Many housing providers are working at capacity with their day-to-day operations and may lack internal resources to spearhead major capital or energy efficiency retrofit projects. That’s why many providers turn to HSC Technical Services for help. HSC Project Managers help to mitigate risks while maximizing resources and keeping costs as low as possible. Below are a few case studies that illustrate how HSC can help providers make the most of government funding and utility incentives, engage residents to help reduce energy costs and deliver major projects on time and on budget.


Vila Gaspar Non-Profit Housing (Toronto)

building front

In 2016, Vila Gaspar, a 266,482 sq.ft. non-profit housing provider located in Toronto, undertook  the replacement of its gas heating equipment. These retrofits qualified for a combined $78,215 Enbridge Gas incentive and saved the provider an estimated $36,700 every year on gas bills. Click below to read more!


Upwood Park/Salvador del Mundo Co-Operative Homes (Toronto)

In 2017, Upwood successfully implemented a series of energy efficiency retrofits that increased the building’s natural gas efficiency. The co-op was eligible to receive $109,155 from Enbridge, representing almost 13% of the total cost of the capital repairs. The repairs also meant reducing their gas utility bill by an estimated $34,100 per year. Click below to read more!


Pineview Terrace (Keswick, Ontario)

In November 2015 Pineview partnered with HSC to deliver the Community Champion Program pilot with the aim of engaging residents in improving their communities and reducing utility costs. By the second session, the building’s electricity consumption had already dropped by 12%, compared to its baseline, and the low/no-cost projects resulted in an estimated cost savings of $2,500/year. Click below to read more!


Co-op Housing (Nova Scotia)

In 2014 Housing Nova Scotia (HNS) initiated a funding program to assist affordable housing providers in the Province by undertaking critical capital repair projects. From 2014-2018, provincial funds were provided to several Co-Ops, enabling them to tackle major construction and renovation projects. The Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada) as well as CHF Canada Atlantic region, and Housing Services Corporation (HSC) partnered together for the successful execution of this program. This case study demonstrates the value of multiple stakeholders partnering together to deliver innovative solutions that maximize funding dollars. Click below to read more!


To learn more about our Technical Services offerings, click here or contact us today!

Originally published in Managing Risky Business issue Q1/2020

Liability claims are not very frequent to our program – however, they do occur from time to time and can be quite costly.

The bulk of these claims in our program relate to slips/trips and falls. Slips are backward falls, which are typically the result of a slippery ground surface (wet, icy or oily surfaces). Trips are forward falls that are the result of an uneven ground surface (missing tiles, potholes, walkways) or an obstruction (e.g. extension cords, uneven floor mats).

These accidents typically occur in a few key places:

Resources:

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Originally published in the winter 2019 issue of Managing Risky Business

Slip, trips and falls make up a significant portion of our liability claims. When this came up in our meetings with liability underwriters, they suggested that consistent language in snow removal contracts could have a positive impact on program claims. The language below was provided by insurance underwriters and we recommend using the wording below in your contracts:

LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY

Proof of Liability Insurance is required. The snow removal contractor agrees to purchase and maintain in force, at its own expense, including payment of all deductibles, and for the duration of this contract, the following policy(ies) of insurance, which policy(ies) of insurance shall be in a form acceptable to INSERT PROVIDER NAME and be specific and exclusive to this contract, in the amount of TWO MILLION DOLLARS ($2,000,000) per occurrence, with a Certificate of these policies originally signed by an authorized agent of the insurance company issuing the policies and a certified copy of these policies being delivered to INSERT PROVIDER NAME upon the snow removal contractor’s execution of this contract.

(1) Commercial General Liability, with

(a) INSERT PROVIDER NAME added as an additional insured;

(b) Provisions for cross-liability and severability of interest as between the snow removal contractor and INSERT PROVIDER NAME;

(c) Not less than THIRTY (30) days’ prior written notice to INSERT PROVIDER NAME of any cancellation, termination, expiry or amendment of or change or revision to the policy.

LIABILITY AND INDEMNITY

The snow removal contractor shall indemnify, save harmless and defend INSERT PROVIDER NAME, its officials, officers, employees and agents against and from all actions, causes of action, interest, claims, demands, costs, damages, expenses including defence costs or loss which INSERT PROVIDER NAME may bear, suffer, incur, become liable for or be put to by reason of any damage to property or injury or death to any persons by reason of, arising out of, or in connection with the work covered by this contract, or by reason of or arising out of the use of the premises or in connection with the work covered by this contract.

You will note that this wording:

Have questions? Contact us.

