EnviroHome

Comments from the Press

Teixeira Construction a pioneer in R2000 concrete homes
Fighting for the home buyer is something this self professed advocate has done,
and will continue to do.
By Allan P. Maleska
KCN Editor

In 1978, Teixeira Construction began doing business as a renovation contractor. It has gradually evolved into a full service family-owned and operated residential construction business. John and his wife Eva work as a team. Their oldest son Joshua, who has moved on as a geotechnical environmental engineer and general manager for Legalett Canada, grew up in the business. An engineering graduate from Queens, Josh paid his own way through school working all his summers and many additional hours in the family business. We owe a lot to Josh, say John and Eva. His ability to incorporate what he was learning in school into our everyday operations was pivotal in establishing our reputation for technical innovation and excellence.
Registered as a Builder with the Ontario New Home Warranty Program in 1989, Teixeira Construction has maintained an uninterrupted Excellent Rating with the Program to this day. In 1991, Teixeira Construction received its license to build R2000 homes, and has continually worked at advancing the technology. Since the revamping and upgrading of the R2000 program in Ontario, which is now administered by the EnerQuality Corporation, Teixeira remains the only certified R2000 builder between Ottawa and Belleville. Today, they build energy-efficient EnviroHomes; healthy homes featuring IntegraSpec, the most advanced Insulated Concrete Form (ICF), world leading Wirsbo in-floor radiant heating system, state of the art VanEE energy recovery ventilation systems, North Star and Loewen high performance windows, Legalett warm floor radiant slabs, and a whole host of other innovative features.
Teixeira began using ICFs and in-floor radiant heating systems six years ago and has not looked back. He was the first builder in Eastern Ontario to adopt this technology in residential building, while making it his standard practice. It all began late in 1994. While attending a workshop on new trends in home building, John was deeply impressed by a presentation given by Oliver Drerup, the foremost R2000 builder and spokesman. Oliver outlined the meticulous care he took in designing and building a home for Virginia Solaris, CMHCs (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) expert on environmental sensitivities, who herself has a hypersensitive daughter. The house had no basement. It used a crawl space to accommodate the mechanicals and featured benign building materials. Awareness of the increase in environmental illness, everything from mild allergies to life threatening hypersensitive reactions, was just beginning to register in the minds of a few. John left the meeting knowing that mastering healthy housing had just become one of his goals. Within months his son Josh showed him a brochure from Legalett Canada - a frost protected, air medium radiant floor, slab on grade foundation system. Josh was in the process of preparing the final paperwork leading to CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Centre) approval of this system. John recognized immediately that here was a package system which with a single stroke overcame so many of the hurdles which Oliver had pulled his hair out to solve. He began to look for a project where he could use it and soon installed the first radiant slab on grade system in Leeds County, the Delta Library. He has since installed many Legalett slabs. If you must have a basement, John will build it, but he will always first, try to talk you out of the ground and into the sunshine.
Teixeira Construction has certified many R2000 homes including the first R2000 Granny Flats (also called a garden suite) in Canada. The Granny Flats project was an initiative started by the Ontario Ministry of Housing, to allow a parent or grandparent their independence, while the family can watch out for their well-being. The unit is separate from the host house. It is built in close proximity to the host house so it can share the house's septic and water systems. John was involved in the original pilot project and installed, or fine-tuned several units in Sudbury, Ottawa, Gloucester, Manotick, Kitchener and Waterloo. The CMHC continued the trend. Teixeira designed and built two units for installation in Leeds County just north of Kingston. He went one step further and certified them R2000, an almost impossible task because achieving the required air tightness target is extremely difficult with a building volume of just over four thousand cubic feet.
He is the recipient of five CMHC Job Site Innovator Awards, including CMHCs Regional Innovator of the Year in 1992. Innovator awards are given to individuals who develop and share innovative methods, tools, and modifications to save time and energy during the construction process. The Regional award John received, recognized him as a contributor to Canadian construction innovation. He has also received the 1995 Ontario Healthy Housing Award for a project near Portland, and two R2000 Technical Excellence Awards in 1996, the R2000 Peoples Choice award and the Best Custom Home over 1,500 square feet award for a home in Toledo. This year he received CMHCs prestigious Healthy Builder designation for his dedication to making housing healthier for Canadians. The R2000 program also presented him with his latest award for a concrete home north of Perth, the R2000 award for Environmental Excellence.
He is a Heating Refrigeration Air-conditioning Institute of Canada certified designer and installer of residential ventilation systems, as well as a MOEE licensed on site sewage system designer and installer, well contractor and well pump technician and a licensed general carpenter. Mr. Teixeira co-hosted the biweekly Saturday morning call-in talk show All About the House on CFMO 101.1, where he fielded all manner of questions relating to home construction, renovation, maintenance and repairs including sewage systems and water quality. When I sub out any part of a project, Teixeira explained. I want to understand exactly what it requires to design and install the various systems, so over the years I have taken courses and become certified in many of these fields. Being able to do the work in-house also allows me to offer leading edge products and technologies at an affordable price. In addition, John has served on several local, provincial and national technical building committees representing the small builder. While serving on the Ontario New Home Warranty Programs Technical Committee, he contributed to the development of the Programs publications, Better Basements and Soils Manual for Home Builders. As well, Teixeira has been a judge for three years in the Housing Design and Sales and Marketing competition hosted by the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa-Carleton Home Builders Association.

