Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Your Home Renovation Begins TODAY

Home Addition: second storey was added onto a bungalow and over the garage, by Wo-Built Inc.
Image: Second Story Addition by Wo-Built

So the leaves are falling, the mercury is dropping, and the last thing on your mind is that major home renovation, addition, extension, demolition, or new build. Time to rethink your timing.
Don’t wait until Spring to start planning your new build or kitchen; home addition or extension.

Fall is the best time to start looking at a major building or home improvement project. As with most things in life, it’s best not to procrastinate. And getting a jump on everyone else in terms of planning has many advantages.
  • 1. Planning and design. You do not want to rush the planning and design phase of your building project, especially an addition, luxury kitchen upgrade, etc. Taking your time to design what’s going to work best for your house and budget pays of big time.
  • 2. Choose your contractor and sub-trades. Get them while they’re not as busy as thy will be in the Spring. Best to negotiate when their schedules are fairly light (as is their cash flow). The old “supply and demand” adage applies here.
  • 3. Budgeting and financing. By getting a jump on your home or small business renovation project, you have an opportunity to adjust your budget and/or apply or additional financing should you find your original estimates were off.
  • 4. Treat your partner / family with a huge Christmas present. By arranging next season’s home improvement project now, you can surprise your companion and/or family at Christmas with a truly unique gift that literally keeps giving for years to come.
  • 5. An investment for this year. Although you should check with your financial advisor and/or accountant, it’s quite possible you can write off a portion of your renovation (especially if it’s for an office, small business, or your run a home-based business).

As always, you want to work with a design and build contractor who works together with you as your advocate: a company who wants more than to get another project; rather, a satisfied customer. Wo-Built is just such a design & build contracting firm.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: How to Turn Your Bungalow into a Dream House Mansion What to Do When You Outgrow Your House? Move or Be Moved? Five Things to Remember when Making Your Old Bungalow New Again

BMO Financial Group News Releases: BMO Home Renovation Survey: Nearly Half of Canadians Planning Home Renovations This Fall
- Most popular Fall renovation projects include bathroom, kitchen and bedroom
- More than half plan to spend less than $1,000; one-third expect to spend up to $5,000

- Canadians relying mostly on savings to fund renovations; taking a DIY approach to save money

Marketwire - Oct. 29, 2012

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Inventors’ Co-operative focuses on Green Building Innovations

Images: Inventors Circle, Credit:
Innovation Initiative event to feature Alex Waters, Senior Manager, Living City Campus, Kortright Centre for Conservation

Tonight, Wo-Built will be attending a non-profit forum supported innovative business, part of Inventors Circle, touted to be the world’s first inventors co-operative.

The featured guest speaker this evening will be Alex Waters, Senior Manager, Living City Campus, Kortright Centre for Conservation.

The Living City Campus at Kortright is Canada’s largest green building and sustainable technology centres. The most active research project is two LEED Platinum Archetype Sustainable Houses.

Sustainable House Model - Living City Campus at Kortright, Canada, image by
Image: Sustainable House Model.

Mr. Waters will overview some of the unique technologies built into the houses as well as the latest research being conducted in green buildings and sustainable technologies. The houses have become a test facility for near-market technologies or new concept designs. The campus facilitates partnerships between business, universities and funding organizations to help accelerate green building innovations.

Peapod Life Rooftop Garden with Indoor Ecosystem, image rendering by
Image: Rendering: Peapod Life Rooftop Garden with Indoor Ecosystem

Wo-Built welcomes this opportunity to network with inventors  and other innovators and looks forward to learning about others’ green initiatives and technologies and sharing information about its own Peapod Life initiative.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Become a "Top Employer" – Install an Indoor Ecosystem!

Image: Indoor Ecosystem and Breathing Wall for Club Monaco Employees
There’s no question that attracting and retaining quality people is a challenge faced by many businesses these days. The competition for skilled workers—be they blue collar or white—can be fierce among competitors and the stakes can be very high indeed, from present quality to future innovation.

It’s safe to say that for an institution like the Bank of Canada, having top-notch talent is integral given its high-stakes activities. From forecasting economic growth to calculating domestic interest rates, careless mistakes by employees at the BoC could have dire financial and economic repercussions.

Perhaps that’s why the BoC decided to include an indoor tropical garden complete with a waterfall in its 1979 addition. While not an ecosystem per se, the garden literally brings to life the building’s atrium.

