Lower energy bills expected with new development standards in Ontario

By Industry Expert: Diane Bertolin

Published June 27, 2024 at 3:43 pm

Anthony Urciuoli/hamilton.insauga.com photo

Development standards demand more sustainability to prevent the environment from deteriorating, but some also come with a benefit to homeowners: lower energy bills.

More residential communities are starting to be built with geoexchange technology, which uses thermal mass by taking energy from the ground beneath the buildings and heating them when it’s cold outside – or, during the summer, air conditioning the buildings by transferring hot air into the ground. It also returns surplus energy underground.

On an annual basis, these heating pumps reduce energy savings by anywhere from 30 to 70 per cent in heating mode, and 20 to 50 per cent in cooling mode. In fact, for every unit of electricity the system uses, it provides three to four units of heating energy, equivalent to efficiency gains of 300 to 400 per cent.

One of the advantages of this technology is that geothermal energy is always available, guaranteeing the building will always have a source of energy. It is also silent; this is not to be underestimated, especially for people who enjoy the kind of tranquil pace of life that living along Lake Ontario offers.

One reason geoexchange systems help keep maintenance fees low is because geothermal heat pumps last about 20 per cent longer than their standard counterparts, and their lifecycle costs are also lower.

Geoexchange technology has been around for roughly 30 years and is quite commonplace in schools and municipal buildings throughout the province, but it’s only beginning to make its impact in residential construction.

Residences at Bronte Lakeside, located near Lake Ontario in Oakville, is one such community taking advantage of geoexchange technology. Thanks to some of its revolutionary green building technology, residents can anticipate lower monthly bills and maintenance fees.

Just down the QEW, the Toronto Green Standard has made geoexchange technology a salient part of its strategy to create cleaner homes. But for the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe region, which is growing at an astronomical pace — North America’s fastest, by most accounts — the energy grid will become susceptible to rolling blackouts in around a decade’s time because of excessive demand from the region’s new residents. This is already beginning to happen in some of the region’s older buildings, where blackouts occur up to several times a month. In a growing number of cases, they’re occurring on a weekly basis.

Another reason the Residences at Bronte Lakeside is well insulated from this burgeoning problem is it is equipped with an on-site generator, which few buildings have, but with so many high-rise towers being built there’s increasingly strenuous demand on the grid.

The community’s inclusion of smart home technology is another way the building will keep its residents’ energy bills low — in addition to unmatched conveniences like thermostat control and remotely locking and unlocking doors, it also measures energy usage, which residents can use to their advantage.

And with the federal government’s introduction of a carbon tax that becomes more punitive by the year — and as of this year, the tax will begin rising twice during the calendar year en route to $170 per metric ton by 2030 — developments like Residences at Bronte Lakeside are crucial in the fight to make housing affordable again.

Diane Bertolin is a partner at Alliance United Corporation, a developer with over 30 years of collective experience developing low, mid, and high-rise real estate. They pride themselves in delivering high-quality, functional living spaces with all the superlative finishings that are often found in luxury builds.

For more information and the latest updates on the Bronte Lakeside Residences, visit their websiteFacebook and Instagram pages.

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