Architects as Energy Experts

Architects can and should use BEM or energy simulation tools for Design Optimization. Furthermore they can and should also be encouraged to use BEM for demonstrating Code Compliance. Lastly, Architects should also be encouraged to seek out professional certifications or designations such as LEED, Passive House and even EnerGuide or R2000 Evaluator designations in order to offer Certification Services, if they wish to expand their scope of practice.

ArchiCad, EcoDesigner and Passive House

The real promise of BIM/BEM (Building Information Modelling/Building Energy Modelling) is to get more, and better information faster directly from the process of creating architecture. This immediate performance feedback can streamline coordination, increase the parity between the design model and reality, and to optimize results.

Place, Race and Finance

Originally written as a letter to Barrie City Council, June 10, 2020 I am writing in the context of the increasing pressure for everyone, including place makers, to consider the deep social impacts of urban design and architecture on the well being of citizens. The recent #BlackLivesMatter protests demands across the board reforms that I … Continue Reading

Air is Life

While the current debate over the human diet seeks to settle the question of optimal health, both for the individual and for the planet (keto? veg? local?), few realize what a significant role the air we breathe has on our overall health. The fact that we can’t see, and can only vaguely smell the quality … Continue Reading

Thomson Architecture; A Family Legacy, sortof…

  Architecture is not an easy business. Just as with any career in a creative field, it’s not nearly enough to be talented. My grandfather, George James Valence (GJV) Thomson had an incredible eye, was a skilled craftsman, and had the education of an Architect from both Pratt Institute in NYC, class of 1933, and … Continue Reading

Robot Architect

If anyone had told me last year that starting in 2018 I would be using a robot to create measured plans of existing buildings, I would think that either a) they are whackos that over-estimate the capabilities of current technology or b) they must assume that I have unlimited funds to buy such equipment.  Neither … Continue Reading

Electric Motorcycles

Transportation architecture is a thing. Vehicle designer is a thing. Vehicle Architect? Nope. But here I will try. My hobbies have always involved going fast on/in a vehicle of some sort. In winter this has been snowboards, skis, even kayaks downhill! On water, windsurfing. On asphalt, bikes, skateboards and electric cars. And soon … eBikes. … Continue Reading

Building Permits, Why Bother?

Far from being a mere ‘cash-grab’ by municipalities, the application for and enforcement of the Building Code is considered the bare minimum requirement for a building to demonstrate that life safety requirements have been met. As one of my engineering professors in Germany once said, “Earthquakes seldom kill people, Buildings kill people”. In hindsight, I can see that it is actually the case that “People kill People” by turning a blind eye to regulations. One recent case in point was the Grenfell Tower fires in the UK…

From Pythagoras to Pizza

Who didn’t love making their first circle with a compass? Although a love of building blocks and form in general appeals to every kindergartener, it was this subtle abstraction of  the ‘geometry’, the graphic description of the rules of form that took hold of my imagination. I imagined that every footfall, the arc of every … Continue Reading

Strong Communities through Affordable Housing

Ordinary homes have become too expensive for ordinary citizens. The growth of housing costs have far outstripped income growth in recent years, resulting in what is now called the ‘affordability gap’. Many, if not most people will find themselves on the brink of over-extension if they try to find a way to purchase what is on the pages of the weekend … Continue Reading

Why a BCIN is not an Architect

So you are thinking of designing and building a home in the Province of Ontario? You have a number of options and factors to consider when engaging a Designer or Architect and Builder. I’ve been asked more than a few times to explain the difference between Architects, and the other kinds of  designers and design-builders out … Continue Reading

Residential Fees

When shopping around for professional services, it’s important to qualify your project requirements by answering a few key questions such as; What is the ‘going rate’ for an Architect? Aren’t Architects too expensive* to use for a simple house? Can’t I just hire a draftsperson to draw up my home? I’ve designed my home already, … Continue Reading

A Note on Passivhaus vs. R2000

I have lived and practiced green design in Germany, and I witnessed the introduction of the WSVO (Waermeshutzverordnung) firsthand in 1994. These were mandated changes to the levels of insulation required to be placed in the walls, roofs and floors of new buildings. At the time of my first R2000 build near Stuttgart (1996), I … Continue Reading

Tiny Homes – Are They Legit?

      Tiny homes are everywhere in popular media and the internet, and the meme has persisted for well over a decade now. With click-bait headlines like, “Man Builds Tiny Log Cabin For $500” and “You Can Turn A $2000 Shipping Container Into An Epic Off-Grid Home!” we get seduced into believing that if only we … Continue Reading

90,000km Later, Do I still Love Tesla?

  • April 11, 2014
  • Economy
  • 0 Comments
  • Andy Thomson

I have wanted an electric car since I was 16. Global warming and pollution was at the top of my mind. I biked everywhere, and imagined that in a future not so far off – EV’s would be widely available. Fast forward 26 years. Yes, that is how long it took. I expected my first … Continue Reading

The Eco Trailer Park

While smart growth and eco-developments have become part of the mainstream planning dialogue, trailer parks demonstrate a form of sustainable infrastructure and development patterns that already exist. The oft-snubbed trailer park is probably the most overlooked form of sustainable and affordable housing, a true diamond in the rough. With a little help from green design, … Continue Reading

Reinventing the Trailer Park

In 2009, Lisa Selin Davis wrote for Grist.org, which the Guardian subsequently picked up – article here –  about my vision for a greener trailer park – which I see as the future of suburban development for a number of reasons; the footprint is lighter on the earth, there is no disruption of landforms, infrastructure … Continue Reading

Structural Insulated Panel & Finish Systems – (SIPFS)

  • November 10, 2009
  • Research
  • 0 Comments
  • Andy Thomson

INNOVATION #1:. SIPFS: A Structural Insulated Panel and Finish System consolidating primary structure, thermal envelope and finishing system in a durable, modular system that assembles rapidly and easily on-site PROBLEM: Conventional construction is often per- formed on-site where builders are at the mercy of the elements as well as light conditions, dirt and debris and … Continue Reading

The Green Machine

THINK GOING OFF THE GRID MEANS A BIG CASH OUTLAY FOR SECLUDED LAND AND SOLAR PANELS? THINK AGAIN. VANCOUVER ECO-ACTIVISTS HAVE FIGURED OUT A WAY TO GO EASY ON THE EARTH, AND THE POCKETBOOK. July-August, 2002, by Rebecca Atkinson EXPENSIVE AND EXCLUSIVE, GREEN HOUSING IS TOO OFTEN RESERVED for those in the middle-age, high-income bracket. … Continue Reading