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Better Builder Magazine, Issue 30 / Summer 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 Magazine, Issue 30 / Summer 2019

  1. 1. PUBLICATIONNUMBER42408014 INSIDE Canadian Builders Up for the Challenge Once Again ICON of Sustainability Asking the Right Questions Rethinking Threshold Standards Thrive in a Changing World Simply theBestMEET THE WINNERS OF THE 2019 CROSS BORDER BUILDER CHALLENGE ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019
  2. 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 30 | SUMMER 2019 16 1 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 2 Doing Our Best for the Harvest by John Godden THE BADA TEST 3 It’s Time to Ask the Right Questions about Climate Change and Housing by Lou Bada INDUSTRY EXPERT 5 Spring Training Camp Inspiration with Gene Myers by Gord Cooke BUILDER NEWS 8 Canadian Builders: Empire Ahead of the Curve by Rob Blackstien BUILDER NEWS 12 Royalpark Powers On by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 15 6th Annual Cross Border Challenge Dinner SPECIAL INTEREST 22 Rethinking the Three-Storey Threshold for Part 9 Homes by Paul De Berardis BUILDER NEWS 24 North Star: Driven by Higher Quality by Rob Blackstien BUILDER NEWS 28 Campanale Homes: Achieving True Net Zero by Alex Newman BUILDER NEWS 30 Rosehaven Homes: Inspired to Innovate by Rob Blackstien FROM THE GROUND UP 32 Learning How to Thrive in a Climate Change World by Doug Tarry FEATURE STORY 16 ICON Understands the True Nature of Sustainability by Rob Blackstien 24 ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 On our cover: Stephen Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON Homes; Kevin Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON Homes; Kevin Watt, Vice President Construction, ICON Homes. Photographed by John Godden. Images internally supplied unless otherwise credited. 3 12
  4. 4. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20192 PUBLISHER Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 416-481-4218 | fax 416-481-4695 Better Builder Magazine is a sponsor of PUBLISHING EDITOR John B. Godden MANAGING EDITOR Wendy Shami To advertise, contribute a story, or join our distribution list, please contact FEATURE WRITERS Rob Blackstien, Alex Newman PROOFREADING Carmen Siu CREATIVE Wallflower Design This magazine brings together premium product manufacturers and leading builders to create better, differentiated homes and buildings that use less energy, save water and reduce our impact on the environment. PUBLICATION NUMBER 42408014 Copyright by Better Builder Magazine. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the authors and assumed to be original work. Better Builder Magazine cannot be held liable for any damage as a result of publishing such works. TRADEMARK DISCLAIMER All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. UNDELIVERABLE MAIL Better Builder Magazine 63 Blair Street Toronto ON M4B 3N5 Better Builder Magazine is published four times a year. “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” — Og Mandino W hat do builders and farmers have in common? Both face the uncertainty of extreme weather, government policy and market fluctuations of supply and demand. Until recently, the harvest in the housing market has been plentiful, but the skilled labourers have been few. But this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge brought us the cream of the crop. The challenge is a friendly annual competition between American and Canadian home builders to determine just how energy efficient builders can build. The rule is simple: the lowest Home Energy Rating System (HERS)/Energy Rating Index (ERI) score wins. There are six categories for Canadian builders, with awards sponsored by Enbridge, Building Products of Canada, Icynene and RenewABILITY. This issue features each of the winners: Empire Communities, Royalpark Homes, North Star Homes, Campanale Homes and Rosehaven Homes (page 8). These awards were presented at the Sustainable Housing Foundation dinner on March 21, 2019 in Toronto. The mayor of East Gwillimbury, the Honourable Virginia Hackson, also publicly challenged the City of Davis, California to build a home comparable to Rosehaven’s winning discovery home. Davis’ mayor has since accepted. It is notable that all are graduates of Enbridge’s Savings by Design (SBD) program, which incentivizes builders to achieve 15% better performance than the 2017 Ontario Building Code. When we wish to grade Canadian-built homes to American-built ones as we do in the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the ERI is a standards-based approach to determine the lowest score of energy performance. In Ontario, under SB-12 2017, a package A1 reference house scores an ERI or HERS 53 and exceeds the International Efficiency Conservation Code (IECC) requirement of 54. The newly published ASHRAE 90.2, Energy-efficient Design of Low-rise Residential Buildings, seeks to deliver 50% more efficiency than the IECC 2006. The document employs site-to-source and neutral-cost points through a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for all weather zones in North America. The chart on page 9 indicates a HERS 46 for Ontario. This year’s harvest of Cross Border Builder Challenge winners surpassed that benchmark. We also feature ICON Homes, an ambitious builder, graduate of SBD and the first builder to use the ANSI 301 standard to individually model units in a mid-rise building, on page 16. Lou Bada examines the need to get the right people and information together to harvest the green economy, such as in the ASHRAE 90.2 standard (page 3). Beyond the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the international theme continues with Gord Cooke sharing lessons from the sixth annual Building Science Spring Training Camp, featuring expert presenters from Canada and the U.S. (page 5). From the same event, Doug Tarry shares the wisdom of Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders from Denver, Colorado (page 32). As with any endeavour – from farming to home building – planting employee buy-in is key for growth. Environmental stewardship and sustainable home building have been described as tending a garden, and I am in great debt to all who work with me to tend the fields through this magazine, the Sustainable Housing Foundation, CRESNET and Clearsphere. Together, we’ve learned that the three most important ingredients for having a successful harvest are clear thinking, hard work and a sense of humour – after all, as E.B. White said, “A good farmer is nothing more nor less than a handyman with a sense of humus.” BB Doing Our Best for the Harvest publisher’snote / JOHN GODDEN
  5. 5. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 M uch ink has been spilled on these pages about how our industry can become more sustainable in our building practices: we often discuss which product, process or program is best to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and possibly help the environment. But I wonder sometimes if we are asking the right questions, given today’s realities. I wrote a while ago that the most important question we ask ourselves – before we get to the “how” of solving a problem – is the “why.” Some may say that we’re causing the planet to burn, so we’d better start fixing it! They might even take it a step further, saying that we should be leaders in the battle against climate change. I’d like to respond to these commonly heard sentiments. Firstly, I’m not a climate change denier with some heartless capitalist agenda at work here. I believe in the science that points to man-made climate change, and that action needs to be taken. I also believe that the strides we’ve made towards energy efficiency and improvements in our buildings are not entirely misguided. We have achieved much in creating more efficient new homes. This leads me to some questions: Is it possible that we are now at the limit of what makes the most sense? For example, are we getting ahead of ourselves by rabidly pursuing net zero or near zero homes today? Should we try to limit housing choice and only produce dense forms of housing? Should everyone be compelled to take public transit or buy electric cars? Can we modify human behaviour by regulating and taxing everything that moves? It is tragic whenever there is some weather-related catastrophe in the world that causes unimaginable pain and suffering. On the other hand, when people tear up and exclaim that we have a “climate emergency in Canada,” I pause and reflect on what is being said. When these same people declare that Canada should be doing everything it possibly can to stop climate change, I ask them, “Can Canada actually stop climate change, and at what cost?” It’s clear that Canada could go back to pre-industrial levels of CO2 emissions and it wouldn’t make one lick of difference if the big emitters on the planet don’t change. While we should do our part, can we truly be the leaders in fighting climate change? Should we commit economic hara-kiri to show the world how serious we are? Why? According to a Globe and Mail article from May 10, 2019, the City of Toronto spent six years and $2.6 million for 380 bike storage spaces in an underground lot at Toronto City Hall. So we have people living on the streets while our bikes stay warm and dry. Many social activists would rightly say we should attend to both biking infrastructure and homelessness. In a perfect world, I would agree. Overstating the obvious: economics matter. That is not to say we should be putting profits over people and the environment (they are not mutually exclusive). Economics is a social construct based on the 3 It’s Time to Ask the Right Questions about Climate Change and Housing thebadatest / LOU BADA If we’re looking to build a green economy, then bring in the scientists, economists and business people, and leave irrational policies and interventions behind. RA2STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK
