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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 34 / Summer 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 34 / Summer 2020

  1. 1. PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 INSIDE Sustainable Hardwood Flooring Being Bottle-Free Pursuing Energy Efficiency Missing Spring Training Camp High-Efficiency Foam The Carbon Question ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 WINNERS OF THE CROSS BORDER CHALLENGE Simply theBest
  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 34 | SUMMER 2020 18 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Being the Best We Can Be by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 Bottle-free Community Represents Important Shift by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 What We Missed at Spring Training Camp by Gord Cooke INDUSTRY NEWS 8 Heathwood Homes A Tradition of Innovation by Rob Blackstien BUILDER NEWS 11 A Fitting Tribute by Rob Blackstien BUILDER NEWS 15 RESNET Conference and Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards INDUSTRY NEWS 16 The Pursuit of Energy Efficiency by Paul De Berardis SITE SPECIFIC 24 Growing a Winner Geranium Homes’ Pickering Project by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 27 Getting Better All the Time Campanale’s Callahan Estates by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 30 Building a Culture of Excellence Brookfield Sets Its Sights Higher by Rob Blackstien SPECIAL INTEREST 32 High-Efficiency Foam with Ultra- Low Global Warming Potential by Paul Duffy FROM THE GROUND UP 34 The Carbon Question by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 18 Remaining Neutral A Burnaby, B.C.-based hardwood flooring manufacturer is making a difference. by Rob Blackstien 30 ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 Cover: istockphoto © imaginima. Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 8 15
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 Being the Best We Can Be 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. C OVID-19 has undoubtedly changed our lives. To stop its spread, we’ve been asked to take both personal and collective actions – not only does every person need to practice physical distancing, but entire populations worldwide must act in concert to quell the outbreak. This need to work as a global community isn’t any different from how we need to respond to climate change. Just like our response to COVID-19, climate change requires individual and collective leadership – and this issue offers some examples of how we are doing this already. This year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge reminds us that international co-operation is key for any success. The challenge is a friendly annual competition between American and Canadian home builders to determine just how energy efficient builders can build. The rule is simple: the lowest Home Energy Rating System (HERS)/Energy Rating Index (ERI) score wins. There are five categories for Canadian builders, with awards sponsored by Enbridge, Building Products of Canada, ROCKWOOL and RenewABILITY Energy. This issue features each of the winners: Heathwood Homes, Tribute Communities, Geranium Homes, Campanale Homes and Brookfield Residential (starting on page 8). Notably, they are all graduates of Enbridge’s Savings by Design (SBD) program, which incentivizes builders to achieve 15% better performance than the 2017 Ontario Building Code. When we wish to grade Canadian-built homes to American-built ones (as we do in the Cross Border Builder Challenge), the ERI is a standards-based approach to determine the lowest score of energy performance. In Ontario, under SB-12 2017, a package A1 reference house scores an ERI or HERS 53 and exceeds the International Efficiency Conservation Code (IECC) requirement of 54. ASHRAE 90.2, Energy-efficient Design of Low-rise Residential Buildings, seeks to deliver 50% more efficiency than the IECC 2006. The document employs site-to-source and neutral-cost points through a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for all weather zones in North America. The chart on page 9 indicates a HERS 46 for Ontario. This year’s winners surpassed that benchmark. The international theme continues, with Gord Cooke sharing lessons from what would have been the seventh annual Building Science Spring Training Camp (page 5). We also feature CRAFT, a B.C. flooring company that manufactures its products overseas while staying sustainable, on page 18. Meanwhile, Lou Bada describes a collaboration by two builders to curb plastic water bottle use (page 3), and Doug Tarry shares insights on embodied carbon and how each material choice affects greenhouse gas emissions (page 34). I believe that this pandemic is a dress rehearsal for tackling larger issues, like climate change. COVID-19 has given us a chance to pause and focus our priorities for the future. Opportunities for change depend on co-operation, not division – humanity is in this together. BB publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 “Y ou can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” It’s a well-worn adage. And while I would never dream of comparing new-home buyers to our equine companions, I hope that a certain amount of horse sense applies to most home buyers when it comes to drinking water and the use of disposable plastic bottles. Starlane Homes and Rosehaven Homes have committed to our first “bottle-free” community, called Ivy Rouge in Oakville. At this new community, we hope to make disposable plastic bottles a thing of the past. By installing BWT in-line water filters under the kitchen sink, we hope that our customers will be comfortable drinking excellent water from the tap. The system is reliable, manufactured by a large and respected European company, and easy and affordable to service. It’s great for both home owners and home builders. (Find out more about this product at The adverse environmental impact of plastics in general, and water bottles in particular, is well documented and intuitive. How many times have you seen images on TV news programs or online documentaries of plastic bottles choking our oceans? In addition, try to imagine the energy required to extract the raw materials, process and ship the plastic, fill and ship the bottles, and eventually recycle the plastics or dispose of them (often by shipping them overseas again). Non-judicious use of plastics is at the heart of environmental pollution, the climate crisis and ultimately ecological devastation. That leads me to an old Italian saying: “Tra dire e fare c’è un mare.” Loosely translated, it means “Between saying and doing, there is an ocean.” In this case, possibly a sea of plastic. This collaboration with BWT represents Starlane and Rosehaven showing that we want to help the environment – but more importantly, that we want to make a difference through the creation of an environmental program. We are putting into practice the social conscience that our home buyers have told us that they want and expect from home builders. While acting with a social conscience is the right thing to do, it’s also good for business because we’re protecting our planet. We have come to understand that the most important energy conserva­ tion component in a new home is the occupant. By making the process of doing the right thing as convenient and affordable as possible, we can make a great impact. We hope that other home builders will follow our lead to make a difference for the environment. We believe that our customers will see the benefit of this technology if they are wary of drinking directly from the tap. Ultimately, like physical distancing, our future is to a large degree in our hands (which we all need to wash with soap and water multiple times a day). Changing our behaviour in the absence of an immediate crisis is challenging. Hopefully, being proactive in averting a crisis is now a mainstream conversation for families, friends and colleagues across Canada. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 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). 3 thebadatest / LOU BADA We are putting into practice the social conscience that our home buyers have told us that they want and expect from home builders. Bottle-free Community Represents Important Shift in Home-building Landscape 26794597/DEPOSITPHOTOS
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 Check out our website at
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 What We Missed at Spring Training Camp The first thing we missed from Spring Training Camp was the return of Robert Bean. Robert, in my opinion, is the foremost authority on human comfort in indoor environments. We had Robert speak two years ago on the basics of human comfort. He introduced us to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 55, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy. That standard defines comfort as “that condition of mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment” and is well known around the world as the standard for designing, commissioning and testing indoor spaces and systems specifically for their impact on occupant comfort. We were inviting Robert back to demonstrate some of the practical design tools that are now available to apply the elements of Standard 55 so that builders and their mechanical designers can avoid the most common comfort complaints. Robert was to remind us that the sense of comfort in a space was dependent on up to six variables: two that you have little control of (the clothing choices and metabolic rate of your home owners); two that you measure and have some control over (air temperature and relative humidity); and two that have become more important as the design of houses has changed (air speeds and radiant temperatures of surfaces that surround us). Robert can show you how to assess and balance the impact of those ever-larger windows that your home buyers love, but that represent a highly variable, intermittent thermal load on spaces that are better insulated and more airtight. That balancing act might include more informed choices on window glazings and coatings versus heating and cooling choices that can respond more quickly or precisely to the solar gain on, say, a south-facing feature window. Thus, when assessing the value of advancing window technologies, add the comfort parameters into your calculations. For example, a triple- glazed window results in warmer winter surface temperatures that compensate for clients working from home in light clothing and allows for higher indoor relative humidity without risk of excessive condensation. Of current interest, perhaps, the ideal relative humidity for discouraging the viability of viruses is 40% to 50%. Try maintaining that level in Canadian homes without using triple-glazed windows. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until Spring Training Camp 2021 to work with Robert. He will be providing a live online advanced workshop where participants will apply the comfort calculation tools to specific applications. For more information, stay tuned to spring-camp-2020. The second thing we missed at Spring Training Camp 2020 was the undoubtedly spirited conversation we were to have with Chris Magwood, the executive director of The Endeavour Centre. Chris has been challenging the housing industry to move past energy efficiency metrics and onto the deeper carbon emissions implications of material choices we make. Chris would have helped us recognize the relative importance of the embodied or upfront carbon of the materials processed to construct a home versus the operational carbon emitted 5 industryexpert / GORD COOKE Chris Magwood has been challenging the housing industry to move past energy efficiency metrics and onto the deeper carbon emissions implications of material choices we make. I have been collecting superlatives that attempt to capture the angst in both our personal and professional lives created by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am up to 12 words that I hear and see in government and industry communications and in advertisements and promotions: from “uncertain” to “unprecedented” to “devastating.” In one small aspect, I would use the word “disappointed,” in that we were disappointed to have to cancel the Building Science Spring Training Camp that Tex McLeod and Building Knowledge Canada have been hosting for the last six years. So I thought that, in this article, I would introduce a few topics that we were looking forward to having a conversation about, as we think they will be an important part of our residential building world (even though, in the short term, we respect our responsibility to the urgency of the pandemic).