CRUSADER EXTRAORDINAIRE

Teixeira is a soft-spoken, well-educated, respected, mild-mannered individual, but when he finds an instance where he feels big business or government is behaving erroneously, watch out, he will not lie down and accept the status quo. When he learns of a change, he doesn't feel is right, he doesn't sit back and complain, he takes action. He does his research, locates allies, then launches a full scale attack on those who are trying to implement a change that will be hurtful to the environment, or place unnecessary costs on the home buyer. In his own words, he is an activist for seeing the home buyer get the products and services that produce the most bang for their dollar. In the last eight years, he has been quoted, or written about in Homes and Cottages Magazine, The Ottawa Citizen, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The Brockville Recorder and Times, The Review Mirror, as well as other local publications around his home base of Portland, Ont.
In November 1993, in a joint effort with Wemp & Smith, a local contractor, he challenged the Ontario New Home Warranty Programs Bulletin 33. Bulletin 33 claimed, the potential liability to consumers for (septic) systems failing within the first seven years of operation is approximately $75-million and unit claim experience is high compared to the frequency of installation.
Mr. Teixeira, as chairman of the Technical Committee for the Lanark-Leeds Home Builders Association prepared a 72-page response to Bulletin 33, a Review of Private Sewage Disposal Systems in the Province of Ontario. Bulletin 33 was calling for every new sewage system installed for a new home to be designed and certified by a professional engineer with liability insurance of $25,000 per unit ) the assumed remedial cost of system replacement. An engineers design and certificate would add an extra $2,500 to $3,000 to the cost of a home. If implemented in 1994, Bulletin 33 would have cost Ontario home buyers an additional $255.8-million.
We were being asked to spend $255 million to save $75 million, Teixeira said. It didn't make any sense.
By the way, Ontario home buyers won on this one. Bulletin 33 was revised. Builders with good quality service records are now exempt from the requirements. The revised bulletin targets problem areas and problem builders instead of penalizing the many for the mistakes of a few.

DAVID FIGHTS GOLIATH

The next fight Mr. Teixeira took on was the Ontario government's initiative to revise the Ontario Building Code to reduce the minimum insulation values from R-20 to R-12 and reduce other energy conservation provisions in the Code. In 1996-97, during his tenure as president of the Lanark Leeds Home Builders Association, Teixeira, with the support of his membership prepared a 65-page report and submitted it to the Ontario Ministry of Housing, Al Leach.
In the report, he submitted documentation proving that rolling back the insulation requirement by 33 per cent would not likely save the home buyer anything. He stated fuel costs in a revised Code 150 square meter home could rise by $125 to $632 a year, depending on the type of heating system used; and an additional 75,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide would be spewed into the atmosphere with each new crop of cheaper homes. Some people argued that higher insulation values of the type Ontario had at the time should be an option, much as there are options on automobiles. This only clouds the issue, Teixeira countered. There are convenience, aesthetic and luxury options and upgrades in the residential market comparable with the choices in the automobile industry. But the basic car includes the energy-efficiency measures and pollution controls, and so must our energy consuming basic homes.
A compromise was achieved on this issue. Minimum insulation levels were reduced to R17 instead of R12. The current rise in fossil fuel prices and global warming confirm Teixeira's position, build for the long term, build sustainable. The story of the three little pigs is about more than just the wind blowing your house away, says Teixeira. An energy guzzling home will eventually blow your hard earned savings away as well. A little more money in your pocket means you have chosen a little more freedom instead of bondage to high home energy bills.

