This blog explores changes in the energy industry from an insider’s perspective as it transitions from the old centralized utility model to the new paradigm of distributed generation.
This blog was previously called Inside the Housing Evolution and focused on energy efficient homes. Ultimately, it’s all linked. Soon, every building will have the potential to generate, store, and sell energy. Welcome to the era of the transactive grid – the greatest shift the electricity sector has seen in over 100 years!

January 7, 2015 2 Comments

Presentation at Carleton University: “The Business of Green Housing”

CarletonLectureOn Nov. 18th I was invited to give a presentation as part of the Carleton Sustainable Energy Research Centre Lecture Series.  My presentation was on the Business of Green Housing.

Numerous surveys indicate that consumers are willing to pay more for energy efficient homes, but sales statistics across the country and my own personal experience show that this is generally not the case.  This discrepancy between what purchasers say they want and what they actually buy points to a key challenge in selling green homes.  In my presentation I defined the features of a green home, discussed the costs and typical energy savings available, and went into detail on how Urbandale has chosen to market and promote our high performance homes.

The audience was a mix of engineering and policy students and faculty.  After the presentation we had a very engaging discussion, followed by drinks, followed by the deeper type of engaging discussions that generally follows after drinks.

A summary of my presentation has been prepared by the CSERC students and is available here.

Posted by Matthew

2 Responses to "Presentation at Carleton University: “The Business of Green Housing”"

  1. Exactly!!! you constantly see people going in to show homes, or walking into developers office with this fake green movement that “oh we want to be environmentally friendly and as eco-positive as we can be”. The minute that you sit down with them and talk bread and butter and what thing will actually cost people start jumping around it because being green is not cheap. Well it could be if you wanna slap dash the work and have a very low quality house. Some house buyers need to really evaluate their finances before the want to try these next generation housing techniques.

  2. Matthew Sachs says:

    Hi Kristen,
    I mostly agree with you, though with some clarification. There is no single definition of “green”, just as there’s no specific definition of “expensive”. It’s a spectrum and you can have a house that’s somewhat more energy efficient than a standard home for very little incremental cost, or on the far end of the spectrum a Net Zero Energy home that produces more energy than it consumes, but costs over $100,000 more. We have the technical ability to build homes anywhere on the spectrum. For me, the challenge has been to define a construction standard that offers substantial energy improvements, but with only a moderate increase in cost that is considered reasonable for most consumers. It’s a very fine line.
    Thanks for commenting!


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Matthew Sachs


  • COO of Peak Power since July 2016
  • General Manager of Urbandale Construction (May 2008 – Oct 2014)
  • 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)


Peak Power is a Microgrid project development company focused on delivering innovative solutions to offset the most expensive hours of electric demand. We specialize in optimizing the revenue streams from energy storage, advanced building automation, and renewable technologies for customer sited and utility scale projects. Please visit