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Pembina Institute unGALA 2017

Sheena was at the Pembina Institute’s unGALA last Thursday.  It was held in he Fermenting Cellar in the distillery district: a beautiful example of post-and-beam architecture.   The theme was “Cowgirls and Cowboys ride herd on climate policy“ and there was certainly a lot to talk about what with an unusually mild — and grey […]

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SBE16: Toronto – Arborus Consulting – Low Carbon Heating using Off-peak Electricity

The second post in our series re-capping the Sustainable Built Environment Conference September 19th and 20th in Toronto will feature a presentation by Arborus Consulting group’s R. Hutcheson, S. Jorens, and D. Knapp on  “Low carbon heating for commercial buildings using grid-supplied electricity during Off-peak periods.”  It is a very fascinating idea that holds a lot of potential (as our notes […]

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Occupant Behaviour and Net-zero Design

The focus of this blog post is on how occupant behaviour effects designing buildings for net-zero. The topic of user-behaviour and net-zero design came up when we were analyzing the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) energy modelling software for a net-zero energy envelope retrofit project this week.  We noticed that the clothes dryer used close to 20% of […]

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Changes to Ontario Building Code SB-12

New changes in the Supplementary SB-12 “Energy Efficiency for Housing” section of the Ontario Building Code were announced on  July 7, 2016. These changes,  which come into effect January 1st, 2017 and include:   – New prescriptive compliance packages that provide minimum 15 per cent energy efficiency improvement over existing packages – Drain water heat recovery units […]

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Ontario’s Climate Action Plan and Homes

“Climate change is a fact in our daily lives — raising the cost of our food, causing extreme weather that damages property and infrastructure, threatening outdoor activities we love, and melting winter roads that provide critical seasonal access to remote northern Indigenous communities. It affects every aspect of our lives, so it is our collective […]

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Frank Llyod Wright Inspired Parry Sound Cottage

At Coolearth we are currently working with a couple to build their retirement home just outside of Parry Sound. The clients were attracted to Coolearth because of our sustainable specialization as well as portfolio of modern homes.  At the first design consultation they brought arm fulls of books on Frank Llyod Wright’s houses: and we […]

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The Goal: Zero Greenhouse Gas Building, A Manifesto

Getting to the right vision, and expressing it simply, is not easy. Zero Green House Gas Emissions (GHG) is the right vision for us, because it says what we need to accomplish most succintly. 1.) Do we care about all Green House Gases? Yes. Therefore we need to stop burning gas entirely, starting now. The […]

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Designing for Future Ontario Climates – Homes and Cottages

Map showing the extreme daily maximum temperature change in degrees Climate change is topping national, provincial, and municipal conversations these days: and for good reason.  The fast few years have been the warmest on record (“NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015“) and the perils of business-as-usual become apparent. Ontario is implementing a Cap and […]

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Paper as Insulation

At the firm as part of our conversation around insulation types, one of the Principals, Marty, mentioned that we have been using newspaper to insulated walls for hundreds of years. Indeed if anyone has done a renovation or addition to a home in Toronto from the early 1900’s, they might have found old newspapers still […]

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Reframing “Sustainable” Payback: Cost or Comfort?

A common element in Sustainable Design is projected payback period. Payback is in this sense defined as cost savings in dollars that the sustainable measure will have over the long term, i.e by using less electrcity or natural gas. Here is an example of a typical pay-off calculation:   If the typical home is 1500 […]

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