Image: The Bank of Canada’s interior tropical garden with waterfall is one of the reasons 
why it was selected one of Canada’s Top 100 Employees for 2013.
"The Bank of Canada Building is the head office of the Bank of Canada, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The glass structure behind the original 1937 structure was completed in 1979 by the firm Marani Rounthwaite & Dick (successor to Marani, Lawson and Morris) and Arthur Erickson. The building contains an enclosed courtyard with a large tropical garden bordering a shallow pool which is very popular with wedding photographers, and a three-ton Yap Stone."

Source: Bank of Canada Building 
Image Credit: Wikipedia: Inside the new glass addition 
to the Bank of Canada building. Author: Jonathon Simister

The indoor garden space is among several initiatives to improve work environment and contribute to positive work-life balance for employees, including:
"…onsite fitness facility (with partially subsidized membership for employees and their families), rooftop terrace and outdoor eating area, nap room, quiet room for meditation and reflection…"
~ Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2013: Bank of Canada

Wo-Built’s Peapod Life Building EcoSystems and Technology
offers businesses of all sizes an opportunity to increase employee morale, as well as their focus and productivity.

Panasonic installed an ecosystem in the cafeteria as a "gift" for their employees. Within weeks, salespeople started conducting sales meetings in the cafeteria and reported an increase in sales!

Image: Cafeteria Living Wall Ecosystem at Panasonic

Of course, it takes more than just a living wall to skyrocket into the "best in class" employers list. But one cannot deny the powerful gesture providing indoor garden space to employees represents, especially in Canada, where "tropical paradise" usually means going on vacation, not going to work!

If you don’t have an employee wellness and satisfaction program, Peapod Life is the perfect "anchor" to start developing one. If your business already does have such programs in place, Peapod Life is the perfect way to take them to a whole new level.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Playing to Win-Win-Win

Image Montage: Screenshots from Amanita Design’s Indie Game Botanicula
Images source: Amanita Design: Botanicula - Point and Click Exploration Game

Botanicula charms its way into our Hearts by letting us dive into an imaginary ecosystem under threat.

At Wo-Built, we like to have fun. From our own home-grown cartoon character Wobinna, to our childlike-wonder and amazement of nature at the heart of Peapod Life, we believe a healthy dose of light-heartedness and innocence is just what people need in today’s crazy world.

Most of us are stuck in patterns that dictate our lives; ones we’ve come to accept as normal. Like machines, we go to work, make money, go shopping, eat, sleep, wake, wash, rinse and repeat.

Our world is becoming more and more technologically complex. The ominous effect an intensely mechanistic, automatic way of life has on us is entrenched programming on our psyche: reactive behaviors; absolutist beliefs. Intellect and economy rule—matters of the heart take a back seat.

We are jaded, bored, disenchanted with the world. We’ve seen it all, done it all, and unless something is viscerally spectacular, shocking or completely over-the-top, we shrug or yawn or tune out altogether.

But every now and then something comes along that is simple, charming, and hauntingly beautiful; something which, despite its meekness, we find it utterly arresting and compelling. Botanicula, the latest effort by Czech indie game developer, Amanita Design, is just such a thing. Watch the video:

Botanicula is a beautiful point and click adventure puzzle game 
that launches for the PC and Mac on 19th April. Find out more at
Published on Apr 5, 2012 by StrategyInformercom1

Amanita Design demonstrates how technology can turn us back into bright-eyed, innocent, curious children exploring and discovering our world for the first time. In this case, we find ourselves exploring a stylized version of nature … and possibly our own nature as a humanity run amuck in the world.

Botanicula is a game of pure discovery and exploration. A point-and-click hunt for “Easter eggs” and solutions to the innumerable challenges faced by a small band of unlikely heroes in a fantastical ecosystem under threat from an ominous darkness.

But why are you still stuck here passively reading this blog? Go play the FREE DEMO at and go find the inner child inside you!

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: Botanicula is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Amanita Design.
Botanicula follows the adventure of five botanical creatures that are trying to save the last seed of their home tree from evil parasitic creatures that have infested their home.

Watch more on auto-generated by YouTube topic - Botanicula 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Gala Salutes Green Innovation and Inspires Consumer Education

Collage by Wo-Built: "Keep this Consumer Clean"
Image Credits: MS Office ClipArt: "Clean planet sign in grass field" 

+ "Bald man with a barcode on his forehead".

Partners in Project Green is a growing community of businesses working together to green their bottom line by creating an internationally-recognized 'eco-business zone' around Toronto Pearson.”

Keynote Speaker Raises the Importance of Greening Consumers "in the Home"

Last Thursday, Wo-Built attended the annual gala awards ceremony of Partners in Project Green (PPG). This networking organization helps businesses reduce energy and resource costs, uncover new business opportunities, and address everyday operational challenges in a green and cost-effective manner.

