Category Archives: Sustainable Renovation


Improve energy efficiency with a home renovation

posted in Sustainable Renovation

A lot of the home renovations we complete happen because homeowners are unhappy with the current layout, design and function of their space. We often redesign layouts and install new cabinetry, bathroom fixtures, flooring and other features in the homes we renovate. But, did you know a home renovation also offers the opportunity to make your home more energy efficient?

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Eco-Friendly Renovations

posted in Sustainable Renovation

eco friendly renovationsIf you’re going to undertake a renovation in the near future, there are many good reasons why you should aim to be as eco-friendly as possible. An eco-friendly home will save you money over time due to reduced energy costs and is a healthier place for you and your family to live. Plus, this type of renovation is great for Mother Nature and helps reduce your carbon footprint.

Here’s our list of simple things you can do to stay environmentally friendly during your next renovation:

  • Buy reclaimed, like reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is an ideal choice for flooring and walls. Using reclaimed products saves time and energy that would be needed to create a brand new product.
  • Don’t demolish your home. Before you tear down walls and lift up flooring to start your renovation, walk around your home and see what can be salvaged and reused. Not only will you save yourself money by doing this, you’ll help the environment. Salvage things like light fixtures, tile, brick, cabinets and more.
  • Donate unwanted items instead of taking them to the dump. The light fixture that you used to love might look great in someone else’s home! Consider getting in touch with Habitat for Humanity, they will take all your unwanted materials and sell them, using 100% of the profits to build homes for those who cannot afford good housing.
  • Look for energy efficient appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens. You’ll be able to recognize them by their Energy Star logos. Although these eco-friendly products might cost more initially, you’ll save money on reduced energy costs in the long run.
  • Beware of the Phantom! Some electronics will still draw electrical power even when they are turned off. You can plug some of these items into power bars that you can switch off to save energy.
  • Prevent heat or cold air from leaking out of your home due to poor insulation. Use weather strips and caulking to seal up doors, windows, electrical sockets and baseboards. Boost the insulation in your attic and basement and use high quality insulation products throughout your renovation. Getting an energy audit completed on your home will show you exactly where you can improve the building envelope for energy savings.
  • Use solar energy. Taking advantage of solar energy can help you reduce your water heating bill with the help of solar hot water panels. Solar electric panels can give you enough electricity to sell back to the main electrical grid through a special contract (Clean Energy Standard Offer Program) and connection with the Ontario Power Authority.
  • Water conservation is important as well but it is often overlooked. Chose water saving shower faucets and a good quality 4 litre flush toilet to save the most water.

Some of the smaller things you can do to be eco-friendly right now, without having to complete an entire renovation, are easy. Install energy-efficient lighting like CFL or LED bulbs and use a rain barrel to capture rainwater so that you can use it to water your garden. Once your renovation is complete and you’re looking to accessorize your new space, consider shopping antique stores to find one-of-a-kind pieces.

For more information on how to keep your renovation as eco-friendly as possible, contact the experts at Menno S. Martin.


5 Questions from the REEP Kitchen & Bath Seminar

posted in Bathroom, Community Connections, Sustainable Renovation

Timber frame house -interior
There was a great turn out at last night’s Kitchen and Bath seminar. Thanks REEP for hosting and for doing such a fantastic job educating the public with REEP House. Everyone was very engaged and had great questions about kitchens and baths. The conversation also moved to talking about the house as a system. Here are 5 questions that came up last night. Continue reading


Building Science Unwrapped

posted in Sustainable Renovation, Trouble shooting & problem solving

Building science is a very complex world. Staying on top of the latest developments takes a lot of time and effort. Recently we gathered our whole team together for a morning of building science training. Andy Oding of Building Knowledge Canada Inc. lead us through dozens of building code updates and changes as well as some of the finer points of looking at the house as a system.

Building Science Training

Training class at Timeless Materials for the entire staff of Menno S. Martin.

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North House

posted in Products and Materials, Sustainable Renovation

Driving along the riverside, one of my companions thought she saw an eagle. They have been known to nest in the area. Rounding a bend we spot the sharp angles of an ultra modern house nestled amongst the meadow grasses. This is a house you might expect to see in California overlooking the ocean but in reality we are on Blair Road just outside of Cambridge. We have arrived at North House for a unique opportunity to view the inner workings of this solar powered demonstration house.

North House exterior

Note the exterior blinds that can be raised and lowered to cover the custom windows.

North House is one of the newest additions to rare Charitable Research Reserve, a 900 acre property on Blair Road between Cambridge and the community of Blair. The structure was originally built in 2009 by university students from Waterloo, Simon Fraser and Ryerson Universities as part of a competition in the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. After the competition closed, North House was dismantled and sat in a warehouse before it was reassembled at the rare site in 2013. Continue reading


Rain is coming. Are you ready?

posted in Sustainable Renovation, Trouble shooting & problem solving

Annie's basement flood

sewer back-up into basement
Photo Credit: Anne Blayney

The recent ‘100 year flood’ in Toronto is a good reminder of the damage water can do and how quickly damage can happen. In the days after the flood, the news and Twitter were filled with flood stories documenting the amount of dirty, smelly work involved in cleaning up basements that filled with water and sewage. It is impossible to stop all damage due to water but there are steps you can take to reduce the possibility of water creeping, seeping and flooding into you home. Surface water and run-off water can work its way through the foundation. Ground water can come up through the concrete floor. Sewage and storm water can back up through floor drains and plumbing fixtures. Rain water can also work its way through roofs, windows, flashings and walls. In a major storm situation, all of these can come into play. Continue reading


Shocking facts about saving electricity

posted in Sustainable Renovation

hydro towersElectricity is an odd thing. It is all around us but you rarely see it. You can see the results it produces for us every day. It is something that would be so hard to live without but it is also something we take so much for granted. Most people don’t give electricity a second thought until either the power goes out or when they see their monthly bill from their friendly neighbourhood electrical company.

I believe I think about electricity a little more than most people do. I don’t think I’m an electrical geek but I like to look at the historical daily usage numbers I receive with my electrical bill and compare them to my present bill. My household daily usage is fairly small at around 5.5 kWh/day in the summer and 8 kWh/day in the winter so a small change is quite noticeable to me. This past month I got a little bit of a jolt because my usage was quite a bit higher than my historical usage. It got me wondering about what was happening differently in the house. I narrowed down the culprit to the dehumidifier running in the basement. It has been very humid summer and so it has been running much more than usual. Continue reading