THE TEIXEIRA DIFFERENCE

Approximately six years ago a Teixeira Construction carpenter devoted six painstaking hours to cutting and straightening the kiln-dried, 2" x 6" studs used to frame the main floor of a 126 square meter municipal library they were constructing. The incident proved to be the proverbial last straw for Teixeira.
I was disturbed by the diminishing quality and the high cost of lumber, which keeps going up and staying up, he explained. Concrete was a welcome alternative. Concrete is a more benign and therefore healthier building material. With the ICF system, putting up walls is both cost-effective and much simpler. After I built the first one, I was sold on it. Not only does the system perform better, its much easier to put up than a wood-frame house because it replaces several steps with one. Unlike a wood frame wall you don't have to insulate, install a vapour barrier and rain screen or do all the caulking. The ICF wall system blocks out the exterior noise, the radiant floors are kept a comfortable 24C, and the air is fresh. There are no unwanted sounds, paint, varnish or glue smells, and especially no unwanted drafts. The EnviroHome uses a limited amount of adhesives and varnishes. There is no new home smell, because as John Teixeira says, that new smell is the off gasing of volatile organic compounds, toxins.
According to Teixeira, the key to the EnviroHome is air tightness and ventilation. The Teixeira EnviroHome is equipped with one of the most advanced systems available-) a VanEE Gold Series energy recovery ventilator. The ERV unit draws stale air from the kitchen, bathroom and clothes closets, it passes through small channels in the exchanger core, allowing heat and humidity to be transferred to the incoming fresh, clean air which is re-circulated back through the house via a series of ducts. As a result, up to 80 per cent of the heat and 65 per cent of the humidity is recovered, reducing the heat load and the winter dryness which goes hand in hand with ventilation requirements. The high level of air tightness reduces uncontrolled ventilation which is responsible for winter indoor dryness and all the related discomforts; itchy skin, dry throats, dust mite induced allergies etc. Teixeira uses all the latest cutting-edge technology in the construction of his EnviroHome. He offers two in-floor radiant heating systems. The Legalett foundation is based on a slab-on-grade design with an eight-inch concrete floor. This thick slab contains a network of closed loop air ducts that circulate warm air from integral heat distribution boxes in the slab. The thick concrete also acts as a significant thermal storage medium. Another in-floor radiant heating system he offers is Wirsbo hydronics. The Wirsbo system consists of a network of seamless PEX tubes embedded in the concrete floor slabs of multi level homes. These systems work like the warm rays from the sun. They represent a revolution in winter indoor comfort. Best of all you experience the comfort while you save money. The latest step forward in the Teixeira system is the addition of solar hot water and solar electric back up. With the help of Renewable Energy of Plum Hollow, who have put together several packages to offer to his clients, Teixeira is breaking new ground in this area as well. We have maxed out on our building envelope efficiency with the ICF system, says John. Renewable solar energy has now become the most cost-effective upgrade to energy efficiency. Solar collectors can reduce our energy requirement for domestic hot water by 72 per cent, and the photo voltaic backup systems are giving peace of mind to our clients who are veterans of the ice storm of 98. Although we have dabbled with solar energy in Canada for the last 15-years, we are now starting to take it seriously, he says as his eyes brighten. I am really impressed with the progress in the science of solar energy. Its nice to see a local firm like Renewable Energy of Plum Hollow leading the pack. Incidentally, they have recently supplied solar lighting for the Town of Gananoque Highway 401 interchange with a 20 x 7 sign, lit by only 25 watts of high efficiency LED lighting which runs on two solar panels. It uses one tenth of the energy a similar incandescent sign would use. That's outstanding, Teixeira says.
I can summarize what we are about by saying that; We operate in a manner which respects the natural environment. We minimize waste materials and activities and build durable, energy mizing comfortable structures which will be here for the long haul, because they are by nature resistant to weather extremes, Teixeira stated. In addition we tap into the renewable energy of the sun not only with passive solar gains for space heating but with solar hot water and photo voltaic electricity.
Overall, the EnviroHome is 60 per cent more energy efficient than traditional building methods. There are other methods and features Teixeira employs when building his EnviroHome. Due to limited space, it is not possible to include them all. So, if you are a conscientious individual who is concerned with the environment, as well as keeping your hard earned money where it belongs (in your pocket) give John a call at (613) 272-2182 or visit his EnviroHome open house from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., on April 28th.

 

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