. Ī Ī Ī Ī Ī
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201916 W hen talking to people about his company’s product, Alan Clarke likes to say: “iGEN has solved a problem that most people don’t even know they have until it’s too late.” The chief business strategy officer of six-person iGEN Technologies (based out of Richmond Hill, Ontario) is referring to a challenge many home owners in Ontario have faced in recent years – namely, power outages in cold weather. The one essential thing you need to be func­ tional during a winter power outage is your furnace – but given that it’s an appliance that requires two power inputs (natural gas/propane and electricity), when the lights go out, so does the heat. It was this exact scenario that sparked an idea for engineers Michael Chatzigrigoriou and Patrick Lai, who suffered a lengthy power outage in the wake of an ice storm in 2012. Clarke says that the two HVAC consultants came to the conclusion that “this is ridiculous; this is what we do for a living, and we can’t heat our own homes.” featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN A small Richmond Hill company may have the next big thing in home heating innovation on its hands. The Heat IsOn
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 The pair determined that there had to be a better way. They set about creating a self- powered furnace, a concept that – when pre­ sented to the masses – elicits plenty of ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ reactions, Clarke says. Chatzigrigoriou and Lai spent about a year building a prototype and, by 2013, what would become the i2 was born. At this point, the pair decided to devote themselves to the project full-time in an effort to bring the product to market. Running Itself The i2 uses natural gas or propane, converting that energy into heat and enough electricity to run not only itself when the power goes out, but also a hot water heater, with enough surplus to keep your modem running and your cell phone charged. The benefits the unit offers are plentiful, including utility cost savings from a more efficient heating appliance, environmental benefits (given that the i2 results in lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional heating appliances) and the peace of mind that home heating won’t be affected by a blackout or utility interruption. While there was an early investor in the company (who has since been bought out), iGEN has been mostly self-financed and is now 100% owned by Chatzigrigoriou, Lai and the team. Clarke says the company also received grants from various government agencies and industry associations and is currently engaged in efforts to raise more equity to “fuel our growth” – no pun intended. The original concept for the i2 was a single unit, but the box was extremely heavy and large – about 50% wider than a traditional furnace, meaning it couldn’t fit through standard-sized doorways. At this time (late 2017), the i2 was being tested at three independent labs. Once the performance data was verified, the next stage was to streamline the product down to a more manageable size. The answer came in serendipitous form, as UK-based competitor Flowgroup plc had developed a product that operated on a similar principle (a replacement for residential boilers that generated an electricity stream that could be sold back to the grid). The company was running into some difficulties, so it wound up disposing of the business unit. iGEN pounced, taking Flowgroup’s inven­ tory of about 1,000 units off its hands and gaining the rights to the worldwide patents and intellectual property. 17 VANESSACLARKE Alan Clarke of iGEN Technologies (left) and Dugald Wells of Marshall Homes are testing iGEN’s i2 units in Wells’s new cottage.
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201918 Solving Issues This solved a couple of issues for iGEN. First, they were able to overcome the challenge of how to separate the heat and electricity generation from the heat distribution in the home. Second, by breaking the solution into two pieces, the size issue was resolved. Now, there’s a wall-hung piece (the boiler unit and vapour expansion cycle module, which generates the heat and electricity) and a floor unit that replaces the furnace, which includes a heat exchanger with a blower fan. Heat is transferred from the boiler unit to the heat exchanger with a hot water loop. While the i2 uses the same ductwork as existing gas furnaces, Clarke explains that the installation process is a bit different, but traditional furnace installers should have no issues mastering it. Still, the product is so unique that gaining certification for selling the i2 in North America has proved challenging because, Clarke explains, no standard currently exists for self- powered appliances. In fact, iGEN is working with the Standards Council of Canada to develop a standard for this product, something it hopes is com­ pleted later this year or early in 2020. In the meantime, iGEN has been granted approval to run an early adopter program – an initiative that’s generated promising results, including an estimated $1,863 utility cost savings over a 10-year period in a 1,500-square-foot home. The case study numbers were provided by third- party simulations, so they are merely estimates, Clarke says. But he adds that the company is heavily monitoring these initial field installs to get a more accurate sense of the annual savings. Early Adopters Clarke