Video on the Fourth Pig produced by Georgian College's Senco initiative

The Fourth Pig is featured in a short video by Senco - an initiative of Georgian College’s Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation (CCSI). "Senco inspires, connects and equips those looking to engage in social enterprise to face cultural, environmental and social challenges in our region. We work with social enterprises, budding social entrepreneurs, organizations, intermediaries and community leaders to support innovative economic approaches to strengthen our communities. Our goal is to be the bridge to new knowledge, resources and supporting business practices to achieve financial growth and sustainability through social enterprise."

We are excited to be able to share a bit of what we do and why we do it in this short video.
 

New "Force of Nature" brings good news in green building and renewable energy.

About once a month we put a free newsletter out highlighting news in green building and sustainable energy. In this edition we have a few pieces of good news and all of interesting, check it out!. 

 

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Building up! Some good news

Yes, we have some good news this month! Canada got its first certified Living Building Challenge building, California is ahead of schedule on reducing greenhouse gases, and Canadian students are competing in the Solar Decathlon. We also have news on doors (not the band), and a data-hungry green building at Harvard. Plus, if you are in Toronto this September check out the event "How Buildings Can (Help) Save the World".

Thanks for reading!

Education centre is Canada's first certified living building challenge building

In June the the Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre in Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario became the first certified Living Building Challenge building in Canada and one of only 21 in the world to achieve full certification. According to Construction Canada Amanda Sturgeon, CEO of the International Living Future Institute said “The Centre is a model example of humanity’s ability to reconcile our relationship with nature.”

Certification from the Living Building Challenge requires at least one year of data from occupancy demonstrating performance across a number of areas including including energy, water use and more. The goal is that Living Building Challenge buildings "give more than they take". 

The architectural firm DIALOG designed the building. Charles Marshall, sustainability associate at DIALOG, said in a piece in Canadian Architect that  “The biggest leap forward from standard practice that we can apply to any future project, and our greatest challenge, was pursuing the ‘red list’ requirement to eliminate chemicals of concern. We spent over three years researching and requesting ingredient lists and health product declarations from our suppliers in order to be compliant, and by the end of the project, wrote several hundred letters of advocacy asking for improved transparency.”

The building's other accolades and certifications are:

• Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification
• Public Project of the Year – American Public Works Association
• Public Project of the Year – Ontario Public Works Association Canadian
• Green Building Award – Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC)
• Leadership Award – Forest Stewardship Council
• Environmental Building Award – Canadian Wood Council

See video below for a look at the building! 
 
Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship & Education Centre

No screaming fans but these doors are tight

They may not light your fire but higher performance doors are making a difference. As Construction Canada observed "Regardless of location, air leakage and air exchange are two of the biggest issues facing architects, designers, and facility managers when it comes to specifying commercial rolling doors for conditioned warehouse spaces across the country."

New high performance doors, with better insulation, seals and opening/closing speeds, can have a real affect on the energy efficiency of buildings. Construction Canada reports that "Some rolling doors can decrease air infiltration by as much as 95 per cent, and manufacturers estimate savings of up to $1215 per door with a two-year return on investment (ROI) when selecting an energy efficient rolling door for the appropriate climate zone." Rock on

California met 2020 GHG targets in 2016
 

It's not news that most news on global warming is bad news. California though is offering up a bit of something to cheer; data released this month shows that the state hit its Greenhouse Gas Emission targets for 2020 in 2016. Environmental Defense shared that "This was the fourth year in a row of emissions reductions in California, where emissions dropped by 3% (12 MMt CO2e) between 2015 and 2016. Emissions fell 13% (64 MMt CO2e in 2016) compared against 2004, when emissions in the state peaked." Things look up a bit!

17 million data points a day test green reno

"Housezero" is a pre 1940's stick built home that Harvard University converted to the headquarters of the Centre for Green Building and Cities. Housezero, as Harvard Magazine reported, has "zero carbon emissions, zero electricity required from the grid, zero electric lighting needed during daylight hours, and zero fossil-fuel-driven heating and cooling."

