As Reliance Home Comfort’s “ green guy “, I am most fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a variety of green building and sustainable development organizations, contributing volunteer hours and expertise to educating and informing our builder clients, advocating on the industry’s behalf and managing Reliance’s interests in the area of developing codes and standards.
Working on projects like BILD’s Archetype Sustainable House, TRCA’s Green Home Makeover, CMHC’s Equilibrium Houses and our customers many “ Discovery Homes” has given me the opportunity to learn about new and evolving technologies, advanced building practices and policy and programs that are leading the market transformation to a more sustainable built environment.
One of the most interesting by far is one I have just begun working on in my role as Chair for Sustainable Buildings Canada (SBC) – facilitating Enbridge’s Savings by Design program.
Savings by Design is Enbridge’s latest market transformation initiative targeting new home construction. The program provides design assistance and direct to builder financial incentives for exceeding minimum energy efficiency standards within the Ontario Building Code. Rooted in the principles of Integrated Design, the program introduces the new home construction sector to the fundamentals of the Integrated Design Process (IDP).
Sustainable Buildings Canada is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing building performance through IDP. For the past 10 years, and beginning with the Federal Government’s CBIP ( commercial buildings incentive program ) followed by the Enbridge’s High Performance New Construction (HPNC) incentive program, SBC has been educating commercial practitioners and training simulation modelers through their Integrated Design Charrettes and signature Toronto Green Building Festival.
When Enbridge was mandated to invest in Conservation and Demand Management programming in the residential sector they turned to SBC to adapt their IDP program for delivery into the low rise housing sector.
After extensive consultation with Industry stakeholders, Builders, Energy Auditors and Sustainability Consultants – and following Ontario Energy Board approval, Enbridge has launched the Savings by Design market transformation initiatives.
Qualified Builders are eligible to receive design assistance through an SBC facilitated Integrated Design Charrette workshop and are then eligible for financial incentives of $2,000.00 per home that achieve a performance verified, net energy reduction of 25% over the current Ontario Building Code requirements of SB-12, and subject to the programs terms and conditions.
Enbridge works with the existing energy performance evaluation and certification channels to streamline the application process. The same channels used for certifying homes to ENERGY STAR and EnerGuide, using the same validation tools – energy simulation software and envelope performance testing – the blower door test – to confirm the savings threshold has been achieved. Enbridge then pays the incentive, directly to the builder.
Where Enbridge’s Savings by Design program differs but supports Industry labeling like ENERGYSTAR and EnerGuide, is in their approach to acceptable measures. While NRCan approved measures are limited to the performance elements of the home and it’s systems, Enbridge’s Savings by Design program builds on their success by incorporating measures that encourage and enable the efficient operation of the home by its occupants. All off switches, in home energy displays, set back thermostats and solar ready installations, all conventional Conservation and Demand Management measures, get equal treatment by the program, allowing additional energy credits in accounting for the net energy reductions.
Additionally, Savings by Design uses a net gigajoules metric, as opposed to the EnerGuide 0 to 100 scale. This allows incremental examination of the contribution of each measure or technology to the overall net energy reduction, allowing for a more transparent cost benefit evaluation. Net Gigajoules consumed, and Gigajoules per square meter are two metrics being considered by NRCan for the next generation EnerGuide Rating System (ERS) currently scheduled for release in 2014 following public review and comment.
A secondary program benefit derives from the expertise solicited to participate in the design charrettes. Consultants and Academics are engaged by SBC to provide insight, to validate and to advise on measures and technologies as the builder is led through the process of identifying and qualifying measures from “dirt to doors” using an integrated and iterative approach. The program introduces academic researchers from the provinces leading sustainability and building science programs, drawing on professors and their students to introduce cutting edge technology while exposing the research to the rigors of real world problems in the Building and Development Industry. Leading Consultants, experts in their fields, provide insight into opportunities, costs and barriers, grounded in their experience working within the Industry today.
With the pilot program launched and several charrettes completed, the response has been outstanding with proponents returning surveys indicating their expectations were exceeded, the process deemed valuable and the targets achievable. The real test will be on uptake, and the number of Builders that go on to build homes eligible for the incentive. I expect that most of them will.
Larry Brydon is a Senior Account Executive with Reliance Home Comfort, Chair of Sustainable Buildings Canada and Chair of the Evaluator Council for EnerQuality Corporation’s Board of Directors.
Enbridge’s Savings By Design initiative is unique to the residential new construction sector in North America. The program connects builder proponents to the latest technical expertise and knowhow, and not just related to energy performance. Builders are exposed to the latest developments and techniques in low impact development including storm water management, community design and transportation alternatives. The free flowing format of the integrated design workshop allows for a creative examination of a variety of alternatives and options in a non-threatening environment. To date, the outcomes have been extremely exciting, with a number of builders finding unexpected solutions to specific challenges, demonstrating both cost savings opportunities and the potential for increased market value of their product.