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Green glossary, The world of energy conservation acronyms

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Green glossary, The world of energy conservation acronyms

The world of energy conservation is filled with acronyms and often confusing titles. Here we break down some of the most common ones to help you talk the talk.

Active House
Active House is the label used for a pilot project where dozens of homes were built in various countries that combine energy efficiency and sustainability with a key focus on occupant comfort. The latter was achieved in large part by using natural light and fresh air.

Energy Star
Energy Star labels are familiar to homeowners seeking out energy efficient windows, electronics, and appliances, but there are hundreds of builders across the country also constructing entire homes under the Energy Star for New Homes label.

FSC Products
Lumber and other products with a Forest Stewardship Council label have been sustainably harvested.

Green Seal
Dating back to 1989, Green Seal is one of the oldest eco-labelling programs for consumer products. Third-party verification reviews each product’s entire lifecycle.

This is the term for companies and products that falsely claim to be environmentally friendly.

HERS Index
The Home Energy Rating System Index rates a home’s energy consumption compared to other buildings. The lower the score the better, with Net Zero homes (see below) rated at zero.

While Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is traditionally thought of as a program for ICI projects, the Canada Green Building Council oversees the LEED Canada for Homes program.

MaP Rating
Short for “maximum performance,” a MaP score tallies how many grams of solid waste a toilet can clear in a single flush. The higher the MaP score, the more waste the unit removes.

Net Zero
Housing Net Zero homes produce at least as much energy as they consume, typically through the use of rooftop solar panels. Net Zero Ready homes are built to Net Zero standards, but don’t produce enough energy to offset usage. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association offers Net Zero training.

Nordic Swan
This eco-labelling project certifies that products made in Nordic countries have undergone rigorous measures to minimize environmental impacts throughout their entire lifecycle.

Passive House
Passive homes use energy efficient materials, layout, and design to minimize a building’s energy footprint. (Editor’s joke: If you build an Active House and a Passive House side-by-side, you end up with a Net Zero Home!)

One of the oldest energy efficiency standards, R-2000 was developed by Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in the early 1980s. Homes built to R-2000 standards are typically 50 percent more energy efficient than conventional homes.

SEER Rating
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating is used to rank air conditioners and heat pumps. The higher the SEER, the more efficiently the unit operates.

Thermal Energy Demand Intensity is a metric used to rate a structure’s heating needs. Insulation, an airtight building envelope, and a heat recovery ventilator work in conjunction to improve a building’s TEDI score. Related metrics include Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI) and Mechanical Energy Use Intensity (MEUI).

The WaterSense label denotes toilets, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures that use at least 20 percent less water than comparable standard models.


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Easy and affordable soundproofing with Sonopan panels

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Easy and affordable soundproofing with Sonopan panels

Whether you’re building a home theatre, a basement apartment or granny suite, or building a new home in a noisy part of town, Sonopan panels are an affordable, easy to install solution for soundproofing.

Canada’s #1 Soundproofing Panel

In retrofit situations, simply mount Sonopan panels to the existing drywall then cover with a second layer of drywall.

The ¾-in.-thick, four-by-eight foot panels weight just 26 lbs. You can cut the panels to size with standard woodworking tools – a circular or track saw attached to a dust extractor is best – and you can use a multitool to cut out openings for electrical switches and outlets. The manufacturer recommends fastening the panels with drywall screws and washers (particularly in overhead situations), but construction staples are another option.

The made-in-Canada panels are manufactured entirely from recycled wood, and do not contain any VOCs.

This item is a sneak peak, looking ahead to our February/March 2020 Interior Finishing issue.



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Joe Pesci puts his Jersey Shore mansion up for sale

Joe Pesci puts his Jersey Shore mansion up for sale

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Joe Pesci puts his Jersey Shore mansion up for sale

Academy Award-winning actor for his role in Goodfellas, Joe Pesci is selling his Jersey Shore waterfront mansion which has been his home for almost 30 years.

Whether as Vinny LaGuardia Gambini, Pesci’s character in My Cousin Vinny, or Nicky Santoro, his mob character with animal-killer instincts in Casino, Pesci’s skilled sense of timing brings his characters to life in a way that few actors can match. And after a lengthy sabbatical, Pesci makes his return to acting with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in a new film, The Irishman, on Netflix starting Nov. 27. In the meantime Pesci has put his Jersey Shore waterfront home up for sale in Lavallette, NJ for US$6.5 million.

West Point Island

Built in 1990, the 7,200-sq.-ft. contemporary with an Art Deco vibe is located in the West Point Island neighborhood, protected from Atlantic storms on Barnegat Bay and only a short bicycle ride to the beach. Bright, airy and spacious and taking full advantage of the beautiful view, the eight-bedroom, eight-bath home has an open floorplan with large rooms perfect for large parties that spill out to the spacious pool terrace at the water’s edge with boat dock beyond. The gated property is completely fenced with a large motor court that can accommodate multiple guests as well as a two-car garage for the owner.

