Careers

Opportunities available:

PART-TIME GREEN BUILDING STRATEGIST

The Part-time Green Building Strategist will be supporting the CEO by working directly on a number of projects in Canada, the Middle East and in the United States.

Responsibilities

  • Data entry including expenses and other information
  • Calculations and documentation of Architectural Design-Related LEED Credits.
  • Review and editing of Construction Specifications.
  • Working with contractors in the reconciliation of credits with construction documentation on various projects currently underway.
  • Working with various project team members to help advance the sustainability agenda for a project.
  • Research of products, systems and finishes.
  • Preparation and review of credit documentation and monitoring the team’s progress towards achievement of green building certification.
  • Research projects as assigned.
  • Other administrative duties as required.

Qualifications

  • Must be a LEED© Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction.
  • WELL© Accredited Professional considered an asset.
  • Energy modelling in eQuest considered an asset.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills.
  • Excellent skills in word processing and data entry, including skills with Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Self-starter who learns quickly and able to work independently.

Working Conditions

Our office is located close to a subway station close to downtown Toronto. Flexible hours. Great opportunity for someone looking to learn and make connections in the green building industry while gaining experience on cutting-edge projects.

To apply, send resume to sandra@affectingchange.com
Subject line: Part-time Green Building Strategist

Building Energy Performance Benchmarking

by Guest Blogger, Ian Theaker, Associate, at Ecolibrium Strategies Inc.

Better building performance will be key to economic and environmental success in the 21st century.

Impact of the Built Environment
In 2009, Canada’s buildings consumed 31% of the nation’s country’s energy and contributed 69 million tonnes to Canada’s 2012 greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing Canadian building energy by just 5% is estimated to result in more than $800 million in annual cost savings and more than 3 million tonnes of emissions and the retrofit process would create hundreds new “clean-tech” jobs in the building component manufacturing and construction industry.

Building Energy Benchmarking in Canada
There is currently no Canada-wide building “nutrition label” or EnerGuide sticker to benchmark building energy and GHG performance.  As a result, few buyers and lessors are equipped to consider energy costs, opportunities, risks and returns in real estate investment decisions.

Several voluntary building energy benchmarking initiatives have been launched in Canada, however, by their nature, voluntary programs typically engage better performers, rather than those with the most opportunity.  The lack of a common national framework for building energy benchmarking has resulted in a patchwork of different benchmarking approaches and tools across the country.

Natural Resource Canada introduced a national benchmarking tool, based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star® Portfolio Manager. Energy Star Portfolio Manager is emerging as the most common energy benchmarking tool for commercial and institutional buildings in North America.  It provides a robust, widely accepted—and free—framework to ease comparison of similar buildings.

Global Momentum for Building Energy Transparency
The European Union first introduced building energy and public disclosure legislation in 2002. The European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) requires public disclosure of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) for most residential, commercial and institutional buildings when they were built, sold or leased.

Building energy benchmarking has since spread rapidly in Australia, China and other nations, most recently in many U.S. cities and states. Mandatory benchmarking and transparency is now rapidly spreading several American cities. A few States have also enacted state-wide legislation to benchmark commercial, residential and public buildings.

Why Benchmark a Building’s Energy and Emissions Performance?

  • Informs the market during every stage of building ownership with energy & GHG performance information;
  • What gets measured, gets managed, and the proven result is that benchmarking buildings saves energy;
  • Identifies and creates incentives for investment in buildings with the most cost-effective savings opportunities; and
  • Increases demand for and fosters clean technology jobs and skills at low cost.

 “Benchmarking makes energy consumption in buildings quantifiable and transparent, enabling building owners and operators to prioritize their energy investments, reduce their consumption and save money. In short, benchmarking is the first logical step toward understanding and improving the energy performance of existing buildings.”
– plaNYC, August, 2012

Next Steps
In Canada legislative authority for energy and building energy benchmarking lies with the Provinces; both Ontario and British Columbia now see building energy benchmarking and transparency as a policy option, and are considering its introduction for publicly-owned and possibly all existing buildings. It will take considerable effort to design a building energy benchmarking standard that will serve to move the market on building asset value and evaluation of energy retrofit potentiality of the buildings.

