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© Copyright 2007 Work-4 Projects Ltd.

London Builders Pilot Selection Process for
New Energy Technologies

New and innovative products play an important role in residential construction and renovation. The right ones can help trigger sales, while products not yet ready can lead to schedule delays and call-backs after completion. With so many new products rapidly hitting the market, how can builders already squeezed for time in their long work days review and make good choices about new products?
There is no shortage of information on new products; the challenge is knowing what to trust. When it comes to energy technologies, a number of scans that focus on emerging technologies exist. Unfortunately, many of these focus almost exclusively on the potential energy benefits of a technology and do not cover issues such as distribution, installation practice, and potential code barriers. Builders have had to sort out this quagmire on their own.
The need for a builder-driven process for selecting the best new products and systems - one that evaluates technologies according to the criteria that builders consider crucial - led London area builders to form a tool kit for the technologies that interest them most. Their work through the London Home Builders Association (LHBA), and with the City of London and Natural Resources Canada, has brought about the London Energy Efficiency Partnership (LEEP) Project.
The LEEP technology selection process, which took place between Christmas and the end of March 2007 to correspond with the time where builders' schedules were least hectic, involved compiling a list of more than 90 potential technologies, with input from all stakeholders. With some limited information and discussions, the builders did their first sifting and cut the list down to the 34 technologies that most interested them.
Then they decided what selection criteria they wanted to use. Their filtering approach considers only new products with strong market pull potential. After establishing that, the builders look at cost benefit, warranty and distribution. If a product receives a green light in both of these areas, its potential impact on builder sub-trades, schedules, available training, and regulatory issues is then examined.
The builders asked consultants to review their top 34 technologies according to the selection criteria. With the resulting four-page evaluations on each technology in hand, the builders and other interested stakeholders met again. They reviewed each technology in breakout groups and brought their own summaries back to the larger group for discussion, working through a "dotting" exercise to determine the ones they were most interested in.
Their top 10 selections are listed, in no particular order, in the table below. (Note that some technologies were generic while others were specific to a unique product, in which case the manufacturer and product name are also given.)
Supporting builder efforts
LHBA president JIM VANDERHOEVEN works for Reid's Heritage Homes, a builder that produces more than 1,000 units a year in Southern Ontario. "Reid's Heritage Homes is dedicated to investigating new products and LEEP's structured approach complements our in-house research," says Vanderhoeven. "By increasing our understanding of products on our watch list, we can make educated decisions that our new home buyers will want and ultimately find valuable."
The concept for the LEEP project originated at Natural Resources Canada's CANMET Energy Technology Centre (CETC) and gained considerable early support from the Canadian Home Builders Association. "We know that builder-selected technologies will move into the market at a faster pace," says JAMIE GLOUCKOW, CETC's Housing Team Leader. "We wanted to support builder efforts in taking a structured approach to focusing on innovative new energy technologies."
To request a copy of the technology evaluations or for more information on LEEP, contact Jamie Skimming, the facilitator and City of London's project manager for the LEEP Project. He can be reached at 519-661-2500, ext. 5204, or by e-mail at jskimmin@london.ca.

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