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.

April 9, 2014

Carleton University’s High Performance Housing Project

Carleton University’s High Performance Housing Project

On Friday I was a guest judge at the final presentations of Carleton University’s High Performance Housing group.  I’ve been involved with the High Performance Housing group for a number of years now, acting occasionally as a guest lecturer or mentor to some of the groups.  This year I wasn’t as involved in the project as [...]

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February 3, 20141 Comment

3D Printing Houses – An innovative vision for the future of housing

3D Printing Houses – An innovative vision for the future of housing

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.  [...]

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December 20, 2013

Energy Innovation Roundtable

Energy Innovation Roundtable

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 [...]

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October 25, 2013

City Regulations As A Barrier to Housing Innovation

City Regulations As A Barrier to Housing Innovation

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 [...]

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August 6, 20131 Comment

This is not the future of building.

This is not the future of building.

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 [...]

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July 29, 2013

Experts on Call

Experts on Call

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 [...]

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June 11, 20132 Comments

Would you want your tax dollars paying for someone else’s clean energy?

Would you want your tax dollars paying for someone else’s clean energy?

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 [...]

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March 19, 201317 Comments

Insulating rooms above garages: The Mike Holmes way VS the Urbandale way

Insulating rooms above garages:  The Mike Holmes way VS the Urbandale way

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 [...]

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January 7, 20136 Comments

Water Heaters – What you need to know to heat your H2O

Water Heaters – What you need to know to heat your H2O

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. [...]

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December 5, 201215 Comments

The Real Reason Most Homebuilders Build Crappy Homes

The Real Reason Most Homebuilders Build Crappy Homes

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 [...]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Matthew Sachs

B. Eng. LEED AP

  • General Manager of Urbandale Construction since May 2008
  • Vice-Chair R-2000 Renewal Committee
  • Member of Energy Star Technical Advisory Committee
  • Greater Ottawa Homebuilders Green Committee
  • Recipient of Canadian Homebuilder’s Association 2009 R-2000 Builder of the Year Award
  • Participant in Natural Resources Canada’s Technology Roadmap for Sustainable Housing
  • Energy Consultant with Marbek Resource Consultants (Feb 2002 – May 2006)

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.