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Target Zero By Judy Penz Sheluk

Why this non-number is so important in today’s building

In the face of soaring energy costs, growing environmental concerns and an intensifying focus
on personal health, homebuyers, home builders and government bodies are placing more impor-
tance on energy and environment than ever before. Enter Canada Mortgage and Housing Cor-
poration (CMHC), who convened a National Advisory Committee to assist in the development of
the initiative, with participation from Natural Resources Canada, Industry Canada, Environment
Canada, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, the Canadian Solar Industries Association
and the Net Zero Energy Home Coalition.
The result is an active partnership between industry and all levels of government through EQui-
librium Housing, a national residential design-build-demonstration initiative. Through a national
competitive process, builder/develop-led interdisciplinary teams have been chosen to create
healthy, energy- and resource-efficient, grid-tied housing that produces as much energy as it uses
on an annual basis. Out of 72 entries, 12 homes have been selected; three are located in Ontario.

Top of the Here are their stories:

Led by the Sustainable Urbanism Ini- dependent on a housing stock that is storey apartment block, built in 1910,
tiative (SUI), the Top of the Annex diverse, flexible, efficient and affordable and lifted and moved in 1931 to allow for
Townhomes project was designed in in the long term, and responds appropri- street widening. It has been designated
response to the group’s vision for urban ately to consumer preferences and local by the City of Toronto as parking for the
infill housing that meets the needs of ecological needs. apartments. Any new development was
potential homeowners, while helping The Community The Annex is a primarily required by the city to provide parking
to ensure the sustainability of the larger residential neighbourhood which bor- for each apartment unit.
community. The homes: An infill devel- ders the University of Toronto, and has The Solution: Redesign the basement,
opment comprising three townhouses, traditionally been home to many of the which contained a number of under-
two to four bedrooms, depending on university’s faculty and student body. utilized apartments and a mechanical
configuration, approximately 2,500 sq. Tree-lined, one-way streets have beauti- room, into underground parking.
ft. The location: A surface parking lot ful Victorian homes and mansions, most The Problem: The apartment building,
located at 359 Davenport Rd., in the area of them built between 1880 and the early situated to the south of the building site,
of Toronto known as The Annex. 1900s. Many of the original homes have prevents passive solar technology on the
The Pitch To address current environ- been converted into buildings that offer lower levels, thereby eliminating any
mental concerns it is essential to develop multi-tenant apartments. The area also hope for Net Zero.
models of sustainable living in dense boasts a thriving cultural, entertainment The Solution: Create “live/work” units
urban settings. This means housing that and dining scene, and is well served by and flip the three-storey with mezzanine
uses little or no energy, minimizes water public transit. Townhomes in the area plus basement design on its head. As a
use, uses local and recycled materials, typically sell from $900,000 and up. result the main open plan living space is
and creates a healthy indoor environ- Problems & Solutions The Problem: The on the top floor, allowing for year-round
ment. A more sustainable urbanism is site, a paved lot, is adjacent to a three- sun exposure, and includes a double

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Artists rendering of Top
of The Annex Townhomes,
South West perspective

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height living room, a dining room and ing: solar domestic hot water and PV Selected products will be durable and
kitchen. A mezzanine above the main panels covering the roof of each unit; a low-maintenance, with zero ozone
living space can accommodate a den/ ground source heat pump with a bore- depletion, and produced from renew-
library/office, and includes a walkout hole ground loop heat exchanger; an in- able sources by local manufacturers that
terrace. The floor below the living space floor radiant system for thermal comfort have a proven environmental manage-
includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, during winter; a fan coil system for sum- ment record.
including master ensuite. The street level mer cooling; and high efficiency heat It is estimated the renewable energy
‘flex’ space, positioned approximately recovery ventilators. systems and the extra levels of insulation
four feet above the ground, includes a The PV array covers 44 square metres will add approximately $50-60 per sq. ft.
large walk-out terrace. This level can be of roof area with an annual energy pro- to the construction cost of a typically
self-contained and provides for a flex- duction of 6.6 MWh and achieves a score sized townhouse.
ible and sustainable townhouse design on the EnerGuide rating of 102. The solar The Team The Sustainable Urbanism Ini-
– allowing for various combinations hot-water system consists of two solar tiative (SUI) is a consortium of multidis-
of office/additional bedroom/family thermal collectors mounted on the roof ciplinary professionals with a wide range
room/in-law. The lower level includes of each unit, a PV-powered circulation of knowledge essential to the creation of
one parking spot per unit (as required pump, an external heat exchanger, a 454 marketable and sustainable residential
by the City of Toronto) and an alternate K preheat tank, and a 50 L Time of Use projects that aspire to achieve net zero
entrance. (TOU) electric backup hot water tank. energy in urban locations. The project
Facts & Figures To achieve net zero and The daylighting features sufficient team is led by the Toronto-based archi-
be self-sustaining townhomes, the units window design to ensure daylight into tectural firm of Ampas Architect and the
will incorporate energy-efficient fea- the units, with control of glare through Ryerson University’s Faculty of Engineer-
tures such as high levels of insulation fixed solar protection devices. Lights ing, Architecture and Science.
and advanced glazing, and will be fitted are dimmable and connected to motion Learn more about Sustainable Urban-
with renewable energy systems includ- detectors in landing areas and staircases. ism Initiative at

Artists rendering of Top

of The Annex Townhomes,
North East perspective

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