Reid’s Heritage Homes
Reid’s Heritage Homes is a family-owned business that has been building innovative, quality homes in Ontario since 1978. Based in Cambridge, Ontario, Reid’s Heritage Homes builds both single- and multi-family homes, ranging from mid-rise condos to custom estates. They have numerous divisions in well-planned communities in northern and Southwestern Ontario, the Bruce region and Collingwood.
Regardless of the type of home that buyers select, each customer receives exceptional service as well as a high-quality home built with a commitment to environmental sustainability.
The Net Zero program
Reid’s Heritage Homes, along with a few other builders, was selected by the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to participate in a “Net Zero” initiative. A Net Zero home is a home that produces as much energy as the average user consumes. This is achieved by adding energy producing features that rely on renewable sources, such as solar panels, and constructing the home to improve air sealing and overall efficiencies. NRCan partnered with Owens Corning to come up with a program to test the ambitious objective put forth by the American Association of Architects that by 2030, all homes could be built as Net Zero homes.
While lavish, custom-built Net Zero homes have existed for years, NRCan added one final twist to the project: building these houses for the mainstream public and including low-rise production builders, using products accessible to the average builder. The national project guarantees construction of a minimum of 25 Net Zero homes in four provinces, working with five builders. Reid’s Heritage Homes is proud to be one of these five prestigious builders, representing Southwestern Ontario in the construction of five Net Zero homes in the master-planned Guelph-based Westminster Woods community. The first of the five Net Zero homes was completed just this May.
As part of their Net Zero project, Reid’s Heritage Homes has partnered with the University of Guelph, specifically with the College of Business and Economics and the College of Physical and Engineering Science.
“Our relationship with the University of Guelph has really grown to encompass so much more than studying occupant behaviour in the homes. A number of groups from the university have worked to develop a dashboard to model the production and consumption of energy. The application prototypes encourage reduction in energy through reminders and home maintenance items, thereby changing behavioural habits of occupants. We are proud to be teamed up with the high level of educational standards that the University of Guelph has exhibited,” says Jennifer Weatherston, Director of Innovation for Reid’s Heritage Homes.
Building a Net Zero home
“Modern Thinking. Timeless Values.” is a motto that Reid’s Heritage Homes takes very seriously, as the company has a history of environmental responsibility. They built the first North American LEED Platinum Home in Canada in 2007, and were the first home builder to receive the Energy Star Builder of the Year Award from NRCan in 2012. Even with this background in sustainable practices, building their first Net Zero home came with some exciting new challenges.
“It’s a very exciting experience. All of the homes that we are building are Energy Star certified, but the Net Zero homes really challenged us to be cost effective as that’s part of the NRCan project. We have to show innovation and cost conservation so it’s more friendly to the production environment of home building,” explains Weatherston. “With the first home, we learned many lessons related to construction, timing and the use of different products. Net Zero really forced us to inspect the quality and practices of our installations.”
These practices involve utilizing optimal framing techniques as well as adding increased insulation within the walls (including basement walls), attics and basement floors, coupled with a beefed-up wall assembly to accommodate the wall insulation. There are also advanced air sealing details through the use of Owens Corning’s Code Board Air Barrier system, which dramatically reduces air leakage of the homes. The homes have triple pane windows by JELD-WEN Windows, for enhanced comfort and insulation while providing noise reduction. The homes incorporate leading technology in heating and cooling using air sourceheat pump components by Dettson for a gas backup option or a full electric option through Mitsubishi. Due to the superior air sealing in the homes, energy recovery ventilation units by Vanee provide the needed fresh air ventilation to improve overall air quality. The homes come equipped with LED lighting and Energy Star appliances. The hot water tanks, by Rheem, are hybrid air source tanks, and a drain water recovery system unit captures energy from showers and uses it to pre-warm water going into the tank.
Reid’s Heritage Homes is also showcasing traditional solar panels through Bluewater Energy in addition to new technology through the Building Integrated Solar Panel installation from Strathcona Energy Group. The integrated system enhances the longevity of the roof and installs directly onto the roof structure, creating a weather barrier and a durable surface to produce energy without requiring shingle installation as with traditional solar panels.
When totaling the cost of purchasing a Net Zero home in comparison to the savings in utility bills, it nets out to zero or close to a negative number. In code-built homes, 54% of the energy consumed is spent on heating and cooling, averaging 109 gigajoules annually. With a Net Zero home, that 54% becomes a matter of occupant behaviour, and those who choose to live more conservatively experience notable savings, with annual energy usage averaging just 39 gigajoules.
Working towards a sustainable future
Although those who buy Net Zero homes will never experience the stale home smell or the cold basement feeling again, it is an investment that not everyone is yet willing to make. However, Weatherston sees a reduction in the cost of Net Zero homes in the future, already anticipating a 25% reduction in costs between building the first home and the following four.
“Net Zero is not a new concept to the building industry. The difference is that because of the products that are available on the marketplace now and the demand for them, half of our cost goes toward renewables, such as solar panels. We really try to gear our construction processes and products we are selecting to be builder friendly and trade friendly. The U.S. has already targeted 2030 as the year of the Net Zero building standard. It is aggressive and it is going to take an industry movement, but by working through this project and showing other builders and home owners that there is a higher level of construction that is not that much more expensive, it becomes very appealing,” says Weatherston.
Weatherston believes that there will be a day when Net Zero homes are the new standard. The industry in general has had a positive response to the program and is ready to embrace changes, and Reid’s Heritage Homes is proud to be an industry leader. The company’s goal is to have all single-family homes Net Zero-ready by the end of 2016, so that every home buyer will have the option to build their home as a Net Zero home if they desire.
Creating lifelong customers
As a company at the forefront of not only innovation and sustainability, but also customer service, Reid’s Heritage Homes has been highly regarded as a top mid-sized Canadian business, particularly in recent years. In 2013, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association awarded them the Ontario Home Builder of the Year Award. In 2014, they made it to the Top 50 Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada by an organization that analyzed employee engagement, and this year, they were listed among Canada’s top 100 SME employers by another group that evaluated employee engagement, business development engagement and business portfolio as a whole.
The company has earned its success and recognition by standing by 10 core values that are much appreciated by their loyal customers. Among them are aspiring to be the best, being respectful and kind, having fun, maintaining a professional attitude, having integrity, communicating effectively, remaining world-class innovators, celebrating the team’s success, taking pride in their work and taking personal responsibility for their work. Reid’s Heritage Homes also abides by a “customer for life philosophy,” which involves offering an optimal experience for people building new homes.
“We want to be the most sought-after builder. We want to make sure that the experience of our customers is top notch. That includes everything from sales and décor through to construction, home service and warranty. We want the people who buy our homes to have the ultimate experience and therefore become repeat buyers, and encourage their friends and family to build homes with us as well,” says Weatherston.
By encouraging environmentally friendly building practices and lifestyles, and overall healthier homes for the individuals who reside in them, Reid’s Heritage Homes works to set a positive example for other builders.