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 20206 over the lifespan of the building; that is, the total life cycle assessment of a building. It will be no surprise that the inherent complexity of the housing industry – with thousands of parts and pieces, handled by dozens of suppliers and trade partners over a six- to nine-month build, culmin­­ ating in a structure that will be occupied by generations of varying families – makes Chris’s assessment very challenging. However, we do need to get started on this, and there are already helpful resources that more and more manufacturers are beginning to offer, such as the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). This assessment converts the equivalent carbon emission of a product into a common metric of kilograms of equivalent carbon dioxide (kgCO2 eq.). A seemingly simple example would be a comparison between the choice of a steel beam to support a floor versus, say, a three-ply 2x12. The incredible energy needed to extract, process and extrude the steel beam – in stark contrast to the sequestration of carbon during the growth cycle of the trees and relatively simple processing of the lumber – gives the wood frame construction a much lower EPD. However, even this calculation garners debate. The trees, if left growing, could be counted upon to absorb even more carbon from the atmosphere, and perhaps even more carbon was released from the soil during the harvest. As you follow the conversation about climate change, you will note that our building industry is always earmarked as a key sector, inasmuch as between 25% and 45% of global emissions are related to the construction and operation of buildings. We had hoped to spark a conversation on carbon this year at Camp, but I will encourage you to follow Chris at endeavour-sustainable-building- school/contact and we will be sure to have him on the agenda in 2021. Finally, I was looking forward to doing a little update on airtightness. Now that we have over a year under our belt with the AeroBarrier whole- home air sealing technology, I wanted to review the successes – not just in the consistency of results, but in the process improvements it has afforded builders. Imagine if, with one phone call, every house could be under 1.5 air changes per hour at BUILDERSFORCLIMATEACTIONWWW.BUILDERSFORCLIMATEACTION.ORG We have been so pleased by the open, frank, spirited conversations that Spring Training Camp has sparked as we came together each of the last six years. Excerpt from Low-rise Buildings as a Climate Change Solution put out by Builders for Climate Action.
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 50 Pascals pressure (ACH50). That means fewer pollutants and odours and less noise crossing party walls in your multi-family projects. Perhaps, in the current environment, your clients would like to know how you are controlling the air in their home. It means you don’t need to obsess over passing the 15-point air barrier inspection every building official is supposed to do. It means you don’t need to worry about warm, moist air condensing in your attics or exterior walls, and it means you can trade off other more complex energy efficiency requirements by using a performance path energy rating process. For example, increasing airtightness from 2.5 ACH50 to 1.5 ACH50 gives the same energy benefit as adding R-8 of continuous exterior insulation on a single detached home. I was looking forward to recounting the 45 years of building science research into airtightness, spurred by a Canadian hero by the name of Harold Orr, that can now be so easily accomplished by every builder. I encourage you to check out the Order of Canada recognition given to Harold: honours/recipients/146-16303. We have been so pleased by the open, frank, spirited conversations that Spring Training Camp has sparked as we came together each of the last six years. It seems though that the best thing we can do for our families, our friends and our industry is to stay apart – at least physically, at least for a bit. We will be back together, and I am confident that high- performance building will be even more important than ever. Indeed, the same things we do for energy efficiency increase the health, safety, durability and sustainability of the indoor environments you create. BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 7 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.
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 20208 industrynews / ROB BLACKSTIEN Silvio Longo, Heathwood chief operating officer of construction, is stoked about the company adding to its collection of hardware. “It is very exciting to see that the hard work of the Heathwood team is making a difference and giving the home owners the best product, saving energy, and reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere,” he says. “That is a win-win for the home owner and the environment.” Just how effective were the company’s energy efficiency efforts on this project? Consider the fact that the combined carbon emission savings from the 225-home subdivi­sion was the equivalent of removing 74.3 cars from the road – forever. Two of Country Lane’s houses are particularly special: one a discovery home (lot 132) and one a model home (lot 95). The discovery home, built under Enbridge’s Savings by Design program (see issue 26, page 11), features the Total Water Solution (see “A North American First” in issue 28, page 20), making Heathwood the first builder to employ this innovation in Whitby. At the heart of the solution is Greyter’s greywater recycling system, which “saves water and sewage cost for both the home owner and the city, resulting in a 25% reduction in water consumption,” Longo explains. The home earned a HERSH2O label (see “Hell or High Water” in issue 33, page 28). Savings by Design has a big fan in Heathwood, which has leveraged the program on a couple of occasions “to educate the municipality about the various features and systems and the energy savings that the project would have,” Longo explains. By doing so, Longo says the town­ ship awarded Heathwood permits for Heathwood Homes A Tradition of Innovation Veteran Builder Wins Second President’s Award in Three Years H eathwood Homes may soon have to start recycling its acceptance speeches. Just two years after taking home the Cross Border Builder Challenge CRESNET President’s Award for its Richmond Hill subdivision, in which the homes averaged a HERS score of 44 (see “Heathwood Homes: Inspired to Make a Difference” in issue 26, page 4), Heathwood was again bestowed with the contest’s most prestigious honour for lowering that average home score to 42 at its Country Lane subdivision in Whitby. Rocco Longo, Svetlana Ipatova, Matthew Soloman and Silvio Longo.