Incorporating safety inspections into your routine operations help mitigate risks to tenant and staff safety. But where do you start? Below is a sample checklist covering a variety of areas – including general housekeeping, fire safety and things to watch for in specific areas of your property. These inspections can help you proactively avoid costly liability and property claims by addressing issues when they emerge.

Fire safety

These videos resources are aimed at housing providers for information on risk management, fire safety and tenant engagement.


The Fire Drill

This video guides housing providers through tips on how to run fire drills and other fire prevention tactics.


Fire at Kingston Royal Canadian Legion Villa: How HSC Helped – Part 1

The Royal Canadian Legion Villa in Kingston provides rent-geared-to-income housing to older adults. In 2013, a fire at an adjoining construction site badly damaged the building and residents were displaced for several years. In this video, one resident recalls the experience and how HSC helped.  


Fire at Royal Canadian Legion Villa: How HSC Helped – Part 2

On November 23, 2017, seniors at Kingston’s Royal Canadian Legion Villa had a luncheon to celebrate a big victory following a 2013 fire that displaced residents for several years.


Fire at Barrie Housing: How HSC Helped

On April 23, 2018, a fire broke out at a building managed by Barrie Municipal Non-Profit Housing (Barrie Housing). It was the second fire Barrie Housing had in less than a month. In this video, Barrie Housing staff detail how they dealt with the aftermath and how HSC helped.


Tenant Engagement

Engaging Tenants on Building Safety

Tenant Engagement is essential to having a safer building and community. Holding events and hosting visits are some ways housing providers can provide information on safety to their tenants. Watch the video below to learn more!


Safety Guidelines During the Move-in Process

Move in is a natural time to offer safety information and to review information on contents insurance. This video offers tips to housing providers on how to incorporate important safety tips into the move-in process.


Writing Safety Information for Your Tenants

This video shares tips on creating written information (such as flyers or articles) to help educate your tenants on safety. It also covers the most common questions tenants ask to help you prepare your answers.


Unit Inspections

Housing providers should inspect each unit at least once a year as part of their preventative maintenance plan. This is also a great opportunity to offer tenants one-on-one safety information. Watch the video to learn more.


First published in the June 2019 issue of Energy Matters 

The evidence is continuing to grow – thermal bridging can have a big impact on your building’s energy use and its ability to withstand outdoor temperature changes. Knowing what thermal bridging is and how to prevent it can reduce your building’s heating and cooling energy use.

What is Thermal Bridging?

Heat will always move along the path of least resistance. Thermal bridging happens when a material transfers heat at a faster rate than surrounding components. For instance, we use insulation in our building envelopes to help stop heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. But insulation is often installed in parallel with more conductive materials, like wood, metal, and concrete. These materials conduct heat more readily than the insulation they surround and act as “bridges” for heat to flow across.

Where do Thermal Bridges occur?

Thermal bridges typically occur at breaks in insulation in walls, roofs, and other building envelope components. They often occur at interaction points or “interfaces” between different components, such as slabs, parapets, and glazing, or components in a wall assembly, as well as corners, wall intersections, cladding attachments, and structural beams. They can also happen where insulation is lacking.

Why do Thermal Bridges matter?

Thermal bridging greatly affects the thermal performance of the building envelope. When thermal bridges allow heat to bypass the insulation layer, the effectiveness of the insulation is reduced so that more energy is needed to replace the lost heat in winter and cool a building in summer. Thermal bridges can also increase the risk of condensation and mold and reduce resident comfort.

How is Thermal Bridging prevented?

You may think that adding more insulation might reduce the impact of the thermal bridging, but this is usually not the case. This is because thermal bridges allow heat to bypass the insulation.

To prevent thermal bridging, thermal breaks are needed. Usually a thermal break is comprised of a material that does not conduct heat well and is placed in an assembly between more conductive materials. For example, in aluminum windows, rigid polyurethane, which has low heat conductivity, can be inserted as a barrier between the more heat-conductive metal inner and outer frames.

Similarly, inserting structural thermal breaks between the balcony and floor slab will also reduce heat flow between a building’s interior and exterior. A structural thermal break is load-bearing as well, and will help maintain structural integrity by transferring loads between the balcony and floor.

In new buildings, thermal breaks should be included in the design to prevent thermal bridging. For example, wall and roof assemblies, windows, and basement slabs should be designed to minimize heat transfer. Techniques as simple as sealing building envelope penetrations with foam, caulking, and tape can dramatically improve air tightness. In fact, certain energy efficiency building standards, such as LEED and Passive House, emphasize  the importance of addressing thermal bridging as part of the overall quality of the design. Costs to address thermal bridging are minimal when considered at the design stage of a new building.