It also is collecting 17 million data points a day run and test the building. "The data flow from two types of sensors. Some are critical to the operation of the building: for example, controlling the system of windows and shades in response to inputs about temperature, rain, wind direction, and indoor CO2 levels and air flows. Other sensors, purely observational, are intended to generate insights into optimizing the relationship between indoors and outdoors, while maximizing the health and comfort of the building’s occupants."

Notably, the original plan for the building included accounting for embodied carbon but as "many tons of concrete mass were added in the floors between stories during its renovation" the embodied carbon number is likely not very favourable. Still, it will be interesting to see what data and software comes out of the research. 

Canadian students compete in home building competition in China

29 students and professors from Concordia and McGill are building a net zero home as part of the Solar Decathlon competition in China according to CBC. The house is targeted to use 80% less energy than a typical home and to produce enough energy from solar panels to operate the home. The home is a modular design and is inspired by Montreal row houses and traditional Chinese siheyuan courtyard architecture. Listen to a CBC radio piece on the project right here

Image: TeamMTL

Toronto, don't miss "How Buildings Can (Help) Save The World"

Leading green builders encourage Ontario to improve building rebate program

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An effective green building program will help homeowners save money.

While disappointed that the Ontario government cancelled the newly minted GreenON rebate program, we urge the government to replace it with a reinstated Eco-Energy Audit program, an effective approach that will help homeowners reduce energy bills in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

The GreenON program provided rebates for insulation, windows, geothermal, and air source heat pumps. While it offered homeowners an opportunity to offset capital costs to save money in the long-term, the program was limited in what it covered and required no third-party verification. Most concerning was the program’s support for high-carbon products rather than healthier, more low carbon and effective alternatives. Had GreenON continued, we would have strongly encouraged specific improvements.

The Ontario PC Party’s platform earmarked more than $500 million for environmental efforts. We encourage the new government to prioritize building retrofits. Buildings are the third largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario due to the energy used for heating and cooling and the embodied energy in building materials. Helping homeowners reduce their homes’ carbon footprint represents an opportunity to help them be part of the solution, while reducing their energy bills and contributing to local economies throughout the province. As the UN has stated: ‘Sustainable Buildings are the most cost effective solution to climate change’”.

By reinstating and modernizing the Eco-Energy Audit program, the province will offer homeowners cost and environmentally effective solutions to improve their home’s energy performance. Trained and certified energy auditors will provide third-party advice on “best-bang-for-your-buck” actions that homeowners share with their contractors to improve energy efficiency, home comfort and health. Work will be confirmed and tested by Energy Auditors to determine the rebate amount. Their oversight will ensure that energy retrofits are implemented effectively.

In addition to the Eco-Energy Audit program, we encourage the government to implement mandatory energy rating as a pre-sale requirement of homes. The Home Energy Rating and Disclosure (or HER&D) is a policy that is supported by the Ontario Home Builders Association among others. 

To reduce the embodied carbon in buildings, we ask the government to start a Life Cycle Assessment, which is a means of carbon accounting, as part of the building permit process.  

We have seen firsthand the effectiveness of Ontario’s former Eco-Energy program as a transparent, accountable and effective means to reduce a home’s carbon footprint and energy bills. We ask the government to reinstate it as soon as possible.

Signed:

Fourth Pig Green & Natural Construction and Greening Homes Ltd. 

New "Force of Nature" focuses on Living Building Challenge

We are passionate about sustainable building and like to share the stories we are reading with the world through our newsletter Force of Nature. Our most recent edition features a few stories about the Living Building Challenge plus events and more. 

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Don't miss it! September 11 in Toronto come hear Chis Magwood in a free talk: "How Buildings Can (Help) Save The World"

Climate change, indoor environment quality and ecosystem depletion are three major issues for the building industry and Chris Magwood has spent his career working toward practical, affordable solutions. Come and learn how the answers to these pressing concerns overlap nearly perfectly, solving any one of these issues conveniently creates solutions for all three.

Chris Magwood is currently the executive director of The Endeavour Centre, a not-for-profit sustainable building school in Peterborough, Ontario. He is co-editor of the Sustainable Building Essentials series from New Society Publishers, and is a past editor of The Last Straw Journal, an international quarterly of straw bale and natural building. 

