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Encondo Development finalist in CMHC competition.

Callander-based Encondo Development Corporation found itself a finalist when Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) launched its country-wide competition for a home that would annually produce as much energy as it consumes.

"Of the 700 builders across Canada that submitted interest to the CMHC, they selected 20, and we're one of those builders," says Encondo Development owner Janice MacLean.

"This means that our company has been rated in the top 20 of superior builders as far as our competency and knowledge of building sciences and our knowledge of integrating green technologies."

This move places the northern Ontario builder of environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient homes within the second phase of the CMHC's Net Zero Energy Healthy Housing initiative, which seeks to encourage the design of homes featuring resource conservation and reduced environmental impact. Following the candidates' submission of a more detailed set of plans by mid-January, the national project will choose from six to 12 teams by the end of that same month to proceed with the construction and demonstration of their net zero homes.

In preparation for their final submission, Encondo has been working with engineers, ground-source heating experts and a variety of strategic discussions with members of industry and the public to fine-tune their design. While precise details are still under wraps, much of the technology behind Encondo's design reflects their larger dedication to energy efficiency and environmental principles. This includes the use of solar thermal panels to cover the home's hot water needs, while photovoltaic panels would generate the home's electricity needs.

MacLean points out that, due to recent legislation by various levels of government, photovoltaic technology may now also be tied to the power grid. This ensures that a home only needs to draw from the utility system as they need it, and are capable of selling excess generated power back to the system.

Environmentally-friendly components have typically been expensive, but MacLean says not only have certain elements, such as photovoltaics, recently dropped in price, but they pay for themselves over time. Additional Encondo-specific building elements, such as the lack of a basement, reduce health-endangering issues of mold and sub-soil gases, further enhancing its long-term value.

"Your house is going to last forever," she says. "You're not going to have to put new shingles on your house, you're not going to have to worry about mold damage, and you're not going to have to worry about a stinky basement. You're going to be able to grow old in this home because you're not going to have to wonder if you'll be able to get up and down the stairs."

The move towards net zero homes is not an entirely new concept, she says, and Canada is just now starting to catch onto a trend that has global appeal.

MacLean expects that legislation will find the housing market changing drastically within the next five to 25 years as environmental and energy efficiency standards such has R-2000 and EnergyStar guidelines start becoming legally enforceable, rather than just a feature for green-minded homeowners. Having recently built Ontario's first R-2000 / EnergyStar-compliant home, Encondo is already ahead of the curve.

MacLean says these types of efforts, such as their successful net zero entry, represent not only the growing market demand for energy efficiency, but also a mental shift for the future of green living and home construction in the North.


Northern Ontario Business
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Author:Stewart, Nick
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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