says the 44,000 BTU per hour output i2 is ideal for homes between 1,000 and 2,200 square feet, depending on the house age, quality of construction, tightness of envelope and insulation quality. According to Clarke, another 20 to 40 early adopter installs are planned before the end of 2019, but none may be more important than the i2 that’s being tested in Dugald Wells’s new cottage. That’s because this trial is not simply for a customer, but possibly a key business partner. Wells is the general manager of Pickering-based Marshall Homes, an innovator in energy-efficient housing and a company that’s keenly interested to see if the i2 is ready for prime time. Wells had been familiar with iGEN for some time, thanks to his long association (both professionally and personally) with Clarke, who himself first heard of iGEN while he was doing consulting work for Marshall Homes. In the walkout section of the cottage, Wells had roughed in for radiant floor heating, but was unsure he was going to go that route given that it would require a second boiler. He says what really caught his attention was when he heard about iGEN’s acquisition of Flowgroup’s busi­ ness unit because, over in the UK, it’s generally all hydronic heating, he says. Wells’s goal was to tap off the iGEN’s coil – the boiler in the UK version – to take hot water to use in the radiant flooring loop as well as for the forced air, “because otherwise I would have to buy a whole new furnace.” Running the Numbers Wells approached Clarke to find out whether this would work. The iGEN team went off, did a bunch of calculations and determined that it could in fact be done. The i2 heating system installed and monitored in Coach House. COURTESYiGENTECHNOLOGIES
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 “So, with one unit, I am serving both my radiant floor heating loop as well as my forced air distribution,” Wells says. This offers multiple benefits, as his forced air system will run less often, and the radiant floor heating is more comfortable than forced air. It will deliver more even temperatures, greater energy efficiency, more comfort and fewer noise and temperature fluctuations with the forced air going on and off. 19 When Wells test drives the i2 this winter, it will be because Marshall Homes is considering adding the unit into the homes in an upcoming and very unique new housing development. Altona Towns, a 27-townhome project in Pickering, “goes right to the heart of how the electricity market works in this province.” This ambitious project is a window into the future of housing, featuring a community that will be powered by a microgrid, thereby reducing both utility bills and carbon footprint. It features a solar array and a powerful standalone battery made by Tesla. The Tesla Powerpack is a fully integrated energy storage system that includes DC batteries, a bi-directional inverter and a Powerpack controller with intelligent software. It delivers multiple applications, including peak shaving, load shifting and emergency backup. POWERPACK 250kW/500kWh EV CHARGER 7.2kW 240V 30A TOWNHOUSE TOWNHOUSE BLOCK TESLA POWERWALL 5kW/13kWh TRANSFORMERTRANSFORMER SOLAR INVERTER MAIL + METER BUILDING SOLAR PV 25kWdc Note: Powerpack has enough capacity to support household consumption for several hours during an outage. Publically accessible pay per use EV charger at visitor parking area. Note: A selected home will have a Powerwall installed as a demonstration of nested microgrid features. UTILITY THE MICROGRID AT ALTONA TOWNS ORIGINALDIAGRAMCOURTESYMARSHALLHOMES
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201920 By being deemed a special demon­ stration project, Altona Towns was able to barter an agreement with utility company Elexicon and Opus One (which creates grid control software) so that – in the absence of virtual net metering – the condo corporation will be compensated for all the power generated that becomes available to the grid. The residents will benefit from this through reduced condo fees. Wells said they had to come up with this plan “because government policy is still in the dinosaur age.” Cogeneration This brings us to the issue of cogener­ ation (or combined heat and power (CHP)) and the possibilities it creates. Currently, Wells says, it’s a one-way street, in which the utility gives you power and you give them money. So, if you want to have your own power generation or storage, you’re on your own (with the exception of special deals involving wind or solar farms). CHP systems tend to be large-scale grids, and micro CHPs are for small communities. Clarke calls their system “nano CHP” because it’s simply for the appliance. “We’re not trying to power the whole house; we’re just a better heating plant,” Clarke says. Wells will put that theory to the test this winter as a trial run for much bigger things. “We’re interested, but ... at the end of the day, we’ve got to satisfy 27 home owners and we want to make sure that equipment functions as advertised,” he says. This will be determined by his own findings, the results from the other early adopters, and how iGEN’s service and response holds up should there be any issues. If nothing else, Wells’s neighbours are fascinated by his cottage plans. He had a group of friends over and was showing them the i2. Suddenly, Wells was backed into a corner where a pile of wood lay, surrounded by a transfixed audience gathered in a semi circle. So, he found himself on top of the wood