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Green Housing Becomes Standard for Ottawa Homebuilders

green-housingStarting December 31, 2011 all homebuilders must begin to observe the stricter energy standards set forth by the Ontario Building Code, making all homes “greener.” The standard, known as EnerGuide 80, is centred on air leaks, sealants, heat loss resistance, window quality and other aspects that influence the efficiency of a property.

Homebuilders, like Tartan, must differentiate themselves on other aspects besides building “green” houses. Tartan, already foreseeing this change, says that energy efficiency is not part of their marketing or sales proposition.

“People glaze over when you try to sell a house on the merits of its payback period,” says Bruce Nicol, vice-president of Tartan Homes.

Tartan, like many of the others, uses many eco-friendly features in their homes to make them Energy Star rated or above. But many homebuilders use their Energy Star ratings to sell homes. It is their key differentiating point. Now that the new EnerGuide 80 will become the standard (which basically makes all Energy Star homes standard too), builders need to find a new marketing edge to leverage their business to customers.

During an industry tour of Ottawa’s green homes, Mr. Nicols said, “As building codes advance in the coming years, we’re going to have to up our marketing strategies. You have to make people feel that they’re living in a place that is a little bit different.”

The other choice is for homebuilders to distinguish themselves by constructing homes with features that far surpass the Energy Star and EnerGuide 80 standard. Urbandale’s Riverside South development has an R-2000 rating, which is 40 percent above the standard building codes. Although the requirements are more painstaking to achieve, Natural Resources Canada quotes the standard as the “leading edge of cost effective energy efficient technology.”

While various Ottawa homebuilders try to figure out how to set themselves apart from their competition, they should keep in mind that most home buyers are looking for outstanding values, therefore affordability is always key in marketing and selling homes.

To find out more about energy efficient homes, contact Chris Coveny at A seasoned real estate professional, Chris can help you buy or sell your Ottawa-area home.

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