  6. 6. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20194 scarcity of resources. Fortunately, economics is not a zero-sum game. Benefits accrue from growth through increasing productivity and innovation. In Canada’s short history, we have derived many social benefits from our vibrant economy. This leads me to more questions: are we searching for evidence-based policy or policy-based evidence? If it is the former, then where are the best areas to spend our limited resources? Do we invest in adaptation for existing homes and infrastructure, or do we keep adding costs to new housing for negligible benefits while pushing people to the margins? Tax payers and consumers are one and the same. Home ownership has become an unattainable dream for the next generation, and inadequate housing is becoming a social ailment. Misguided land use and housing policy in the name of environmental stewardship is part of the problem. Blaming “greedy” developers and businesses is over-simplistic and will not produce any meaningful results. We need to leave any notions of class warfare behind. If we’re looking to build a green economy, then let’s bring in the scientists, economists and business people, and let’s leave irrational policies and interventions behind. I understand that some politics, businesses and special interests will always exist to undermine rational thought, but I believe the status quo is insufficient. As imperfect as we are, there is too much at stake here to not ask the right questions. BB Lou Bada is vice- president of low-rise construction at Starlane Home Corporation and on the board of directors for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). 4 This leads me to more questions: are we searching for evidence-based policy or policy- based evidence? All these products meet ENERGY STAR’s higher standards For more information or to order, contact your local distributor. vänEE 100H vänEE 200HvänEE 60H vänEE 60H-V+ vänEE 90H-V ECMvänEE 40H+vänEE 90H-V+ vänEE 60H+ vänEE 50H1001 HRV vänEE Gold Series 2001 HRV vänEE Gold Series vänEE air exchangers: improved line-up meets ENERGY STAR® standards Superior Energy Efficiency Ideal for LEED homes and new building codes 5-year warranty* FRESH AIR JUST GOT GREENER *ON MOST MODELS.
  7. 7. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 This year, there were over 20 presentations and discussions (including the fast-paced and always intriguing Open Mic Night event). The one session that most inspired the 160 builders, energy advisors, researchers, manufacturers and others in attendance was from Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders in Denver, Colorado. I’ve known Gene for about 15 years as one of the early advocates of net zero energy construction in North America. What I, and others at Camp, learned is how Gene leveraged that commitment to zero energy to navigate through the housing crash of 2007 so that Thrive Home Builders came out the other side as a stronger, more profitable company. I suspect builders going through our own current housing slowdown could find inspiration in Gene’s approach as well. In our very first segment, Gene outlined for us his thought process of becoming the “low-cost producer of high-performance homes,” combining two common business principles that are often at odds. We know that, in times of declining markets and prices, there is heightened interest in lowering or at least optimizing costs. And we intuitively know that the race to the bottom is crowded with those who can’t get there, while our customers stand on the sidelines, waiting for the costs to go even lower. On the other hand, leading marketing advocates would counsel a strategy of defining a compelling, marketable difference to drive interest through periods of low demand. Thrive Home Builders combined these two principles by focusing on a very interesting approach. Gene detailed how they scaled up their high-performance building commitment by “winning the hearts and minds of their own people, their trade partners and their customers – in that order.” With respect to winning the hearts of their employees, Gene cited compelling industry research. The National Association of Home Builders’ 2016 Cost of Doing Business Study showed the average after-tax margin for builders was 3% to 4%. A 2013 Gallup study outlined that, in the US and Canada, only 29% of workers are engaged at work, 54% are not 5 industryexpert / GORD COOKE Spring Training Camp Inspiration Gene Myers shares his journey and secrets of success. R egular readers of this magazine will know that each spring Tex McLeod, Andrew Oding and I host Spring Training Camp: an opportunity for advanced building science topics to be presented, discussed and debated. Afterwards, in the spring edition of this publication, I have an opportunity to highlight what I consider to be the most important aspects of this year’s Camp. Gene Myers of Thrive Home Builders inspires at Spring Training Camp.
  8. 8. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20196 engaged at work and a full 18% are actively disengaged at work. Finally, he noted a 2015 Builder Magazine article by John McManus that posed the question “Will a 20-year-old today choose to enter a career that sheds 65% of its workers every 10 years or so?” Gene took these hard facts to his staff and asked them, “Will you help me build a company with the financial strength to overcome all market conditions?” Together, they wrote a one-page business plan that galvanized them in a common cause. The commitment to high-performance, energy-efficient homes was a big part of that. The staff responded well to the performance benchmarking and validation offered by third-party labelling programs. It’s the reason they doubled down on their commitment to delivering 100% Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Homes, 100% of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR for New Homes, WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS labels as well as 100% LEED for Homes. Gene and his 70 staff are fans of labels, and so are his customers. The Thrive staff then took the high- performance challenge to their trade partners. They did a “lean building blitz” with industry leader Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development. Through extensive trade partner interviews, they found over 80 ideas for improvement that saved both Thrive and their trade partners over $5 million. Most amazingly to me, they cut over 45 days from their build cycle time. They have set up a permanent trade council with nine individuals who are tasked to be the voice of all trade partners, with a common goal of ensuring Thrive is the best company to work for in all of Colorado. With great build processes and systems in place, they approached their marketing in much the same systematic way. They looked closely at how their homes could meet the needs of their customers. They focused on a quote from Jacquelyn A. Ottman’s book The New Rules of Green Marketing: “the green consumer revolution has been led by women aged between 30 and 49 with children and better-than- average education. They are motivated by a desire to keep their loved ones free from harm and to secure their future.” This quote resonates with my 30+ years of experience speaking with new home sales agents and home buyers. As an engineer, I used to imagine that home buyers would do the math and figure out the compelling energy savings associated with high- performance homes. Of course, that rarely happens. This quote reminds us that the technical features of high-performance homes have much deeper, more emotional benefits for home buyers. In Thrive’s case, they focused on concepts of credibility, authenticity and honesty for home buyers who, in Ottman’s words, “Seek control, empowerment and peace of mind by knowing she has done all she can for the people she loves.” You can see why third-party labelling continues to be a core value at Thrive; it matches the emotional needs of the buyers Thrive knows will confidently pay more for things they believe offer superior value and performance. Gene concluded his talk by modestly pointing out that the success they have achieved is primarily due to the engagement of his people. He admits that he has a new, less stressful job. Rather than having to solve all the problems and have all the answers, he is now simply the “Catalyst in Chief,” empowering his staff and trade partners to be engaged. It has been amazingly successful. In a market not unlike Toronto in its diversity and relatively high prices, Thrive has become the highest-volume low-cost producer of net zero energy ready homes. At approximately 200 to 250 homes per year, their profits are up and they have received far too many accolades to list here, but I will list two. They were selected as Builder of the Year in 2017 by Professional Builder magazine and have been DOE’s Grand Prize Winner for Housing In a market not unlike Toronto in its diversity and relatively high prices, Thrive has become the highest-volume low-cost producer of net zero energy ready homes.