Upon entering, a dramatic free-standing curved staircase sets the stage for the living areas. With white rooms filled with light and the backdrop of the bay through floor-to-ceiling windows, the living room with its two seating areas and pianos hint at musical get togethers. The large eat-in kitchen with island is perfect for preparing large meals for dinner guests in the dining room encircled by glass doors opening to the pool terrace and bay. The comfortable media room walls are decorated with posters from Pesci’s films and because his first job was as a barber, a barber’s chair occupies one corner as a poignant reminder. The upper level, which can also be reached by elevator, contains bedrooms and an office, all with upper terraces and spectacular views. A downstairs party room next to the pool and spa has its own kitchen for entertaining.

Not that Jersey Shore

Many celebrities who were born and raised in New Jersey have homes up and down the Jersey Shore, similar to Pesci. From makeup mogul Bobbi Brown to Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, author Mary Higgins Clark and many more, the shore is awash in glitterati.


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GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

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GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

Representatives from GTA builders and developers recently toured New York City as part of the latest Housing Innovation Tour from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Tour participants met with industry experts from speciality fields and explored new housing, innovative use of land, various product types and learned about new sales and marketing strategies – all intended inspire participants for their projects back at home.

The BILD Housing Tour group, against the backdrop of Manhattan, from River House rental property in Port Imperial, N.J. Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants
The BILD Housing Tour group, against the backdrop of Manhattan, from River House rental property in Port Imperial, N.J. Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants

Highlights of the three-day tour included visits to:

• Hoboken, NJ’s revitalized waterfront, which included a tour of a former Maxwell Coffee House factory site. There, Toll Brothers and Hoboken Brownstone Company have built a lively neighbourhood with midrises, townhouses, parkland and views of Manhattan along the Hudson River.

• DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Domino boroughs in Brooklyn. Both areas are formerly hubs for industry and warehouses, as the Hudson River was once the main transportation artery for coffee, sugar and other goods. Over many years, these neighbourhoods have been converted to luxury residential and mixed-use properties. In fact, DUMBO has become New York City’s fourth-richest community.

• Hudson Yards, NY. A must-visit when in New York City, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the U.S. by area. Upon completion, 13 of the 16 planned structures on the West Side of Midtown South will sit on a platform built over the West Side Yard, a storage yard for Long Island Rail Road trains. The community is home to more than 100 diverse shops and culinary experiences, offices for leaders in industry, significant public art and dynamic cultural institutions. It is also expected to host more than 55,752 workers on a daily basis. Hudson Yards is seen as a cutting-edge model for the future of so-called smart cities – those that leverage data to monitor and manage urban areas.

“Thanks to our trip sponsors, participants had opportunity to enjoy some of the Big Apple’s many cultural elements by experiencing fine culinary foods, visiting historic A&D Building, neighbourhood walking tours and attending an NHL hockey game,” says BILD President Dave Wilkes.

Tour sponsors comprised: Cassidy & Co., Coast Appliances, Figure3, Fisher Paykel, Maroline Inc., My Design Studio and Spectrum Realty. Tour hosts comprised: George Vallone of Hoboken Brownstone Company; Jack Chui of Douglas Elliman Real Estate & Fortis Property Group; Marina Trejo of Two Trees Development; and Natalie West of Related.

Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants


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The Davis Residences supports local holiday heroes toy drive with $2,000 donation

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The Davis Residences supports local holiday heroes toy drive with $2,000 donation

To help put a smile on as many children as possible, the public is encouraged to participate as well. “We’re thrilled to partner with such a wonderful campaign in support of the Salvation Army and Victim Services of York Region,” says Daniel Berholz, president of The Rose Corporation. “Our doors are open to those wishing to donate and help us further our goal to collect as many new toys as we can so that together we can help families in York Region who are having a difficult time over the holidays.”

Developed by The Rose Corporation, The Davis will be located on Parkside at Davis, in the heart of Uptown Newmarket’s Urban Centre. The Davis represents Newmarket’s first new major highrise condominium in more than 30 years and is the first phase of a 4.4-acre master-planned community that will comprise three towers rising above a beautifully landscaped courtyard. The towers will be surrounded by a communal 20,000-sq.-ft. urban park with a children’s playground, which will help to enhance the public realm while at the same time provide a health-conscious and safe social space for local area residents.

The residential community will boast approximately 500 new suites supporting the town’s imminent growth while catering to an increased demand for added turnkey and more affordable residential options.

