Buy­ing GREEN

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - KATHY MCCORMICK

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.

Ted Rhodes, Cal­gary Her­ald

Buyer Sheri Jamieson with an artist’s ren­der­ing of the Zen town­house project.

Pho­tos, Ted Rhodes, Cal­gary Her­ald

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.

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