  9. 9. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 Innovation the last four years in a row. Perhaps just as importantly, Scott Sedam says that, from a process improvement side, “Thrive ‘reported the biggest year-to-year score improvement they have ever seen in 10 years running the survey.’” The mood set by Gene at Spring Training Camp was inspiring to the many builders here in Ontario who are also offering net zero energy homes, but wondering how this strategy fits in with the current softening of sales and the uncertainty of Code changes. To learn more, you are welcome to go to our website to download a copy of Gene’s presentation: spring-camp I would also encourage you to visit Thrive’s website at: Better yet, go to the upcoming Energy and Environmental Building Alliance Summit, to be held in Denver from October 1–3. Gene will be there, and I will be pleased to introduce you to him and perhaps tour a couple of his amazing model homes: While you are in Denver, come see the new Construction Instruction Ci Live learning centre. We will be holding a special cold climate building science session on November 12–13: BB Gord Cooke is president of Building Knowledge Canada. 7 Check out our website at
  10. 10. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 “We strive to continuously grow and become leaders in the industry, and [we] are committed to doing this by constantly testing and experimenting in order to ensure we build to standards above both ENERGY STAR and [the] Ontario Building Code,” says Paul Golini, co-founder and executive vice president, industry relations. “So, it is always our goal to build the best product possible for our consumers.” The award, Golini says, was simply a by-product of Empire’s efforts to “future proof” all its homes. Empire earned the President’s Award by having the lowest average HERS score (44) across 284 homes. It also bagged an award for the lowest HERS score for a Canadian production builder with a score of 38. Last year, one of the homes in Empire’s discovery home pilot program won the Enbridge Innovation Award. The pilot, located in Empire’s Riverland community in Breslau, Ontario, consisted of five model homes, three of which were built to ENERGY STAR standards while the other two were built to what Empire believes will be the future code, thereby ensuring a higher standard of energy efficiency compared to the existing Ontario Building Code. (See page 23 of the winter 2017 issue for more details on Empire’s discovery homes.) The Hybrid Home (the actual award-winning home) features the latest sustainability innovations, newest insulation materials and experiments in energy efficiency, including solar PV with battery storage. 8 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN Once again, Canadian builders represented the nation brilliantly at this year’s RESNET/CRESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge, a competition commemorating excellence in energy-efficient home building while promoting the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. In particular, Empire Communities stood out by winning two honours, including the highly coveted President’s Award. Canadian Builders Up for the Challenge Once again, the Great White North proved it can excel at building homes in an energy-efficient manner. The 2019 Cross Border Builder Challenge E mpire Communities could soon get so accustomed to winning awards that it may decide to include red carpeting in all its homes. After taking home two Cross Border Builder Challenge awards for the second straight year, this company is truly manifesting its goals. Empire Communities Ahead of the Curve
  11. 11. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 Golini says this home produces two metric tonnes less CO2 than its Code counterpart. What Empire learned from these homes was paramount in it being able to win the 2019 awards. Having won multiple Cross Border Builder Challenge awards, Empire is clearly a believer in the initiative. The awards are “a great way to motivate our industry to be better and to build more energy-efficient practices in our homes,” Golini says. “Sustainable construction and energy efficiency have long been part of our building culture,” but the friendly competition is “a great way to ensure that we as an industry are staying on top of latest green building technologies and striving to reduce our carbon footprint.” Given that “one of our main goals at Empire has always been to stay ahead of the curve by being leaders in sustainable building practices,” participation in the Cross Border Builder Challenge is a natural fit. “Competitions like this help immensely by allowing us to work with other for­ ward-thinkers and challenge ourselves with each home we build,” he adds. Having turned 25 last year, Empire is one of the largest home builders in North America, with current communities in Toronto, southwestern Ontario and the southern US. The 450-plus employee company has built over 15,000 new homes and condos in its history. 38 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 44 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 PRESIDENT’S AWARD AND LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN PRODUCTION BUILDER AWARD 90.2 COMPLIANCE ERI SCORES BY CLIMATE ZONE CLIMATE ERI SCORE ZONE 1 43 ZONE 2 45 ZONE 3 47 ZONE 4 47 ZONE 5 47 ZONE 6 46 ZONE 7 46 ZONE 8 45 9 IN ONTARIO, LOW CARBON HOMES ARE ERI/HERS 46
  12. 12. • PROVIDES A CONTINUOUS THERMAL RESISTANCE OF R-5; perfect for meeting the requirements of the Quebec & Ontario Building Code. • DOES NOT REQUIRE ADDITIONAL BRACING; one-step installation saving time and cost. • INTEGRATED AIR-BARRIER; no additional housewrap required saving material costs. • LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO INSTALL; allows for fast installation saving time and cost. R-5 XP C O M B I N E S T H E W I N D B R A C I N G P R O P E R T I E S O F W O O D F I B R E W I T H T H E T H E R M A L R E S I S T A N C E O F E X T R U D E D P O L Y S T Y R E N E 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 30 | SUMMER 2019 Empire continues to grow, last year re-entering the high-rise market in Toronto with a pair of condo towers while also expanding into Texas with projects in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Golini says 2019 “is going to be another big one for us.” Empire recently announced its debut into the Atlanta market and will soon be launching two more high-rise condos in Toronto. A new collection of home designs for low-rise communities was also announced, which includes redesigned floorplans “with today’s home buyer in mind,” as well as modern architectural details and updated interior features. “We want to make sure home buyers have everything they need to fit their growing lifestyle, and with technologies and standards constantly changing and improving, we need to make sure to stay ahead of the trend,” he adds. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 11 Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY Energy Inc. (left) and John Godden (right) present Steve Doty of Empire Communities with the President’s Award. Don’t just breathe, BREATHE BETTER. As the industry leader in Indoor Air Quality systems, Lifebreath offers effective, energy efficient and Ontario Building Code compliant solutions for residential and commercial applications. To learn more about our lineup of products contact us today. Visit tolearnmore! orcallusat 1-855-247-4200
  14. 14. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201912 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN The friendly competition between American and Canadian home builders highlights the ways that builders are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint. As Royalpark president Marco De Simone puts it, the competition is concrete proof that “we’re good builders, that it’s real and not just talk, and it also confirms the brand we’ve carved for ourselves of being very green conscious.” For Simcoe Shores, Royalpark part­ nered with Panasonic in 2015 to install solar panels and storage batteries in all nine of the site’s homes. With the project completed in 2018 and home owners moved in, it became clear that this package not only ensures good delivery of electricity – a sometimes iffy proposition in rural areas like cottage country – but also assures home owners they can save money on the system by sending electricity back to the grid. Panasonic’s sterling reputation drew De Simone into the partnership in the first place. “We don’t take on things because they’re trendy – they have to function well and cut energy costs. As a builder, I have to stand behind my product, and for this I know Panasonic has done the research and testing, and it will run the way they claim it’s running.” Royalpark Powers On Builder’s Winning Community Balances Efficiency with Value A nother winner in this year’s RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge was Ontario’s Royalpark Homes. As one of an elite group of builders competing for the coveted awards for energy efficiency, the company’s long-standing green commitment has resulted in achieving a HERS score of 26 throughout their Simcoe Shores project in Barrie, Ontario. The good news for other builders is that these ideas are easily adapted to just about any housing development. 28 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN CUSTOM BUILDER AWARD John Godden (left) presents the award for the Lowest HERS Score for Custom Production Builder to Domenic La Neve and Joe Dilecce of Royalpark Homes.