This talk is part of Toronto Public Library's Civil Society series and part of the Fourth Pig's speaker series "Pig Tales".

Other environmental workshops and educational opportunities include: People and Planet Calendar, the Green Building Council, Flemming College, the Endeavour Centre, the Kortright Centre for Conservation, Passive Buildings Canada, Algonquin College, and Oakanagan College.

 

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Rising to the challenge

Recently stories about the Living Building Challenge have been popping up, probably a good sign for one of the world's toughest building standards, and we have three Living Building Challenge stories here. We also have video on a Passive House affordable housing project (that we are proud to have worked on), an exciting event announcement and more. 

Thanks for reading!

Georgia Tech going down the Living Building Challenge path

The Kendeda Building for Sustainable Innovative Design at Georgia Tech is under construction and will be picking up some Living Building Challenge petals. Daniel Matisof, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, reported that Georgia Tech will be pursuing certification. "A new certification program inevitably involves increased challenges and costs associated with documentation and verification of performance. Significant investments in human knowledge and know-how need to occur in order to reach certification. By laying out a path to achieve Living Building certification, Georgia Tech can reduce costs for future adopters and increases the probability that other organizations undertake similar efforts," said Matisof. 

The aim is to be the first major Living Building Challenge 3.0 certified education and research facility in the American southeast. You can learn more and follow the progress of the building here. Also see this short video on the project:
The Kendeda Building For Innovative Sustainable Design

Difficult marriage: project goes for Passive House and Living Building Challenge certifications

In the fall when the Fourth Pig was tabling at an event there were a few exhibitors with composting toilets and we asked them about how the venting worked with a Passive House and they weren't sure. Now, as Lloyd Alter reports in TreeHugger, the issue has come to, ahem, a head.

The Nuthatch Hollow building at Binghampton University is small but dreams big. As Alter says "They are trying to certify the building for both Passive House (PHIUS) and Living Building Challenge, and the two programs don't always play nice with each other. . . it is a little building, a lab and a multifunction room and some washrooms. But in the Living Building Challenge you can't have regular washrooms; you have to process all your waste on site, so many LBC buildings have composting toilets. These Clivus Multrum composters require lots of air to keep them from smelling, but Passive House buildings control the volume of air. So they have to put Heat Recovery Ventilators on the exhaust for the toilets and treat them as their own little separate world. (I asked why they couldn't run the toilet exhaust through the main HRV and was told that they were using ERVs or energy recovery ventilators, which can leak a bit.)"

There are also issues of materials that can and cannot be used in the Living Building Challenge and the challenge of getting what is needed for Passive House. Hats off to Ashley McGraw for the marriage of PH and LBC!

Image:  Ashley McGraw

Winery tasting room awarded Living building Challenge

Last year we reported that the Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden in Oregon was built to the Living Building Challenge. Now it has received certification, making it one of twenty buildings in the world with that distinction according to a report in the DJC Oregon. “We’re the first tasting room in the world, and the first business to achieve it in Oregon,” Cowhorn owner Bill Steele said. “We’re the only small business in the world to have achieved the materials petal, which means everything, down to the last screw, was vetted.”

Latin America looking to bio-based building materials

According to Youris.com, Latin America is turning to bio-materials in buildings. Citing a recent study, Youris.com says "Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru have carried out different measures ranging from relevant tax cuts to soft loans for sustainable construction." As readers know bio-based materials, such as straw bales, can sequester carbon and are highly sustainable. Projects in Latin America have ranged from straw bale to "super-adobe" earth bag buildings

Affordable Passive House buildings

One of the reasons we at the Fourth Pig are fans and practitioners of the Passive House approach is that it has great potential for affordable housing. With very low and very predictable energy bills, lower-income folks have a significant housing barrier removed. The Fourth Pig has acted as the envelope consultant for the Parkdale Landing project in Hamilton Ontario (plus we installed a bunch of windows). Check out this video on the whole project:
Boots on the Ground: Graham and Emma Cubitt on Passive House multi-residential affordable housing

How Buildings Can (Help) Save The World

Save the date! September 11 in Toronto come hear Chis Magood in a free talk: "How Buildings Can (Help) Save The World"

Climate change, indoor environment quality and ecosystem depletion are three major issues for the building industry and Chris Magwood has spent his career working toward practical, affordable solutions. Come and learn how the answers to these pressing concerns overlap nearly perfectly, solving any one of these issues conveniently creates solutions for all three.

