Wrighthaven Homes – September 2020

When it comes to energy efficient housing, Steven Wright of Wrighthaven Homes has been at the forefront leading the way. Founded in 1990, Wrighthaven Homes began their journey in building high performance homes early on with the construction of their first R2000 home in 1992.

This R2000 home was built for a family with a child who suffered with Cystic Fibrosis and whose long-term prognosis was not good. After moving in, the family found the health conditions of the home played a significant positive role in their lives, and they are thrilled to report that against all odds, their child is still with them today.

"We have a mission to build the best quality home for the money that customers are willing to spend. We are motivated to "build homes for people, not houses for profit!" Quality, Integrity, and Trust are three operative words for our company.", shared Steven.

This mission has led them to build R2000, ENERGY STAR® and EnerGuide homes over the years, and most recently CHBA Net Zero Energy Ready and CHBA Net Zero Homes.

A CHBA Net Zero Home produces as much clean energy as it uses in a calendar year. With the homes built at up to 80% more efficient than code-built homes, they use very little energy to operate. For the energy they do require, they use renewable energy to offset that demand. A CHBA Net Zero Ready Home is constructed in the same way as a Net Zero Home, however the renewables have not yet been added to the home. Should the homeowner choose to add them at a later date, the home could then qualify to be a CHBA Net Zero Home.

As part of a pioneering group of builders, Wrighthaven Homes is leading the way again, with the announcement of their all Net Zero Energy Ready site, Granwood Gate subdivision in Elora, Ontario. All homes in this sub-division will be built to CHBA Net Zero Energy Ready specifications, with some purchasers going all the way to Net Zero through the addition of renewable energy (solar panels) added to their homes.

The subdivision is the first one in the municipality to have new Multi-Use Pathways connecting it to the Cataract trail system and links to downtown Elora. Wrighthaven Homes is generously finishing a park in the community with interconnecting trail systems leading to both downtown Elora, the Cataract trail and Multi-Use Pathways. The site has a large fully landscaped environmental pond that serves to manage storm water.

Building to Net Zero is not something a builder stumbles into. This requires thoughtful planning from site development through to the specific home plans being built. It requires a clear understanding of building science principles and training of staff and trades to know the "how and why" of building high performance homes. The Granwood Gate site was carefully planned so that the street orientations in concert with roof geometries are optimized for solar generation conditions should photo-voltaic solar panels be added to the homes. Careful consideration was paid to ensuring the panels would not be required on the highly visible front elevations of the homes.

The structural components of the homes have been engineered and constructed using advanced framing techniques that optimize lumber usage and therefore the thermal performance of the wall. Special attention is paid to ensuring the home is carefully detailed and there are no wasteful air leaks. A proper fresh filtered air exchange system that reduces significant energy loss is installed which also increases occupant comfort and improves indoor air quality. The insulation of the walls, roof and below the basement slab combined with right-sized mechanical systems that distribute conditioned air evenly, result in even temperatures throughout the home, on all floors and in all rooms. The triple-pane low-solar glass windows conscientiously keep the rooms warm in the winter, with no "drafty window" sensations and cool in the summer. The low solar glass feature reduces the sun's UV rays entering into the home that typically result in hot spaces, faded flooring and interior finishes, and an overtaxing of the air cooling units. The choice of windows has a significant bearing on the overall comfort and performance of the home, and is therefore a key feature in Net Zero homes.

"This site is a perfect example of the direction of developing for Healthy Growth Community requirements.", said Steven. "Our site seems to be perfectly positioned or aligned with the mandate of this Communities Healthy Growth Committee. The virtue of the committee is to answer the question "we are mandated to grow but how to grow in Centre Wellington smart.", which means utilizing resources efficiently within the community, reducing burdens of infrastructure making good places to live within a community that addresses transportation, infrastructure, reduction carbon footprint building, increasing liveability by creation of greenspaces, reducing water use and promoting natural water infiltration back into the ground."

"As a home builder we need to constantly improve techniques, products installation practices and definitely address the next big issue - water preservation. In addition, we will need to reduce our waste within the industry. Engineered products and offsite component construction is an answer to this problem." concluded Steven.

The construction industry is on a path of continual improvement with more builders and renovators stepping up to the plate each day. Thanks to industry leaders like Steven Wright and Wrighthaven Homes, they pave the way for others to move toward a future of sustainable development in construction that is a benefit for the industry, the environment and the residents that dwell in these homes and communities.

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Originally published by Stefanie Coleman on LinkedIn.