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 9 the full site rather than just a percent­ age. “Many of the municipalities welcome builders that work hard toward achieving a better performing house that saves resources [and] water and cuts carbon emissions,” he adds. Lot 95 features the iFlow tankless, on-demand water heater which delivers zoned heating and cooling. The system allows home owners to control where heating or cooling will go – ideal for saving energy by distributing hot or cool air where it’s needed most (for instance, living areas during the day and bedrooms at night). Heathwood is the only builder that has employed the iFlow in Whitby. “At Country Lane, we worked very hard to simplify home owners’ concerns and satisfy customers’ comfort with heating system commissioning,” Longo says. Through a third party, Heathwood ensures that the designed amount of air gets delivered to each register. It’s a program that’s been extended to Heathwood’s Wallaceton subdivision in Kitchener and will be employed in upcoming phases in Whitby and future sites, Longo says. Further experiments in the lot 95 home include a hybrid insulation system in the basement designed to both manage moisture and provide “a more continuous insulation performance,” he explains. On the exterior walls, R-20 four-inch graphite insulation from Amvic was employed, along with a metal track system, which will allow the basement to be finished with drywall in the future. Heathwood believes that home owner education is a big part of driving its energy efficiency agendas forward. After all, if the people buying its houses don’t understand the benefits, it becomes a harder sell. With this in mind, the company overhauled its website to include the Heathwood Total Home section. With a wide variety of features offered in its better living package (including smart home security, smart home locks, smart carbon monoxide detectors and smart garage door openers, among other items), the company realized that introducing these options to potential customers through the site made life a lot easier when it came time for those people to talk to sales staff in person. A one-time proponent of ENERGY STAR, Heathwood has shifted over to HERS in recent years, incorporating it as part of its Heathwood Green Energy Home Program. Longo explains that using HERS provides the company with the flexibility to adopt its own building packages to meet specific efficiency goals for each subdivision. He says this allows Heathwood to build homes that are up to 25% better than the standard Ontario Building Code requirements. This approach has really put the company ahead of the pack, both in Canada and internationally. For in­stance, Longo says its average HERS score for Country Lane was 10% better than the zero-ready threshold in the U.S. “I know we are on the right path. To achieve much better, our team becomes more familiar with contin­ uous improvements,” he says. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. HEATHWOOD HOMES — CRESNET PRESIDENT’S AWARD 42 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 90.2 COMPLIANCE ERI SCORES BY CLIMATE ZONE CLIMATE ERI SCORE ZONE 1 43 ZONE 2 45 ZONE 3 47 ZONE 4 47 ZONE 5 47 ZONE 6 46 ZONE 7 46 ZONE 8 45 IN ONTARIO, LOW CARBON HOMES ARE ERI/HERS 46
  12. 12. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 • 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:
  13. 13. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 T ribute Communities has long been on the cutting edge of sustainable home building, and this year is no exception. In a fitting tribute to the lasting legacy of one of its fallen heroes, the company won the RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge Award for the Lowest HERS Index Score (Canadian Custom Builder) with a score of 40. The award was for Tribute’s Westney Place project in Ajax, of which 14 of the 22 homes were rated and achieved well over the 20% better-than-code target. Using structural insulated sheathing that acts as an exterior air barrier and two-stage variable speed furnaces with electronically commutated motors (ECMs) were among the key components that drove the energy efficiency rating of these houses. Tragically, Tribute vice-president of contracts, Frank MacPhee, was not there to celebrate in the company’s success – but given the influence he had on Tribute’s sustainable building practices, his fingerprints were all over this award. MacPhee passed away in Decem­ ber 2018, and although he was taken far too soon, his legacy continues to burn bright within the company and many of its employees that he mentored along the way. Nadia Winters, the company’s construction project manager, recalls how tough it was to return to the office after the holidays when he passed away. “I was usually the first one in our department in the morning and he was usually the second. Every morning, he would stop at my door to say good morning and have a little story to tell me. For weeks, I would wait for that morning visit.” He was a man excited by the possi­ bilities of energy-efficient housing, and it showed in his willingness to try new things, such as helping create TIPS (Tribute’s Innovative Performance Standard) – a program that fittingly was introduced at the award-winning Westney Place site. (For more on TIPS, see “Tribute TIPS the Scales” in issue 27, page 16.) MacPhee first developed his passion for sustainable development as a teen helping his uncle build log homes in his hometown of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. By the time he arrived at Tribute, “he dreamed of rain barrels standard with every home well before they were a part of a water reduction strategy by municipalities, to bigger things like greywater systems and photovoltaics,” says his former assistant and now successor, Lisa Grimshaw. Ultimately, she says, “Frank was the driving force behind any sort of sustainability initiative for Tribute.” Winters agrees, adding that MacPhee was driven to steer Tribute into sustainable building, but it had little to do with the recognition and was more about his ardent belief that this was the future. It’s clear that MacPhee’s enthusiasm for sustainability came from his love of nature. “He loved to garden, [and seeing] the moon and the stars. He enjoyed his morning nature walks where he often brought his camera to snap pictures of the sun rising or a bird on a branch,” recalls Winters. MacPhee spent over 30 years with the company, and he truly bled Tribute Blue, Grimshaw says. She says that he would often declare “I have the best job in the world.” “That kind of positivity is infectious,” she says. “He was an absolute joy to work with.” Among his career highlights 11 A Fitting Tribute Builder Honours the Legacy of One of Its Fallen Heroes buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN 40 TRIBUTE COMMUNITIES — LOWEST SCORE CUSTOM
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202012 were serving as the president of the Durham Region Homebuilders’ Asso­ ciation (DRHBA) in 2004 and being inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2017. MacPhee was unaware of it, but Winters says that company president Al Libfeld and his son Steven had MacPhee’s family flown in from Nova Scotia to be there for the induction ceremony with him. “I’m not sure they would have done that for anybody else – but for Frank, they didn’t give it a second thought. He was that special.” Then again, perhaps it’s not that surprising. After all, Winters says that MacPhee pretty much devoted his life to the company, and the owners realized and appreciated it. He was often described as ‘larger than life,’ not only because of his big physical stature, but more so given the immensity of his personality. “Everyone loved Frank – he was one of those people who left a lasting impression. He just had that personality that drew people in,” Winters adds. MacPhee’s demeanour was a comfort for all, and his willingness to help others made him an invaluable resource. “He could easily find common ground with any individual, no matter their age, creed or religion, and everyone who came in contact with him felt his warmth and sincerity,” Grimshaw says. “He gave everyone a sense of comfort and offered exceptional advice – a sounding board for many.” Grimshaw describes MacPhee as loyal and trustworthy, and that his creation of genuine trade relationships that improved the company’s financial strength is his lasting impact. “He will always be in our memories and, for many of us, there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of him and say ‘What would Frankie do?’ I am hon­ oured to have worked by his side for so many years and am grateful for every­ thing he taught me,” Grimshaw says. 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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  17. 17. 15 buildernews The 2020 Cross Border Builder Challenge Canadian Builders Up for the Challenge Once again, Canadian builders represented the nation brilliantly at this year’s 7th Annual RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge, a competition celebrating excellence in energy-efficient home building while promoting the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. MANY THANKS TO THE SPONSORS OF THIS YEAR’S CHALLENGE John Godden (left) and Paul Duffy, CRESNET; Jim Neto and Silvana Ramirez, Brookfield Residential; Tim Campanale, Campanale Homes; and Rod Buchalter, RenewABILITY Energy Inc. at the RESNET annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards in Scottsdale, Arizona Erminio Labriola (left) and Silvana Ramirez, Brookfield Residential – Lowest Score Production (over 100 homes)Tim Campanale, Campanale Homes – Lowest Score Mid-Production Frank Mauro (left) and Vince Naccarato, Rodeo Fine Homes – Honourable Mention Lisa Grimshaw (left) and Nadia Winters, Tribute Communities – Lowest Score Custom Jim Couperthwaite (left), Geranium Homes – Innovation Award presented by Paul Lowes, Building Products of Canada
