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This article was published 6/9/2016 (1195 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Nine months after the program launched, a new apartment building in Winnipeg has became the first of its type to earn the Power Smart designation.
The three-storey walk-up at 381 Stradbrook Ave. was built and developed by owner Progressive Real Estate, and is now renting.
The Power Smart for new homes program kicked off in October 2015. To snag the title, homes have to be at least 20 per cent more efficient than those simply built to code.
Unlike the commercial new buildings Power Smart program, the new homes version caters specifically to buildings classed as ‘part nine,’ typically single-detached homes, duplex, triplex and row housing, and certain apartment-style residential buildings not exceeding three storeys or a 600 square-metre footprint.
'We wanted to design a building that would be energy efficient, for ourselves (and) also for our tenants too'— Geoff Milnes
So far, Manitoba Hydro has issued about 10 Power Smart certificates since the program launch — 381 Stradbrook, however, is the only one that’s an apartment building, said Geoff Milnes, head of operations at Progressive Real Estate.
The building achieves maximum efficiency with triple-pane windows that insulate as well as block sound, efficient baseboard heaters, parking plugs that cycle power from car to car and simple LED lightbulbs.
Milnes opted for insulated concrete form construction, which he said is a super-efficient technique involving what are essentially "foam Lego blocks filled with concrete and rebar."
"We did that on the two large sides of our building, the east-west sides, and on the north-south sides we did spray foam, which also has a very high insulation," Milnes explained.
To top it off, the attic is filled with blown-in insulation, which boasts a high insulation value.
"The overall goal was, you have tenants that are paying for their own heat and water and electricity, but at the same time, their costs should be minimized," Milnes said.
Milnes and his team began construction a year ago, before the new homes program was introduced.
They were well into their build before they realized they were eligible, he said, so qualifying for the designation required a few last-minute swaps including tweaks to their HVAC system and introducing the power-cycling parking plugs.
Because the original design was meant to be energy efficient, these changes were minimal.
"We were so close to being a Power Smart building that it made sense to go the final five per cent to make it Power Smart," Milnes said. "It’s just nice to have that distinction, I think."
Milnes said because Progressive plays every role in its buildings’ lives — developer, contractor, property manager and owner — the group is motivated to build quality buildings — and energy efficiency is part of that.
"We set out from the beginning even without knowing about this program that we wanted to design a building that would be energy efficient, for ourselves (and) also for our tenants too," he said.
"We’re a new developer in the city that’s doing these things," he added. "We intend to keep doing buildings such as these."
Scott Powell, public affairs manager with Manitoba Hydro, said Milnes isn’t the only one with an eye to efficiency.
The Power Smart program has a waiting list for processing, which can be lengthy because of construction timelines.
"The program is growing in popularity, and there are already a number of applications in queue," Powell wrote in an email.
In order to be eligible for the designation, buildings must achieve an EnerGuide rating of 82, he said, or about 20 per cent better than Manitoba Building Code requirements.