pile, lecturing about the technology as they lobbed question after question at him. Obviously, there’s interest in this. Lots at Stake And just as clearly, there’s a lot at stake for iGEN over the next few months, but Clarke is bullish. “Depending on how well we are able to perform in Dugald’s cottage this winter, I think if everything goes as well as we expect it will, that will make a stronger case for Marshall Homes to include our units,” he says. For Wells’s part, while he’s with­ holding judgment on the technology for the time being, he’s already made up his mind about the people behind the i2. As an entrepreneur himself, he has a good sense of what it takes to make it, and he sees those qualities in iGEN. “I’m really impressed with them. They’re calm, they’re thoughtful.” The fact that they’ve been at it for a few years – with great personal sacrifice – speaks to their commitment, he adds. “They’re not a flash in the pan.” Wells says if he were a Dragon’s Den investor, he’d be quite interested in iGEN: “I like what I see, but it’s early days. They’ve got a lot to prove.” The opportunity for iGEN to prove it’s ready for prime time begins in earnest now. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer.  FLUEOUT SCROLL IS DRIVEN ELECTRICITY OUT RETURN HEATING SYSTEM NATURAL GAS OR LPG IN HOT WATER OUT FUEL BURNS IN THE COMBUSTION CHAMBER HOW THE iGEN MCHP BOILER WORKS ORIGINALDIAGRAMCOURTESYiGENTECHNOLOGIES
  22. 22. EcoVent™ —The fan that meets designed airflow requirements. For true performance under the hood, install Panasonic EcoVent™ with Veri-Boost.™ Ideal for new residential construction, EcoVent is the perfect solution for home builders looking to meet designed airflow requirements the first time and avoid the hassle of replacing underperforming fans. EcoVent is a cost effective ENERGY STAR® rated solution that delivers strong performance. If you need to bump up the CFM output to achieve airflow design, simply flip the Veri-Boost switch and increase the flow from 70 to 90 CFM and you’re good to go! Learn more at
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201922 sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN I f there’s one thing you can do with today’s buildings that makes financial and environmental sense for the future and is the number one way of mitigating climate change, it would be “improve your insulation,” says Emma Smetaniuk, commercial and residential sales representative for ROCKWOOL™ . That’s not just her opinion, though – it’s also the opinion of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Smetaniuk never expected to work in the construction materials industry but, looking back, it all makes sense now. Emma’s father was in the construction business, as a framer, for over 30 years. He was always a fan of stone wool insulation when he was building houses. After university – Oswego in New York on a hockey scholarship! – she returned to Canada to work for Lafarge in their leadership and development program. “It was a fantastic opportunity; I got to grasp multiple product lines and jobs within the industry. I was very thankful for the opportunity, especially the mentorship,” she says. But when the sales opportunity arose at ROCKWOOL four years later, Smetaniuk took to how the company positively contributes to our overall health and well-being. The importance of what we do with today’s buildings – and how we move forward with newer builds and renovations – essentially determines the legacy we leave for future generations. “ROCKWOOL is a leader in high-performance and quality stone wool insulation, and I wanted to be part of it,” Smetaniuk explains. ROCKWOOL’s particular suitability to the task certainly makes Smetaniuk’s job easier: “The product has a massive list of qualities capable of contributing to the fight against our biggest environmental challenges.” She starts with how durable, hydrophobic and mould- and mildew-resistant the product is. It’s also permeable, breathable, fire resilient and energy saving, and has dimensional stability, she adds. It can also take the heat, thanks to a much higher melting point than other insulation. “You can literally take a blow torch to it, and it won’t burn. Actually, it can withstand temperatures of up to 1,177 °C,” Smetaniuk says. “That’s important in residential use, especially now that we’re building homes much closer together – duplexes, semis, condos, multi-units and mid- rise wood frame buildings. Stone wool is non-combustible and ideal to satisfy building code requirements for zero lot line applications. Even detached homes are closer.” Because ROCKWOOL is hydro­phobic – that is, water repellent – it’s effective when there are compromises in the building envelope, Smetaniuk says. “The inorganic composition makes ROCKWOOL mould and mildew resistant, so if condensation were to get trapped in, it wouldn’t affect the material. In addition, its high vapour permeance maximizes the drying potential if there is moisture present in the wall assembly.” As well, the thermal comfort it provides can’t be underestimated. Proper insulation can reduce a build­ ing’s heating needs by up to 70% by helping to create an airtight building envelope, along with proper air barrier detailing. This seals out drafts so interiors aren’t only more comfortable, but cost less to heat and cool. “Due to the product’s physical structure, ROCKWOOL Uses a Team Approach When Working with Builders Emma Smetaniuk of ROCKWOOL.