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202016 industrynews / PAUL DE BERARDIS The feedback from this public consultation will help shape the content of the anticipated 2020 national codes and subsequently the Ontario Building Code. Ontario code users were strongly encouraged to review and provide comments on the national proposals as they are expected to significantly influence the content of future editions of Ontario’s building code. As part of ongoing efforts to transform the development of construction codes, provinces, territories and the federal government have committed to increasing the harmonization of the technical requirements across Canada. This initiative is being undertaken to help streamline the national and provincial code development process to reduce duplication and increase procedural efficiency, while providing greater consistency across Canada. As part of this arduous consulta­ tion process, RESCON reviewed all the proposed technical changes, focusing on changes with potential impacts to residential construction practices, and provided commentary to numer­ ous relevant proposed changes. With respect to low-rise housing, this consultation was largely dominated by proposed changes to improve operational energy efficiency. Other noteworthy proposed changes related to resistance to lateral loads, parti­ cularly for seismic and wind loads. Among the proposed changes was the introduction of the Tiered Energy Performance Compliance Prescriptive Path. This four-tiered prescriptive path introduces energy conservation measures with associated point equivalencies, whereby a minimum number of points are required to meet the increasingly stringent tiers. The energy conservation measures award points for effective RSI values of above- ground wall assemblies, U-values for fenestration, effective RSI values for foundation walls, airtightness levels, ventilation system sensible heat-recovery efficiency, and energy efficiency (EF or UEF) for water heating equipment. This points scheme favours improvements to the building envelope and airtightness, while occupant loads are largely ignored. The proposed points framework seemingly acts as a black box for code users, as there is no explanation regarding the merit of how points are determined. Similarly, there is a paral­ lel proposed change which introduces a Tiered Energy Performance Compli­ ance Path that deals with simulated performance modelling. This proposal utilizes five energy performance tiers, with Tier 5 representing a ≥60% overall energy efficiency improvement of the proposed house compared to the house energy target. So where is this all headed and how fast will regulations be changing? The proposal stated that “builders complying with the tiered energy requirements can expect cost impacts and energy savings similar to well-known voluntary housing programs. … Tiers 2-5 approximate the energy savings targets of ENERGY STAR, R-2000, Net-Zero Energy Ready and Passive House programs.” Should things proceed as sched­ uled, these energy-efficiency mandates for new homes will be increasingly ratcheted up from one tier to the next within about 10 years. The proposed changes provided some costing data, with the estimated per-unit incremental cost to achieve Tier 5 for a gas-heated single-detached home pegged at $30,800, which seems optimistic by my estimates. Within the next 10 years, will the residential construction industry be ready to build homes that are constructed to Passive House levels of energy efficiency for the mass market? And more importantly, will new-home buyers be willing to pay the price premium? To answer this question bluntly: not a chance. The federal government’s commitment to the ambitious Paris Agreement targets to fight climate change has put the wheels in motion, but maybe – just maybe – the government has bitten off more than the industry can chew. The Pursuit of Energy Efficiency T he winter 2020 public consultation led by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) recently wrapped up in March. It focused on proposed changes to national construction codes, including the National Building Code of Canada, the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings and the National Plumbing Code of Canada. If we consider the impacts of embodied carbon, alternate strategies may emerge in how we develop future building code requirements.
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 To complicate matters further, as if the proposed changes and targets for energy efficiency will not be difficult enough to achieve, other proposed changes seek to update provisions for resistance to lateral loads due to earthquakes and wind. As a result, certain regions in Canada will now fall outside the limits of the prescriptive solutions in Part 9 and require design per Part 4. The proposal stated that trends in new-home construction have shifted towards open concept floor plans – having fewer interior partition walls and larger windows resulting in less lateral bracing for structural stability for wind and seismic loads. As such, lateral loads resulting from earthquakes and winds could negatively affect houses in low seismic zones, which currently are not required to be braced to resist these loads. Coupled with the fact that evolving energy-efficiency requirements are pushing builders to replace wood sheathing with continuous exterior insulation, the experience that Part 9 framing is based on no longer applies and reconsideration is warranted. The proposed changes for energy efficien- cy and lateral resistance represent competing interests for above-ground wall assemblies. The pursuit of energy efficiency is pushing the effective RSI value for above-ground walls as high as 5.45 (m2 ·K)/W in the prescriptive tiered approach, increasing the use of continuous exterior insulation. Meanwhile, proposed lateral resistance requirements seek to expand the use of wood sheathing products and increased fastening for structural strength. The proposed change goes on to state that for construction of exterior walls where continuous exterior insulation is used in combination with wood sheathing, there will be a “small” cost premium. It is obvious the pursuit of energy efficiency and the target to achieve net zero energy homes have become paramount for the federal govern­ ment’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, its overarching strategy for reducing emissions to meet the Paris Agreement. However, the proposed changes relating to energy efficiency only consider methods to reduce the operational energy usage of homes. But we must ask ourselves: while we focus solely on reducing operational energy usage, could the products and methods of construction we are using be inadvertently increasing emissions through embodied energy? If a home’s concrete foundation walls become thicker to support the use of more exterior polystyrene foam- based continuous insulation, and solar panels are utilized to generate energy, are the accrued operational savings more than enough to offset the impacts of the manufacturing process for the increasing usage of such building elements? To be honest, that is not a question I can answer. But for building codes to be so focused only on operational energy efficiency and make drastic policy decisions without considering the effects of embodied energy (the carbon footprint of a material) or life cycle assessments (the evaluation of the environmental impacts of a product through all stages of its life cycle), we may just be spinning our wheels in the grand scheme of things. If we consider the impacts of embodied carbon, alternate strategies may emerge in how we develop future building code requirements to reduce housing-related emissions, considering both embodied and operational energy. Ultimately, we must remember the overarching goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, not blindly focusing on how to regulate net zero energy homes at all costs. It should not matter if the emissions reductions come from a home’s operation or the embodied energy from what goes into constructing a home – both aspects should be equally considered. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at 17 National Building Code Proposed 9.36 Energy Code Tiers Baseline is current 9.36 performance,* plug/lighting loads not included. 15% IMPROVEMENT — CURRENT OBC SB-12 2017 TIERS 4 AND 5 IN DANGER FOR MUNICIPAL OVERREACH TIER 1 — 0% IMPROVEMENT TIER 2 — 0% IMPROVEMENT WITH MANDATORY AIR TEST AT 2.5 ACH TIER 5 — 60% IMPROVEMENT TIER 4 — 30% IMPROVEMENT TIER 3 — 10% IMPROVEMENT
  20. 20. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202018 featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN A Burnaby, B.C.-based hardwood flooring manufacturer is making Remaining I f Rod Gray had a nickel for every time someone wondered how his product can possibly be sustainable, he’d probably have enough money to make the planet much more environmentally friendly. The president and Chief Sustain­ ability Officer of Burnaby, B.C.-based Creative At Home Inc. hears it all the time about his company’s hardwood flooring brand, CRAFT Artisan Wood Floors: How can you be sustainable when you ship your wood to China to have it processed, and then return it to Canada as a finished product? It’s a question any reasonable person might pose, and the answer will surprise you. Because the fact is this: CRAFT is a company committed to environmentally friendly practices and is a true industry leader as the world grapples with becoming carbon neutral. But first, a little history lesson is needed about both Gray and the company. Launched in 2002, Creative At