  15. 15. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201914 The package included a battery powered by Panasonic, lithium ion battery cells, solar PV panels, an inverter and a user-friendly monitoring system. It allows home­ owners to collect energy for later use. But solar panels and battery stor­ age are only half of the equation, De Simone adds. Aptly named PowerHaus, the homes come with a better building envelope and feature a wall system that’s been rated the most efficient in Ontario by a study undertaken by Ryerson University. The homes also boast air conditioning, programmable thermostat, drain water heat recovery, R-50 attic insulation, R-31 floor insu­ lation and right-sized, R-24 above- grade walls. All of that adds up to 46% better energy efficiency than the Ontario Building Code. Although slightly more expensive to build, the homes are good value for money. De Simone points out that buyers of luxury, high-end homes expect a few perks. Where other builders might offer design-oriented upgraded amenities, Royalpark remains consistent with its mandate that “energy efficiency be part of the standard package, which lowers utility bills down the road and even makes you money when you sell it back to the utility company,” says De Simone. The builder payoff is big too, espe­ cially with the Cross Border Builder Challenge results. “These homes are like our calling card and proof that this kind of efficiency can be achieved,” De Simone says. “You enter these kinds of events because it gets the name and product out there, shows people that experts recognize good quality work as well on both sides of the border.” The winning project has paved the way for the company’s future developments, like Green Earth Village in East Gwillimbury, Ontario. “We tested this in Barrie with the Simcoe Shores project, but now are looking at the technology for larger communities,” says Doug Skeffington, Royalpark’s director of land development. That’s where Smartflower power enters the picture. While Skeffington says that windmills are “an eyesore, noisy, and take up a lot of land, Smartflower is more efficient and more appealing, so bureaucrats are taking notice of the results,” he says. Given how slow bureaucracy tends to move, Skeffington says that Royalpark has “looked at moving things forward, not by trying to fight the system, but working within the system we have. And so we went with solar technology that we could incorporate into the whole development, creating an opportunity to collect power across the whole community.” Homeowners are sold when they see how much money can be saved down the road with energy efficiency, he says. “We tend to look at affordability in a different way, and pose the question to our buyers: what if that expensive tech makes you money? And it will – you can sell energy back to the utility companies.” But a lot depends on how builders nurture their relationships with the municipality, says De Simone. “Wouldn’t it be a nice world where the carbon footprint is low, and you’re not paying taxes because the community is making you money?” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at L–R: Larry Stock (CEO, Nu-NRG Group), Mike Walters (CAO, LSRCA), Anthony Di Battista (President, SigNature Developments), Erica Kelly (Business Development Manager, CONXCORP), Councillor Scott Crone, Councillor Loralea Carruthers, Andreas Faruki (Partner, Deloitte Canada, hidden), Mark Conroy (President, SmartFlower Solar), [hidden], Jager Bhoohe (CONXCORP), Virginia Hackson (Mayor, Town of East Gwillimbury), Jason Lightfoot (President, CONXCORP), Tiger Ali Singh (Tiger Jeet Singh Foundation), Councillor Cathy Morton, Doug Skeffington (Director, Land Development, Royalpark Homes), Councillor Terry Foster, Brad Rogers (Principal, Groundswell Urban Planners), and Patrick Carew (President, Nu-NRG Group). SMARTFLOWER BLOOMS
  16. 16. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 buildernews / BETTER BUILDER STAFF 1 On March 21, 2019 the SHF hosted the 6th Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner. The evening started with a trade show featuring premium products from Amvic, Airia Brands, A.O. Smith, BP Canada, Dow, Icynene, Power-Pipe, ROCKWOOL™ , Ventilation Maximum, and iGEN Technologies. 2 The VIPs of the evening were the winning builders of the Cross Border Builder Challenge, honoured for their accomplishments in building low- carbon, high-performance homes. 3 The Honourable Virginia Hackson, keynote speaker, presents the Enbridge Innovation Award to Rosehaven Homes. 4 Bridging the Gap panel discussion. On the left, builders Joe Laronga, Kevin Watt, and Anthony Martelli. On the right and representing municipalities, Leo Grellette (CBO East Gwillimbury), Jeremy Bender (Supervisor, Building Permits, City of Pickering) and Kyle Bentley (Director of Buildings and Planning, City of Pickering). 5 Lucky draw for an iGEN Integrated Combo Heating System presented by Michael Chatzigrigoriou, Co-founder and CEO of iGEN Technologies, and John Godden. And the winner is … Jeremy Bender! BB 1 2 3 6th Annual Cross Border Builder Challenge Awards Dinner 15 54
  17. 17. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 ICON Understands the featurestory / ROB BLACKSTIEN
  18. 18. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 17 A s ICON Homes prepares to celebrate its 30th birthday next year, it has reached an age when it realizes that profits are not the be-all and end-all of home building. Sometimes, it’s more important to do something simply because it’s the right thing to do. This mentality surely played a role in the North York-based company winning the Civic Award for Sustainability from the City of Picker­ ing in May. The city has made sustainability a long-standing priority, and it has been honour­ ing leaders in this regard for nearly two decades. “Through its annual Civic Awards, the city has recognized leaders in sustainability since 2007, and six years prior to that within an environmental category,” says Chantal Whitaker, Pickering’s Supervisor of Sustainability. “Sustainability is one of our corporate priorities, and we continue to pursue initiatives and partnerships that help balance our social, environmental and economic goals. With partners like ICON Homes, we are able to take meaningful strides toward a more sustainable future, creating a healthy community for generations to come,” she adds. When ICON changed plans on Market District (its four-storey stacked townhouse development featuring 92 units) to add more energy-efficient features (such as more efficient windows, upgraded mechanical systems and insulation), it wasn’t because the company needed to do so to meet municipal approvals or increase sales. In fact, the changes were enacted after all the homes were already sold. Clearly, ICON simply wanted to offer more sustainable housing. “Pickering recognized that we were doing that,” says Kevin Watt, vice president of construction and one of three members of ICON’s leadership team (along with Kevin Brown and Stephen Brown). True Nature of Sustainability ICONHOMES/GLADSTONEMEDIA