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 density and thermal properties, ROCKWOOL insulation saves energy by maintaining indoor temperatures for all climates,” she notes. The acoustic benefits also contribute to overall well-being. When the party wall cavities between duplexes or towns are filled with ROCKWOOL insulation, you get quieter rooms on either side. That works as well for schools and office buildings, which makes for better learning and work environments. ROCKWOOL batt insulation is friction fit and prevents gaps, thus decreasing sound transmission from room to room. Typical code party walls have sound transmission class (STC) ratings of 53. Using ROCKWOOL can yield an STC of up to 60. Like any premium product, you pay a bit more for it – but it pays huge dividends. For example, energy efficiency is enhanced, energy costs are reduced and overall indoor air quality is improved, as the material has a GREENGUARD® Gold certification. This certification indicates lower product emissions and actually garners LEED points. The company has paired up with several builders, including Cleary Homes, Absolute General Contractors, Brookfield Residential, Empire TEETH Homes and Doug Tarry Homes. The Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Deseronto (near Quinte) is using ROCKWOOL in a new fourplex, for which Absolute General Contractors is hoping to achieve LEED Gold certification. Emma’s competitive hockey days taught her the importance of being a team player. As such, she is very supportive in her relationship to builders. A good example is Cleary Homes, with whom ROCKWOOL worked on 30 homes in the Orchard East Community in Bowmanville. Cleary provided a finish-ready basement detail consisting of Comfortboard™ (R-6) and Comfortbatt® (R-14) on all 30 homes. Working with both Cleary Homes and Absolute General Contractors was a real honour because those companies saw the benefit of such a sustainable product and how that contributes to the overall health and well-being of the future home owners. Every project has different insulation needs, 23 AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201924 depending on the type of home or commercial building. ROCKWOOL has been developing its Elite Builder Program, which aims to educate builders in determining which products work best with their projects. In fact, its building science and technical support team provides complimentary services to help builders, architects and designers find ways to increase their buildings’ energy efficiency. The end goal, Smetaniuk says, is to provide builders with the tools required to construct high- performance buildings that reduce operating costs, enhance safety and maximize occupant comfort. All these factors enhance a builder’s brand through home owner experience. Three popular products comprise the lion’s share of ROCKWOOL’s residential line: ROCKWOOL Comfortbatt® , Safe’n’Sound® and Comfortboard™ . Comfortbatt® is used to insulate exterior walls, ceilings, ex- posed floors, attics and basements, to keep heat in and cold out and deliver a top R-value to the home. Safe’n’Sound® adds fire protection and sound damp­ening and is used in interior walls and ceilings and between floors. Comfortboard™ is a rigid insulation board that is denser than our batts and is typically used above and below grade as a continuous insulation layer. It’s suitable for both commercial and residential applications, but it is especially good in basements. In the fourplex being constructed for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte by Absolute General Contractors, two inches of Comfortboard™ was used in the crawl space to thermally protect the insulating concrete form (ICF) foam foundation. The main exterior walls and party walls are insulated with Comfortbatt® . Using ROCKWOOL secures more points, which Absolute General Contractors needs for a LEED Gold certification. Comfortboard™ was also used in a recent research project run by George Brown College, but initiated by ROCKWOOL, Empire Communities, Clearsphere and DuPont. The idea was to install insulation into three homes and monitor the results. George Brown’s building science research team monitored the assemblies, evaluated the homes’ capacity for handling heat and moisture, and looked for ways to improve above- and below-grade insulation to pass on to Ontario builders. (See “TEETH Checkup: A Look inside a Collaborative Research Project” on page 26.) On one TEETH house, DuPont’s CM20 insulation was applied with 2.5 inches of ROCKWOOL Comfort­ board™ , then tested against the pink foundation blanket of the other house. “The