Story  by: Tiffany Mayer  – Saturday June 23, 2007


Local News – Right now, it’s just a big, weedy pile of dirt.

But the mound of muck behind 409 Niagara St. will soon give way to what’s believed to be St. Catharines’ first Energy Star housing development.

Twenty townhouse condos will be constructed with recycled materials, on-demand hot water systems, windows coated to lower heat flow through glass, and insulation in places often overlooked in older homes, such as garage doors.

Inside, the appliances will be fuelled by natural gas.

By next fall, the homes will be filled with people living a more energy-efficient existence.

They’ll also be living a greener one, too.

An Energy Star home – which all homes built in Canada from 2010 must be – reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about three tonnes a year.  But that isn’t what appeals to the Energy Star house hunter, explained Orhan Kermin, a manager of Premium Building Group, the townhouse complex developer.

“People are always looking for ways to save on energy costs and as energy costs go up and up, you can’t really control that.  You can only control what you use,”Kermin said.

It’s the first such project for the company, which had a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site Friday morning.

In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, the Up On Niagara complex is an infill development waling distance from amenities such as shopping and parks.

That means residents don’t have to rely too heavily on cars to get around.

Mayor Brian McMullan, who attended the ribbon-cutting, praised the development for adhering of Smart Growth principles.

Even though people in the market for an Energy Star house are motivated by the other green at the moment.  Premium president Anthony Continelli said consumers are thinking about the environment more and more when buying a home.

“It is something that is going to be more and more asked for by consumers.  We’re still at the early stages of it, ” Continelli said.  Ditto for the construction industry. With 2 1/2 years to go before the Energy Star guidelines become mandatory, those building homes are still adjusting.

That’s fine with Continelli, who is trying to keep his company ahead of the curve.

“It’s a pioneer thing,” he said about Up On Niagara.

“We are young. We are aggressive. We are out there and we want to be known as one of the leading advancements in the industry.”