On that note, keynote speaker John Coyne, V.P. of Legal and External Affairs at Unilever Canada, made some fascinating observations about the lifecycle of Unilever consumer products.

As a world leader in sustainable business, Unilever tracks the resource intensity of its products from sourcing of raw materials straight through to manufacturing, shipping, sale, consumption, and post-consumer waste disposal. The results were not surprising.

On average, over 60% of resource intensity (energy, water, etc. used) takes place in the hands of consumers. This means no matter how sustainable Unilever makes its operations, the majority of consumption because of their products is beyond their control. Or is it?

Mr. Coyne outlined a number of strategies for educating consumers to use their products in more sustainable ways (such as taking shorter showers), most of them limited to their product in some way (i.e. packaging).

Wo-Built suggests another, more all-encompassing approach. To green the consumption of packaged household goods in the home, why not start by greening the house? To change consumer behaviour, one must change their environment. The reason is simple: we are all products of our environment. Sending them important educational information on package labels is also important, but imagine how much more potent such info will be if read within a living ecosystem!

Below is a small ecosystem installed in a High School. Similar units can dramatically improve the environment in homes, condos, small offices, and more. Impact of larger installations is even greater: visually, aesthetically and viscerally. You can feel the difference an indoor ecosystem makes.

Peapod Life Image: Small ecosystem installed in a High School.

We are all about educating consumers: in their home, at work, play, school, shopping, et al. Our approach is "show, don’t tell." The power of natural systems to inspire imaginations just by being there is extraordinary. Interacting with nature produces practical experience (real knowledge aka wisdom). Watching kids’ & teens’ responding to even the simplest ecosystems is magic. Being in the presence of one as an adult makes you feel like a kid again: youthful, rejuvenated … truly alive.

Wo-Built wishes to thank Unilever for its foresight and leadership in recognizing the importance of having a positive influence on consumer behavior with regards to sustainability.

We also wish to congratulate all the individuals and organizations who received awards from the PPG for leadership and excellence in the areas of sustainability, particularly those recognized for empowering people to become more environmentally responsible.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: New Sustainable Business Leaders Emerge from the Pearson Eco-Business Zone
Partners in Project Green announced the recipients of the 2012 Partners in Project Green Sustainability Awards and winner of the People Power Challenge at Thursday’s fall networking event. Toronto and Region Conservation for The Living City: New Sustainable Business Leaders Emerge from the Pearson Eco-Business Zone
Media Release, Oct 16, 2012

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Renovation Revelation: When “I know a guy” can be the worst approach to your new kitchen

Renovation Revelation: When “I know a guy” can be the worst approach to your new kitchen, collage by
Collage by Wo-Built: “Some guy you know” turns your home renovation into disaster area.
Image Credits: MS Office ClipArt: handyman + stylish woman thinking + thought bubble + house disaster.

I recently heard from an old friend of the family whose household is knee-deep in a major kitchen renovation (in fact, a back extension to their home). After making some simple inquiries, the flood gates opened and suffice it to say, I ended up "hearing all about it."

For starters, this individual said the building inspector has been essential to the project.  I asked her to clarify and she explained how he had caught several major problems in how the foundation, framing, and other work was completed, and was the one who told them they needed to be done.

You can imagine that in short order I was inquiring who they had hired to do the home addition. "Oh, a past client of mine," she replied.  Without getting into any details whatsoever about the kind of work she does and the kinds of clients she works with, let’s just say that "this guy she know" is not so much a "certified licensed contractor with years of experience," and more "someone does renos."

Okay, we all know SOMEONE "who does renos" …so what?  Is that a reason to hire them? Friendship is one thing. Acquaintance is another. A business relationship of any kind, no matter how amicable, is something else entirely…none can tell you much about the competence, experience and reliability of a general contractor. 

The costs of renovating your kitchen the wrong way, having to pay extra just to tear it down and pay again to do it right should give anyone pause to consider exactly who they are choosing to work with (and why). "Buyer beware" should be added to "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t."