  19. 19. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 “One of the attributes that makes this development remarkable is that, despite the fact they had building permits issued in October 2018 and already sold the units, they decided to pause and re-examine how the townhomes could be constructed in a more sustainable manner,” says Kyle Bentley, director of city development and chief building official for Pickering. Even though this initiative would require extra effort and time for both staff and trades, as well as increased expenses and more difficulty, ICON proceeded. Forty-two of the units were enhanced with a goal of increasing comfort, providing uniform temperatures throughout, improving air quality, reducing noise (by including triple-glazed windows) and decreasing heating/cooling costs – all done at no added expense to the home owners. Among the energy- efficient features added to these homes were improved Lifebreath heat recovery ventilators (sensible recovery efficiency [SRE] of 75%), Radiant combo heating with Eco Smart high-velocity air handlers, an exterior expanded polystyrene (EPS) system (R-8 was added to the exterior walls) and R-31 foam in the roof cavities. All told, 18.2% less energy is used in the enhanced models when compared to Code requirements. Stacks are a sweet spot for ICON, and one of its main differentiators, Watt says. Very similar to the new six- storey wood frame form factor, stacks are something many builders don’t really want to tackle, he says, because “it’s a tough product to build – but we feel it is a product we have mastered.” Watt explains that because it’s somewhat of a new sector, neither high-rise nor detached home builders 18 really specialize in it. “That’s one of the things we pride ourselves in – knowing how to do things very efficiently and effectively. It is the day-to-day involvement of myself, Kevin and Steve that allows us to be successful with this product. You’re going to see more and more stacked product called for in development, and a lot of guys are shying away from it while we’re eager to actually do it,” Watt says. With density by-laws tightening, you can expect stacks to increase in popularity, positioning ICON well going forward. For a builder this size, ICON is pretty prolific, churning out around 100 houses per year. The company has just rolled out its ICare program, which provides a proactive approach to meet its customers’ needs before, during and after move in. The three-pillared program consists of: A commitment to communication ICON provides streamlined communication with all of their clients to better the home buying experience from point of sale to after move in. Each home buyer receives a dedicated ICON ambassador to create a strong buyer-builder relationship. Exceptional building quality ICON is committed to building quality homes that exceed the expectations of local building codes. Their quality craftsmanship and construction methods include the implementation of home details that add long-term value for their customers. A long-standing pledge of consistent service ICON is dedicated to providing a positive home buying experience. They recognize that their reputation is built on happy home owners and strive to provide consistent, reliable service to all of their customers. Next up for ICON is Forest District, a 108-unit development in Pickering featuring three-storey semis and towns. ICON is really excited by the designs, and Watt says “we think they’re second to none.” This project will include the launch of its smart home technology, part of the ICare program. ICON is partnering with Enercare on this initiative. Forest District will be built adjacent to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority ravine lands, and ICON has been involved in restoring these lands to their natural environment. From left: Stephen Brown, Principal/Owner, ICON Homes; Chantal Whitaker, Supervisor, Sustainability, City of Pickering; Mayor Dave Ryan, City of Pickering; Kevin Watt, Vice President Construction, ICON Homes.
  20. 20. ICON Homes thanks you. At ICON Homes we value our partnerships and would like to thank you for helping us build sustainable communities we can all be proud of. Enbridge Guthrie Muscovitch Enercare United Mechanical City of Pickering Ecosmart Region of Durham Radiant Clearsphere Lifebreath Campoli Electric Pollard Windows DMS Upscale Stucco Nelmar Drywall Paul Duffy & Associates Discover our newest community at or visit to learn more about us.
  21. 21. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201920 This will be the debut project to launch the ICare program before sales (it was introduced at Market District after sales were complete) so the team is very excited by this. It is also anticipated that Forest District will participate in Enbridge’s Savings by Design program. Watt had previous experience with Savings by Design (for more on this program, see the summer 2018 issue). When he joined ICON a year and a half ago, he introduced the Browns to the program and “Kevin and Steve were right on board with it. For them, it was just the right way to go.” In fact, Market District broke new ground by becoming the first stacked townhouse development built under Part 3 with Alternative Solutions to participate in Savings by Design. It used a unit-by-unit approach with Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and ANSI 301-2019 multi-unit standards. This is one reason for their award. Like many truly innovation-driven builders have lamented, ICON is frustrated by its desire to add more energy-efficient solutions relative to what the market will bear. “We feel limited by the competitiveness of the sales market. We would love to do more, but purchasers are not yet wil­ ling to embrace the long-term benefits of improved home efficiency and cost savings. We are currently in the process of designing an optional sustainability package over and above our current program that will be made available on our future projects,” says Kevin Brown. Still, the company’s efforts have not gone unappreciated. “ICON Homes is leading by example,” says Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, “furthering Pickering’s sustainability goals by embedding sustainability into their corporate culture.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 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.
