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!

October 1, 2012 No Comments

Urbandale’s Proud Foundations™

Urbandale was featured in the Ottawa Citizen again as we announced our recent improvements to our standard specifications for all our homes. Our homes will be built to the updated 2012 ENERGY STAR® levels that use 20% less energy than a house built to code. The improved efficiency comes from some smart upgrades, such as triple pane windows, underslab insulation, and a condensing water heater, but what I’m really excited about is our new way of building foundations. By installing our basement insulation on the outside of the concrete foundation, we reduce the chance of cracks in the foundation and condensation in the wall assembly, which can lead to mold.

Typical residential basement foundations are built with insulation on the inside.  This works well most of the time, but it has risks. With this approach in our climate the concrete will go below freezing in the winter. Concrete is porous, and as the water in it freezes and thaws it also expands and contracts, increasing the chance of cracks occurring.

Also, since the insulation is cold on one side and warm on the other, the dew point will be reached somewhere inside the insulation, causing condensation to occur inside the wall. This phenomenon happens in almost every home, however in most cases the amount of moisture accumulation is small and it evaporates before causing any damage. In some cases however, for example when the interior air is very humid or when the temperature difference is large, the condensation causes so much moisture to accumulate that it increases the chance of mold growth.

Engineering science principles teach us that the ideal wall will have insulation on the outside to avoid these problems. In fact, this is the way most commercial buildings are built. The problem is that exterior insulation is more expensive and that is why it is rarely used in residential construction. Our solution was to engineer a hybrid approach tailored for the Ottawa climate. We use both exterior and interior insulation, with the amount of exterior insulation calculated to be enough to keep the concrete from freezing, even on Ottawa’s coldest days.

We’re very proud that Urbandale was the first builder in Ottawa to commit to building homes to the 2012 ENERGY STAR® Standard – months before the standard even came into effect. With this initiative and Urbandale’s Proud Foundations™, our purchasers can be confident they are getting the best-engineered and most innovative homes available.

Posted by Matthew


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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