And my friend with the botched kitchen extension? She wishes she hadn’t had gone with "some guy she knew" but rather, someone she trusts, respects, who she knows would have steered her to a contractor with experience and integrity. She wishes she would have called me to get referred to Wo-Built.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: Kitchen Design Tips - Why to Remodel?
In Canada a large modern kitchen ranks as one of the most important selling feature of a home. In fact, some experts estimate that a remodeled kitchen can increase the sale of a house by at least twenty percent. Even if selling your house isn't your objective, you might still be considering a kitchen remodel. Kitchen Upgrade – Plan Yours Today!
In today’s tight economy, many people are on the lookout for relatively inexpensive updates for their homes. Kitchen Designs – Are We Missing the Boat?
... it struck me what had been bothering me for months about contemporary kitchens: the lack of innovation on a large scale. We have innovation in appliances and in new materials, but not in the fundamentals: the way we store things and the way we consider work and counter space.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

New Codes, Better Buildings: 2012 Green Building Festival, October 11 & 12

Toronto Green Building Festival 2012 at Evergreen Brick Works, October 11-12, 2012, screenshot
October 11-12, 2012 at Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto

Being environmentally conscious, eco friendly and green we, at Wo-Built, are always striving to minimize the ecological footprint in all our projects, and our passion is energy conservation and green building design. We like to tell everybody about upcoming 2012 Green Building Festival this October 11 & 12 at the Evergreen Brick Works.

2012 Green Building Festival
Dates: October 11 & 12, 2012
Location: Evergreen Brick Works,
550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4W 3X8

About the Green Building Festival
The Green Building Festival is Canada’s most comprehensive conference on green building design, operations, technologies, and materials. Since 2005, the Festival has brought together industry leaders from across the country and around the world to transform the building industry through educational presentations, technical training, and interactive workshops.

Living Building Challenge Keynote aims to inspire at 2012 Green Building Festival
At the 2012 Green Building Festival on October 11th & 12th, key decision-makers and opinion leaders in the sustainable building sector – including experts such as Jason F. McLennan, CEO of the International Living Future Institute, the Seattle-based hub for visionary green building programs, Edward Mazria, Founder of Architecture 2030 and developer of the widely-adopted 2030 Challenge, and Mario Cucinella, the renowned Italian architect who has won dozens of major awards in international competitions – will gather with a range of players from across the burgeoning sector at the beautiful Evergreen Brick Works – Toronto’s LEED Platinum ‘Centre for Green Cities.’

The new Ontario Building Code, Low-Impact Development Guidelines, and the move from prescriptive to performance-based standards are the timely topics that drive core programming at the 2012 Green Building Festival. Sustainable building experts will address the real world practicalities of understanding, meeting, and exceeding the new SB-10 energy efficiency requirements in the Ontario Building Code.

Other talks include:
Stream 1
Achieving Building Performance
    Meeting the Energy Requirements of the new Ontario Building Code
    Toronto Green Building Standard
    Archetype Condo Project
    Envelope & Glazing Options
    Mechanical System Options

Stream 2
Low-Impact Development
Full-Day Training Session
    Stormwater Fundamentals
    LID Planning & Design
    LID Construction & Supervision
    Financial Considerations

Stream 3
People & Buildings
Sustainable Behaviour
    How We Make Decisions
Current “State of the Art”
    Architecture, Building Controls, Occupant Cultures & Dashboards
Development Workshop
    State-of-the-Art & Leading Edge Pilot Options
Sustainable Buildings Canada: Enabling the building industry to measurably improve the performance of the built environment.

For more information, please read Green Building Festival New Codes, Better Buildings Brochure.
Follow #gbf2012 to stay on top of Green Building Festival news and updates.

Our Green Commitment
We are dedicated to being environmentally conscious and have embraced Green Design and Build Construction in all our projects. We strive to be the leading design and build company that is sought after for its innovative design and quality construction and one that is recognized for using their projects as a means to help women, the community and the environment.

The Next Big Thing in “Cleansing” ... Your House; House Plants

Image: Sick Building Syndrome

So you’ve probably heard a friend or colleague talk about doing a “cleanse” or going on a “cleansing diet” or possibly just adding certain superfoods (like chia, aloe vera, or certain fruits and fruit juices) to their regular diet for their “cleansing effect.”

Well, it turns out the next big thing in health and wellness may be to cleanse our home environment. And no, we’re not talking about squeaky-clean windows and floors. In fact, harsh chemical leaners and other toxins are what our buildings need to be cleansed from.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the levels of air pollutants inside homes can greatly exceed the levels outside. Household cleaning products, central heating and air-conditioning, off-gassing and other sources are the main sources of a handful of noxious chemicals.

From benzene and trichloroethylene to formaldehyde, our homes are rife with chemicals that accumulate in the indoor atmosphere over time thanks to off-gassing, particularly due to prolonged exposure to heat and/or changes in temperature.

Image: Common Sources of Airborne Formaldehyde in the Home.
Source: Yoshino Gypsum Co.,Ltd: Products / Solutions for Sick Building Syndrome

Luckily, certain plants can gradually scrub your home of airborne chemicals.  NASA research has indicated some of the most effective plants for cleaning dangerous compounds from the air include devil's ivy, peace lilies, Pleomele, gerbera daisies and Sansevieria trifasciata, commonly called snake plant. Two other plants, the ficus and Japanese aralia, were also shown to be effective. 

