Where Sustainability and Livability Come Together

It’s an exciting time for housing development in Metro Vancouver. To understand the direction of residential building here, it is important to understand what is shaping the homes of today and what will ultimately determine the future of Metro Vancouver.

Livability, densification, sustainability, and increased consumer expectations in home performance – these are great incentives for builders, developers and renovators to look at new ideas, and push the envelope of building science with leading-edge, award-winning solutions.

I reached out to Ovation Award winning HAVAN members for insight into the home building trends they are seeing, are using, and what they want to be seeing in the future.

“The Generation X group, and even millennials, have an ever-increasing expectation for technology that enhances livability,” says Shawn Moran, HAVAN member and home technology expert at Graytek.

“Purchasers want to know that the home they are buying is wired and ready for upgrades in five to 10 years. It is the builders’ responsibility to provide the proper infrastructure in a home for security, network and smart home technology.” He goes on to explain that local telecoms are ramping up fibre optic services to homes, and points out that home builders have to make sure the infrastructure (wiring) in the home is ready for it.

Moran continues, “Homes today have to be at least wired for smart home technology. Proper infrastructure for hi-speed wired and wireless internet, wiring for high definition cameras and music, that can all be remotely accessed on a smart phone, not just a control panel on the wall.”

Just as single-family homes are being wired for the future, new multifamily developments and condominiums are also moving forward, with sound building solutions around densification.

“Improvements to sound transmission reduction may well become a larger focus of the industry; in part due to consumer demand, and in part by municipal direction,” says Eric Andreasen, vice-president of marketing and sales, Adera Development Corp. He cites Adera’s emphasis on improving the acoustic performance of their wood frame buildings, which directly affects the quality of the lives of those who live there. “We have had great success to date with customers commenting on a noticeable reduction in sound transmission.”

Adera’s Shore Project Ltd., winner of the 2016 Ovation Awards Excellence in Building Science in Residential Construction, is a sterling example of how the industry is adapting. Built with an innovative Quiet Home system, test results performed onsite by an acoustic engineer are equal to, or in some cases better than, concrete construction built to code using standard metrics.

Acoustic performance is just one example of how builders are working for solutions to address livability in Vancouver. In an effort to meet consumer expectations, at the same time meeting demand for housing, municipalities are rezoning to allow a broader selection of home choice, and industry standards are also adapting with new zoning and building diversity.

Naikoon Contracting Ltd. was the 2016 Ovation Awards winner for Excellence in Innovation and Sustainability in New Residential Construction. The company’s president, Joe Geluch, says, “‘Net Zero housing is the buzz word that we will continue to hear more and more often over the next few years.”

Designed and built to reduce household energy needs so that the house may produce as much energy as it consumes on a yearly basis, Geluch explains, “The industry has really begun to understand the requirements and importance of minimizing the impact of housing and construction on the environment.”

Energy efficiency and a healthy indoor environment is also of primary importance to Naikoon Contracting Ltd. “Clients are fully aligned with us on our sustainable building practices and eco-friendly principles and these typically are the major reasons we are selected as their builder,” said Geluch.

The evolution of home building is changing so fast, and it’s important to stay educated and keep your team and staff educated and up to speed. And “Not just in your specific trade or craft, but you need a well-rounded education based on the house as an entire system,” according to Geluch.

Consumer preferences and demand in Metro Vancouver real estate are shaping our housing supply for the future. The HAVAN Ovations Awards, now in its seventh year, honour excellence in the design and construction of new single and multi-family homes as well as the renovation of existing homes across Metro Vancouver.