Chris Magwood is currently the executive director of The Endeavour Centre, a not-for-profit sustainable building school in Peterborough, Ontario. He is co-editor of the Sustainable Building Essentials series from New Society Publishers, and is a past editor of The Last Straw Journal, an international quarterly of straw bale and natural building. 

This talk is part of the Fourth Pig's speaker series "Pig Tales"

Don't forget that great places to check for environmental workshops and educational opportunities include: People and Planet Calendar, the Green Building Council, Flemming College, the Endeavour Centre, the Kortright Centre for Conservation, Passive Buildings Canada, Algonquin College, and Oakanagan College.

 
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Go behind the scenes for passive house multi-residential affordable housing project

The Fourth Pig has been acting as an air-tightness consultant (including doing some air sealing and window installs) for Indwell's Parkdale Landing project (architects: Invizij) It will include 57 units of affordable housing, a neighbourhood Food Centre and commercial space.

Get the details on this project from a presentation at Passive Buildings Canada's event Boots on the Ground:

We are hiring (Muskoka)

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Passionate about green building? Want to build better buildings? Want to be part of a growing mission-based organization? Fourth Pig Green & Natural Construction is hiring. Successful candidates for all of these positions are keenly interested in environmentally, natural, sustainable and energy efficient building techniques.

We are hiring in Muskoka (usually within an hour of Huntsville). 

Muskoka
We are hiring for the following positions:

  • Carpenter
  • Skilled Labourer

Detailed descriptions of the positions are listed below.

Please note all positions require a smart phone. 

Our mission is to foster ecologically balanced methods of construction and energy production in order to promote more sustainable and healthy communities. The Fourth Pig consults on, renovates and builds low-carbon, energy efficient buildings. We work primarily in the GTA, the Golden Horseshoe and Muskoka areas.

To apply please send resume and cover letter to info@fourthpig.org. Your cover letter should include a statement of your environmental interest/experience. The Fourth Pig offers competitive wages commensurate with experience/expertise. Please include your wage expectations.  Please include the job title (or titles) in your subject line and please no calls.  

This is a rolling call for positions and they will be filled ASAP. 

Workers in the Fourth Pig may be eligible to become worker-owners after a period of work.   The Fourth Pig encourages members of equity seeking groups to apply. We are an LGBTQ positive environment. 



Muskoka: Carpenter

Wage range: $25-35/hour

Responsibilities:

The carpenter position focuses on performing a range of carpentry and construction related tasks.  The carpenter may also lead apprentice carpenters in tasks. The carpenter will assist in maintaining a safe and efficient job site and take on tasks as needed. Work includes building foundations, installing floor beams, laying sub-flooring and installing walls and roofing systems;
fitting and installing trim, doors, stairs, moulding and hardware; measuring, cutting and joining materials made of wood or wood substitutes, metal, straw and other building materials;  repairing and renovating wooden and other structures; erect scaffolding, site cleaning. Finish carpentry, framing and other construction skills related to renovations, additions and new builds

Skills/Requirements:
 

  • Have 10+  years construction site experience, with strong skills in framing, finish carpentry, and experience in renovations and additions
  • Knowledge of and experience in green and natural  building techniques and products an asset
  • Experience and knowledge of Passive House techniques is an asset
  • Comfortable reading and interpreting floor plans and blueprints
  • Strong ability to do take offs and order materials
  • Knowledge of the current Ontario Building Code as it applies to residential low-rise and light-commercial construction 
  • Fall protection, WHMIS and first aid training.  Additional related training an asset
  • Own a full compliment of tools
  • Posses a valid Class G driver’s license with insurance
  • Posses a reliable vehicle, (possession of a vehicle capable of moving large materials, such as lumber)
  • Ability to arrive reliably on time to job sites in the Huntsville Ontario area and transport tools as required

