Phil Monkhouse of Monkhouse Homes in Sudbury is known for emphasizing energy efficiency in his designs, but as part of a new pilot project through the Sudbury & District Home Builders' Association and its partners, he's getting to see first-hand how new technologies will enhance his custom-built homes.
“It's nice to be able to try out new technologies, but at the same time have support from energy consultants and also Natural Resources Canada, which was able to give us figures we could trust rather than trying to guess what the value would be trying to put these technologies into our homes,” he said.
Developed as a pilot project, the Local Energy Efficiency Partnership and Technology Adaptation Pilot (LEEP/TAP) is designed to assist home builders in implementing the most innovative technologies into their designs to make new homes energy-efficient while remaining affordable for both builders and consumers.
Sudbury was chosen as one of four areas in the province to participate in the pilot, and nine demonstration homes have been constructed by a variety of builders across the city.
Highlights of some of the homes built by Monkhouse include an insulated concrete form foundation, triple-glazed windows, under-slab insulation, a heat-recovery ventilator, and solar-ready infrastructure. Monkhouse said some of these initiatives are already finding their way into his designs as standard offerings.
It's an innovative approach to homebuilding, but is indicative of the ingenuity of the industry as a whole, said Corey McBurney, president of EnerQuality Corp., a pilot partner that offers training and certification to home builders.
“This is an extremely innovative industry,” he said. “Homebuilding is leading the way compared to other industries. It's quite advanced and sophisticated in terms of the green, lowering the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, and producing an efficient product, which is the house.”
That homes are built much better than they were 100 years ago is “a good thing,” McBurney said, and it's a point of pride amongst home builders to voluntarily lead the way in new design and technology.
It often takes at least five years for the Ontario Building Code to “catch up” with innovation taken on by the industry, McBurney said, and the pilot project is, in part, aiming to discover technologies that can be incorporated into the code at a future date.
James Glouchkow of CanmetENERGY said Natural Resources Canada is eager to support home builders in their efforts to bring more energy-efficient solutions to the residential building sector.
The pilot project is aimed at reducing some of the difficulties home builders face in choosing the most efficient technologies, because it will alleviate the guesswork in areas such as performance, warranty issues, customer preferences and cost, he said.
“The impact of all this has been a faster, smooth and more responsive process, which can be replicated from market to market,” Glouchkow said. “The things that are being done here will enable other markets to look at those technologies too. They may pick a different basket of technologies, based on their conditions, but it's enabling other builders to move forward as well.”
Set to take place over the next two years, data gleaned from the pilot project will be compiled into a report based on the case studies from the demonstration homes. The information will be used to introduce new technologies into the Ontario Building Code, and to develop new initiatives such as the EnergyStar program, which gives technologies ratings based on their energy efficiency.