TORONTO, Ontario, April 26, 2005 — Utility costs and air quality concerns are on the rise in Toronto. To help condominium owners combat these challenges, Tridel, Canada's leading developer and builder of condominiums, has teamed up with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to test and monitor innovations designed to improve the energy performance and indoor air quality of condominium communities. This study will help Tridel, and other developers within the industry, build condominium residences that are environmentally responsible, and safe and healthy places to live, leading to lower utility costs for homeowners.
"Joint projects such as these demonstrate the commitment of the Government of Canada to actively aiding and guiding the building industry toward better design and construction practices," said the Honourable Joe Fontana, Minister of Labour and Housing.
"Tridel has always been a leader when it comes to innovation and pushing the market forward," says Leo Del Zotto, President, Tridel. "We're now at the stage where we want to pull the residential construction industry towards more environmentally friendly approaches, and there are a number of new products coming to market that can significantly improve energy performance and indoor air quality. We want to ensure that these products deliver the benefits that we expect, and that we can effectively integrate them into our construction process."
The research is being carried out at Tridel's Grand Triomphe in North York, where a major emphasis of the study is improving ventilation, which affects both energy consumption and air quality.
"The energy that is lost when air is exhausted is one of the biggest costs in a condominium building," says Rambod Nasrin, Research and Development Coordinator for Tridel. "If we could recover a percentage of that energy from outgoing air and transfer it to incoming air, we'd save our residents a lot of money every year."
The approach that Tridel is testing at Grand Triomphe involves a new heat recovery ventilator (HRV) donated by Nu-Air and an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) donated by Venmar. Venmar has specially designed a new product, with the help of Tridel, which fits into the bulkhead of a suite's laundry room. This unit draws fresh air directly from outside, and passes it through a core that transfers energy from the outgoing stale air — without contaminating the fresh air.
"This technology has already been widely adopted in the single family home industry, but is a latecomer to high-rise projects," says Gerry Gagnon, Indoor Air Quality Product and Marketing Manager, Venmar. "Single family home owners get the benefit of both saving money on energy costs, and getting fresh air vented directly into their home. With our new ERV, high-rise residents will have the added benefit of moisture management for extra savings on space conditioning during the humid summer months."
Nu-Air's product offers similar benefits, but their heat recovery system is integrated into the condominium's HVAC unit (fan coil).
The study will also monitor how well individual units perform if they are completely airtight, with residents controlling their own ventilation. German manufacturer BASF has contributed here, installing a spray foam insulation, called WallTite, which offers superior insulation and vapor protection. Tridel has also installed awning style windows that offer superior seals, supplied by Fulton Windows. Kitchener-based Spectrum Instruments Ltd. will perform real-time thermal imaging measurements to demonstrate how effective these treatments are in reducing heat loss and heat gain.
An airtight suite will also facilitate individual monitoring of energy consumption for each suite. Tridel already uses smart meters in its new buildings to measure individual suite electricity consumption, but to date heating, cooling and hot water have been assessed on a proportional basis. At Grand Triomphe, Provident Energy Management is testing the accuracy of new thermal and water meters to see how well the building can sub-allocate these costs. Residents will only pay for what they use, which is the first step towards energy and water conservation.
As indoor air quality is also a priority among new homebuyers today, Tridel is testing products and finishes that release significantly lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC's), particulates and other noxious fumes. One test suite will be finished with ICI's LifeMaster Duluxe paint, a no-odour, zero-VOC paint, which has been recognized for its superior performance by the Environmental Choice Program, North America's leading benchmark of environmentally responsible products and services. In the same suite the conventional wood-based particleboard, and kitchen cabinets will be replaced with Dow Bioproduct's WoodStalk™, an alternative fibreboard made from annually renewable wheat stock with no added Urea Formaldehyde, a recognized irritant used in most resins to bind wood fibres.
This information will benefit Tridel Corporation in its assessment of the costs and benefits of the various innovations installed in the suite and will also be used by CMHC to promote the successful innovations in other building projects for the benefit of all Canadians who choose to live in this style of housing.
Jamie James, Principal of BuildGreen Consulting, has been working closely with Tridel for the past two years to advance the environmental and energy performance agenda within the company. "Tridel's investment in research and development is unusual in the construction industry," says James. "It is part of the company's commitment to leading the mainstream residential market down the path towards more environmentally responsible practices. The rigour demonstrated on the test suites reflects the values of a learning organization that is prepared to make an important contribution to market transformation and the green building movement."
Tridel is Canada's leading developer and builder of condominium residences with more than 70 years of homebuilding experience. To date the Tridel Group of Companies is responsible for producing over 66,500 homes, and continues to lead the industry in innovation, technology and design. Tridel is determined to develop condominium communities that meet the needs of today's homeowners while safeguarding the wellbeing of future generations. The company is working to meet this goal by focusing on environmentally sustainable building design and performance in construction and corporate stewardship. In recognition of Tridel's outstanding service to its homeowners, Tridel has also been awarded the coveted Ontario High-Rise Builder of the Year Award by Tarion, formerly known as the Ontario New Home Warranty Program, and Home Builder of the Year by the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association.
Jane Holland and Charlie Robson