This blog follows the latest trends in high performance housing from an insider's perspective. I am the General Manager of one of Ottawa's leading homebuilders - Urbandale Construction, and it gives me a firsthand view of how the industry is changing. I've seen the barriers that builders face when trying to market new technologies and I've been working directly to overcome these barriers to bring new energy efficient designs into Urbandale homes.
Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California is developing a completely new way to build houses using a large-scale version of 3D printing technology. This innovative approach, called Contour Crafting, works by using a large robotic arm with a nozzle that can spray fast drying concrete in layers according to a predetermined design. [...]Read more
On Dec. 4th I took part in an Energy Innovation Roundtable chaired by Frank Des Rosiers, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Natural Resources Canada. When I first read the discussion paper prior to the meeting I got the impression that the whole exercise was being implemented with the outcome already in mind, namely to justify [...]Read more
When people talk about the barriers to green building, the most common points that come up are the high cost of new technologies, the low cost of energy (at least in Canada), and the lack of consumer demand. Another factor that is not as well recognized is the barrier to innovation caused by our city [...]Read more
A Stockholm architecture firm has created a lot of buzz recently with their plans to build a “hairy” skyscraper. The building would have thousands of piezoelectric straws coming off the structure that harness energy as they sway in the wind. The project has created a lot of interest because it is extremely innovative and looks [...]Read more
I was interviewed on 580 CFRA’s “Experts on Call” last weekend by Angie Poirier, host of the Majic Morning Show and CTV Ottawa Morning. We had a nice discussion and talked about what differentiates a high performance home from a Code built home. This included an explanation of the Energy Star Program and Urbandale’s unique [...]Read more
There’s a small community of around 1,000 homes just outside of Austin, Texas that is being used to research how we’ll be using energy in the future. Pecan Street, supported by the US Department of Energy, the University of Texas and some major private partners, is studying families living in energy efficient housing with smart [...]Read more
I recently received the following question from a reader: “ Hi there, after watching Holmes on Homes I was wondering when Urbandale will use spray foam insulation on the above garage floor instead of leaving the gap with heat duct. There is a big concern that if any seal is not done right like around electrical [...]Read more
As part of our upgrade to the 2012 ENERGY STAR® standard, we changed our standard water heaters from regular tank water heaters to condensing tank water heaters. In this post I’d like to discuss the main types of residential water heaters, so purchasers will have a better understanding of what system is best for them. [...]Read more
For the last four years, I’ve been using my position as General Manager at Urbandale Construction (a large homebuilder in Ottawa) to do whatever I could to push the industry towards more energy efficient housing. I’ve sat on government steering committees, created partnerships with academia to promote research, and redesigned the homes we sell. But [...]Read more
I’m going to take a break from talking about energy efficiency this post for something more fun instead – playing with Lego! Dwell, an influential architecture magazine, ran a Lego Design Competition with the theme of California mid-century modern architecture. Check out the designs of the five finalists here. It’s a reminder to me that [...]Read more
ABOUT URBANDALE CONSTRUCTION:
Ottawa's Quality Homebuilder for 30 Years. Building R-2000 and Energy Star Homes in Kanata Lakes, Riverside South, & Bridlewood in Ottawa, and in eQuinelle in Kemptville. For more information on Urbandale Construction, please visit www.urbandale.com.