By GREG McMILLAN
One thing is bound to happen each time a project gets underway for Chatsworth Fine Homes – there will be a discussion about sustainability.
“Sustainability is talked about during the pre-construction phase,” says Fil Capuano, Certified Engineering Technologist (CET) and Project Manager for Chatsworth Project and Construction Management Inc. “If it is not mentioned by the homeowner, then it is something that will be brought up by Chatsworth.”
Either way, it’s a given that green considerations are front and centre with any custom home undertaken by Chatsworth, a mainstay in the construction industry for over 30 years.
“The architects we work with can factor in as much or as little [green elements] as the client would like,” Capuano says. “As the project manager, Chatsworth can make recommendations to the homeowners and guidelines for the trades to follow – for example, on-site recycling programs to limit waste removal, the benefits of triple glazed windows, or sourcing products locally.”
As Capuano points out, building custom homes is always a challenge, whether the home has green features or not. At the same time, however, he stresses that there is more of an opportunity to incorporate green features into custom homes
“If that is something of interest to the homeowner, yes, we can look at that,” he says. “An average sub-division homebuilder tries to build for the lowest possible price, therefore many of them do not have special green features, whereas our clientele are building their forever home and are really invested in the project and the home’s features.”
While LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)certification remains a hot topic consideration among owners, a client often “doesn’t want to go through the whole LEED process,” says Capuano.
He added that Green, LEED, and sustainability are all terms talked about regularly – clients’ minds start with questions, as they don’t understand the barrage of green terminology. They want advice and our opinion on:
1) What is a gimmick and what would be useful?
2) They think “green” is something to be done on government projects that aren’t really cost effective regardless of how you slice it;
3) They want to be socially responsible and do their part but the pocket book speaks loudly … What’s the ROI? Is this a short or long term investment?
4) Will the end result fit with the aesthetic of the project? Will I get a label that says I’m more energy-efficient than everyone else?
Some of the more common features that customers often incorporate:
- Rainwater harvesting systems for landscape irrigation;
- LED lighting;
- Solar retrofit program;
- Triple glazed windows;
- Geothermal HVAC system;
- Slate roofing;
- Insulated concrete forms (ICF).
While each project is definitely unique, Capuano pointed to a particular project along the Niagara Escarpment in Kilbride, Ontario, where creativity and cooperation were definitely applied in working specific sustainable features into the design.
The owner of the house had a vision for a relaxing, completely wheelchair accessible retreat where his family could enjoy the outdoors without having to leave the comforts of home.
The house is completely geothermal, has a rainwater harvesting system and is entirely spray-foam insulated. Working through a complicated appeal process with the Niagara Escarpment Commission, Chatsworth was able to come up with an alternate tertiary septic system that would fit the space. Part of that challenge was jackhammering a rock base during excavation. The result: Chatsworth completed the project and the home turned out to specification. Mission accomplished.
With the evolving sustainable landscape, Chatsworth has a constant goal – to keep up to date with the latest industry standards and techniques.
To that end, key Chatsworth team members such as Contracts Manager Nick Capuano and Office Manager Nancy Bland have attended courses to help educate them on green initiatives and developments.
Capuano became a part of a local community and professional network of green building professionals when he attained the designation of Sustainable Building Advisor. Bland has been recognized as a certified LEED Green Associate and she is regularly updated on all the latest green building practices – something that is important to both Chatsworth and its clients.
“Many people think a large luxury custom home can’t be eco-friendly, but it can be,” Blandwrote in a blog on the company website. “Our clients are increasingly concerned about being environmentally and socially responsible.”
With over 30 years of experience, Chatsworth is known for its high standards, elevated level of excellence, and dedication to the latest and finest custom construction techniques. Chatsworth’s focus is to guide clients through the complex stages of construction and make sure the time involved while building is an enjoyable and pleasant experience. Years of experience building luxury custom homes, multi-million-dollar grand estates, elaborate commercial facilities, including a luxury spa and impressive golf clubhouse, have allowed Chatsworth to excel in customer relationship management.