Mattamy Homes Canada, Canada’s leading home builder, wants to redefine what industry leadership means through the lens of sustainability. Their innovative building processes of geothermal heating and cooling, net zero ready homes and integrated smart home technology, as well as their sustainable planning and design features, are shaping the future of living for a more sustainable Canada. They help achieve many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but mainly impact Innovation and Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Affordable and Clean Energy.
York University- Schulich School of Business
Mattamy Homes is Canada’s leading home builder, but as Mattamy’s president, Brad Carr says, it’s time to question what “leading” an industry means. It is no longer good enough to define a leading home builder as the builder with the largest volume or the most profit. Being a leader in an industry needs to mean moving the needle for sustainability. Mattamy has been around for almost 45 years, and over the years, giving back has been at their core. More recently, the organization is moving into baking sustainability into their internal business practices, and product and service outputs. In 2022, Mattamy set their sights on a new north star vision, “Reimagining the Future of Living,” where all stakeholders – the communities, the people living in the communities, the people that drive by the communities, and the people who work on and service the communities – are given consideration in decision-making.
To really drive the “Future of Living” vision, Mattamy has assembled an Innovations Committee (IAM), consisting of over a dozen leaders from different departments of the organization. IAM’s purpose is to bust silos and to develop new industry innovations by taking diverse areas of expertise into account. Through Mattamy’s push for sustainability and innovation, the home builder is delivering what homeowners want. Not only do they build communities with outdoor gardens and electric-car charging stations, but they have created sustainability playbooks for land development, outlining how to create less urban sprawl, and using new sector technology like Building Innovation Modelling for more accuracy in their material sourcing. Their most impactful innovation to date touches Net Zero Ready (NZR) building in Canada. NZR has three components:
1. Bringing down energy use through heating and cooling
2. Bettering the building of the homes (i.e., more air tightness)
3. Implementing solar panel readiness
Heating and cooling equipment accounts for 88% of a single detached home’s carbon emissions, so tackling the first criteria alone will make a large impact. Mattamy has developed one NZR community to date: Springwater in Markham, Ontario, as well as four Geothermal communities that tackle heating and cooling issues. Mattamy has also partnered with Fernsby, a smart home product that can be built straight into a new home or updated in an existing home, to help homeowners across Canada shrink their carbon footprint. Mattamy believes that sustainable home ownership should be a rule and not an exception, so the purpose of Fernsby is to make smart, renewable technology in homes the new normal. Fernsby creates a fully integrated ecosystem of technology that is built into your home, accessible through a convenient and easy application. It includes features like an Ecobee Theromostat, which helps home owners cut energy usage, thus saving up to 26% on energy costs.
What is a Geothermal Home?
Through collaboration with Geothermal experts, Mattamy leverages heating and cooling technology that works by harnessing the constant temperature of the earth. Even though the temperature above ground changes constantly, the temperature below ground remains a steady 58°F all year round. In the winter, the pipes absorb heat from the ground and pump it back into your home. In the summer, those pipes extract heat from the air in the homes and dissipate the heat into the ground. Hence, removing the need for furnace usage or a traditional air conditioner. Geothermal infrastructure supports the path to decarbonization and the Net Zero Targets that have been outlined by Southern Ontario and Canada, as well as the Paris Accord, to make the planet better for future generations. Through decarbonization and emissions reduction, Mattamy is helping Canada reach the SDGs set around climate change.
In true Canadian fashion, Carr used a hockey analogy to describe Mattamy’s future direction, saying “Wayne Gretzky, the best hockey player of all time, was head and shoulders above the rest because he was good at skating to where the puck was going to go, rather than waiting for it to get there and then chasing it.” Carr explains that you can’t wait for something to arrive before you start doing the right thing. He wants to ensure that Mattamy is taking incremental steps along a journey towards a future that we know is already upon us. Mattamy is inspired by two equally important motivators: humans and moral responsibility. As a parent, Carr thinks about his kids, and feels that for too long, we have been living in the present and have not been considering our impact on the future. Carr believes it is through the decisions we make today towards sustainability, that will leave the world in a better place for those who are coming tomorrow. This ties into Mattamy’s moral responsibility; if they really want to embody the “Canada’s leading home builder” title, then they have an obligation to transform the industry standards around building. Backing this mentality is founder and owner, Peter Gilgan, who is also an advocate for sustainable leadership in the home building sector, and is an integral part of the future of sustainability at Mattamy Homes.
Carr explains that it is more than just inspiration that drives Mattamy, but also the tools and capabilities they have at their fingertips that enable them to make real industry impact; this thinking really excites the Mattamy team. Mattamy could sit back and let other builders be pioneers, but when niche builders try to drive sustainable building, there is only an incremental change in the curve. When Mattamy jumps in with both feet, there is a big opportunity to scale quickly, and they can accelerate the adoption of sustainable homes by doing it en masse. This addresses the Industry Innovation and Infrastructure SDG, where Mattamy can help build resilient infrastructure and foster sector innovation. Mattamy believes the timing of their innovation creates a real opportunity, since right now, the sector rules and regulations around sustainability are not as far-reaching as they have the potential to be. Carr explains that when there is a necessity to do something and change rapidly, the change is very difficult to adopt. But since there is no real outside pressure on Mattamy to adopt this new technology, they can build a lot of momentum and scale their operations parallel to their existing successes.