results,” says Smetaniuk, “were telling. When installing moisture- sensitive insulation in moist areas, it can lead to mould and mildew growth and to decay, which can also potentially affect home owner health.” “In addition, basement blanket insulation systems often get com­ pressed during installation, resulting in lower overall effective R-values. The hybrid rigid insulation system tested in the study maintains its dimensional stability and performs as intended,” says Smetaniuk. “The rigid insulation system of ROCKWOOL and DuPont was found to perform at least 25% better than the foundation blanket.” Emma’s view on climate change is to understand the science behind it – so you can give voice to issues that are contributing to it. She believes travelling smart with alternative means – like using carpools, cycling and public transportation – can make a huge impact. Working with the ROCKWOOL team, Emma believes their product is perfectly suited to tackle many of today’s biggest sustainability and development challenges, from energy consumption and noise pollution to fire resilience, water scarcity and flooding. Both Emma and ROCKWOOL would welcome the chance to be on your team. Don’t hesitate to contact them for information on the Elite Builder Program. They would like to show you how they’ve helped other builders meet the challenge of climate change while constructing quieter, safer, more comfortable and resilient homes. BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at The end goal is to provide builders with the tools required to construct high-performance buildings that reduce operating costs, enhance safety and maximize occupant comfort.
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201926 specialinterest / STEFFANIE ADAMS Clearsphere and Empire were looking to improve on the below-grade basement insulation blanket and to explore new systems that could create better efficiencies in construction, better comfort outcomes and long- term durability. There has been a concern with new-home builders that installing a roll-down insulating blanket was causing visible moisture issues, thereby creating call backs and warranty claims from clients. Empire Communities – along with Clearsphere, ROCKWOOL and the Dow team – were interested in comparing the blanket to their innovative below-grade wall assembly. George Brown College’s Building Science Research Team monitored above- and below-wall assemblies and attic assemblies in two Empire Communities homes to evaluate their capacity to manage the movement of heat and moisture effectively. Each home was constructed with different above- and below-grade wall assem­ blies to meet different levels of standards and codes. The individual wall assemblies in each home varied from each other in terms of material thickness and material properties. The above-grade wall assemblies in each house were measured against current Ontario Building Code (OBC) 2012 standards and Energy Star standards, as well as the anticipated changes for the 2017 OBC and Energy Star programs. The attic assembly was measured against the 2012 OBC and the proposed changes for the 2017 OBC. Lastly, base­ment assemblies were tested against package J in Table in the 2012 OBC (the typical industry standard for builders across Ontario) and the anticipated changes for the 2017 OBC. The GBC team collected and transmitted the data remotely for the duration of a full heating and cooling cycle, enabling for an assessment of the durability and performance. Data collected from each of the above- and below-grade wall assemblies as well as the attic was monitored, analyzed and interpreted to provide insight and validity to the effectiveness of materials and assemblies and to verify thermal resistance. Analysis included moisture content, relative humidity TEETH Checkup A Look Inside a Collaborative Research Project T he Empire Homes TEETH (Three Energy Efficient Test Homes) project was initiated by Clearsphere, ROCKWOOL™ (formerly ROXUL™ ), Dow Building Solutions™ and Empire Communities, along with Dahai Zhang, Dr. P. Christopher Timusk and Steffanie Adams of the Building Science Research Team at George Brown College (GBC). The objective of the Empire Homes TEETH project was to investigate improvements in below- and above-grade standard residential building practice for Ontario builders. Three different wall treatments tested together in hybrid house: R-22 glass fiber batts and R-22 and 24 stone wool batts with R-5 continuous insulation on exterior. Insulating blanket tested against composite hybrid insulation system for conduction and moisture at varying wall heights.