The contemporary condominium is designed by Toronto architecture firm RAW to meet LEED Silver requirements incorporating the latest in advanced energy-efficient building methods and materials. The building presents a sleek and sophisticated urban design with spacious, liveable suite layouts ranging from one- to three-bedroom configurations priced from the $400s to more than $600,000.

The Davis will also feature outstanding indoor amenities, including a stunning designer lobby and modern lounge with a fireplace and gallery; state-of-the-art fitness centre and yoga studio; elegantly-appointed party room with kitchen; furnished guest suites; kids play room; landscaped rooftop terrace; pet spa and bike racks for those who intend to explore the many attached local bike trails.

Future residents will be in the heart of it all placing them walking distance to a wealth of boutique shops, restaurants, galleries and local services along Main St. Centrally located along a VIVA Rapidway route, just steps to Newmarket GO station, and close to Hwys. 404 and 400, The Davis will be at the heart of this emerging region that is naturally poised for a residential density boost.

For more information, register at thedaviscondos.com. Those interested in making a toy donation should drop-off their brand new, unopened toys at The Davis Sales Office at 693 Davis Dr. in Newmarket before Dec. 10, during its hours of operation: Monday to Wednesday noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. One hundred per cent of the donations directly support families in the York Region community who are in need.


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2150 Lake Shore – inside a City of Toronto Community Planning Meeting

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2150 Lake Shore – inside a City of Toronto Community Planning Meeting

Surely you’ve seen the signs, both literal and figurative: Dormant land sites, hoarding (those often drab and unattractive boards that go up to surround a property), and the most obvious sign of all – a placard from the City of Toronto alerting the public that a development proposal has been submitted to the planning department.

If you live in the affected area, used to frequent a now-shuttered business or otherwise take a particular interest in such possible developments, you may wonder: What’s happening? What are they building here? Who’s behind it? How will it impact the neighbourhood?

Well, do yourself a favour and attend one of these Community Planning Meetings. They’re open to the public, and if you live in or near the affected area, you’re likely to receive an official invitation from the City.

These are the meetings where the public has the opportunity voice their concern or opposition, ask questions, view development plans and actually see what the plan is, who’s behind it and how it will change the area.

In short, it’s democracy and process on display. Literally, city planning in the works, that residents can be a part of.

It’s also a reminder of why this part of the approval process can take time. A lot of time.

Christie’s bakery site

We recently attended one such meeting for the former Christie’s bakery site at Lake Shore and Park Lawn in South Etobicoke. It’s a high-profile parcel of land for many reasons:

  • Its size – 28 acres (in other words, massive).
  • Its history – the former site of the famous Christie’s bread factory, which operated from 1948 to 2013, employing hundreds of workers.
  • The location – the land to the immediate south, the former Lake Shore motel strip, has been under development for years, with about two dozen condos, shops and other amenities going up, revitalizing the Humber Bay Shores community.
  • The plan – an earlier development proposal submitted to the City, which called for dozens more condominiums, raising some concern from residents for over development, worsening already-difficult traffic and transit issues, and generally that it’s all too much, too big, too fast.

2150 Lake Shore

All of this leads us to today, and land owner First Capital Realty’s latest proposal to develop the site, now known, at least temporarily, as 2150 Lake Shore.

First Capital Realty purchased the site at in 2016 from previous owner, Mondelez, and inherited an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board around employment use of the site.

First Capital envisions a thriving, connected mixed-use community, with high-quality urban design that considers present and future community needs, including the potential for a new transit hub.

First Capital Realty initiated formal engagement with the City in January 2017, resulting in a settlement in July 2019, to convert the majority of the site to a Regeneration Area. This would allow for a mix of uses, such as retail, residential and employment through the City’s Secondary Plan process. The settlement allowed First Capital Realty to begin the planning process on the vision for a mixed-use development.

Meanwhile, in 2018 First Capital Realty hosted “idea fairs” to discuss its vision with the community, and “allow attendees to share ideas around re-imagining 2150 Lake Shore as the new dynamic heart of Humber Bay Shores.”

A long-term Secondary Plan process has begun, led by the City, including a number of community engagement sessions – including the one in mid-November we attended, and in October – that is expected to take three to five years.

On Oct. 21, 2019, First Capital officially submitted an Official Plan Application to the City, and says it is committed to ensuring “high stakeholder engagement with more community initiatives to follow in the coming months.’

Ambitious development

The company’s proposal includes seven million sq. ft. of density comprised of one million sq. ft. of retail, office and service-based uses and six million sq. ft. of residential. More than 25 per cent of the site has been dedicated to parks and open community gathering areas. The proposal also includes a new GO Station, TTC bus and streetcar service on-site and a significant investment in road infrastructure, together forming a much-needed transit hub.