 Sign up for our newsletter by January 31st and receive a  FREE copy of Ian’s soon-to-be-published White Paper on ‘Building Energy & Benchmarking in Canada’.

Project Neutral Renovation Workshop – Deep Retrofits Advice for Homeowners

Sandra is a Community Leader for Project Neutral in Riverdale. It is an endeavour to bring an existing urban neighbourhood to carbon neutrality. Project Neutral is campaigning to have households enter their energy use, food and transportation data in a yearly survey entry. On Saturday, November 2nd, Project Neutral, in combination with Windfall Ecology Centre, held a Home Renovation Workshop, and Sandra contributed to the Workshop by participating on a panel where she spoke about her experiences with deep housing retrofits. Here are some additional notes on the topic.

Home owners are realizing that they have been sold properties that are not performing well at all. Currently, there is currently no mandated requirement for the Energy Performance rating of the property to be disclosed at the time of the sale. A few prudent Home Inspectors are including this assessment in their inspection services.

All of the information on retrofits is based on real data and building science. The emphasis was to shift from dwelling on the type of heating system to making a sincere efforts to reduce the loads in the first place.

Air leakage is low-hanging fruit, since about 19% of heat loss is due to air leakage. Homeowners should seek the services of a professional that does blower-door-guided draft proofing where the whole house is put under slight negative pressure and you can literally feel the air leaks coming in (especially on a really cold day). When you hire a contractor to do a renovation then put the air leakage performance in the contract by specifying the leakage rate in number of air changes per hour (ACH) and have it tested after the air barrier is installed, and before the drywall is put up. Air-seal your attic floor to avoid ice dams on the roof.

However, when you seal things up then you have to think about putting in ventilation systems to get rid of the moisture: mechanical ventilation and enthalpy recovery; and exhaust ventilation where high-humidity situations occur (kitchens and baths). If you have a basement then have a dehumidifier running whenever it’s above ten degrees Celsius (as recommended by CMHC). During the winter indoor air will be too dry, unless there is a lot of moisture generated and the building is very tight. ERV’s are popular these days because they recover humidity in the exhaust air in winter and remove humidity from the incoming air in the summer if the house air is dehumidified.

Insulation is also a good place to start, with most homes and attics, not having been insulated at all. When a home is insulated properly, and tightly then it may not even need a furnace. Insulating your attic is a good place to start. The occupants and the equipment, along with passive solar heating are enough to keep the house at a comfortable temperature year-round. If you have brick exterior walls then insulate them from the outside so that there is no moisture penetration into the masonry and no freeze thaw cycle will destroy your existing brick. Better than average levels of insulation should be installed together with a vapour retarder and air barrier to protect that insulation from the humidity in the indoor air. For example, uninsulated basement walls and floors that are cool and dark become moist when they are in contact with moist humid indoor air—a perfect recipe for mould growth. Seal basement interior walls with a waterproof coating, install a drainage pan layer that drains to a weeping tile system and sump pump, and install spray foam insulation on the inside of the basement walls, in and around a lightweight freestanding stud wall that you can finish with drywall or, if financially feasible, cement board.

Windows provide heat and light which may be good sometimes, but glare and overheating is not. Ideally you want to maximize net heat gain and daylight when desired, and reject solar heat gain  and control glare at other times. Passive-House-certified windows are the best available net heat gain windows. Excess solar is most effectively managed by exterior shading, including vegetation (preferably deciduous). Cheap windows also leak energy immediately and create air leaks more quickly due to the stress caused by the large amounts of thermal expansion and contraction stress, and lastly, encourage condensation on the inside of the glazing and frames that propagates mould growth. Any moist or cold surface that is subject to condensing indoor humidity is a growth location for mould.