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 and temperature sensors to provide a holistic analysis of the assemblies. Lab tests were also conducted using a guarded hot plate device to measure the thermal conductivity of the basement blanket wrap in various states of compression. The results from testing the thermal conductivity of the mock-ups suggest that there is a higher effective thermal resistance with rigid material that does not compress when it is installed. Results of the research project have just been released and there will be further details to come. BB Steffanie Adams is a professor of Architectural Studies at George Brown College. 27 Check out our website at Typical sensor location at grade.
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 20192828 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN I f we consider the car an extension of the home, then doing what we can to remove gas cars from the road is a big concern – especially given that in the battle to reduce carbon, they pose a larger issue than houses do. As Lou Bada points out in his column (“‘Charging’ Ahead with Electric Vehicles,” page 3), poorly conceived, government-mandated regulations are not the answer. But clearly there is a problem here, as the current infrastructure, the costs involved and the strain on the electrical grid create a virtual chicken/egg scenario that is stalling electric vehicles (EVs) from reaching critical mass. However, a Scarborough, Ontario- based company is shifting its battery storage technology into the EV space in an effort to help solve the logistical challenges this industry currently faces. eCAMION was founded in 2009 and until recently was a community energy storage provider, mostly work­ ing within the utilities, government and heavy industrial sectors. The company designed and manufactured lithium ion battery storage, often working with utilities such as Toronto Hydro to install the units in remote neighbourhoods that lacked sufficient power quality, says Alice Wang, eCAMION’s marketing specialist. The company’s batteries provided typical energy storage benefits, such as power quality control and peak shaving, and were designed to help facilities use energy in a more efficient way while lowering electrical bills. In 2017, eCAMION opted to pivot its target market towards the EV charging sector. Wang says the company noted the challenges this market faced, given how power-intensive EV charging was and the demand charges levied against this application with how much electri­ city it drained. “That’s how eCAMION decided to get into it,” she says. The main issue facing EV owners is an inability to charge their vehicle in a timely manner. Currently, the most popular models available are Level Two chargers, which typically take five to 10 hours to fully charge a vehicle’s battery. That generally leaves owners to either charge overnight, or simply stop for an hour or so to top up. Level Three chargers are much faster (taking no more than an hour to fully charge an EV), but are scarce at this point. They also pose their own challenges because, for a single EV, a Level Three charger requires the same amount of power from the grid as 40 houses. With the demand charges asso­ Ready, Set, Charge! A Scarborough company’s technology may help solve the challenge of electric vehicles reaching critical mass. Alice Wang (Marketing Specialist), Monsoon Fu (RD Manager) and Carmine Pizzurro (CEO) of eCAMION.
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 This technology will be showcased in a government-funded pilot project with Natural Resources Canada to electrify a 3,400-kilometre stretch of the Trans Canada Highway in Manitoba and Ontario as the first leg of the initiative. Located in groups of three charging stations, there will be 34 sites in total, essentially 100 kilometres apart. All told, there will be 102 charging ports across this stretch, and upon completion, they will explore extending this across the rest of the Trans Canada Highway. While the government has adopted an “if you build it, they will come” mentality, selling this technology to the private sector is another story. Wang says one of the roadblocks is that property managers of existing buildings think it’s too expensive to retrofit their electrical system to ciated with consuming that much power, small wonder it’s difficult for operators to make a business case for installing Level Three chargers. Currently, Wang estimates, only about 10% of the few hundred charging stations in the Greater Toronto Area are Level Three, with the other 90% being the slower Level Two models. eCAMION is developing a customer- facing EV charging sub-brand called Jule Energy, under which it will target this market. “It’s a super relevant application for electric vehicles, both now and in the future,” she says. Supported by eCAMION’s tradi­ tional battery storage technology, Jule Energy battery storage units will be hooked up to EV charging stations, thereby supporting the demand so that the electricity is not being drawn directly off the grid. “So basically, the battery acts as a buffer,” Wang explains. The battery will charge from the grid slowly overnight and during off-peak hours, but will be capable of dispensing power at high levels to an EV charger. The system can support any level of charging – even chargers Level Four and above (known as “super chargers”) that can fully charge an EV in 10 to 20 minutes. “So the technol­ ogy is really getting to the point of gas car convenience, almost,” she says. 29 support chargers, or they simply believe the demand isn’t there to warrant it. But with the introduction of the battery storage system, the business case is easier to make as property managers can better manage energy within their buildings, perhaps integrate the unit with a solar or wind system, and support a row of eight, 10 or even 15 charging stations. So there are multiple applications for this technology, Wang says. “Think of the battery as the hub to integrate emerging energy and sustainability technology.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer.  Level Three chargers also pose their own challenges because, for a single EV, they require the same amount of power from the grid as 40 houses. An Audi Etron plug-in hybrid gets charged by an eCamion transportable level 3 charging station.