Physical ability requirements:

  • Work an 8 hour day of physical labour
  • Work inside and outside 
  • Ability to lift 50lb over a sustained period of time
  • Ability to safely carry out a full slate of physical demands throughout a work day of construction such as climbing ladders and scaffold, reaching and lifting overhead, shoveling

Muskoka: Skilled Labourer


Wage range: $18-24/hour


Responsibilities:

The skilled labourer reports to the lead carpenter or working site supervisor as assigned.  The skilled labourer will assist in maintaining a safe and efficient job site and take on tasks as needed.

Skills/Requirements:

  • Have minimum 1 to 2 years construction site experience
  • Some basic tools an asset
  • Actively working towards improving skill level
  • Experience in renovations and additions
  • Experience, knowledge of or at least keen interest in environmentally and energy efficient building techniques
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Fall protection WHMIS and first aid training.  Additional related training an asset
  • Ability to arrive reliably on time to job sites in the Huntsville Ontario area and transport tools as required

Physical ability requirements:

  • Work an 8 hour day of physical labour
  • Work inside and outside throughout the year
  • Ability to lift 50lb over a sustained period of time
  • Ability to safely carry out a full slate of physical demands throughout a work day of construction such as climbing ladders and scaffold, reaching and lifting overhead, shoveling
     

 

Project Fourth Pig are consultants on project featured on CBC and Tree-hugger

 Image: Invizij Architects

Image: Invizij Architects

In Hamilton Ontario the community agency Indwell continues to build affordable housing and now is working toward Passive House. The Fourth Pig is proud to be the air-tightness consultants (plus we will be doing some detailing) for the Parkdale Landing Project. The designers on these projects are Invizij Architects.

Getting to the full Passive House standard on a renovation is very difficult but following the  Passive House approach, you can get a very good building. Lloyd Alter at Treehugger reviews some of the numbers in his piece on these Hamilton projects.  

The CBC also ran a piece on how the Passive Standard is being used in affordable housing (including the Parkdale Landing Project).  At the Fourth Pig we have long advocated for all affordable housing buildings to be Passive House. Passive House not only reduces the hard to pay fluctuating heating and cooling bills by a huge percentage (often 70-90%) it provides comfort and reduces greenhouse gases. 

We are proud to be working on these exciting inititatives! 

 

 

 

Energiesprong and the push for energy efficient social housing retrofits

 Image: Source: http://energiesprong.eu/

Image: Source: http://energiesprong.eu/

This piece is taken from our newsletter "Force of Nature" see more and subscribe here.

Energiesprong ("energy leap") is an initiative launched in the Netherlands that is gaining interest around the globe. At the building level companies make prefabricated exterior wall and roof additions that can be put in place in about a week, essentially wrapping the house. The roof contains solar panels. In the Netherlands government support has been used to support the approach to social housing units with aims to have 100,000 units completed. To work economies of scale are important but homes are getting renovated right now. No word if they are using carbon sequestering materials. See videos below for more on how this works. 

The Pembina Institute recently wrote about the need to retrofit B.C's housing, particularly affordable housing and cited energiesprong as one possible model to draw on. Pembina will be launching an Affordable Housing Renewal Project which aims to "demonstrate that the challenges of aging, unhealthy buildings can be addressed with a solution that is affordable, fast, and scalable, while reducing carbon pollution and helping the province meet its climate commitments." 

The Energiesprong website lists France, the UK, Germany and New York State as other locations where initiatives are happening. However, this month the Rocky Mountain Institute was awarded funds for "Experimental Envelope Fabrication Process for Integrated Zero Energy Ready Multifamily Renovations." 

