Home Sweet Home competition and student challenge demonstrates sustainable residential construction insights

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    Special to Ontario Construction Report

    The bi-annual Home Sweet Home competition and student challenge wrapped up in May with winning designs applying locally sourced materials, passive systems and alternative transportation ideas.

    Competition chair Derek Satnick, managing director and chief innovation officer at Kitchener-based Mindscape Innovations, says the competition is an outgrowth of ontariogreenspec.ca, which his organization established to help provide answers about LEED and sustainable construction.  “Then we decided we wanted to do something to make it fun and celebrate green building, and that led to the competition,” he said.

    The student challenge, open to teams from colleges and universities across Ontario, received the most submissions from Algonquin College and the University of Toronto. This year’s students were challenged to design a home for political comedian Rick Mercer. Designs submitted to the competition had to be energy efficient, environmentally responsible, buildable, attractive, and – this year’s twist – had to be constructable on a roughly 800 sq. ft. space in the Prime Minister’s backyard.

    First place, awarded to the Eco-House from the University of Toronto (by Amanda Cirinna and Steven Goldstine), used a unique solar panel design to maximize and control passive solar heat gains and natural light.

    Second place, Western University’s Resilient Home (by Randy Van Straaten, Dimuth Kurukulaarachchi, Sara Martinez, and Nichole Baczynski), combined durable materials in high wear areas and low cost materials where simple replacement or refinishing were future options.

    Third place went to Sol House from Algonquin College (by Daniel Heffner, Richard Ramirez, Jie Li and German Osuna). This design maximized solar gain and passive design strategies through a prefabricated construction.

    The 2013 People’s Choice award went to the GREEN LINE student design team from Algonquin College (Matthew Phipps, Colin Martell, Zeina Badawi, and Sotonye Hart). Honourable mention went to the Sol House student team, also from Algonquin, and to RND Construction for the Greater Ottawa Home Builder’s Association (GOHBA)’s Custom Green Home of the Year. A second honourable mention went to Camel’s Back Construction’s live demonstration of straw bale homes, which received eight votes even though it wasn’t intended to be eligible.

    Meanwhile, the Home Sweet Home’s industry competition recognizes and awards builders, contractors, or individuals who have built ‘sweet homes’ in Ontario. To qualify, projects must be low-rise residential, divided into categories including production, custom, affordable and renovated homes.

    In the 2012 industry competition, the affordable home of the year went to Habitat for Humanity Peterborough for the Fleming Partnership Home. GreenBilt Homes in Oakville received the“Mindscape Custom Home of the Year” award.  Terra View Homes won the “Eaton Production Home of the Year” award for their Cambridgeshire LEED home in Kitchener, while the Rosendale House in Toronto received recognition as the renovated house of the year.

    The top 10 student finalist designs were on display at the Ottawa Convention Centre along with the home building industry`s 2012 green award winning homes from across Canada, including samples from Minto (Ontario’s Green Builder of the Year, 2010 through 2012), RND Construction (Ottawa’s Green Renovator and Green Custom Builder of the Year), Habitat for Humanity, the Net-Zero Energy Home Coalition of North America, and SAB Homes and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

    Satnik says Ontario is a big resource for green products and ontariogreenspec.ca’s intent, and a focus of the challenges, is to help make people more aware of what is out there and how reasonable it can be to achieve sustainability.

    Satnik himself owns a LEED Platinum home built by Williamsburg Homes in Kitchener. “The cost to upgrade from typical construction to LEED certified was $3,500, and a full LEED Platinum was only $30,000,” he said.

    Satnik says his energy bills are typically about half that of his neighbors, who all own Energy-Star certified homes, and that the solar panels he and his wife added cover all of their electrical, water and heating costs. “The house doesn’t look any different than any of the others around us, but is really comfortable and the air quality is amazing. It shows that this kind of energy efficiency is possible, isn’t expensive and is worth the effort.”

    Though the Home Sweet Home competition designs are conceptual, Satnik says he would love to see some of these ideas take hold and be constructed.  “For the short-term we make sure to communicate the ideas these submissions showcase and let people see the benefits.”

    Satnik says he is hoping to make the bi-annual competition aligned to student and industry calendars into a national event.  “There is already a lot of industry interest – people who are doing great things who are willing to help the students and others really interested to see what’s happening. I’d like to see that expand even more.”

    Industry partners included Enbridge Gas Distribution, Mindscape Innovations, Hydro Ottawa, Minto, BASF (WALLTITE Eco), Dimplex, and Greenscape Building Consultants. Non-profit partners included the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA), Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA), Net-Zero Energy Housing Coalition (NZEHC), and Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). Media partners included SAB Homes, the Canadian Journal of Green Building Design and Construction, Alternatives Journal, the Construction News and Report Group (Ontario Construction Report’s publisher), and Dimplex.

    For more information, visit hsh-competition.ca.

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