Residential Construction Method for Toronto Climate

SUSTAINABLE.TO is literally pushing the envelope.

Toronto’s climate challenges how we construct our homes and buildings. We have very cold winters and hot, humid summers, so great stresses are placed on the building envelope. Imagine a winter when the inside surface of the wall is 20°C, and the outside surface is -10°C. That’s a 30°C difference your wall has to maintain!

The challenge: to reduce the heat loss of our homes using a thin, efficient wall that is suitable for Toronto’s narrow properties. Traditional homes are wood-framed, either 2x4 or 2x6, and filled with batt insulation. We have been building our homes this way for over a century - not because it makes sense, but because our thinking has not evolved to suit the current rising cost of energy and expectations for occupant comfort.

Modern building science has evolved our understanding of how buildings perform, and has led us to a few realizations; we don’t use enough insulation, and heat loss through the studs is greatly reducing the effectiveness of the insulation we use.

Many houses in Ontario are seeing the value in adding an inch or two of exterior insulation, but that is just the beginning. At S.TO, we have a dream. We see the future of the building envelope in cold climates like Toronto, and it looks something like this:

  • More insulation! And more effective insulation.
  • Insulation is on the EXTERIOR of the structure, improving its effectiveness and increasing the lifespan of the structure by keeping it warm.
  • There is only ONE CONTINUOUS MEMBRANE wrapping the structure, that will improve air-tightness and better manage water, moisture and vapour.

In order to realize our dream, the team at SUSTAINABLE.TO is building a test structure to leave in place over the winter. We will be testing it to verify its effectiveness, improve construct-ability, and fine-tune it for future projects.

Stay tuned for more on METHOD.TO

Toronto, ON
Project Architect:
Craig Race
Insulation Provider
Modus Homes
Greenbilt Homes
Window Provider
Ridley Windows & Doors
Building Products Provider
Herrmann's Timber-Frame Homes