Bang On!: Homebuilders, such as Sifton, committed to innovation

The new home and renovation industry is made up of hardworking entrepreneurs who care about the future of their industry. They make their living creating, manufacturing and retailing one of the only major manufactured products produced by hand, in front of the customer and in whatever environmental conditions Mother Nature decides to throw at them.

It also is known to be an industry of innovators. A past president of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association summed it up best when he said, “We are leaders in creating some of the most energy-efficient and affordable homes in the world by finding new and better ways to build homes, to make them stronger, last longer, be more energy-efficient, less expensive, more comfortable and safer. Homebuilding is really a story of relentless innovation.”

To feed that innovation, builders, renovators, suppliers, developers and manufacturers participate in research programs, subscribe to industry magazines and attend conferences, home-shows and seminars to better educate themselves.

Whether they’re trying to adopt more green building science for new homes or retrofit older ones, they continually look for new and innovative products.

In London, we have many builders who exemplify this spirit of innovation with Sifton Properties Ltd. being a prime one. Founded by Harry Sifton in 1923, broadened by Mowbray Sifton and now with Richard Sifton at the helm, this family company has brought countless new building products and features and creative styles of development.

Harry Sifton introduced nails, drywall, bungalows and homes of distinction. Mowbray Sifton brought a new form of development in Berkshire Village with rolling hills and private enclaves of townhomes that are still sought-after today. Other notable achievements by the company include the donation of Sifton Bog, and the building of London’s first solar home, One London Place and RiverBend, London’s only gated golf community in which residents are able to lease the land.

Mowbray Sifton was a founding member of the London Home Builders’ Association and served as our first president in 1952. Continuing this legacy, in 2010 under Richard Sifton’s guidance, Sifton built a home with cutting-edge building science achieving Energy Star, Greenhouse and LEED certification. Earlier this year, it announced a new community, West 5, where homes and businesses will be built on a smart grid. Earlier this month, Sifton unveiled London’s first net-zero home that it calls the home of the future.

The net-zero home at 1896 Sumac Way in Warbler Woods has been built to power itself. Through the use of solar and other leading-edge technology, this home will generate 100% of the power it uses during the course of a year. Through design and technology, this home maximizes the potential of natural elements such as sun, water and rain, and minimizes the draw on resources needed for everyday life.

The 21st-century movement to a greener, smarter and healthier environment is one that’s being embraced by the residential construction industry, through newly built homes, renovation and sustainable developments.

The federal government, through Natural Resources Canada, is promoting the movement to net-zero homes and buildings, meaning the energy consumed is equal to renewable energy generated, through measures such as solar technology. Its net-zero project is part of a four-year study to develop a framework and methodology for construction recommendations aimed at gradually improving energy efficiency in homes toward net-zero.

The Ontario Building Code also is evolving with the goal of having all new homes built to net-zero standards by 2030.

The proof of our spirit of innovation is the industry’s demonstration to move ahead faster than government regulation requires.

Innovation, it’s a good thing for our industry but most of all for the citizens of London!

Jake Draper is president of the LHBA.