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!

March 2, 2012 2 Comments

Urbandale builds the first home in Canada to the new 2012 R-2000 Standard

2012 R-2000 Demo HomeNatural Resources Canada recently announced the launch of the revised 2012 R-2000 Standard. Urbandale played a major role in this launch by hosting the event in our demo home – the first home in Canada built to the new standard.

This event was symbolic for me personally because it represented the results of several years of effort and a major milestone towards the goal of building affordable high performing homes.  As the Vice-Chair of the R-2000 Renewal Committee, I’ve worked with NRCan and other builders and consultants from across Canada since 2008 towards developing the new standard. My insider position on the committee obviously helped me to time the construction of this home to be the first in Canada.

The event also focused on Urbandale’s partnership with Carleton University.  I’ve been working with the students in their High Performance Housing Group since 2009. The students were given Urbandale plans and asked to brainstorm cost effective energy efficiency upgrades as part of their design project. They’ve actually embedded monitoring equipment into the walls of our demo home to ensure it performs as intended.  At the event, we also announced Urbandale’s commitment to donate a home to be built on the Carleton campus, to be used as a research lab for emerging technologies.

Finally, we announced Urbandale will be updating our spec for all of our homes to the new 2012 ENERGY STAR® Standard.  This is perhaps my biggest personal risk, as I’ve been pushing the company in this direction, and I’m honestly not sure how the market will respond to our changes.  Our new spec will make for a better home, this much I’m sure about, but it will cost more and I’m worried some consumers will not consider the value and opt for a cheaper alternative.

I don’t personally care much for ceremony, but I’m grateful for the Politicians who came out to the event. It raised the profile of the launch, which is good for Urbandale.  The Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of State and MP for Carleton Mississippi-Mills, spoke about the role the Canadian Government played in developing the standard.  Also, I have to admit, I was pretty happy to hear the President of the Canadian Home Builder’s Association, Ron Olsen, say that Urbandale is “…building the best houses in the world.” The final speaker, Professor Beausoleil-Morrison from Carleton University, described the types of research they hope to perform and the potential for homes of the future.

I mentioned earlier that this event was only a symbolic milestone.  The focus now has to shift from the design side to the marketing side.  We know we can build higher performing homes, and the recognition certainly affirms we’re on the right track.  The next step is in communicating what we’re doing differently to the public, and hoping purchasers understand and value the hidden features we’ve put in our homes.

Posted by Matthew

2 Responses to "Urbandale builds the first home in Canada to the new 2012 R-2000 Standard"

  1. Luc Massie says:

    Does it really cost $30,000 to go from a 2012 Energy Star standard built home to the 2012 R-2000 home?
    Does it really need a geo-thermal installation.
    On the Carmel (Horizon series) 1880 sq ft, would would it cost to raise it to the 2012 R-2000 standard?

  2. Matthew Sachs says:

    Hi Luc,
    The $30,000 estimate is approximate, but it’s not too far off. The Carmel with our standard spec uses roughly 25% less energy than a house built to code. Using a geothermal system would definitely get it over the R2000 threshold of 50% energy savings compared to code. The Carmel is a relatively small house, which means you could specify a smaller geothermal system with fewer holes necessary to be drilled. That will save some money, but it would still be in the ballpark of $25,000 or so. The Ontario Code baseline is actually quite energy efficient when compared to homes built 10 years ago, and using 50% less energy than that is a very aggressive target. With energy efficiency upgrades, the low hanging fruit can be done relatively inexpensively, but once you start going for those extremely aggressive targets it gets harder and more expensive to do.
    If you are an Urbandale purchaser feel free to email me directly if you want to discuss it in more detail. (You can get my email address from your Sales Consultant.)


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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