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!

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, 20135 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, 201325 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, 201216 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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November 12, 2012

Lego Housing Design Competition

Lego Housing Design Competition

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 […]

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October 1, 2012

Urbandale’s Proud Foundations™

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 […]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Matthew Sachs

P. Eng. LEED AP

  • 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)

ABOUT PEAK POWER

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 www.peakpowerenergy.com.