Energy efficient homes getting easier to build

John Lorinc writes about made-in-Canada solutions to eco-building challenges.

Here’s a rare 2021 supply chain story with a happy ending.

Earlier this fall, the new tenants of a Hamilton, Ont.-based YWCA affordable housing complex for women-led families began moving into their newly completed digs – one-, two- and three-bedroom units, situated in one of the largest “passive house” projects to be completed in Ontario to date.

“Passive house” is an approach to building extremely energy efficient, air-tight dwellings using thick insulation, heat recovery systems, triple glazed windows, with no so-called “thermal bridges” – i.e., places where heat can escape. The YWCA building, says project lead Deborah Byrne, director of passive house design at Kearns Mancini Architects (KMAI), will use about 90 per cent less energy than a comparable structure built to conventional standards.

While some components of passive house projects are specialized, such as windows and HVAC systems, Ms. Byrne says her team had no difficulty sourcing them – a pleasant surprise, given the extreme delays at many construction sites. “There hasn’t been any supply chain issues,” she comments. “We’ve gotten the materials we wanted when we needed it.”

The reasons are worth unpacking: the YWCA had asked Ms. Byrne’s contractors to source locally wherever possible as a point of principle, and those instructions offer a glimpse at the evolution of a growing segment of the building materials sector that is pivoting to supplying low-carbon components to developers and contractors looking to erect low-emission buildings.

Read the full article at the Globe and Mail.

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