“The conversion of the development site to allow for a mixed-use, transit-oriented development represents a critical milestone for our vision of revitalizing this significant property,” says Adam Paul, president and CEO of First Capital.

Humber Bay Shores has experienced above average growth in population density and household income, highlighted by a 65-per-cent increase in the local population since 2011 with above average growth expected over the foreseeable future, according to the company. Currently, there are approximately 270,000 people within five kms of the site, with an estimated average household income of $114,000.

Proposed preliminary plans include:

  • Integrated Park Lawn GO/TTC station
  • Improved road, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to mitigate traffic concerns and create greater connectivity
  • One million sq. ft. of new retail, restaurants, neighbourhood services, office and commercial opportunities
  • Six million sq. ft. of residential, offering a range of housing options
  • More than 25 per cent of the site dedicated to parks and open spaces
  • A Market Hall and covered retail Galleria – a primary gathering space connecting people to places
  • Up to 3,500 new jobs, creating new opportunities for residents to work closer to home

Attending a Community Planning Meeting is an eye-opener. Regardless of whether you have a vested interest, this is where city planning plays out before your very eyes.

In the mid-November meeting for 2150 Lake Shore, hundreds of people packed the room, and you could feel some nervous tension. Moving about the various stations set up to explain First Capital’s plan during the open house portion, more than a dozen City planning staff were on hand to answer questions.

No matter what local residents may have read or heard, these meetings are where they can see the plans, visually understand how the community could change, what it might look like, envision where the new public spaces and amenities will be, and imagine where traffic bottlenecks might result.

When they see that First Capital proposes to build 15 new residential and office towers, from 22 to 71 storeys – yes, with new parks and public spaces and employment, but also as many as 13,000 new residents to the area – people tend to react emotionally.

The conversations were often tense, testing the planners’ patience.

“There’s never enough public parking,” was a common concern. “Make sure they include enough visitor parking for these buildings so street parking doesn’t become a nightmare.”

“And traffic,” was another. “This road here needs to be widened so it doesn’t become a bottleneck.”

Others, more quietly – prospective buyers, investors and realtors – absorb the information for their own purposes.

Through it all, to their credit, City planning staff (outside of the occasional deep breath and slight smile) barely skip a beat, focusing on the project, noting the feedback, making sure people were heard.

Following brief comments from Mark Grimes, City Councillor for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and presentations from City Planner Sabrina Salatino and representatives from First Capital and others, it was back to the open house. More questions, more dialogue, more feedback – with which the City or First Capital may amend the proposal.

That’s city planning, and watching it all unfold is fascinating. We’re going to keep our eye on this one.



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Four reasons to upgrade to a smart home

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Four reasons to upgrade to a smart home

Connected products, once a futuristic technology, are quickly becoming a reality in households across the country. In fact, 5.8 million Canadians regularly used a smart speaker in 2019 – a 51.2-per-cent increase from the previous year, according to eMarketer.

Smart home products are popular because incorporating them into your routine helps make life easier, safer and more cost-effective.

Here are the top four reasons to give your home a smart makeover:

Safety and security

Having the ability to monitor your home from wherever you are is one of the biggest benefits of a smart home. Devices that deliver notifications about everything from intruders to water leaks help homeowners respond quickly and avoid major disasters. For families with children, for example, smart locks can let you know when kids return home from school, while a connected doorbell system can help ensure their safety when the bell rings with mobile access to live video.

Convenience and customization

Smart products streamline common tasks by giving you remote access to everything from thermostats to kitchen appliances. With a simple tap, you can lock your doors or feed the dog, while home or away. You have the ability to program devices to your family’s specific needs and preferences and to customize your smart home system to fit your routine and lifestyle.

Ease and expansion

Many of today’s smart home products can be easily installed. One of the best places to start is with essential devices like a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, such as the Onelink by First Alert Safe & Sound. The three-in-one device functions as a smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm as well as a premium home speaker, and has Amazon Alexa built in. Unlike other smart alarms, it’s designed to work with many interconnected hardwired ones, allowing you to maintain your installed alarms. Thanks to an integrated adaptor plug, installation is easy, with no rewiring required.

The Onelink Safe & Sound makes life easier, from playing music with superior sound to offering hands-free commands with Alexa. At the same time, it protects what matters most, with first-rate smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detection to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Energy efficiency and cost savings

A major part of what makes “smart” devices smart is their ability to save money through improved energy efficiency. Lights can be programmed to turn off automatically and thermostats can be set to a lower temperature during the day while you’re away. You can even track energy usage and expenditures to determine ways to reduce consumption.

Any home can be made smart today. With entertainment, lifestyle and safety features that can enhance your daily routine and provide peace of mind, it’s time to join the smart home revolution.

For more information on the Onelink Safe & Sound and other home safety products from First Alert, visit firstalert.ca


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