Make it right: Mike Holmes on board with Boyle Renaissance

Mike Holmes joins the Boyle Renaissance project as an advisor to ensure the project meets sustainability and energy reduction targets. Photos by Alain Saffel

By Alain Saffel

Billed as “Canada’s most trusted contractor” Mike Holmes was in Edmonton promoting sustainable design in phase two of the Boyle Renaissance project and is here to help “make it right.”

The project is a partnership between the City of Edmonton, Metis Capital Housing Corporation, Canadian Paraplegic Association and Boyle Street community League.

Holmes isn’t doing the project as charity work, and distinguishes it from foundations he’s worked with such as the SOS Children’s Villages.

“This is a business… for me it’s not about money. It’s never been about money,” Holmes said. “Working together as a team is a business. It’s not about making a lot of money. It’s about doing it right the first time so we all save money.

“Well invest properly. And not have to keep doing it again because I’m really sick and tired of getting my tools and fixing crap that wasn’t done right the first time.”

Darlene Lennie, executive director of the Metis Capital Housing Corporation, gives Mike Holmes a Metis sash.

Ninety units of affordable seniors housing will be built in the area of 103 A Avenue between 95 Street and 96 Street and will cost $22 million. Thirty of the units will be barrier free. The project is expected to be completed within 18 months of the contract award this fall.

Some of Holmes’ goals for the project are to ensure that it’s mold proof and fire resistant and self-sustaining, though it won’t be net zero. He believes it’s possible to build homes that are affordable and energy efficient.

“I’m about thermal break technology, not a thermal barrier technology. Thermal barrier would be the minimum code,” Holmes said and used a glass of ice water to illustrate a thermal barrier. “Let’s think cooler. That’s a thermal break… if we lived in a cooler, you heat with a candle, cool it with an ice cube and it’ll hold it for three days.”

Balancing affordability and efficiency

Because this project is affordable housing, the first multi-unit affordable housing project for Holmes Homes, making it net zero may not be the best choice, though energy efficiency is still an important part.

“Net zero, at this time, actually exhibits a law of diminishing value towards the final last little bit,” said Seth Atkins, director of Holmes Homes. “This is affordable housing so every single dollar that is spent on this project needs to have maximum value behind it.

“We come in and prioritize the green and sustainable initiatives for the project to allow that to happen and to identify what ones can have a payback that will allow it to increase the sustainability life of the project itself.”

The Holmes Group’s schedule is full at the moment, but Atkins indicated that they have been paying attention to what happened in Slave Lake.

“Darlene (Lennie, executive director, Metis Capital Housing Corporation) and the Metis have had units in Slave Lake that were affected by the fires so we’ve been in discussion with them around that,” said Atkins.

Holmes said the project will be documented, but wasn’t specific on what final form that will take.

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