Energy Efficient Building Initiatives
Building for Demographics
Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA)
Ken Elsey, President & CEO
Four walls and a roof don’t necessarily make a home and the future of the Canadian housing market is changing. Home builders who best understand this will definitely be the winners, and it all starts with demographics. Boring? Maybe, but it will profit those who take the time to understand.
Let’s look at the statistics. In 2012, nearly 21 per cent of the population will be over 60; there is also a definite drop in the number of persons between the ages of 20 and 60. As the market ages, the parents of Baby Boomers will pass away, resulting in a significant transfer of wealth. Boomers will have money to spend, whether that means renovations on their existing home or a move to a new home. But they will also be looking for ‘aging friendly’ amenities. Smaller, single-level and higher quality will likely be on their wish list. Another key consideration will be affordability. Operational costs and maintenance costs will be important factors. And as the cost of energy continues to increase, the demand for more energy efficient homes will become important to those on a fixed income.
So as you plan your next project, look very closely at the demographics of your market— we’re far past the notion that “If you build it they will come.” They won’t. Customers are becoming very specific in what they want. Listen first, then build.
Building Greener Canadian Homes
Kaz Flinn, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility
A June 2011 special report from Scotiabank found that while substantial progress has been made in improving household energy efficiency, more needs to be done, especially with energy usage and pricing on the upswing. Canadians are increasingly adopting energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices in their homes, and with the breadth and depth of knowledge available to builders and renovators, there is a distinct opportunity to inform even more Canadians of their green options.
As experts in their field, builders and renovators can educate clients about the benefits of using sustainable materials, appliances and lighting when completing a renovation. By demonstrating the savings on household electricity and water bills, these experts can show Canadians how simple changes are smart for both the planet and the wallet. Additionally, government rebates available to Canadians at the regional and federal levels are excellent incentives to choose sustainable renovation options.
The comprehensive rebate guide on Scotiabank’s EcoLiving website, www.ecoliving.scotiabank.com, shows the user rebates available by city and province and by renovation project. When educating a client about their renovation options, using a site like EcoLiving can help organize and tally the savings available to the homeowner.
Building a Framework for Advanced Energy Performance
Ontario Power Authority
Andrew Pride, Vice-president of Conservation
Conservation is a cornerstone of Ontario’s long-term energy plan, which calls for a peak-demand reduction of 7,100 megawatts (MW) and energy savings of 28 terawatt-hours by 2030. At the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), we have been coordinating province-wide conservation programs for the past five years, resulting in over 1,700 MW of peak demand savings. That’s equivalent to powering more than half a million homes for a year. Conservation makes good business sense and helps the OPA achieve its mandate to ensure a reliable, cost-effective and sustainable electricity system.
Recent legislation has introduced significant changes to conservation and demand management activities in Ontario. Our conservation portfolio has been enhanced to lay the groundwork for local distribution companies, those closest to the customer, to deliver conservation programs to residential markets and business segments. Offered under the saveONenergy banner, these programs enable electricity consumers, big and small, to measurably reduce their energy consumption.
For example, the New Home Construction program incents energy-efficient features into new home construction and renovations, including those found in ENERGY STAR rated homes. Home builders and renovators have options to implement a combination of prescriptive, engineered and custom incentives, which are designed to provide considerable electricity reduction and efficiency options.
Other programs, such as High Performance New Construction, Audit Funding, Retrofits, Existing Building Commissioning and more, focus on targeted energy-efficient solutions that aim to reduce operating costs through measureable improvements in overall performance.
Green Roof Research
Quad-Lock Building Systems Ltd.
Georg Kustermann, CEO
We recently completed a two-year Green Roof research project in partnership with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Centre for Architectural Ecology to gather objective data on the performance of various green roof structures. To our knowledge, this is North America’s first green roof study to be completed on an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) structure. We compared Quad-Lock’s Green Roof test structure that included R-10 foundation, R-22 walls and R-22 roof structure topped with a green roof layer. This was compared side-by-side to a “control structure” featuring wood-framed walls and roof with an asphalt roofing layer. Key findings found that the ICF structure demonstrated a 50 to 75 per cent reduction in heat loss, 99 per cent reduction in heat gain and retention of yearly average of 69 per cent of the rainwater. The clear benefits of ICF construction (and now green roofs) are increasingly supported by studies from respected institutions like BCIT, CMHC, and its industry partners. What the ICF industry has known for decades is now being proven in building science circles.
Net-Zero Energy Home Coalition
Sonja Winkelmann, Executive Director
To succeed in 2012 and beyond, builders should consider “future proofing” their homes by building to high energy performance standards. There are now many examples of homes that offer significantly reduced monthly energy costs—and yes, it has been established that buyers are willing to pay a premium for this benefit. And as more of these homes are built, the cost optimization will improve. Net-Zero Energy Homes are not a short-term trend or “flavour of the month.” Improved quality and performance is a natural evolution of any product: why-should homes be any different? Several builders have confided that they’ve embraced this change as an investment in the future of their company. In 2012 new educational initiatives will be developed to show builders how to build Net-Zero Energy Homes and still make a profit. Now that’s what I call an innovative solution for success in 2012.
