The value of measuring energy efficiency in multi-unit residential buildings
January 2, 2024
Energy efficient buildings are extremely important to the future of Canada’s housing industry. Not only is the federal government aiming to have all new homes Net Zero Energy Ready by 2035, energy efficient homes help homeowners and building operators save money on energy costs and insurance claims. The Silver Sage Housing Corporation Horse Dance Lodge / misatimosimôwin mîhkowâp is 28% more energy efficient than code and will consume 48% less heating energy than a code-built equivalent building. But how did we get those numbers? And why is it important to have these measurements?
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NICHI working alongside Indigenous-led service providers to tackle housing insecurities
November 7, 2023
National Indigenous Collaborative Housing Inc. (NICHI) was created in 2022 to help address the pressing issues of housing adequacy and security — to maintain and create housing and to enforce it as a human right for Indigenous people living in urban, rural, and northern communities across Canada. Many of these communities are facing a severe lack of affordable and safe housing, which is only furthered by buildings with infestations, poor water, and in unsafe locations. NICHI aims to help those experiencing housing insecurity, whether it be homelessness, precariously housed, or at risk of violent situations.
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Reoccupying the land: Horse Dance Lodge sets a new standard for transitional housing
October 26, 2023
For many First Nations peoples, a safe and affordable home has been strategically kept out of reach – they were not allowed off the reserve for a time period, not allowed to own a house on the reserve, and unable to build equity as generations of non-Indigenous people have done, and Architect David Fortin says a project like the Silver Sage Housing Corporation Horse Dance Lodge is a step in the right direction to start addressing these types of inequalities.
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Prairie provinces pave the way: Affordable housing initiatives in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba
September 25, 2023
Canadians need housing now, and prairie provinces are offering initiatives that offer support to community-minded organizations that want to provide affordable housing solutions. With the federal government announcing plans to remove GST from eligible purpose-built rental developments effective Sept 14, 2023, and striking Housing Accelerator Fund deals with the City of Calgary and other local governments, Big Block CEO Alex Miller expects more bold action to follow at the provincial and municipal levels.
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YWCA Saskatoon announces expansion to empower women in need
September 7, 2023
YWCA Saskatoon has announced an exciting expansion of its Crisis Shelter & Residence, with the organization embarking on a transformative journey to address the urgent need for safe and supportive housing in the community. The expansion project involves the construction of a new 35-unit transitional housing development, aimed at providing affordable residential units and support programming to women and their children who are fleeing traumatic and violent situations.
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Maximizing efficiency: The unique process of designing for modular construction
August 17, 2023
Designing housing for modular construction is a unique process in the building industry — it requires careful consideration from the early stages of the project to ensure efficient and cost-effective results. There are some specific methods modular-built housing uses that differ from traditional stick building, including building for increased rigidity during transport and craning. We also try to complete as much as possible in the factory, especially in areas where on-site labour is both premium and scarce. These types of considerations change the way we need to approach our projects.
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National Housing Co-Investment: Capital for affordable, energy-efficient and accessible housing
August 4, 2023
With the latest round of CMHC’s Rapid Housing Initiative closed, community-minded organizations building housing are looking for other opportunities for funding. One place for organizations to look is the CMHC’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF), which is for new affordable housing, as well as the renovation and repair of existing affordable and community housing.
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Build anything: Unlocking the potential of modular construction
June 13, 2023
One of the misconceptions about modular construction is that it’s only useful for certain types of projects, like single-family homes, townhouses or small apartments. There are situations where a project isn’t the right fit for modular, and Big Block is happy to choose a stick build in those situations. That said, modular construction is becoming increasingly sought-after for building wood-frame multi-family developments across the housing continuum, including townhouses and low to mid-rise residential and mixed-use complexes.
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Applying lessons learned from rapid housing to Canada’s Housing Accelerator Fund
June 2, 2023
Saskatchewan has outpaced the national average for construction progress under the Rapid Housing Initiative with 100% of units approved under the first two RHI rounds completed by this fall. The key is collaborative partnerships and advanced construction methods. This article examines what development productivity looks like in practice, and how it relates to the CMHC’s new Housing Accelerator Fund.
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Modular vs. stick build: The pros and cons of factory and on-site construction
April 5, 2023
As a development partner, Big Block brings two primary methods of construction to the forefront of a project: stick-built and modular construction. Stick-built refers to the traditional method of building a home on-site, while modular construction involves constructing a home in a factory setting and then transporting it to the building site. When we’re helping our partners navigate the development journey, we also need to help them evaluate which method is right for the project. 
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