This is all well and good, but what about the plants?  Who or what scrubs the plants?  We contend the only way plants can continuously perform the service of cleaning the air is to ensure those plants are themselves in a vibrant, living ecosystem, like Peapod Life.

We have discussed sick-building syndrome before, and in our efforts to improve living conditions through advancements in building systems, such as Peapod Life Building EcoSystems and Technology, we will continue to educate the public with regards to the benefits of living with plants.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

link: Buildings need Doctors, too!
Oh yes, buildings can be sick. The term Sick Building Syndrome has been around for years and refers generally to air quality issues caused by inadequate heating and ventilation systems, outgassing of materials and organic compounds such as mold in the air. Mostly used for the work place, Sick Building Syndrome is also applicable for residential buildings.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Organics make List of Best New Restaurant Designs

Best New Restaurant Design: Tori Tori restaurant, Photo by Paúl Rivera, credit: Architectural Digest
Image: Mexico City’s Tori Tori restaurant by Rojkind Arquitectos and Esrawe Studios. 
Photo by Paúl Rivera

Architectural Digest has put a spotlight on a dozen restaurants whose designs, it says, are “as exciting as the cuisine.”

One eatery in particular caught our eye: Mexico’s Tori Tori restaurant by Rojkind Arquitectos and Esrawe Studios. Located in the Mexican capital’s residential Polanco district, where a three-story house once stood, a “glowing, futuristic cube of contemporary design” now takes centre stage in a lush garden-like setting. 

The restaurant’s glass walls are encased by a pleasantly organic mesh of precision-cut steel, while the striking geometric interior features a wooden-clad tea lounge with a lush living wall at one end. “This new branch of Katsumi Kumoto Kawasaki’s beloved Japanese restaurant focuses on traditional sushi and sashimi cut from the freshest seafood and features an extensive sake menu.”

We like it.  As far as Wo-Built is concerned, this building points toward a trend of contemporary organic design—combinations of natural materials and organic shapes with crisp lines and striking geometry.  In one way, it captures the essence of Peapod Life: the harmony of contemporary design and technology with natural elements.

Below is an indoor ecosystem installed at Tel-e-Connect Ontario by Peapod Life’s indoor Ecosystem Designer, Wolfgang Amelung.  Like all Peapod Life installations, the design, below, features a fully functioning aquaponic ecosystem.  The Tel-e-Connect installation also featured a multi-tiered waterfall.

Aquaponic Indoor Ecosystem, designer: Wolfgang Amelung
Image: Fully functioning aquaponic ecosystem by Peapod Life’s indoor Ecosystem
Designer, Wolfgang Amelung, designed for at Tel-e-Connect Ontario.

The original artists rendering (below) show how deliberate design choices were made for every item of rock, flora and fauna; and still, the finished product looks suitably “wild” (natural and organic).  Compare that with the typical vertical grid-layout of plants common in most living walls. 

Tel-e-Connect indoor ecosystem, designer, Wolfgang Amelung
Image: Original illustrations of Tel-e-Connect indoor ecosystem (above left) featured all plants
& other design details correctly drawn to scale (above right).

It is this special attention to detail that sets Peapod Life’s indoor ecosystems apart from other vertical gardens, on simply a level of design. Beyond design, living systems that flourish enjoy longevity and this makes ours cheaper in the long run (with much lower plant mortality and replacement costs.)

Our systems are also aquapoic; a step above hydroponic. Peapod Life features true ecosystems where flora and fauna live in balanced harmony within a contemporary living space, requiring very little maintenance and no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or supplements.

This all-natural quality of Peapod Life offers a huge potential for chefs and restauranteurs. Whereas Tori Tori in Mexico uses organics as a design element, Peapod Life believes the real opportunity for restaurants is to take indoor ecosystems to the next level—organic food production.

With Peapod Life, the architecture, design, and bio-design of the space can contribute directly to the value proposition of the cuisine being served. Far from a disassociated design language, Peapod Life is a value-added hospitality services enabler: local, organic, vine-ripened and fresh-picked, from garden to table, 365-days a year, right before your very eyes.

It’s another reason why we call it Peapod Life: form and function working together in perfect harmony; contemporary design, natural beauty and living ecosystems, all working together in a balanced way to enhance people’s experience.

For more information, contact us at

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build
link: Architectural Digest: Best New Restaurant Design
AD spans the globe to spotlight a dozen eye-catching eateries where the architecture and interiors are as exciting as the cuisine
Text by Andrew Sessa