Sustainability 101 : Our Story / by Sustainable

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Welcome to the Sustainability 101 educational blog series! During this blog series we will be discussing topics related to sustainable design in buildings, what they are and how they comprise part of our design philosophy.

We will be releasing blogs on these topics: Passive Solar design, Building Shell, Building Materials, Renewable Energy, Water Use, and Natural Ventilation.

This blog series will be written by Steve Socha, an architect here at the firm, and by Kelsey Saunders, our firm’s lead Building Scientist.  Before we begin we wanted to give you some background on us so that you can understand our goal for the Sustainability 101 blog series and our passion for sustainable building strategies.

Sustainable is a leading Canadian full-service architectural practice guided by Principal Architect Paul Dowsett and his more than three decades of green architectural experience. As architects, designers, and building scientists, we seek to deliver healthy, affordable, and energy-efficient architectural solutions at every scale from renovations and single-family dwellings, to master planning and institutional new builds.

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Our firm is founded on the principle that sustainable development is the only way to ensure a positive and healthy future for all. Consider this: people spend over 90% of their time indoors, and we spend a significant amount of resources, energy and money to construct, condition and maintain them. In light of this, careful and sensitive design becomes a key process to promote health and well-being for everyone.


At Sustainable, we integrate sustainable design strategies into each and every project to achieve health, environmental, and economic benefits, targeting a symbiosis between the three p’s of “people, planet, and profit”. While not always easy to find the perfect balance between the three p's, it is through collaborative efforts that we get as close to it as possible.

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Our development approach follows the model of the trias energetica which states that the most sustainable energy is saved energy, which also happens to be the cheapest! So first, we REDUCE the energy demand through energy saving measures such as insulation and airtightness. Second, we REUSE nature’s energy through passive means using strategies that capture free heating from the sun and natural ventilation. As a final measure, we RECYCLE nature’s energy through active strategies such as solar panels to convert the sun’s energy into electricity and hot water. And as an absolute last resort, we would use fossil fuels to gather necessary energy. Our goal for all our projects is healthy, affordable and energy-efficient buildings that are comfortable, beautiful, and built to last.

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Sustainable is internationally recognized as a sustainability expert and we often try to engage in conversations with academic, professional, trade, as well as public audiences every chance we get. This allows us a range of opinions when we are designing in order to optimize for all users involved.


We have also received numerous local and international awards and recognition for our work, which have also been widely published throughout the world.

That concludes our introduction to the blog series!

Stay tuned for our next blog in the Sustainability 101 series.

*The Sustainability 101 lecture series is made as a supplemental learning initiative for high school students across Ontario