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 19 a difference through its commitment to sustainable products. Neutral Home has grown to 25 employees: 15 at the head office and 10 sales reps spread out across Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Three years ago, Creative rebranded its hardwood flooring product as CRAFT Floors, a high-end artisanal product that slots in the middle of the pack from a pricing perspective (about 20% to 30% cheaper than the most expensive, and about 20% to 30% more costly than the cheapest options), Gray says. With an extensive background in building materials, Gray says he’s “not a militant environmentalist” – instead, his motivations for sustainability come from a more honest and simple place. “It sounds corny, but I truly love nature.” Decimated by Climate Change Gray says he’s very aware of the impact society is having on the environment, and nowhere more so than in the sea. As a hardcore diver, he’s observed that “the oceans are just getting decimated by climate change, because of the change of the acidity levels of the water and the temperature change in the water. You don’t actually see it as much on land as you do in the ocean.” Creative’s goal was to get the company carbon neutral by 2020 (in other words, to establish its overall carbon footprint and buy carbon offsets, a credit for GHG reductions achieved by another company that the first company ‘purchases’ to balance COURTESYCRAFTARTISANWOODFLOORS/CREATIVEATHOMEINC.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202020 its own emissions), but Gray explains that this had to be delayed until 2021 as the world shifted into COVID-19 survival mode. When the pandemic struck, CRAFT was in the midst of having a proper environmental product declaration performed, a process that would reveal the flooring’s exact carbon intensity. Gray says they’re already ahead of the game simply based on the fact that wood is a less carbon-intensive material than steel, aluminum or glass, for example. After all, wood is a renewable resource – especially when it comes from sustainable sources. One of the ways Creative ensures its products come from sustainable sources is through its certification by the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI), one of the forestry certification standards that offer companies a chain of custody to guarantee the wood is genuinely sustainable. A competing brand of the much better known Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), SFI had a bad reputa­ tion when it launched. But Gray says that since it underwent a restructur­ ing, SFI is now on par with the FSC. “Think of them as being Pepsi and Coke. They’re two slightly different flavours of the same thing,” Gray says. Creative wanted to use only North American wood; however, most engineered wood flooring uses plywood, and most of that comes from very unsustainable sources like decimated Russian forests, Gray notes. Controlling the Process The answer for Creative was to control the process by making its own core using Canadian spruce, so it could know where the material originated. Given that most of that material comes from well-managed and sustainable B.C. forests that are certified to the SFI standard, “it made sense for us to go with the SFI chain of custody,” Gray explains. He says that when a manufacturer gets Chain-of-Custody certified by one of these organizations, they are able to advertise this fact. However, “it does not mean that everything they make is certified. All it means is that they have the ability to buy certified wood, make it into a product, and then pass that certification on to the finished product,” Gray says. “They have the ability to do it but not necessarily the commitment to do it.” “So what happens is, a lot of these companies – the vast, vast majority that use FSC – they proudly display the logo, but they very rarely actually make products out of FSC certified wood,” he explains. Gray adds that when a consumer demands certified product, It takes a village: The Creative At Home team. Conditioning the components in a special kiln increases the stability of CRAFT’s flooring.
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 all of a sudden the cost goes way up and they have to wait extended lead times while the manufacturer tries to go out and source certified wood. No Game Playing “We’re the only company that I’m aware of that has made the commit­ ment. We’re saying ‘we’re not going to play that game. That’s green­ washing.’ All of our products are certified,” Gray says. But still, the $64,000 question remains: how can they ship to and from China and remain sustainable? The vast majority of the product’s journey is via ocean freight (much more environmentally friendly than truck or rail). And with its Burnaby warehouse so close to the port, and its factory in Jiashan, China, also very close to the port, the company’s internal carbon footprint analysis discovered that the round trip is equivalent to trucking the product from the warehouse to just east of Winnipeg. Gray explains that given the artisan quality and labour-intensive nature of their product, it makes sense to employ the more inexpensive labour in China; the fact that their area specializes in making high-end wood products clinches the deal. Further, because Creative At Home owns the factory, it knows that its products are built with full adherence to environmental standards. Besides, Gray says, the perception of China as a child labour state producing massive toxins is largely outdated and inaccurate now. In some ways, he says, it’s stricter there. In Canada, Gray says, you might get a penalty or fine for flaunting environmental laws; in China, you can be thrown in jail. Because they choose only the best coatings and stains, the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions are low enough on CRAFT floors that it has achieved GREENGUARD Gold certification, meaning it can be used in hospitals and schools. This, and the fact that all its products are SFI Chain- of-Custody Standard certified, are the company’s major environmental differentiators, he explains. 21 IT’S OUR NATURE CRAFT is dedicated to creating uncommonly beautiful wood floors that are as kind to the planet as they are luxurious. TALK TO US 1 877 828 1888 SHOP AND SAMPLE NOW:
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 A CLOSER LOOK 22 Not Just Talk Unlike many of its competitors, Gray says Creative doesn’t just talk about sustainability – it walks the walk. “The big thing we do that nobody else does is we are fully committed to making 100% of our products from wood that comes from certified sustainable forests,” he says. “The vast majority of our competition couldn’t care less – and so they don’t do anything positive for the planet, except for the bare minimum.” Gray says that while many focus on the sustainability angle (made all the more remarkable because of the journey the product takes), at the end of the day, CRAFT’s enduring tale should simply be one of quality, as it’s a beautiful, high-end product. In making its wideplank, long- length, engineered hardwood floors, CRAFT takes “a much more artisanal approach than most other companies,” he says. “We put a lot of effort into sourcing the highest quality of wood, and then we put a lot of manual labour into sorting and grading each batch of wood, with the result being that we can create detailed looks and effects that other manufacturers find impossible to replicate.” You can call it a labour of love, one designed to help save what really matters to Gray: the planet itself. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer.  Gray says that while many focus on the sustainability angle, at the end of the day, CRAFT’s enduring tale should simply be one of quality, as it’s a beautiful, high-end product. A CLOSER LOOK CRAFT BY JOHN GODDEN BETTER BUILDER In the past, my decisions were based on aesthetic and price. The truth is, the best value is usually in the middle. Now my decisions are made based on where products come from and how they are made. This process must include sustainable practices, durability in design and manufacturing, crafted by people who care about what they are making. Claims about being “green” abound, but careful examination always reveals the truth. I chose CRAFT flooring based on the following factors: • The company’s philosophy of excellence and commitment to reducing their carbon footprint • Locally sourced, sustainably harvested wood from B.C. forests certified to SFI • In my experience, not all engineered hardwood flooring is structurally stable, especially in older homes where it’s difficult to maintain optimum relative humidity; the components of a CRAFT floor go through an extra “conditioning” step that ensures material stability (see photo, page 20) The fact that CRAFT flooring is fabricated in China may seem counterintuitive with respect to carbon emissions. However, CRAFT’s warehouse is close to an ocean port in Burnaby, B.C., Canada and the same is true for the plant in Jiashan, China, meaning that the bulk of the journey that their materials travel is by low-carbon ocean freight. This ocean round trip is equivalent to the more carbon-intensive trucking from Burnaby to just east of Winnipeg. All things considered, CRAFT flooring is the best sustainable, durable value at a mid-price point for engineered hardwood flooring. I encourage you to take a closer look at the product. • Every bundle of CRAFT flooring has little waste and few defects because the wood is carefully selected and sorted • In the instance of my own home, I have a long room with natural daylight; the long planks (8' to 10') result in fewer seams and create a beautiful finish • GREENGUARD Gold certification for low volatile organic compound emissions and a healthy living environment
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 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
  26. 26. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202024 sitespecific / ALEX NEWMAN A design workshop. A passion for building well. And some stakeholder incentives. That’s the equation that netted Geranium its recent win at the RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge. Getting the Most Out of the Savings by Design Program Long before the challenge, and even before building permits were applied for, Geranium principal Boaz Feiner and senior project manager Diana Sousa were involved in a workshop from the Enbridge Gas Savings by Design program. The workshop included City of Pickering planning and sustainability officials; Michelle Vestergaard, senior advisor with Enbridge Gas’ Savings by Design Program; and John Bell from Clearsphere. Manufacturers’ reps and designers, as well as the builders’ site staff, also attended the seminar. The aim of the Savings by Design program is to help builders improve the energy and environmental performance of new construction projects. Participating builders must construct homes to achieve an energy reduction target of at least 15% better than code, and in return, financial incentives are available to help them implement energy-saving goals. During the workshop, various construction components are considered – mechanicals, insulation values and air tightness, to name a few – in order to create an energy- efficient housing product. “It’s setting the bar high,” admits Sousa. “The incentive is nice, though it doesn’t cover the costs to do all the upgrades. We’ve always done more than minimum, always gone above the minimum code, because we believe the end-product is important – comfort in a home is ultimately what people want.” Free and available to Ontario builders in areas served by the former Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., the program sometimes sees builders having to redesign parts of the homes. As Vestergaard explains, “maybe the insulation needs to be increased, or better technologies need to be adopted and incorporated to run the home. Blower door tests are standard once homes are built because the 15% improvement has to be verified.” Enbridge Gas offers incentives. There’s the monetary reward of $2,000 per home with a cap of $100,000, but more important are “the experts we bring to the table free of charge,” Vestergaard says. “These experts sit with the builder and have really valuable conversations about design improvement. You can’t really put a price on that, to get all those people in one room talking it out.” According to previous participants, the program saves money in the long run, Vestergaard says. “When you have experts involved earlier in the process, builders avoid costly changes later; that’s a value-add to them. If we can talk solutions before homes are built, they’re way ahead of the process. For example, if the builder preplans using an integrated design process, determines exactly how much material the house will use, there will be a cost savings.” Currently, the Pickering site is under construction. Everyone – including seven sets of home owners who have moved in – is pleased with how their home has performed. In addition to this, Geranium won the coveted Enbridge Gas Innovation Growing a Winner Geranium Homes Leverages Savings by Design for Its Award-winning Pickering Project 45 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 GERANIUM HOMES — ENBRIDGE INNOVATION AWARD