Currently, Mattamy is expanding the introduction of geothermal communities across Ontario and Alberta, and each community can provide a greenhouse gas reduction of up to 90%. It was through their innovation and the research they conducted around it that they learned that home buyers understand that when you build a sustainable home, you are actually building a better-quality home (as outlined in the NZR criteria). For instance, a home that is more airtight, means that there is less air leakage. The benefit of this insight means that there is more likelihood of adoption from a consumer standpoint. Mattamy also encourages a bottom-up culture of innovation, which they believe will create more impact. They want all of their 1,400 employees to think through a lens of sustainability and really influence the entire sector through new ideas and ways of thinking from diverse perspectives. It is through this focused approach on impact and sustainability that Mattamy feels they will be the most successful.
Carr takes a different approach than most business leaders in defining sustainability success at Mattamy Homes. He doesn’t want to lead a company that sets a big, audacious 2050 goal that the organization may or may not meet. But rather, he wants to be purposeful in their journey, by understanding their starting point, building a team, setting a baseline and then setting incremental change targets annually as they move along. At Mattamy, they feel that the only way to get to success is one step at a time, rather than setting concrete, long-term plans.
As business leaders, Mattamy places stakeholders at the forefront of their consideration set. The major business benefits of sustainable building at Mattamy Homes are higher levels of employee engagement and retention, a higher level of customer satisfaction, and strengthening their triple bottom line. This stakeholder-first approach reaches further than just their employees and customers. It extends to trade partners, municipalities and to more positively impact everyone that their organization touches.
Employee Engagement and Retention
Carr feels that to attract and retain the best and brightest talent in the industry, they need to build brand values that align with their workforce. Employees are starting to demand that businesses take responsibility for their impact on the world, and place high value on the ethics and the vision of the company that they work for. Carr recalls that in the last few years, questions like “where does your company stand on sustainability?” or “what is your company willing to do for the environment, and also what about diversity and inclusion?” has drastically increased in the interview phase. How businesses respond to these questions impact how people feel about their employers. When speaking to other workers in the Mattamy organization, they echoed Carr’s theory, saying that the high value that Mattamy places on sustainability and industry transformation is a strong motivator for them as employees and helps guide their decision-making as it relates to the business.
Home buyers equate sustainable homes with better quality homes. Carr recognizes that customers are starting to demand sustainability; it is not optional or a “nice-to-have” anymore. They seek out companies that they feel are doing the right thing. By changing the way they build homes, Mattamy is preparing for a new cohort of customers that prioritize sustainable features and truly see the value in its benefits.
Strengthening Their Triple Bottom Line
By considering the triple bottom line, Mattamy continues to deliver value to all stakeholders. There is a premium attached to better built, sustainable products that will positively impact people, the planet we live on and Mattamy’s overall profitability. For that reason, Mattamy is eager to carry on with their journey of making a new market, scaling the market and getting the cost base of some of the products down, so other builders can tag along. From a business perspective, there is a lot of opportunity for Mattamy to make transformational impact at scale. Due to their size, Mattamy is able to scale quickly, drive down costs, attract customers who are morally aligned, and deliver on their sustainability promises in the long run.
Mattamy is driven by environmental impact for a healthy future, and making sustainable technology accessible for all home buyers. By eliminating the use of natural gases, reducing the use of natural gas in homes and reducing home energy consumption, geothermal can support the Affordable and Clean Energy, and the Sustainable Cities and Communities SDG. In Mattamy’s recently developed Views on the Preserve Community, it was estimated that the community alone would reduce a total of 630 annual tonnes of greenhouse emissions. The equivalent of taking 137 cars off of the roads every single year. Imagine the impact of building communities like that at scale. Mattamy was also able to calculate that in the next 50 years, their four geothermal communities alone will save a cumulative 72,060 tonnes of carbon emissions, the equivalent of driving an average passenger car around the earth 7,273 times. The societal benefits that Mattamy is contributing to Canada are a by-product of the environmental benefits. Geothermal is not only sustainable – cutting heating and cooling emissions by up to 92% – it is also a more affordable option and can reduce your home energy consumption by up to 44%, reducing your energy bill. Therefore, Mattamy is making environmental sustainability more accessible and affordable to the masses.
By bringing sustainable home awareness to Canadians, building communities routed in a sustainable future, and delivering affordable, sustainable solutions to the masses, Mattamy is making a real impact in the home building sector and shaping the future of sustainable living.
Brad Carr, President, Canada Mattamy Homes
Pawan Subherwal, Associate, Renewables Investment
Derek Cheung, Manager, of Building Information Management & Strategic Sourcing
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Toronto, Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Ontario and Alberta, CA
Business Website: https://mattamyhomes.com/
Year Founded: 1978
Number of Employees: 1001 to 5000
Mattamy Homes Canada is North America's largest privately-owned home and community builder. They are reimagining the way that we live and the expectations that we have of our homes.