  22. 22. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 21 EcoVent™ —The fan that meets designed airflow requirements. For true performance under the hood, install Panasonic EcoVent™ with Veri-Boost.™ Ideal for new residential construction, EcoVent is the perfect solution for home builders looking to meet designed airflow requirements the first time and avoid the hassle of replacing underperforming fans. EcoVent is a cost effective ENERGY STAR® rated solution that delivers strong performance. If you need to bump up the CFM output to achieve airflow design, simply flip the Veri-Boost switch and increase the flow from 70 to 90 CFM and you’re good to go! Learn more at
  23. 23. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201922 specialinterest / PAUL DE BERARDIS This isn’t a joke – it’s a crazy reality in this province. Quite frankly, a four- storey stacked townhome has more in common with a single, semi or townhouse than it does with a high- rise condo apartment in the sky. And yet, that stacked townhome and the condo unit are both lumped into the same grouping – buildings within the scope of Part 3 of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) follow Supplementary Standard SB-10, “Energy Efficiency Requirements” – to determine how they are designed, modelled and built. Since Part 9 is only applicable to housing and “small” buildings up to three storeys in height and up to 600 square metres in building area, Part 3 applies to any building larger than this. (And why the threshold was set at three storeys is fodder for another Better Builder column…) Certain mid-rise housing types are more similar to low-rise housing, with grade-oriented exterior entry doors, minimal or no common corridors, individual mechanical systems, lower window-to-wall ratios and similar air leakage characteristics. Consider this, for example: accor­ ding to a University of Toronto study on tall buildings, the envelope of a typical residential tower possesses a window-to-wall ratio anywhere between 40% to 90% glazing. Yet the average townhouse block may possess somewhere in the 20% to 30% range of window glazing area. In addition, condo units are typically served by common corridors and centralized heating/cooling systems. Meanwhile, when you model a low-rise townhouse under Part 9 and Supplementary Standard SB-12, “Energy Efficiency for Housing,” you don’t model the entire block – you do it individually by unit. And when you model a condo according to the requirements of SB-10, you model and evaluate the entire building as a whole. Under SB-10, the window-to-wall ratio is calculated on the basis of the whole building (instead of on a living- unit basis), so the party walls are not included in the calculation. This is inconsistent with the window-wall ratio calculation using SB-12 as it does not consider the number of units in the building and the individual unit’s glazing area. There are fundamental differences in the application of SB-10 and SB-12, which place certain gentle-density typologies – such as stacked townhouses – in a grey zone, seemingly caught between the two standards. Clearly, making each of these different housing types energy efficient involves completely different methods and processes. So how can you lump these two in the same group when it comes to making design, construction and spending decisions on energy efficiency, when their mechanical systems and building envelopes are completely different? Or look at it this way: a traditional three-storey townhouse falls under Part 9, while a four-storey stacked townhouse project falls under Part 3. Does this really make sense to anybody, considering this four-storey townhouse will be modelled the same way as a high-rise condo, even though it shares more similarities with a Part 9 home (single, semi, town, laneway)? Speaking rationally, you would hope it would make sense that any form of gentle density – the lowest forms of Rethinking the Three-Storey Threshold for Part 9 Homes H ere’s a conundrum: What do a four-storey stacked townhome and a 50-storey condo in Ontario have in common? The answer: Their energy efficiency is designed and measured the same way. BOVLD/SHUTTERSTOCK
  24. 24. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 mid-rise which currently fall under Part 3 – will one day be modelled similarly to their Part 9 counterparts. The simple answer is this shouldn’t be happening. RESCON suggests that mid-rise wood-frame buildings up to six storeys – including stacked townhouses and back-to- back townhouses – should be covered under Part 9 of the OBC and SB-12 when it comes to energy efficiency. Something must be done for this growing category of housing types, especially as home buyers are looking to live in an alternative from the two extremes (freehold singles and high- rise towers). Meanwhile, builders are trying to market new products and are encouraged by the province’s A Place to Grow growth plan to build new multi-family housing types, making this move all the more important. The OBC has not kept pace with the growing and diverse mix of housing alternatives trying to come to market. But it’s important that we keep innovation in mind so that the OBC can work to facilitate flexibility in the housing market while still maintaining a high-performance level of energy efficiency in Ontario. It’s a category of housing often referred to as “the Missing Middle.” Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area municipalities such as Hamilton, Halton Hills and Whitby are leading the way in the region when it comes to building missing-middle homes, according to a recent report published by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis and the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario. Given the range of what’s covered under Part 3 of the OBC, the parts of the missing-middle housing stock that could fit under Part 3 include stacked townhouses, back-to-back stacked townhouses and even six- storey wood-frame mid-rise condos. That’s where Paul Duffy comes in. He’s an accomplished consulting engineer, current principal of Paul Duffy and Associates Inc. and president of CRESNET. He suggests that mid- rise buildings should be treated like low-rise ones because (you’ve heard this before) they have more in common with ground-related housing types than they do with a high-rise tower. It’s a simple concept, and Ontario and Canada don’t have to look far to see it in action. Just look south of the 49th parallel – our friends in the United States take a more practical approach to energy modelling for mid-rise buildings, like that four-storey stacked townhome we’ve been mentioning. In order to better represent these housing types in energy modelling, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has rolled out the ANSI/ RESNET/ICC 301-2019 standard, which now addresses the calculation and the labelling of the energy performance of multi-family building units. This new standard builds upon the existing ANSI 301-2014 standard, which covers more traditional, low-rise, single- family housing types. The new ANSI 301-2019 standard has been revised to now include these missing-middle/ gentle-density multi-family projects as mid-rise construction is considered more similar to low-rise than high-rise towers. ANSI 301 allows individual rating of units with an Energy Rating Index (ERI) used by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This enables builders to devise their own proprietary marketing platform to best cater to home buyer needs and preferences through individual unit labelling. This is the source of the newly adopted American ENERGY STAR for mid-rise that is being piloted in Ontario. There is also the accompanying ANSI 380 standard (referenced in ANSI 301) for testing airtightness of building enclosures, which addresses multi- family unit compartmentalization through blower-door testing and proto­ cols. Air testing units under ANSI 380 in a missing-middle type residential unit is relatively straightforward with a single blower door, whereas high-rise buildings experience large pressure differentials between lower and upper floors, making it difficult to determine air leakage rates. ANSI 301 enables energy ratings to be performed and evaluated on multi- family units as opposed to an entire building, which makes this approach well tailored for projects such as all the variants of stacked and back-to-back townhouses. With the original OBC dating back to 1975, and housing types changing a great deal since then to deliver more compact, transit-oriented development and greater housing affordability, this is the time to look at how these gentle- density types may be more efficiently and effectively designed and energy modelled. It’s time to take a hard look at what can be done to help home buyers, municipalities and builders. BB Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of building science and innovation. Email him at 23 Mid-rise buildings should be treated like low-rise ones … they have more in common with ground-related housing types than with a high-rise tower.
  25. 25. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201924 buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN S ome say that you can’t learn new skills in your thirties. North Star Homes, for one, is debunking that myth. The two-time Toronto Homebuild­er of the Year turns 30 next year, but by winning the award for the Lowest HERS Index Score by a Canadian mid-size production builder with a score of 36 (while averaging 43 across a 30-home development), North Star has proved that it’s definitely continuing to accrue new skills. “Our aim was to achieve a signature efficient community, to surpass the municipal approval requirements,” says project manager Tony Priori. “This award shows that North Star continues to differentiate its product from neighbouring competition,” he adds. The Rivau 4203 model in the Chateau Collection in Richmond Hill bagged North Star this honour, thanks to a bevy of energy-efficient features, including: roofs with R-60 insulation in the attics; ready-for-future solar panels; triple- glazed low-e vinyl casement windows; and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) unit and 96% high-efficiency forced air gas furnace with electronically commutated motor (ECM). “We take pride in winning the Cross Border Builder Challenge as it draws attention to energy-efficient efforts,” Priori says. This contest can open new doors, he adds, given the potential to spur collaboration with other builders or even expand markets throughout North America. North Star Driven by Higher Quality 36LOWEST HERS SCORE CANADIAN MID-SIZE BUILDER AWARD “Our aim was to achieve a signature efficient community, to surpass the municipal approval requirements.”