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 Award at RESNET’s Cross Border Builder Challenge, held this past February in Scottsdale, Arizona. Enbridge Gas has been involved in the Cross Border Builder Challenge for five years, and for the past three has sponsored the Innovation Award. One of the main reasons why Geranium’s Edgewood project was chosen over other submissions, says Vestergaard, is because “they made a commitment to do a whole subdivi­ sion – 21 homes – which aligned with our market transformation goals. They are leading the industry ahead of their peers.” Going with Greywater The award-winning innovation in the Edgewood project is that 21 homes operate with greywater recycling, which reduces water usage by up to 25%. While Geranium roughs in for greywater recycling on all its projects, they teamed up with Greyter on this one. The greywater recycling company installed the full system in each home. It’s an expensive proposition, but it garners Geranium a first – it’s become the first company to install greywater recycling in an entire subdivision in Canada. It’s important to note that the support from Enbridge Gas has helped make this possible. With this, Geranium perpetuates their brand of building high-quality homes that offer as much comfort to the home owner as it does to the future life of the planet. Edgewood will prove somewhat of a test case for Geranium, Sousa says. “We’re interested in using the data from Edgewood to see how performance of that is going. We also went with HERS scores on this site. We’ll try it to see how it works. Above all we like to remain flexible, and everything always depends on the market. In today’s uncertain times, we need to be able to adapt.” While HERS doesn’t have the same branding as ENERGY STAR, Sousa says regardless of what you call it or what kind of rating you use, it’s all about having energy-efficient features. “ENERGY STAR was standard on all our products, but we’ve discovered that we needed more flexibility. ENERGY STAR was prescriptive, always changing, and every few years there were new guidelines. HERS has allowed us to do our own modelling and compare it to the code.” Water is a precious resource and Canadians are one of its highest users, Sousa says. “There are communities – especially in northern Ontario – that do not have access to enough clean water. We’ll continue to rough in for greywater recycling in our detached homes, so home owners have the option to buy and install a system down the road.” “And it’s a great case study for other municipalities and builders,” Vester­ gaard says. “It’s not cheap to do this kind of building, but it’s a win-win – for Geranium, for their home owners, for the city and the environment.” Each home will receive a HERS energy label and a HERSH20 water score, which verifies 15% better than code performance. Having the municipality’s involve­ ment was “huge,” says Sousa. “Having officials working with you makes for a much better experience. If you have questions, you can ask and know you’ll get supportive answers. It felt like we were collaborating as a team on this project.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at 25 PROUD SPONSOR OF THE CROSS BORDER BUILDER CHALLENGE
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 But for this year’s Cross Border Builder Challenge, the winner – a tract home in the Callahan Estates project in Arnprior – achieved a whopping 30% better than code and an enviable HERS score of 38. The company, which deliberately branded itself as an energy-efficient local builder, aims to outdo itself on every project. One great incentive – apart from the pride of winning the RESNET award – was the financial reward from participating in Enbridge’s Savings by Design program. If it weren’t for the incentive, Campanale says he doesn’t know if he could have “convinced the rest of the shareholders this was a good idea.” Even with the $100,000 cap per project, it was a substantial amount of money for the 64-unit subdivision and a second project with 150 homes. Far more beneficial, however, are the long-term effects of the program, Campanale adds. As more builders take up the mantle of energy efficiency, it creates a supply chain benefit. Greater demand means more production, which means lower cost per item, so that the trades can manufacture, service and install products less expensively. Campanale continues to experi­ ment with different products in efforts to improve efficiency and achieve a higher HERS score. While it might call for spray foam insulation in one appli­ cation but batts in another, the main goal is always airtightness, he says. Recently, the builder started using an exterior sheathing product that has a higher R-value, structural stability and insulating value for the same or lower price than the one they previously used. “Finding something cost effective but better efficiency is a win,” Campanale says. The company no longer uses the more traditional ENERGY STAR rating because “it’s always changing, and since you can never build the same house twice, we find HERS to be less restrictive. It gave more flexibility and 27 Getting Better (Than Code) All the Time Campanale Wins Again with Callahan Estates Project buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN F or the second year in a row, Campanale Homes has garnered a coveted RESNET award for energy efficient home building. After winning for Net Zero Canadian Builder in 2019, this year they walked away with the award for Lowest HERS Index Score, Canadian Mid Production Builder. While Campanale always promises at least 10% better than code on each home, most homes come in around 15% better for rentals and 20% better for homes for sale. “We tend to compete with ourselves to find increasing ways to improve energy efficiency, but the contest does add an extra incentive to do so,” says contracts manager Tim Campanale. 38 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 CAMPANALE HOMES — CRESNET MID PRODUCTION LOWEST SCORE
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202028 a competitive advantage. ENERGY STAR is used so much it’s lost its meaning, while HERS is very specific about how much better than code a particular product is. And that’s something you can put a monetary value to,” Campanale explains. In order to ensure home owners “buy in” to a rating they are less accustomed to seeing, Campanale invests a lot in communication. The company’s marketing efforts are geared to the message that energy efficiency should do three things: save money, increase interior air quality and general home comfort, and contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint. They communicate that message through two things: first, a model home outfitted with clear labels explaining how each component works and what it does. Most of this is in the basement, where the HVAC is located. But highly detailed labels can be found throughout the model. Additionally, whoever tours a potential buyer around the house will personally explain everything. The second communication piece is the website, in which the company has invested a lot of time and effort. A whiteboard video makes the inner workings of the home and its HVAC system very easy to understand. Separate pages further explain other elements, such as the solar components. Their market, consisting mainly of first-time buyers and empty nesters, appreciates both the improved air quality and comfort of the home, and its money-saving aspects (about a 20% per year reduction on operating costs as an average). Both groups are also pleased they are “doing their part” for the planet, Campanale adds. In its commitment to conserve vital resources, the company is also looking seriously into the new HERSH2O rating. “It’s a new thing but necessary,” Campanale says. “We toured a house in Arizona where they have a serious water problem. Internally we’re in discussions on adopting it, and whether it gives us the opportunity to market a water savings program, apply a monetary value to it and properly educate customers about it.” Recent strides in energy efficiency and resource management have relied on a number of factors – from greater acceptance and use of new energy efficient products to government programs and restrictions. Campanale is not entirely convinced about the government role in ensuring optimum energy efficiency: “Personally, I’m for less government involvement – when they get involved it can go either way. But I guess it depends on the market. You can build and sell anything in a good market, so government inter­ vention right now is good because it creates more stringent building codes and weeds out the cash-grab builders. I believe if the government didn’t regulate these energy requirements, half of the builders wouldn’t imple­ ment. In a down market though, you don’t need the interventions as much, because the survivors in bad times are those who have always offered good product with the best efficiencies at competitive prices.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at 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.