PHIUS and the Net Zero Energy Coalition (NZEC) are partners in this project. PHIUS reports that "This grant allows RMI, PHIUS and NZEC to develop high performance building envelope assemblies for new and retrofit buildings. PHIUS will take the lead in developing retrofit standards and industry guidance for single family and multifamily homes, and will oversee monitoring, measurement, and quality assurance for prototypes and pilot projects"  Katrin Klingenberg, Director of PHIUS, said "Tailoring envelope assemblies to climate zones is critical to making high performance buildings affordable and effective. “It is the most cost effective route to zero. We are excited to help in creating standards and design guidelines that make zero energy buildings possible everywhere.”

Wrapping buildings isn't a new idea, in fact we wrote about it in this newsletter awhile back. What is different here is the attempt to do it on a large scale, with full wall and roof systems, quickly so that residents can remain on site and with a focus on social housing. We will hear more about this approach in the months and years to come.  

The first video below explains the basic idea of Energiesprong and the second is a video of a one day Energiesprong retrofit:

An introduction to energiesprong

"Renovation in a day"- footage of an Energiesprong project

Fourth Pig Celebrates 10th Birthday!

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Happy Birthday to us! Ten years ago Melinda Zytaruk, Sally Miller, Glen Byrom and Matthew Adams decided to launch a different kind of organization that would build buildings differently. Ten years ago we launched the Fourth Pig. Ten Years ago, on May 31st 2007, we were officially incorporated. 
 
One of our main concerns was and is the impact that buildings have on climate change. When it comes to affecting climate change changing the way we build is super low-hanging fruit. The United Nations reports that buildings account for 30% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. If you want to affect climate change you have to change the way buildings are built.

We were and also remain committed to the use of non-toxic healthy materials. People spend a lot of time in buildings and what is in them matters to the health of the occupants. Out of these perspectives came our mission:  to foster ecologically balanced methods of construction and energy production in order to promote more sustainable and healthy communities.
 
To begin we incorporated as a worker cooperative. Worker co-ops are owned and operated by its members and as we promoted a different, more sustainable way of building, we wanted our organization to reflect a more sustainable model- one where workers not only a voice, but real control and shared responsibility for the organization. We also made the company a non-profit, with a commitment to providing public education around sustainability and resilience. 
 
Ten years later we are still at it. 
 
The organization has grown with amazing new members and we have a completed a number of interesting projects. We continue to be committed to energy efficient, low-carbon buildings and are active in promoting green building through talks, trainings, articles, open-houses, and social media. Of course we are walking the talk by building and renovating in a way that promotes the health of the building occupants and the health of the planet. 
 
Thank you to everyone in the green building and co-op communities for supporting our work over the last decade. We look forward to the next amazing ten years!
 
 

Getting it together through integrated design

This piece is taken from our newsletter "Force of Nature" see more and subscribe here.

If we want to change the way that buildings are made, then we should unsurprisingly, change the way buildings are made. Most of the focus on building differently has to do with constructing more energy efficient buildings and sometimes paying attention to the embodied carbon in the materials used in the construction process. More and more though people working on green buildings are changing the process of putting a building together. 

The common way of getting a building made is, broadly speaking, to have the different parties work in isolation ( architect, structural engineer, electric engineer, etc), plans are made and builders bid on a plan, hire subcontractors and it moves forward.  Another approach is what is called "integrated design". As Natural Resources Canada explains "An integrated design process (IDP) involves a holistic approach to high performance building design and construction. It relies upon every member of the project team sharing a vision of sustainability, and working collaboratively to implement sustainability goals. This process enables the team to optimize systems, reduce operating and maintenance costs and minimize the need for incremental capital. IDP has been shown to produce more significant results than investing in capital equipment upgrades at later stages."

In IDP the whole team (owner, architect, engineers, builders) come together to plan and design a project. However, there is a particular need when undertaking green building. The Green Building Alliance argues that "The enhanced definition [of Integrated Design], however, includes the collaboration of what these various team members are working around:  climate, building design, use, and systems. Around 70% of the decisions associated with environmental impacts are made within the first 10% of the design process."

In some projects the goal is to go beyond those directly working on a building, to residents, neighbors, local businesses. If we are going to change our building standards our success will require changing the process of design and construction itself.  For more see this piece from Green Building Advisor and the video below which gives a strong overview of the importance of stakeholders working together from day one.