Drain water heat recovery is copper drain pipe with a cold water pipe wrapped around it. The hot drain water goes down the walls of the drain pipe and the water supplying the shower cold water tap and hot water tank recovers the heat. The water in the water pipe is warmed and is sent to the hot water heater. Less energy is used to get it up to the temperature that is required. It is a product that is made locally in Ontario and is an investment that has very quick returns of under two years, provided that it is installed in an accessible location on a drain that services several hot water loads (dishwasher, shower, kitchen sink, as a minimum).

When you redo your roofing then consider metal roofing. You only pay for it once during the whole time that you own the house. There is currently a City of Toronto incentive for purchasing a green roof or a cool roof.

When considering a heating system then consider installing a hydronic heating system through radiators or through a modular hydronic in-floor radiant heating system. Hydronic systems use water to heat a space and water is more dense than air, thus requiring less volume to be moved, and therefore is a more efficient delivery mechanism than forced air. it also delivers heat in a more comfortable and healthy manner, with less dust and allergens. Radiant heating also has the advantage of using a variety of sources, including: electricity, natural gas; and solar. An additional advantage is that the radiant supply temperatures are closer to room temperature and this would be closer to what would be available with solar thermal supply.

Have your energy retrofit consultant do energy modelling using HOT2000 or the Passive House Planning Package software and do a Parametric Energy Model. This will help you determine the sweet spot so that you optimize the insulation levels in your building envelope.

This renovation workshop was organized by Project Neutral. Why should you do the Project Neutral survey? It is accurate for YOUR house  because it knows the Ontario electricity grid mix, for example. It compares to people in YOUR neighbourhood. This year, Project Neutral is asking home owners to commit to a greenhouse gas reduction target, and will give you suggestions on how to achieve that target. For more information go to www.projectneutral.org.

Not Drowning, Dancing

The most important decision that we can make as consultants is what projects we take on, and which projects decide to pass on.

Often called the, “Go, No Go”, this is usually put through a litmus test or a decision-making process that is based on an economic analysis and alignment to the firm’s strategy.

Today I am decided to pass up on yet another LEED® Certification RFP because the client is doing the opposite of what should be done. The sustainability consultant should be hired at the beginning of the process to determine the strategy and to evaluate the undertakings that would bring about a more-effective project.

Instead, on this project, the consultant is being brought in to merely document and prove the process. It is better late than never, but it seems that they are more like an auditor than driver of the process. What effects are they going to have on either process or the outcomes? Not many.

I’d rather be involved earlier on in the process, ensuring that the client is moving in the right direction in the first instance, instead of trying to put the paperwork together to prove that they did.

Flawless

by M.J. Wheatley

For far too many years
I have wanted to be flawless,
      Perfecting my pursuits,
      I bargained all for love.
For all those years
I made masks of my own doing,
      Pursuing my perfection,
      I found I was pursued.
And then
one day
I fell
      sprawled
      flattened
      on the fertile
      ground of self.
Naked in dirt
no mask
no bargains
I raised my soiled face
and there
      you were.
I struggled to stand.
Dirt from my body fell
in your eyes.
Your hand reached for me.
Blinded,
your hand reached
me.
There is, in all of us, the place of pure perfection.
We discover its geography together.

Public Art in Toronto Gets Powered Up!

Great to hear that the building integrated photovoltaic system at Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront Centre was funded by the City of Toronto’s mandatory Percent for Public Art Program. Yes, there could have been more photovoltaic integrated into the building, but more importantly, this has set a precedent that other building developers can easily follow. Hopefully, with this precedent in place we will see more of a market for BIPV in Toronto, and maybe even a local manufacturer of BIPV products.

For more information about BIPV opportunities in Toronto please see this great slideshare presentation by Rob McMonagle at the City of Toronto for a recent OSEA Webinar on BIPV: Initial Thoughts on Industry Development Opportunities for Toronto.

LEED 2009 Closes Loopholes But Does It Address Climate Change?

