EllisDon is taking a leap into the affordable housing sector with a new division and a skills and resource package that will tap into the firm’s broad resources across the country.
The new group, EllisDon Community Builders (EDCB), was launched Feb. 10. EDCB starts with the practical advantage of access to EllisDon’s 300,000-square-foot modular manufacturing plant in Hamilton, Ont. that is ready to ship housing modules almost anywhere in Canada.
EDCB vice-president Nicholas Gefucia noted the firm already has a track record of building affordable housing, mainly in Western Canada, and has invested significantly in sector-specific research and development to ensure it can embark on projects with a comprehensive package of ready-made solutions.
“What we want to do is support non-profit organizations or municipalities with their housing mandate and missions and what we need to do in order to do that is become involved as early as possible to understand what that mandate and mission is,” said Gefucia.
He explained the approach is “holistic” in that from the get-go of consultations EDCB will be able to offer owners a variety of product offerings with options for energy performance, greenhouse gas emissions, accessibility, whole-life performance and other developer imperatives.
“We can do zero carbon, we can do Passive House or different iterations thereof. So part of the competitive advantage is the R-and-D effort that we put in for the affordable housing space, taking all the data and information from the different jurisdictions in Canada.”
The new group will come to each job with established in-house capacity, said Gefucia, offering construction expertise working as a design-builder, experience on social projects such as hospitals and schools and “all the other pieces that go into the project, creating a very significant feedback loop.”
The in-house expertise, Gefucia said, extends to extensive experience incorporating sophisticated social principles.
“I think what you’ll see is a lot of programmatic assets,” he said. “Affordable housing, and any other things that would kind of have a programmatic social outcome, I think that’s where you’re going to see our successes.”
Many projects will be modular, using EllisDon’s modular technology, ED Modular, but some might be more appropriate for a conventional process, he said.
“Modular is great but sometimes conventional can be a better solution for certain types of projects. But modular is really, really great if you have a pretty certain view of the unit mix and all the other factors in the site that are amenable to a modular construction solution.”
Gefucia noted that accelerated modular building of affordable housing has taken off recently.
The federal government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation launched its Rapid Housing Initiative last year with an initial outlay of $1 billion for the first year and some projects successfully completed within nine months.
“One of the strengths of modular is that you can be manufacturing while doing site work,” Gefucia said, “So it really can expedite the schedule very, very meaningfully.”
He said the geographic scope for potential projects ranges from Windsor, Ont. to the Far North.
In terms of project launches, news from the new group will be released shortly.
“There’ll be a few announcements I expect to make in the next few days. We’re going to be working on projects with a modular solution.”
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