May 7, 2013

Last month, Greening Homes attended the inaugural “Greenovate Your Home” event featuring a panel of expert building professionals from a variety of disciplines. The general discussion topic was renovating “green”, and the panelists touched on a broad range of related topics from environmental conservation to energy efficiency to healthy indoor environmental quality, amongst others. The event was put on by the Toronto East End Sustainability Network, which hopes to make this a quarterly series.

The first speaker was Judy Coffey, a real estate agent with 20 years of experience in the Beaches/Leslieville area. Judy made the case for sustainable renovations and cited data showing that environmental features and energy efficiency are beginning to be reflected in home values.

Kay Valley, owner of The Zero Point, spoke next. Kay founded The Zero Point to supply healthy, non-toxic home products and building materials, but has now expanded into offering design-build services. Kay stressed the importance of balance in any renovation project, and to never underestimate the value of a healthy home.

Dr. Russell Richman, Professor of Architectural Science at Ryerson University, presented a fascinating slideshow featuring the Deep Energy Retrofit of his own home in the nearby Riverdale neighbourhood. His renovation of a 100-year-old solid masonry home featured extremely high-levels of insulation and airtightness, in-floor radiant heating, and high-efficiency mechanical equipment such as an ERV and condensing boiler. The panel discussed the tradeoffs of some materials – such as spray foam – which are toxic but deliver high levels of insulation and airtightness.

The discussion was concluded by Greg Labbe, of the Blue Green Group.  Greg stressed the importance of using energy modelling as a tool to inform the design of the building envelope and mechanical equipment as it relates to life-cycle energy use.

There was one glaring omission from the panel – a green renovator was not represented! Greening Homes has volunteered to participate in the next installment.  Check back for more information at the end of August.