Today I had a cursory foray into LEED 2009. I like a lot of the advancements that have been made. I do think that weighting energy and water efficiency more heavily will result in a more stringent certification with a more solid reputation. But I was disappointed to find out that it still does not address the impact of buildings on our climate. LEED 2009 does not signal strongly enough that we were going through a climate crisis and that the owners, operators and designers of our buildings bear a large responsibility for that impact.

Some energy advancements have been made by closing some loopholes that were in the rating system. On example is the change of status on process loads in energy modeling. In the old system process loads were not part of the building model so were exempt from the energy efficiency effort. Now they have to be considered. Yes, this will help to address the impact of the building, but will it change the mindset of the building owners or designers quickly enough?

The energy efficiency points are still dependent on the ASHRAE base model comparison assessment. This leaves much potential impact of passive design and design brief program changes out of the realm of assessment for LEED. Much is left on the table in terms of passive design potential, and essentially this is like trying to make lemonade but leaving the lemons unsqueezed and throwing the slices in only to flavour the water.

Instead, I would recommend a comparison to an energy benchmark much like 2030 Challenge and this is similar to energy benchmarks that are used in the EU. It would be a more truthful comparison, and would utilize architectural and engineering teams more fully to their capacity of leveraging the integrated design process for the achievement of a magnitude of energy savings. Put this energy benchmark in the client’s design brief would allow the design teams to create a fee proposal (and project team workplan) against this goal, and would leave enough time in the budget to reach this level of achievement.

In summary, LEED 2009 makes an attempt, and still does a modicum of effort towards the full potential of gaining architectural eco-efficiency. Unfortunately, many projects will use LEED 2009 and think that they have made every effort to minimize their impact. For this huge amount of paperwork they will be rewarded greatly. Project teams will feel justified in their reward of LEED Certification because of the level of effort that it entailed. But in the meantime, much, much more could have, and should have, been done for this matter that affects the very survival of our species and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Rejuvenating Retail on the Danforth

Today I met with James at The One Cafe, just east of Jones, on the north side of Danforth with Chris Caldwell (http://www.caldwellforcouncil.ca/), who is running in the Toronto City Council election this fall for Toronto-Danforth, Ward 29.

It was a hot hazy and humid Toronto summer day and we held onto our expectations as we climbed onto the asphalt roof above his cafe/ residence. Almost immediately I went off into ‘designer sustainability guru mode’ talking about extensive, intensive, roofing and using solar panels as shading devices.

Then I started rhyming off incentive programs that he had never heard about.

The most important one is the OPA Microfit Contract. If you own a building in Ontario you should apply for the 30-year contract from the Ontario government. Then they can pay you 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced by your solar panels, while you pay under 10. This is a win-win because we achieve distributed power generation capacity in the province. The locations are closer than your local power station, reducing transmission loses and building a more resilient electrical grid.

To get an OPA MicroFit Contract for your residential home or business get Sunrise Solar to walk you through the process and you can start by referencing these documents:
http://sunrisesolar.ca/Documents/Sunrise%20Solar%20-%20OPA%20Application%20Quick%20Reference%20Guide.pdf
Contact them if you have questions: http://sunrisesolar.ca/contactus.aspx

The next important is the City of Toronto Eco Roof Incentive Program. If you attended the June TF4GBD then you would have learned that Green Roofs divert rainwater from our storm sewers, and saves energy:
http://www.toronto.ca/livegreen/greenbusiness_greenroofs_eco-roof.htm

Lastly, (but one that examination before you alter anything) is the Ontario Home Energy Savings program (yes, this is the provincial equivalent to the program that the Feds pulled the plug on):
http://www.mei.gov.on.ca/en/energy/conservation/ohesp/

We started envisioning a deck area, urban agriculture for his restaurant in intensive roofing planters, and an extensive roof that looked like a natural meadow. I could see how James was starting to see the future that wanted to emerge for his roof.

We came back down to ground level inspired to help other business owners see the potential in these netherworlds lurking overhead. We are seeking to create a buyer’s cooperative movement on the Danforth for retrofit projects, so contact me or Chris if you are interested in becoming involved.