We were initially under the assumption that we had to make an all-or-nothing choice: basically a) go 100% electric to get to zero carbon, or b) replace a gas furnace with a new gas furnace and lock in to a carbon-emitting heating system for the next 20 years – the estimated life of the system. That’s a false choice…
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.
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.
This is a forest ecosystem struggling for equilibrium, growth, and intelligence. It was clearcut just 30 years ago, and I have been observing and learning from this place for the past decade.
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
Image top: Seawolf skin-on-frame Kayak, image by Oliver Ludlow I’ve been struggling with an idea for a good thirty years. It has to do with maintenance and time, or entropy, but it can be summed up simply by asking what is the best way to skin a building. I’m not looking for conventional answers, as … Continue Reading
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
Today is the 50th anniversary of the iconic photo, Earth Rise, captured by the crew aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft in 1968. I was a child of the groovy, mellow, and high-tech 1970’s. The Space Shuttle wouldn’t fly until 1981, but it was promised to follow in the footsteps of the Mercury and Apollo programs. … Continue Reading
Above is a chart comparing energy use by source for a range of buildings in Canada, the latter 4 being projects in our portfolio. This represents the type and quantity of energy used per unit area of the given building, which we call Net-TEUI or Net Total Energy Intensity, as a function of building unit … Continue Reading
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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