It was all about the floor plan, the price and the neighbourhood, but when Sheri Jamieson found the multifamily home was also being built by one of the greenest builders in Alberta, the decision was easy.
“I wanted to give back and do something good for the environment,” says the single 33-year-old, who currently lives in an innercity apartment condo. “This was the right move.”
Jamieson recently bought a townhouse in Zen, a new development by Avalon Master Builder. The company has made its reputation in environmentally friendly housing in Alberta.
It is in the process of constructing a singlefamily home on the campus of SAIT that will be a net-zero home when complete.
The home will be so energy efficient that it will produce as much electricity as it uses.
“Building green is a decision the whole company made together because it’s the right thing to do and a fun and challenging thing to do,” says Ryan Scott, who is president of the company started by his parents in Red Deer several decades ago.
“We’re passionate about it and we have a vision to build all of our homes net zero at no extra cost to our customers by 2015.”
Avalon recently launched its first single-family homes in Calgary under the banner of Emerge, with two show homes in McKenzie Towne.
This is the second Zen product the builder has constructed. The first was in Airdrie’s King’s Heights neighbourhood and it sold quickly.
The second is where Jamieson purchased in Aspen Hills on Calgary’s west side.
“It’s a beautiful location,” she says. “I love that there is a fenced backyard.”
The environmental movement has been gaining steam in Calgary, says Scott.
“It’s trendy. People have been asking more and more about it — but there is concern that there is a lot of ‘green-washing’ going on,” he says, referring to companies that call products sustainable that aren’t really eco-friendly. “People are saying things are ‘green,’ but what are they really doing?”
He cautions buyers to do their research and not just think a home is green if it is using Energy Star appliances or energy-efficient light bulbs. “The proof is whether the builder is in an energy-efficient program, such as BuiltGreen,” says Scott. “That guarantees the home is green through a thirdparty certification — and that’s huge for people.”
BuiltGreen was started in Canada as a hybrid of several other programs and it was brought first to Calgary by Jay Westman and David Bengert of Jayman MasterBuilt.
It is a comprehensive program that includes energy conservation, as well as reducing construction waste and conserving water.
BuiltGreen includes a checklist that buyers can choose from to provide the level of energy efficiency that works for them — and that, in turn, is part of the federal EnerGuide for New Homes.
“Once the homes have been tested for energy efficiency, they are given a sticker from Natural Resources Canada that rates the energy efficiency of the home,” says Scott.
That’s good news for consumers, says Jamieson.
“If the builder builds green to the right specifications, you get a rebate with the government, so that’s great,” she says.
“There were different options in the townhouse, from full geothermal and solarthermal heating systems, to other green products and building techniques. They all help to be more cost effective, more energy efficient and more environmentally clean.”
Peter Mauro, who builds under New Casa Co. Ltd., has been building green since 2001 – and his high-end, luxury homes and condos in the inner city won’t be constructed any other way, he says.
“The first condo I built green was the Villagio in Kensington, where I built with ICF (insulated concrete forms filled with foam),” says Mauro. “In those days, people who did use these only used them on the outside or even just the basements, but we also used them inside on party walls for sound attenu- ation and fire ratings between units.
“People who live there say it’s so quiet and comfortable.”
It’s also saving them money on their heating and cooling bills while helping the environment.
“I took it to another level,” says Mauro.
He designed another energyefficient four-plex condominium building in the Kensington area that was in a triangular shape, making use of a lot that would otherwise be difficult to develop.
It included features such as an icynene spray in the trusses to further insulate the home. “It fills every crack,” he says.
He recently finished building a single-family home in Kensington with geothermal heating and attention to every detail — not only in the energy-efficient layout, but using such features as imported Italian tile mosaics as highlights in areas of the home.
It’s a testament to the commitment to sustainability of housing that doesn’t compromise style and quality, he says.
Priced at just under $2 million, the home sold in just six weeks despite a downturn in the economy.
“The market is primed for this,” says Mauro. “People are tired of wasting energy.”
In Aspen Hills, Zen will have the same wall system that Avalon puts on single-family homes. It will include features such as dual flush toilets and paint that doesn’t off-gas.
“The optional package that will be available to homeowners will allow them to qualify for the full $10,000 federal grant,” says Scott.
Despite the fact the site doesn’t even have a sign on it yet, Avalon has already posted seven sales, he says.
“It’s a combination of the right product for the area and the close, downtown location,” says Scott. Units start at $260,000.
For Mauro, he is currently in the process of planning another twounit condo on a triangular lot in Kensington that will, again, up the ante for environmental living.
It will include wall-hung boilers with the hot-water tank heated with solar panels.
Buyer Sheri Jamieson with an artist’s rendering of the Zen townhouse project.
An artist’s rendering of the Zen townhouse development by Jayman MasterBuilt.
Buyer Sheri Jamieson stands in the open concept kitchen of an Avalon Master Builder home. The green home is similar to the one she purchased in the Zen condo project by Avalon in Aspen Wood.