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 201930 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY But this is the federal government we are talking about, so the odds are very high that they will not fully understand the nuances needed for our industry. Given the November 1 announcement of a 50% increase on electricity rates in Ontario, reducing our energy consumption is going to become another major driver affecting home buying and home renovating affordability – especially if the provincial government does not apply another incentive to reduce the consumer burden. For the moment, let’s assume that we need to go it alone and find ways to reduce the impact of the carbon tax on the end user (our home buyer) or home renovation, as the case may be. Here are five options that might make a lot of sense in the near future to help your consumer afford your offering: 1. build a smaller home; 2. adopt a high-performance program (make your homes super airtight and add more insulation); 3. install right-sized high- performance mechanical systems with better windows; 4. use materials that sequester carbon or have a low carbon impact for value added; and 5. add solar generation. Now, before you think that I’ve gone off the deep end, let me walk you through it. The first three options are basic affordability decisions within an Energy Star home, and number 4 is easy if you build with wood. As for number 5? If you build a high- performance home, you really don’t need that much energy to power it. When we built the Hope home a few years ago, we were able to run the home (including air conditioning during a hot June) on 30 amperes. If we don’t have to account for the occupant (and all their TVs, computers, electronics, washers and dryers and stoves, oh my…), it’s not really that far fetched. Let’s have a look. Build a smaller home There are quite a few factors here. Besides the obvious fact that a smaller home will be more affordable for the consumer, you are using fewer materials in the home, which reduces the per-lot carbon footprint. The operational carbon is also significantly less. I looked at a 1,460-square- foot bungalow built to Energy Star that had a heating load of 19,200 BTUs and a cooling load of 16,000 BTUs; I compared it with our largest production two-storey home (at 2,990 square feet), which came in at 32,500 BTUs heating and 21,600 BTUs cooling. Once the basement was factored into the home, the bungalow was What’s Your Carbon Footprint? I t’s hard to believe that, in a few short years, we’ve gone from worrying about if we can build to net zero to now facing some hard conversations about dealing with the impact of the coming carbon tax. In the last edition, Lou Bada eloquently laid out his concerns about the carbon tax being equated to a “sin tax.” Lou believed that the carbon tax should not apply to buying a new high- performance home or to doing a deep energy retrofit on an existing home, and that our customers deserve a fair carrot for making these types of decisions. I wholeheartedly agree with Lou. Five Ways to Future Proof for the Carbon Tax 172977688/ISTOCKPHOTO
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 approximately 66% the size of the larger two-storey and needed 59% of the energy to heat and 74% of the energy to cool (see table at right). These homes are typical of what you would see in a regular subdivision. But with the crisis in affordability, the desire for much smaller homes is gaining a great deal of attention. We are currently working on a tiny-home community that will have homes as small as 400 square feet, and I can’t wait to see how low the loads are for these homes. Adopt a high-performance home program If you were to change your specs to the Energy Star program, the total energy consumption of the home would drop by 25% to 30%, compared to National Building Code (NBC) 2015. Once you are able to build to Energy Star, moving up to net zero-ready is not much more than adding a bit more insulation and making it super tight. A net zero-ready home can be as much as 70% to 80% more efficient than an NBC 2015 built home and can mean a massive reduction in CO2 emissions over the life of the home. While some of us have spent years figuring out how to make our homes super airtight (less than 1.0 ACH), many builders I’ve talked to don’t have any idea of how tight their homes are. This is because they don’t test – and often don’t want to know – because they are concerned with the cost to “fix it” if the home turns out to be super leaky. But here is the really great news: for a bit more than $1,000 net cost, most builders can get their home to less than 1.0 ACH, simply by filling the big holes, removing some costly steps and using AeroBarrier to air seal their home. All that time wasted trying to seal up a home can be done in as little as a half-day on the job site. That’s a big-time solution to the hardest part of getting to net zero. Install right-sized