Affordable Housing Sector Leads Transition to Energy Efficient Construction in Oxford County

Photo: Can Stock Photo/Babar760

Written by Donna Mayer

 Special to Ontario Construction Report

The first multi-residential unit building built in Woodstock to the Passive House standard for energy efficiency was among the recipients of a pre-election funding announcement this week.

Blossom Park is designed to reduce energy consumption through passive design and the use of energy efficient materials. It seeks to meet conservation goals outlined in the Future Oxford Community Sustainability Plan and be recognized as a leader in environmental action.

The 34-unit rental apartment building was developed by Indwell Community Homes, an established owner-operator of affordable community-based housing in Oxford County and surrounding area.

The new energy efficient project replaces the outdated group home located at 373 Blossom Park Road in Woodstock. It offers affordable, below market rents and support services for people with mental health issues.

Graham Cubitt, director of projects and development at Indwell, says the project was an opportunity to create a high performance building that reaps benefits for the landlord, the tenants, and broader society.

“Energy efficiency is important now and in the future”, says Cubitt, “we are really pleased with the result.” The building opened in July.

Cubitt and his wife moved in for a couple of weeks to experience the lifestyle benefits of Passive House design, and to inform future project development.

“It’s really a great building to live in”, he says. The large triple glazed windows not only reduce energy consumption, but also create a very quiet and sun-filled environment. “You really feel comfortable in the apartment while having natural sunlight,” he says.

Passive House design strategies maximize the use of free, ambient sources of energy to light, heat, cool, and ventilate building spaces, reducing the need for “active” mechanical systems that use energy and cost money to heat, cool, and circulate air.

Passive House standards exceed the Ontario Building Code and is the only internationally recognised, performance-based energy standard in construction. It is considered to be the most rigorous voluntary energy-based standard in the design and construction industry today.

The federal and provincial governments invested $1,126,794 to create 30 affordable housing units in the Blossom Park project, through the Canada-Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) agreement.

Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, along with Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark made the announcement August 7 in Woodstock.

Municipal Service Managers are responsible for the delivery of the federal/provincial funding and contribute their own resources.  In Oxford County, the local municipality primed the pump for energy efficient construction.

Following the adoption of their Community Sustainability Plan, Oxford County added the Passive House standard to their evaluation criteria to all Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for affordable housing developments in 2017.

Since then, the County has hosted numerous information sessions featuring guest speakers with first-hand knowledge and experience to promote the acceptance and utilization of the Passive House standard.

The funding announcement heralded the investment of over $7.8 million to create 130 affordable housing units in eight projects in Oxford County. All eight of the projects were subjected to the raised energy efficiency bar.

Private developers dominated the field of funding contributions announced. Among them were Splitroc Inc. and Filtec Screens Inc.

Toronto-based Splitroc Inc. was awarded both funding and County-owned land by Oxford County on June 28, 2018, following a competitive RFP.

Located at 786 Southwood Way, the project adds 24 units to the existing Woodingford Lodge creating a “campus of care” for seniors in Woodstock.

The project is comprised of four single-storey buildings with private outdoor garden and patio space. All units have accessible features, such as ground-level entryways and grab bars in the bathrooms.

Splitroc Inc. was awarded $1,534,600 for 23 affordable housing units in the project.

Kitchener-based Filtec Screens Inc. was awarded a total of $2,329,530 for two conversion projects in Woodstock.

  • A former school will be converted into a mixed-income rental apartment building at 45 Delatre Street. Thirty-four one-bedroom units will be built with nearly two-thirds to be rented affordable rents, and the balance of 12 units at market rates.
  • In addition, the conversion of a former Church close to the downtown core will render seven one-bedroom units at 34 Riddell Street.

Indwell Community Homes, formerly known as Homestead Christian Care, has provided affordable housing in Southwestern Ontario for more than 40 years.

Their programs support more than 550 households in Hamilton, Woodstock, Simcoe, and London.




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