Wall Energy Ratings
Great Northern Insulation
Ryan Lane, Sales Rep
Researchers at the NRC Institute for Research in Construction have developed a simple tool for determining the Wall Energy Rating (WER) of walls constructed according to field practices. In order to arrive at the WER number, two standard tests were performed on six full-scale wall specimens: thermal resistance at zero air leakage and air leakage tests according to the NRC Canadian Construction Materials Centre Air Barrier Technical Guide 07272.
The walls were designed and built to today’s standard building practices using 2X6 lumber, rough openings, electrical wiring, exterior sheathing and drywall. The glass fibre walls were constructed with a 6mil poly as the air barrier and it was installed in what is considered standard field practices. The foamed walls had additional sealing at the seam of the double top plate and any double stud locations.
The walls were run through wind tests at 75Pa, roughly simulating 85km/hr winds. The glass fibre walls proved to be extremely leaky and were more than 12 times the allowable limit to qualify as a passable air barrier system, while all of the foamed assemblies were under the CCMC limit to qualify as part of an air barrier system. The glass fibre wall assembly lost 55 per cent of its effective R-Value while the foamed wall lost just 9 per cent of its effective R-Value.
Show Home Buyers the Energy Savings
Centre for Urban Energy, Ryerson University
Peter Love, Hydro One Visiting Distinguished Research Fellow
There was one very clear lesson from the Ontario election this fall: Voters and home buyers are interested in energy costs. With inevitable rising costs, this interest can only be expected to just get bigger and bigger.
There are many ways to capitalize on this growing concern. First, be among the growing number of builders who build and certify their homes to an even higher standard that in the minimums in the Building Code. Second, loudly celebrate the energy efficiency features of your home; this is particularly important as many of these features are not immediately obvious to home buyers. And third, support the introduction of mandatory energy performance labels for all homes that are sold, new and old, as this will make it clearer to home buyers just how much more energy efficient your new home is than the older ones they may also be looking at.
The Politics of Energy Conservation
Stephen Koch, Executive Director
I project a very good year for homeowners and new home buyers with respect to energy efficiency innovation and support. Increasing prices and awareness of the whole cost of home ownership means people are thinking about how to reduce heating and cooling costs.
Electricity prices were certainly a lightening rod in the Ontario election, so expect greater efforts by Canadian politicians to address and manage the issue through conservation. One such example is Alberta’s new Premier Redford, who promises that, “My government will put energy efficiency at the top of the agenda. It is the fastest most cost effective measure to improve on sustainability; it is the ‘low-hanging fruit.’”
There is a renewed Federal EcoEnergy program, National Building Code improvements are rolling out and expect provinces to announce new initiatives. I look forward to when energy labels appear on all homes for sale. This will give choice and power to consumers.
my EnerGuide: A New Suite of Tools
Reliance Home Comfort
Larry Brydon, Senior Account Executive
2012 will see the introduction of the federal government’s new suite of tools for residential building design simulation and home performance labelling, the “next generation” Energy Rating System (ERS) called my EnerGuide.
As the cornerstone for integrated design and informed retrofitting, these tools have been developed through an open and transparent process of stakeholder engagement, with the expressed goal of improving consumer energy literacy.
While enabling “house as a system” design and assessment, they are also a policy enabler, designed to provide a national platform for building code energy compliance validation, voluntary and mandatory home energy labelling programs and Government and Utility incentive programs.
This is not a new regulation, but rather a suite of tools that includes an administrative and auditing infrastructure, simulation software, a performance label to be affixed to the home, a homeowner report detailing the energy consumption and production of the current home, and a personalized myEnerGuide webpage, where the results of the audit and opportunities for improvement would be provided. The energy performance rating can be benchmarked to the provincial building code, or provided as a total net energy indicator.
The biggest barrier to building green is consumer perception of increased value. This program is designed to provide consumers with easy to understand energy information that allows them to make informed decisions.
Preparing Your Homes for Solar Power
Chris Stern, Vice President of Business Development
The Green Energy Act of 2009 spawned a Feed in Tariff that allows individuals to get paid for every KWHR they generate via a selection of different methods. Adding solar makes sense as it creates electricity right where it is needed most: at the home. At the same time, it provides a source of revenue for the homeowner to pay for upgrades; a silent rooftop tenant.
Builders can help the uptake of solar power throughout Ontario by preparing the homes for solar with a few key additions/changes to the home that do not break the bank. Creating a solar ready home means adding a chase (plastic two-inch pipe) from attic to basement and ensuring that the roof trusses can support an additional 3.5 pounds per square foot where a future solar power system would be located. The other inexpensive modification would be to not put any vents on the South and West roof panels. These changes greatly simplify the installation of a solar PV system.
Industry Leaders Speak 2011