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202030 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN N o stranger to success in the Cross Border Builder Challenge, Brookfield Residential once again this year came away victorious, taking home the award for the Lowest HERS Index Score, Canadian Production Builder, with a score of 39. This really is par for the course for a company that’s been using the HERS system to drive top quality home building and that infuses this ethos into its very fibres. And in an effort to continue this journey, Brookfield sent Silvana Ramirez and Jimmy Neto to this year’s RESNET conference in Arizona to bring back new information to further increase the company’s energy efficiency building prowess. In winning the award for its discovery home in its Pickering-based New Seaton community, Brookfield used a combination of energy efficiency features that “proved to be highly efficient, not only for energy consumption but also for constructability,” says production supervisor Silvana Ramirez. “Our goal for each discovery home is to find that sweet spot where we design and build the best possible high energy efficient home that is also production efficient, durable and maintains with high quality standards,” she adds. In achieving a HERS score that was 18% better than its standard home and 26% better than the Ontario Building Code standard, Ramirez says Brookfield employed a number of strategies, including: a highly energy efficient envelope that is durable, cost effective and construction friendly, featuring continuous insulation that combines rigid insulated sheathing with semi-rigid stone wool insulation; triple-pane windows and patio doors; a below-grade hydronic heating system, an 84% efficient energy recovery ventilator (ERV); a 96% efficient two-stage furnace with 15 SEER air conditioning; a 90% efficient hot water tank; a greywater recycling system; and 90% efficient LED lights. Next door to the discovery home, Brookfield continued its experiments, with this house focusing on the mechanical systems. Ramirez says the company installed a combination gas hybrid system with a zoned electronically commutated motor (ECM) air handler and a 15 SEER air conditioner heat pump. “This hybrid system divides the home in two different zones – South and North – allowing the home owner to control the level of heat and AC in each of these zones individually,” she explains. “It saves energy consumption by distributing heat and AC efficiently. Our goal is to compare the energy consumption of this home versus other homes with standard furnace and AC systems.” She says Brookfield is a big believer in discovery homes and the lessons they provide because they help the company understand what it takes to craft highly energy efficient houses while investigating new building techniques and other sustainability features that could be used on a production level. The company performs a cost- benefit analysis to assess which features will be included as standard, so it reaches a balance of affordability and energy efficiency in each home. Further, Ramirez says, this analysis helps Brookfield create different tiers of sustainability packages to offer home buyers that are specifically interested in purchasing the most energy efficient home available. Building a Culture of Excellence Brookfield Keeps Setting Its Sights Higher 39 BROOKFIELD HOMES — CRESNET PRODUCTION LOWEST SCORE
  33. 33. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 This process of learning and applying mirrors Ramirez’s experience at the RESNET conference. “I was able to attend presentations that helped me better understand construction best practices and to be able to see the sustainability path other builders are taking,” she says. While the entire experience proved invaluable, three presentations in particular really resonated for Ramirez: Salcido Solutions reviewed how builders achieved the lowest HERS scores in 2019 and offered some insight about how to lower scores across the industry. “It allowed me to have an inside look at industry-wide trends and where other builders are tackling construction elements in order to improve their scores,” she explains. Sandra Adomatis from the Appraisal Institute talked about how to grow the customer base, promote efficiencies and capture additional business by demonstrating the importance of high-performance homes, HERS scores and rating services. The techniques she presented help builders and realtors sell more by educating home buyers and unravelling facts that seem like a mystery to the general public. “Brookfield can take inspiration for upcoming marketing strategies that give fresh approach to our sales team and HERS ratings. By applying these techniques, Brookfield can promote and educate our better-than-code homes while adding value in our services,” Ramirez says. CR Herro from Meritage Homes talked about its discovery home, calling this Vision Home “a template for sustainable building.” He discussed the building science, sustainable design and green building features of the home – an off-the-grid, net-positive home that optimizes demand-side energy management and incorporates the most advanced green building products, systems and technologies available, all at an accessible price point. “He presented the design and building challenges, and explained the valuable lesson of working together with sustainability consultants and third parties to educate municipalities in order to create an environment that promotes development of this sustainability endeavour.” Given Brookfield’s modus operandi, you can bet that the lessons Ramirez took home from this conference will soon be manifesting themselves in the company’s offerings to its customers. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 31 AMVIC AMDECK MODULAR ONE-WAY CONCRETE SLAB ICFVL FLOOR LEDGER CONNECTOR SYSTEM ELECTRICAL OUTLET
  34. 34. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202032 specialinterest / PAUL DUFFY Add to this the need to improve performance in other ways, and the task of improving homes can seem insurmountable. • Building science experts will tell you that, when you lessen heat loss into a building component, you decrease drying potential, which means that better moisture control is even more critical in energy- efficient houses. • Energy-efficient houses are more airtight, so you want to avoid products that cause indoor air quality problems. • The whole push for energy efficien- cy is an environmental imperative, so the last thing you want is an environmental problem associated with the materials you choose. Builders aren’t the only ones being forced to innovate, either. Building product manufacturers, too, are being forced to innovate like never before. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that foam insulation products are changing and the applications for using them are becoming more varied. At a recent renovation project in midtown Toronto, Better Builder caught up with Bruce Young, national sales director for Icynene-Lapolla (now part of Huntsman Building Solutions), to talk about the latest innovations in spray foam. Coincidentally, one of Icynene’s newest innovative products, Icynene ProSeal HFO T2, was being sprayed on site. The technical specs on the product are impressive: • High thermal resistance: Long Term Thermal Resistance LTTR = 2.03 at 50 mm thick • Zero ozone depletion • Ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) of 1 • Water vapour permeance of 43 ng/ Pa.s.m2 And it boasts great physical proper­ ties as well. In plain language, you get a long-term R-value at R-6 per inch in a product that air seals and doesn’t need a supplemental vapour barrier. Even better, you don’t compromise on things like global warming and ozone depletion because the blowing agent in the foam exceeds the strictest standards for blowing agent perform­ ance set by Environment Canada. Builders also like the fact that the product adds rigidity and toughness to roof, wall and floor structures, creating a performance improvement that is noticeable. Young notes “spray foam adheres to surfaces it is sprayed to, so on a renovation like the one we visited, you can get air barrier continuity at the sheathing level, or at the structural element, or even connect to the interior finish and existing vapour barrier in the walls you are attaching to. It is very versatile.” Some builders choose to install the product on the exterior. The great news there is that because the product has high R-value, it minimizes the need to expand wall dimensions to accommodate insulation. The techies in the crowd will like the fact that insulation of the exterior of the wall cavity helps keep wall cavities warm High-Efficiency Foam with Ultra-Low Global Warming Potential A s builders progress up the ladder of building more and more energy-efficient homes, the challenges become more daunting. As you solve more and more issues, the opportunities to improve performance that are left become smaller and harder to find. How do I squeeze more R-value performance into a wall? How do I get better airtightness performance? These can be challenging questions. L-R: Blowing initial coat 2 maximum per pass. Best application of foam in flat roof to maxi­mize R-value in cavity (R-36). Flash and batt system with ProSeal HFO T2 foam and ROCKWOOL.
