For many people who are in the market for a new home, the presence of radon gas is often an after-thought.
It typically takes a backseat to considerations such as square footage, number of bedrooms, and interior selections.
But as the second leading cause of lung cancer, among other health concerns, the way in which a home removes this naturally-occurring radioactive gas is crucial.
Radon — which is invisible, tasteless, and odourless — occurs when uranium in soil breaks down. When this gas builds up in enclosed spaces, such as homes, it becomes a substantial risk.
“It is important to address radon mitigation in homes because we are spending an increasing amount of time in our homes,” says Sandra Young, CEO for Pacesetter Homes in Edmonton.
“Children, especially, are usually down in the basement where radon gas has the highest concentration.”
There are several symptoms of radon gas in one’s home, including shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, and tightness in the chest.
With this in mind, Pacesetter has made eliminating radon gas in its homes efficiently and effectively a priority.
Starting in summer 2020, all homes by the veteran builder now include Cupolex technology, an innovative radon mitigation system, as a standard feature.
In Alberta, Cupolex is distributed by RMC Group of Companies.
Pacesetter offers single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes in communities in Edmonton, and neighbouring municipalities such as Stony Plain, St.Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Sherwood Park, and Spruce Grove.
At the 2020 Awards of Excellence in Housing, the builder’s Quincy in Summerwood model won in the category of Best Single-Family— $450,000-$500,000.
It also had homes place as finalists in six other categories.
Pacesetter is the only residential builder in the province to use Cupolex for radon mitigation.
“We know that protecting our clients from hidden dangers such as radon gas is important as a builder,” says Young. “We strive to innovate and to provide more value to our clients.”
The builder’s move to Cupolex was inspired by a recent national building code change that targeted radon due to its negative health effects.
This code change led to builders using a radon mitigation system that Young calls “less than optimal,” due to the restricted airflow through the substrate under the basement slabs.
“To explain this simply, the rock under the concrete basement floor creates resistance so it’s challenging to move enough air to effectively remove the radon gas,” Young says.
Cupolex is different. This system avoids the above mentioned challenge while delivering multiple additional benefits, as well.
Its engineered aerated floors use open space rather than soil to vent the slab.
This creates a highly-efficient air flow and vacuum.
The vacuum is formed below the building pulling any concentration of radon gas well below what conventional systems offer.
“At Pacesetter, we are always innovating and looking for ways to improve our homes,” says Young. “So, when we saw the Cupolex technology being used in commercial applications and its effectiveness at removing radon gas, we knew it was a much superior system and that we wanted to do the right thing and bring it to the residential market.”
Cupolex also eliminates the need for expensive liners or vapour barriers typically required for systems of this kind.
In addition to being more effective with venting, this technology improves constructability and limits long-term maintenance costs.
“A secondary benefit of Cupolex is that it can help prevent mold, which is a great home owner benefit,” says Young.
The value Pacesetter places on putting its customers in a position of advantage includes its membership with the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
“Pacesetter Homes has been a valued member of the Alberta New Home Warranty Program for over 20 years,” says Lisa Tyhy, Account Manager with The Program.
“Their construction standards, level of professionalism and innovative approach has made them a leader in the market,” she adds. “They believe in quality and provide that to each of their home owners by building homes that reflects their values.”
Young says Pacesetter’s membership with The Program is making a difference.
“Being a member of Alberta New Home Warranty Program is important to us because it allows our customers to have the peace of mind that we are a builder that stands by our standards and will do right by them in the event that something goes wrong,” she adds.