high- performance mechanical systems with better windows I look at mechanical systems and windows together for the simple reason that window selection affects mechanical sizing. In these smaller/ tighter homes, it is the type and quality of the window that is the next lowest- hanging fruit. Improving your window to triple glazed (U-value of 1.4 or lower) will help with the heating load. However, the biggest impact on HVAC sizing is now the sensible cooling load from the windows and the latent load from humidity. Selecting a window with a solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC) of less than 0.3 can reduce your air conditioning requirements by half a ton (or more) on a home. That means a smaller air conditioner and smaller duct sizing to help offset the savings of picking the better windows. It also provides greater comfort to the occupant year-round and additional carbon reduction. Once you have your windows selected, don’t let anybody change them. Then, give this information to the HVAC designer, who needs to be current with the CSA F280-12 sizing standard. It is somewhat alarming that there are still many HVAC designers out there using the old standard. If you are not sure, check out the Master Planning Decision Guide for Natural Gas Mechanical Systems, available from Natural Resources Canada. Use materials that sequester carbon (or low-carbon impact) I love wood. I love the smell of fresh wood and the look of all that lumber creating the skeleton of the homes we build. I also love that wood is a carbon sink and a sustainable construction practice. But there are many more products within a home. Where possible, we are now looking at products with low-carbon impact and that are GreenCircle or GreenTag certified. For example, BASF is now offering a new version of their Walltite (CM01) spray insulation that uses a hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agent, which has significantly less carbon impact than their current insulation, which uses a hydrofluoro­ carbon (HFC) blowing agent. 31 For a bit more than $1,000 net cost, most builders can get their home to less than 1.0 ACH, simply by filling the big holes, removing some costly steps and using AeroBarrier to air seal their home. DOUG TARRY HOMES NEAR NET ZERO ENERGY STAR 2017 ABOVE GRADE BASEMENT TOTAL SQ. FT. HEATING BTUs COOLING BTUs BUNGALOW 1,460 1,460 2,920 19,200 16,000 TWO-STOREY 2,990 1,430 4,420 32,500 21,600 66% 59% 74%
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 32 | WINTER 2019 Add solar generation Okay, so now we have a home that is pretty much built to net zero-ready. Add the solar panels and you’ve taken another step to reduce your carbon footprint. But what about the carbon emissions during construction? What if we were able to produce the needed energy on the job site with a mobile solar generator station? That’s crazy talk, right? Not so fast. A great number of subtrades are now using an increasing array of battery-powered tools, from hammers, saws and screwdrivers to paint sprayers, mixers and many more. It’s already happening. When we did Project Hope, we supplied the majority of our energy needs with a mobile solar energy station from Anvil Crawler. It came equipped in a 20-foot shipping container, including a battery backup array. It may not meet all of your needs, but for production builders, it is an innovative solution. Conclusion I share this list of ideas to encourage dialogue, in the hope that others will join us on the journey to a lower-carbon economy. By no means is this intended to be the only solution. There are great energy consultants available to help builders find their way, and I encourage industry stakeholders to work together through voluntary programs to move our industry forward. What is missing? Like Lou said, it’s the carrot. To add a carbon tax and not incentivize the needed reductions in our industry is a missed opportunity, and we need to encourage our MPs and MPPs to ensure it is implemented fairly. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.  Another example is the paint and specialty coatings available from Graphenstone Canada. This is a line of paints and specialty coatings that are Global GreenTag and Cradle to Cradle certified. These products contain zero volatile organic 32 compounds (VOCs) and many of them absorb CO2. I believe this is so critical to our occupants’ health and the health of our planet that I became the product importer for Canada with my wife, Carolyne. Contains Graphenstone technology Purifies the environment Breathable. Absorbs CO2 High performance Washable UNIQUE PROPERTIES The most advanced solution in ecological paints coatings with Graphenstone technology. ® Contact: Graphenstone Canada 17-280 Edward Street E. St. Thomas Ontario N5P 4C2 Call us at: 1-519-488-5200 1-888-840-0153 Email: C M Y CM MY CY CMY K ADV-Canada-V2019.pdf 3 15/11/19 12:46
  33. 33. 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