Company stays ahead of green curve
Energy savings, less waste created
Jamie Kipp feels she struck condo gold after discovering an affordable housing option that promises to radically reduce energy costs.
Kipp had an inside track — she works for Minto Communities — but she jumped after seeing plans for the company’s ambitious new Stonefield Flats community, Canada’s largest multi-family Leadership and Energy Environmental Design (LEED) complex of 10 apartment buildings planned in Ottawa’s south end.
Minto is at the head of the green movement with Stonefield Flats, promising the condos will meet LEED’s strict standards for energy savings and renewable urban planning.
There will be 16 condos in each building, starting at $171,900, a prime financial niche for first-time buyers like Kipp and her husband Scott.
“I went to take a look at the models … and the design just blew me away. It was beautiful,” says Kipp, 27, who had been scouring the market for months.
Stonefield Flats will offer two designs. Both condos feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an outdoor deck, but one also includes a den.
Condo fees run about $100 a month, about a third of what developers usually charge.
Kipp says the moderate prices and open-concept plan impressed them, but when they found out the buildings were also going green by becoming completely LEED-certified, that pushed them to sign on the dotted line.
“I know it’s going to sound horribly cliche, but it really sealed the deal.”
But LEED — what’s it all about? Is it a bunch of hot air? Well, hot, not necessarily. But air? Definitely.
Andrew Pride can speak to air quality. He is Minto’s green guru and top green organizer of Stonefield Flats.
LEED is a formal rating system for homes in Canada. Pride says purchasing a LEED home is just as much a health and environmental investment as it is a financial one.
Features like Energy Star windows, furnace and appliances will help shave about $80 off monthly utility bills. “Green homes use less energy, water and natural resources, create less waste, and are more durable and comfortable for occupants,” says Pride, who is vice-president of the Minto Green Team with Minto Group.
Pride says green living involves many factors, including about 30 per cent more insulation, well beyond what Ontar- io’s building code requires; the use of non-toxic materials; and a furnace with a 92-per-cent energy-efficiency rating.
But, he says, it’s also about installing better windows.
The Stonefield Flats’ Energy Star-rated windows endure rigorous testing which, Pride says, is important because windows are a major source of heat loss during winter.
“Having these (windows) tested to be Energy Star-level is definitely important,” says Pride. “One, it keeps the heat inside the house in the wintertime; it keeps heat outside the house in the summertime, and because it’s sealed better, it’s actually quieter.”
Pride’s favourite LEED feature? The “all off ” switch.
Located at the front door, it turns off all the lights in the condo with a quick flick.
“That tends to connect with people really well,” says Pride. “They’re going ‘yes, I so get it. The bathroom light is always on, I always forgot to turn that off.’” Minto conducted market research through online surveys and had a great response to this type of project, which brings a more affordable, urban-style home to suburban communities, says Minto marketing director Catherine Shea.
The condo flats are ideal for first-time buyers, people looking to downsize and investors, says Shea.
A view of the kitchen reveals the open design of the development.
Jamie and Scott Kipp will trade urban life for a two-bedroom Minto condo in Stonefield Flats, said to be Canada’s largest LEED complex with 10 buildings each housing 16 apartments.
The interior of one of the units has a fireplace in the great room.