  26. 26. Ī Ī Ī Ī Ī
  27. 27. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 201926 This was North Star’s first Cross Border Builder Challenge award, but it aligns with the company’s mandate. “Our specific goals are to keep in line with industry standards and aim to excel in energy efficiency,” Priori says. “By winning this award, it has demonstrated to our home buyers our commitment to not only building a sound home but also our commitment to building a greener future.” He says North Star wanted to do a signature energy-efficient community to surpass the municipal approval requirements and to distinguish the project from others nearby. One of the 20-employee, Concord- based company’s stated goals is to innovate. That’s why it uses energy- efficiency modelling with the HERS method as opposed to a proprietary method like ENERGY STAR, he says. “At North Star Homes, we see what we do as more than construct homes,” Priori explains. “We build excellence in quality homes and inspired communities that help your family live, grow and thrive.” That’s why North Star has been recognized by BILD on multiple occasions, he says. Obviously, the company’s philo­ sophy on constructing energy- efficient homes is a big part of this. “We believe it is important to make long-lasting buildings with higher energy efficiency and sustainability,” Priori says. For example, North Star’s Pacific Villas project was among the first in Markham to achieve the LEED for Homes Silver classification. (For more on this project, see our Spring 2014 issue.) Customers are seeking “worry-free homes” that allow them more time to engage in leisure activities – so with that in mind, North Star homes “require very little maintenance.” For example, the company uses lifetime shingles designed to last much longer than the typical 15-year shingle. In the award-winning Rivau model, North Star offered a pre-finished insulated metal garage door which decreases future costs and maintenance for home owners, Priori says. Priori points out that in addition to its commitment to providing excellent customer service, the company remains dedicated to maintaining energy efficiency as a top priority in its homes: “With a global push toward saving our planet, North Star Homes is committed to building greener communities and moving toward energy-efficiency excellence.” “Working with craftsmen, trades and a hardworking staff who are dedicated to the home owner is what makes North Star special,” says president Frank Dodaro. “Builders must understand what buyers are looking for and deliver a high-quality home at a good price.” BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. With innovation being one of their stated goals, North Star uses energy- efficient modelling with the HERS method as opposed to a proprietary method like ENERGY STAR. Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY (left) presents Tony Priori and Nino Bosco of North Star Homes (centre) with the award for Lowest HERS Index Score by a Canadian Mid-Size Production Builder, flanked by energy rater Moti Markizano (right).
  28. 28. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20192828 buildernews / ALEX NEWMAN F or six years now, the RESNET Cross Border Builder Challenge has been a friendly competition between American and Canadian home builders to determine just how energy efficient they can get. This year’s challenge, which culminated in an awards conference held in New Orleans this past February, highlighted some of the most energy-efficient houses being built in the United States and Canada, measured using the HERS Index. But it was also an educational and networking experience, says Tim Campanale, whose company, Campanale Homes, won the Net Zero Canadian Builder Award with a HERS Index score of 0. “The point of attending is to learn from others about their better building practices, to see how others in the industry are doing things,” he says. “You usually come away with some good ideas to try on your homes.” He’s in a good position to share as well. The winning model home is what the company uses to help potential buyers see what’s available in energy-efficient upgrades. “You can talk all you want about thicker wall sheathing and ERVs (energy recovery ventilators), but most people don’t get it until they see it.” Creating the model home was a lengthy process of negotiation with many partners whose products they admired. “When we found a green product that was really cool, we’d research the manufacturer, then approach them to partner on the model,” says Campanale, who manages contracts and estimating for the family business. They partnered with Building Products Canada (BPC) for the R-5 exterior sheathing (R-5 XP), which is non-toxic and breathable, which means it’s healthy in addition to being more energy efficient. Switch Energy supplied the home’s solar panels – which are the best pro­ ducer of electricity and the best way to get net zero now, Campanale explains. But what made Switch stand out from all the other suppliers of the same products was their customer service. The Greyter Water System in the Campanale Homes Achieving True Net Zero 0 2012SB-12REFERENCEHERS60 NET ZERO AWARD From left to right: Franklin Menendez (HERS rater), Tim Campanale, Tony Campanale and Christian Campanale of Campanale Homes, and Rod Buchalter of RenewABILITY Energy Inc.
  29. 29. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 home saves big on annual water bills. The system works in tandem with an Uponor Logic plumbing system that supplies the piping for Greyter – their smaller pipes run through a manifold system to deliver hot water 45% faster. Ecobee’s smart, web-based thermostat saves energy when no one is home. Leviton provided the 40-amp electric vehicle (EV) charger. EnerCare supplied several energy- efficiency appliances. The HVAC system also has an upgraded energy recovery ventilator (ERV) which is 84% efficient, and an air conditioner heat pump that reverses itself to provide supplemental heat during fall and spring with off-peak electricity. Although the model is the gold standard of what’s achievable for energy efficiency, Campanale’s standard homes still offer a minimum of 10% better than code. But he also points out that they offer packages 20% better than code on most of their homes. This is what Campanale Homes calls its 20/20 vision home. Their 20/30 vision home could be Net Zero and happens through upgrade packages that include solar power and greywater. “It’s about future proofing your house now, so the house you have today will meet code and save money for the years to come.” Even if home owners can’t put things in place right away, the company has built in supports to facilitate for those later improvements – like trusses designed to take solar panels and a conduit up to the roof. Efficiency makes good money sense, especially with utility prices going up all the time. Hydro prices will increase 25% over the next two years, when the Fair Hydro Plan ends in 2021 and the 25% artificially deflated prices are added back in. “The Cross Border Builder Chal­ lenge is great for encouraging other builders to head in the right direction. Hydro prices keep going up. And there are other environmental realities,” Campanale says. “If we can get more builders purchasing these products, it brings the price down for everyone.” If only “appraisers and banks would recognize the lower operating costs associated with a low HERS score,” he adds, “more home buyers could afford energy efficiency, and the industry would be motivated to raise their building standards across [all their developments] because it would be more affordable.” HERS is now recognized in the US for appraising and measuring a home’s energy performance – but in Canada, the banks only recognize government- run programs that will result in energy savings for mortgage insurance rebates. Campanale says that one of the speakers at the RESNET conference described how “she managed to work out something in the States, and wrote a number of appraisal directives for it.” He adds: “I’d like to look at applying it here, because it’s a serious challenge in Canada. Builders have to team up and work together on initiatives like this with financial institutions.” BB Alex Newman is a writer, editor and researcher at 29