Thermal bridges are likely numerous in existing buildings, especially those with balconies and single-glazed, metal window frames. Although addressing thermal bridging in existing buildings can be costly and often cost prohibitive, window replacements present an ideal opportunity to address a key area for thermal bridging. Replacing old windows with triple-pane, vinyl frame windows or at least metal frame with thermal breaks, will help to reduce heat transfer in and out of windows each season. For information on choosing windows, see our article in the Q1 2019 issue of Energy Matters. Installing insulating cladding can also help reduce thermal bridging in multi-residential buildings, while improving insulation can mitigate them in houses.

Taking even the smallest steps to reduce thermal bridging can have big impacts on your energy consumption. Whether dealing with a new building or improving an existing structure, consider what steps you can take to prevent thermal bridging from negatively impacting your energy costs and resident comfort.

Want to learn more?

BC Hydro – Building Envelope Thermal Bridging Guide
Passive House elearning – Thermal Bridges
Zero Carbon Hub – Thermal Bridging Guide
University of Toronto – Resilience Planning Guide, p. 18-21

First published in the December 2019 issue of Energy Matters 

Unnecessarily running your domestic water booster pumps can waste energy, water, and money. Many apartment buildings have oversized pumps to provide constant pressure during peak periods. However, oversized pumps tend to cycle on and off more frequently in order to maintain required pressure, and this frequent cycling can wear the equipment and use more electricity than other pump configurations. Alternatives such as pumps with variable frequency drives (VFDs) or a series of smaller contact speed pumps can help you reduce your electricity and water use and reduce wear and tear.

Domestic water booster pumps are typically installed in mid- or high-rise apartment buildings to supplement municipal water pressure and ensure constant, adequate pressure right up to the top floor. These pumps are often oversized to support periods of peak demand, such as in the morning when most tenants are starting their day. Since they achieve the set point pressure faster due to their larger size, these pumps will surge on and off more frequently. During low use periods, pressure must still stay constant for toilets and taps to operate properly, and the oversized pumps will run at a minimum constant pressure that is not very efficient compared to more appropriately sized systems or systems with VFDs.

How to Spot an Oversized Pump

In many cases, an oversized pump system will provide more pressure than needed. In certain buildings, particularly mid-rises, a water booster pump may not be required at all, a situation that can be determined by consulting an engineer. The building operator often discovers this accidentally when they have to shut the pump down for other purposes yet the water pressure remains adequate at the top floor.

It is common to see water pressure that exceeds 100 psi on the top floor of apartment buildings with oversized pumps when the pumps are on. This pressure is far above the normal range of 50 to 70 psi and is a good indicator that the pump is too big.

How to Achieve Pump Savings


To optimize the domestic water booster pump system in your buildings, you can:

Installing pumps with VFDs or smaller constant speed pumps in series can provide energy and water savings and reduce wear and tear on pipes. Additionally, electricity utilities may provide incentives to add VFDs to pumps that can cut your payback time.

Questions? Contact us!

Originally published in Energy Matters April 2019 issue

Windows are a big investment. But with so many types and technologies on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which ones to pick. So we have some tips to help you get started!

A great first step is to make energy efficiency a top priority. In Canada, Energy Star windows have been tested and certified as the best energy performers on the market. According to Natural Resources Canada, Energy Star windows can save an average of 8% on your energy bills. Even better, models with the Energy Star “Most Efficient” designation are up to 40% more efficient than standard windows. So why replace a window with a standard model when you can also lower your ongoing energy use and improve the comfort of tenants?

Take these steps below to choose the best windows for energy efficiency.

Step 1: Understand what the terms and rating means

Step 2: Know what window features help your building’s energy efficiency

Comparison of Single-glazed and Triple-Glazed, Medium-solar-gain Low-E Glass

Step 3: Know your climate zone

Step 4: Consider sun and wind conditions

Step 5: Hire a trained, reputable installer

Questions? Contact us

The current COVID-19 situation is putting additional pressures on many housing providers. As the situation continues to evolve, HSC is continuing to support the sector in any way we can.

Below, we have compiled resources shared by housing providers and sector organizations and we will continue to update the page as more become available. If you have any resources you would like to contribute, please contact us.

Risk Management Tools 

Supports for Housing Providers 

Supports for Tenants

Posters

Updates & Additional Information from Housing Sector Organizations

While cooking fires are typically the most common type of fires in the community housing sector, electrical
fires appear to be increasing in frequency as a result of aging infrastructure. These fires often result in much
longer downtimes for housing providers, which affects residents, staff and a housing provider’s financial
position.

Developing formal electrical preventative maintenance and safety programs can help reduce the likelihood
of electrical system failure and fires. That’s why we developed a short guide that focuses on best practices in electrical maintenance and how to recognize the early signs of problems.

Download the guide below to learn more!

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