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How Canadians are constructing North America's biggest green buildings

Emily Chung · CBC News · Posted: Dec 11, 2017 5:00 AM ET

Across Canada, green buildings are scaling up, including a university residence for 750 students and two highrise towers.

'The heat is already inside'

New challenges arise when you scale up to even bigger buildings, like the University of Toronto's Scarborough residence.

"This would be one of the biggest in the world — definitely the biggest in North America right now," says Deborah Byrne, a passive house designer for Kearns Mancini Architects. Byrne and her firm conducted a recent study to show it's possible to design such a huge residence packed with students as a functioning passive house.

The design of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus residence includes an eight-storey tower and a ten-storey tower, connected at the bottom by a black podium containing a huge dining hall and commercial kitchen, along with stores and student common areas. (Kearns Mancini Architects)

The design it came up with includes an eight-storey tower and a 10-storey tower, connected at the bottom by a black podium containing a huge dining hall and commercial kitchen, along with stores and student common areas.

The final design and build team will be chosen from a competition in January 2018. Construction will start in February and the first students are scheduled to move in in September 2020.

Byrne, who is the chair of the board for Passive House Canada, said while small passive houses rely on sunlight and a south-facing orientation to keep warm, that's not a problem for big buildings: "The heating is already inside."

In the U of T residence, heat will be generated by 750 students, 750 bar fridges, hundreds of hot showers each morning and a commercial kitchen cooking about 1,000 meals three times a day, along with hundreds of appliances like computers, hair dryers and laundry machines.

The upside is that passive highrises can be built anywhere, without worrying about their access to direct sun exposure, and don't need to be insulated as heavily as single-family homes.

But they're more of a challenge to cool. Byrne and her team have proposed cooling the U of T residence using a geothermal system.

For the complete article, please visit: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/passive-house-highrises-1.4437973

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