  30. 30. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20193030 winning anything here; it was simply a reward for doing things the right way. “We are pleased that the building technology in the discovery house has been recognized in such a way, but the Innovation Award was a by-product of the building technology in the home,” explains Joe Laronga, Rosehaven’s architecture and engineering manager. Having also won a Cross Border Builder Challenge award in 2016, Rosehaven has definitely bought in on the value of this competition. “I think it is a good idea,” Laronga says. “It is a platform that inspires people and organizations to participate, innovate, lead and share ideas.” Rosehaven owner Marco Guglietti was equally thrilled to earn another honour. “It is very satisfying to receive an award in recognition of the discovery house initiative,” he said. “Winning the award was not the goal, but rather the initiative was undertaken to effect change.” Change is exactly what Rosehaven did effect with its discovery home. East Gwillimbury had a very prescrip­ tive building initiative called the Sustainable Development Incentive Program (SDIP), which limited build­ ers to using ENERGY STAR methods. The Rosehaven discovery home was specifically built to prove that other building rating methods (in this instance, HERS) could be employed to achieve the same – or better – results. Mayor Virginia Hackson was so impressed with what Rosehaven was able to accomplish that the town modified the program requirements. “We are very pleased that the Town of East Gwillimbury has recognized that technology is always evolving, and as such, its SDIP should become a more flexible document,” Laronga says. The town has now updated the lan­ guage and specific requirements in its R osehaven Homes knows a thing or two about innovating. In fact, you could say it’s one of its raisons d’être. And if the Oakville, Ontario-based builder happens to win some awards along the way, that’s merely gravy. Still, given this company’s track record of innovation, they may want to invest in a larger trophy case. You can now add the Enbridge Innovation Award to Rosehaven’s list of achievements, as the company’s Total Water Solution – a unique technology featuring contributions from several different companies – was recognized. Of course, keen readers of these pages will recall that we dissected the Total Water Solution in the winter 2018 issue. It took a group effort to create this North American first, a system consisting of: Phyn flow monitor; drain water heat recovery system; Greywater recycling system; Uponor Logic plumbing; Radiant dual-purpose condensing hot water and air handler; air conditioner heat pump; and energy recovery ventilator. The Total Water Solution, combined with several other energy-efficient technologies in this East Gwillimbury, Ontario-based discovery home, will provide the home owner with an estimated $510 savings in utility costs per year based on reduced consump­ tion of natural gas, space heating, hot water heating and domestic water use. It’s yet another example of how “Rosehaven will always strive to be an innovative builder and industry leader,” Laronga says. Rosehaven didn’t have designs on buildernews / ROB BLACKSTIEN Rosehaven Homes Inspired to Innovate 41 INNOVATION AWARD
  31. 31. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 2019 program, and Rosehaven is grateful for the flexibility. “We appreciate the town’s participation and are thankful that it embraces and values change as much as we do,” he added.  Most recently, in an effort to offer more affordable housing, he says the company is venturing into higher- density forms: 233 units in Grimsby in the form of a 20-storey tower and townhomes; a 14-storey tower in downtown Hamilton; and Rosehaven’s first six-storey wood frame building, totalling 175 units, in Burlington. Later this year, a 98-townhouse project in Brampton will be launched. Rosehaven’s results in East Gwillimbury have even inspired a similar challenge south of the border. At the Sustainable Housing Foundation dinner in March, Mayor Hackson issued a challenge to Brett Lee, the mayor of Davis, California, to match the level of sustainability achieved in Rosehaven’s award-winning discovery home. In April, John Godden personally delivered this challenge in the council chambers to Mayor Lee in a public meeting: “In the spirit of the Cross Border Builder Challenge, the Town of East Gwillimbury would like to extend a friendly challenge to the City of Davis, California, to promote the construction of energy-efficient, durable and water-conserving homes in their municipality.” Mayor Lee accepted the challenge, and a builder in the audience stepped up to start planning to build the demonstration home. Stay tuned for further developments. BB Rob Blackstien is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 31 SILVERBOARD® ROOF/CEILING: TAPED AND SEALED TO ACT AS VAPOR BARRIER SILVERBOARD® GRAPHITE EXTERIOR ABOVE GRADE: TAPED TO ACT AS A“SECOND PLANE OF PROTECTION”AND PROVIDE CONTINUOUS INSULATION MASONRY VENEER SIDING SILVERBOARD® UNDERSLAB: TAPED AND SEALED TO ACT AS VAPOR BARRIER SILVERBOARD® GRAPHITE INTERIOR BELOW GRADE: DECOUPLE WOOD STUD WALL FROM CONCRETESILVERBOARD® EXTERIOR BELOW GRADE: MAINTAINS CONTINUOUS INSULATION Mayor Virginia Hackson (left) presents the Enbridge Innovation Award to Rosehaven’s Joe Laronga, Mary Jafarpour and Nick Sanci for their Discovery Home grey water recycling and combination hybrid heat systems.
  32. 32. BETTERBUILDER.CA | ISSUE 30 | SUMMER 20193232 fromthegroundup / DOUG TARRY E very spring, the top residential building experts in Canada (and some from the USA) gather together to discuss the latest in advanced building science and best practices for more energy efficient and resilient construction. As a regular participant, I always look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Hosted by Gord Cooke, Andy Oding and Tex McLeod, this year’s Spring Training Camp was one of the best sessions ever. Over two days, a number of speakers and panelists shared their thoughts on how we might continue to improve our industry. Our very first speaker was Gene Myers, the CEO of Thrive Home Builders (based in Denver, Colorado). Both Gord and Andy had given me the heads-up that it was going to be a very special presentation, so I was ready to listen and hoping it would be as good as promised. Gene told us how he survived the Great Recession and rebranded his company as Thrive. It was a fascinating story from a great storyteller – Gene managed to have us laugh, cry and think about where we are going as an industry and as humanity, often in a single anecdote. Gene’s presentation was titled “Scaling Up High-Performance Home Building.” As I listened, I was enthralled by his story of how Thrive had weathered the recession and how it had forced them to completely rethink their brand, their product and their philosophy. For me, it was also a validation, as I recognized a more fully developed version of what I have aspired to for Doug Tarry Homes. What I appreciated, as a great leap of faith, was his recognition that high-performance home building was not just about building his homes to a higher standard of quality or energy efficiency than the competition – it was about ensuring that his employees were fully engaged and empowered, and that his trades became a part of their team. According to Gene, Thrive decided that in order for them to prosper in a market dominated by large national builders, they needed to carve out a unique niche for their identity. Specifically, they needed to be the builder who builds the healthiest, most energy-efficient homes. And they knew that they had to exploit their local advantage over the larger competitors. These are all cornerstones of the Doug Tarry Homes philosophy as well, but Thrive has taken it up a couple of notches. For example, in Colorado, the forests are being devastated by the pine beetle. Thrive has turned this to their advantage by becoming the largest builder user of dead pine trees for their construction, which speaks to their home buyers. Thrive are also disciples of the lean construction movement. The constant drive to eliminate waste, time and unnecessary trips to the job site is something we have also embraced. They have also set up a trade council to have continual feedback on how to improve their work environment for the company, its employees and the trades. Again, I kept noting the similarities between our companies. And then Gene flipped the script on everybody. We all talk about employee buy-in and the need for training. Some companies do it better than others, and this has been a major area of effort within Doug Tarry Homes over the last few years. But I was floored by Thrive’s employee empowerment and how Gene got everybody in the company on the same page. In a completely game-changing move, the Thrive staff literally wrote a one-page business plan together, all of them. Then, the staff were all trained how to read the balance sheet and income statement for the company, so that everyone understands the financial updates, both good and bad. Later that night, I had the oppor­ tunity to speak with Gene at length and enjoyed his openness, kindness and insights. It was another wonderful example of peers helping each other to improve our industry. There was so much more to the presentation and to the overall Spring Training Camp session this year. Just like every year, it’s like drinking through a fire hose. If you haven’t attended Spring Training Camp, you might want to check it out. You never know what you might learn to give you a leg up on your competition. BB Doug Tarry Jr is director of marketing at Doug Tarry Homes in St. Thomas, Ontario.  Learning How to Thrive in a Climate Change World It was another example of peers helping each other to improve our industry.
  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