  35. 35. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 and avoid concealed condensation problems. Applying a continuous layer of air-impermeable insulation creates an air barrier in a location where there are fewer penetrations, so it is easier to make a building more airtight. Builders are used to buying insulation products based on R-value, so when products have other properties, the evaluation of the product can be confusing. You will want to consider the fact that when you use a product like Icynene ProSeal HFO T2 spray foam, you can greatly simplify air sealing. You might be able to eliminate the need for a supplemental vapour barrier, and when applied on the exterior, you might not need a building wrap or building paper and you might not need to enlarge the foundation to get higher R-value performance in your walls. The fact that your insulation is your plane of airtightness lets you inspect air sealing details before expensive finishes are applied on the interior and on the exterior. That may be the assurance and peace of mind you need to commit to a higher level of performance! BB 33 World leading spray polyurethane foam company. Born in May 2020, with 150 years’ combined heritage. The beginning of building solutions by Icynene-Lapolla and Demilec High Performance Annual Energy Consumption with Fossil Fuels Code MINIMUM High Performance Step 1 Zero Net Energy Step 2 Zero Net Carbon Step 3 Annual Energy Consumption without Fossil Fuels Renewable Energy Embodied Carbon High Performance Definitions Getting to step three requires using building materials with low carbon content like ProSeal HFO T2 spray foam (GWP of 1).
  36. 36. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202034 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY T he following article is an excerpt from A Builder’s Guide to Net Zero Homes. This particular chapter is called “The Carbon Question” and deals with product selection to help lower the overall carbon footprint of the build. A special thanks to Chris Magwood from The Endeavour Centre for his excellent insights on this issue. Chapter 5.0: The Carbon Question Expert Advice: The number of “new” concerns facing builders these days can seem overwhelming. Codes are getting more stringent about energy efficiency and pushing toward net zero, airtightness needs to improve, and off-gassing materials are becoming a concern, as is waste. And customers still want affordable homes. So, it may seem like the issue of embodied carbon is yet one more burden for builders. However, you don’t need to think of it as a burden. In many ways, reducing the up-front carbon footprint of your homes might be the easiest of all these issues to address. It’s all about smart material selection. In fact, you may be making some excellent material choices already without even knowing it. The key to choosing the best materials is finding the right data to inform you. Manufacturers can provide a document called an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), which is like a food nutritional label but for building materials. Among the information provided in an EPD is the global warming potential (or GWP) of the material. The GWP multiplied by the amount of material used gives you the total carbon footprint of the material. It can be a lot of work to track down EPDs and do these calculations, but luckily there are resources that can help with this. Builders for Climate Action, Building Transparency and the Athena Institute all offer free calculators, and Tally and One Click LCA (among others) offer subscription-based access to life cycle calculators. These tools can quickly show you which materials have a lower carbon footprint. The Carbon Question Materials Matter The same building can have very different up-front embodied carbon emissions (UEC) High UEC Assembly includes: High carbon concrete XPS closed cell spray foam Brick cladding Steel interior framing Drywall Vinyl windows Tile carpet flooring Clay tile roofing Typical UEC Assembly includes: Average carbon concrete Mineral wool insulation Fiber cement cladding Wood TJI interior framing Drywall Vinyl windows Engineered wood vinyl flooring Asphalt shingle roofing Best Conventional UEC Assembly includes: High SCM concrete Cellulose wood fiberboard insulation Wood cladding Wood interior framing Drywall wood walls Aluminum clad wood windows Engineered wood FSC hardwood flooring Steel roofing ILLUSTRATIONCOURTESYOFCHRISMAGWOOD,THEENDEAVOURCENTREBUILDERSFORCLIMATEACTIONWWW.BUILDERSFORCLIMATEACTION.ORG
  37. 37. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 2020 The difference between materials can be very dramatic. The same building can have a very high carbon footprint or, in fact, be carbon-storing, all based on simple material selection. The case study at left (“Materials Matter”) gives an example of the variations in up-front carbon footprint. The best materials, from a carbon footprint point of view, are not always more expensive. In fact, sometimes the least expensive option can be the best choice for lowering the carbon footprint. Action Plan: When you are considering the different products that need to be included into your home, consider changing to products that will either have a lower quantity of embodied carbon, or products that have the ability to store carbon. In general, plant-based materials and materials that are made from a high content of recycled material tend to have the lowest carbon footprint. Typically, the largest portion of a building’s carbon footprint is associated with the concrete used. Reducing concrete use is a high- impact way to lower your carbon footprint. Ordering concrete with a high percentage of supplementary cementitious material (SCM), such as 35 Reducing the up-front carbon footprint of your homes might be the easiest of all these issues to address. It’s all about smart material selection. 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
  38. 38. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 202036 slag or fly ash, can reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by 20% to 40%, without costing any more. Eliminating materials that have high emissions from chemical pro­ cesses, such as spray foam and XPS foam, is another high-impact choice. In some cases, the products we use, such as spray foam and XPS foam noted above, are being changed for us. For example, foam plastic insulation, including closed-cell spray foams, are changing blowing agents from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs). This is being done so that these products will comply with the Montreal Protocol, which is meant to use blowing agents with lower global warming potential (GWP). HFOs have been shown to have significantly less GWP than the HFCs they are replacing. These changes are being reflected in the updating of stan­ dards within the National Building Code and come into effect January 1, 2021. Some simple carbon-storing materials, such as cellulose insulation, can greatly reduce the overall carbon footprint of your building without increasing costs. Sustainably harvested wood is also an important carbon-storing material. Other plant-based materials – like wood fiberboard, cork, recycled denim, wool and cement-bonded wood fiber insulating concrete forms (ICFs) – can also make a big impact, but may prove to be a worthwhile investment if your client’s goals include a reduced carbon footprint. Approximate Cost: With careful product selection, the cost of addressing embodied carbon and carbon storage may have little to no impact on the total home cost. Starting with the cost-effective options can at least get your team thinking about the concept at the same time as reducing your total carbon footprint. I look forward to the opportunity of discussing carbon-efficient net zero homes once we are able to do so. In the meantime, I appreciate the opportunity to share some of the excerpts through Better Builder. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.  In some cases, the products we use, such as spray foam and XPS foam, are being changed for us.
  39. 39. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 34 | SUMMER 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