A Healthier Home Starts Here.
Sustainable was founded on the principle that sustainable development is the only way to ensure a positive and
healthy future for all.
People spend a staggering 90% of their day indoors,
and a significant amount of money on maintenance
and operating costs.
We get you ahead of the curve by integrating sustainable design strategies into your home to achieve numerous health, environmental, and economic benefits: “people, planet, and profit”.
We work closely with you to define your needs, desires, and appetite for sustainability; then incorporate our proven building-science strategies to fine-tune the use, look and enjoyment of your new home.
Our practical approach to energy-efficient, healthy design will ensure you end up with a comfortable, beautiful, low-maintenance home that will last generations.
Our team thanks you for choosing Sustainable and for your commitment to building or renovating with the planet in mind. We look forward to creating something incredible.
Meet the Team.
We are leaders in pragmatic sustainability, showing that “simple is the new smart.”
The Trias Energetica
Reduce the energy demands of the house by providing a continuous air-barrier system and adding insulation effectively. These strategies which have the lowest cost and highest impact on efficiency.
Reuse nature’s energy through passive strategies, for example, we capture the winter sun for heat, shade & reflect the summer sun to keep the house cool, and utilize natural breezes for cooling and ventilation.
Recycle nature’s energy through active strategies such as solar panels to convert the sun’s energy into electricity and hot water, with wind turbines to convert wind energy into electricity, and through geo-exchange to use the earth as a heat battery.
2. Project Stages
3. Project Budget
4. The First Step
5. Things To Consider
Q1. What do you do differently as an architect?
An architect listens to you and serves as your advocate throughout your project. Your architect translates your wishes into a buildable form, coordinates technical and aesthetic aspects of your project, addresses compliance with codes and regulations, and reviews the work of the builder. Your architect solves space problems; protects your project from unreasonable extra costs; and resolves concerns that may arise with city officials, other consultants, or your builder.
Q2. You can always do things for less, but...
If you start your budget calculations looking for the cheapest possible construction cost and finishes, then try to compensate by adding in green technologies, you will end up paying more in the long run. With green architecture, quality outweighs quantity. We ask our builders to build it better — not to build it easier, nor cheaper.
Q3. Does sustainable architecure fit my style?
Sustainable buildings can be any “style” its owners wish — just look at our portfolio of projects. They can be traditional or modern, as long as they are healthy, energy-efficient, and cost-effective.
Q4. Does building green cost more?
Yes and no. Initial Design & Construction costs for a new green home can be anywhere from the same as conventional construction to about 10% more. In the long run, when you make smart choices, you come out well ahead. Improving the energy-efficiency of your home is far and away the best investment: resulting in a more comfortable and healthier home.
Q5. What about green incentives and rebates?
We understand that the initial cost of renovating or building a new home can be a hurdle to success. There are several programs available in the GTA that can help. We keep a list of incentives and programs for financing green renovation and new construction. Speak to our building science team for more information, as these programs change from time to time.
Q6. What does a building scientist do?
Building science is crucial to minimizing the impact of the built environment on the natural world in all phases of a building’s lifecycle, including design, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance, and end-of-use demolition. The building scientists on our team provide the technical knowledge, data and research to implement systemic initiatives to solve sustainable house science challenges for your home. We offer effective methods to ensure that your home is an exemplary resource and energyefficient building. We can then monitor your home’s performance and produce data to prove just how efficiently it is operating, year after year.
Q7. Do energy efficent homes feel different?
Indoor air quality, acoustics, and daylighting are different in green buildings - they make for healthier places for people to live. Sustainable design features lead to improved comfort and quality of life for residents.
Part A: Schematic Design and Zoning Compliance
Existing Building Documentation and Zoning Review
The building department requires a full set of measured drawings (including an up-to-date survey) illustrating what conditions are existing versus what is proposed. We will prepare a set of measured drawings of your home/property as well as a photographic record. We will investigate zoning restrictions applicable to your property and determine what building size/shape is allowable as-of-right, and where we may require variances to the Zoning Bylaws.
Preliminary Concept Design
One of our first tasks will be creating a comprehensive building program. This will list the spaces you require at your property, along with any notes you can provide us that will allow us to begin design. It is important to list all spaces you wish to include in your property, as we will be designing to this document in later phases.
With an idea of zoning, building program, and any images you may share with us, we will prepare a first-draft set of sketches to show the design possibilities of your property. These sketches will form the basis of conversation and revisions moving forward, and represent the first step towards a design for your property. We are very visual people and will welcome any images that you may have collected, showing structures and spaces that you like or dislike.
Continuing from the Preliminary Concept Design, we will develop a final Schematic Design through a series of two-three design iterations to be reviewed with you at face-to-face meetings and/or email correspondence. At this early project stage it is important to get your dreams and ideas down on paper to ensure the overall project goals are met.
At this stage, our in-house building science department will prepare a preliminary energy model to help in making design decisions around comfort, efficiency, and cost/saving.
An energy mode modeling tool will be used to develop an overall preliminary building performance strategy tailored to your home/property.
Zoning Certificate Review
The final Schematic Design will be submitted to the Municipality for a Zoning Certificate Review. We will prepare the necessary documentation and will oversee the application, submission, and review with the Municipality. This municipal review will indicate items of zoning non-compliance (if any) that may require minor variances at the Committee of Adjustment.
If variances are not required, a Zoning Certificate is issued and we may proceed to Design Development and Building Permit Application. A Zoning Certificate is required for a “Complete” application for Building Permit.
Committee of Adjustment
Although we will make every effort to conform to the Zoning By-Laws currently in effect, you may elect to (or be required to) seek variances due to site restrictions. This will require a hearing at the Committee of Adjustment (C of A). Sustainable will oversee the application, prepare the necessary exhibits to illustrate your intentions, and represent your interests at the hearing.
Part B: Design Development and Building Permit Application
With Municipal Zoning approvals in place, we will develop construction details and building assemblies. Also included will be any planning and aesthetic revisions to the previously developed design.
The energy model will be refined in order to finalize the building performance strategy including building enclosure design (wall, floor, roof) material specifications, energy efficiencies and air tightness targets, window types, and mechanical system performance.
Energy Modeling Report
The purpose of Energy Modelling is to analyze the energy demands of your home/office/building to optimize its energy efficiency, comfort and durability, reducing operational and maintenance costs.
We will provide you with a final energy modelling report outlining our recommended building science strategies.
If you would like a formal certification for your home (LEED, Passive House, Living Building Challenge, etc.) we are qualified to do so, and would be pleased to facilitate as an additional service.
In order to obtain a Building Permit for construction we will assemble all components together from the Design Development stage. Engineering specialty consultants will be required to produce certified designs for heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC), alternative energy systems, and for structural engineering. Sustainable will coordinate these consultants, and will be pleased to get comparable quotes from our regular consultants as well as any with whom you may prefer to work, at your request. Basic interior design layout of bathrooms, kitchens, and built-in cabinetry is included at this stage.
In concert with Specialty Consultant design, Sustainable will produce a set of architectural drawings in conformance with the Ontario Building Code and municipal guidelines. Sustainable will prepare the necessary documentation and oversee the application, submission, and review with the Municipality.
Part C: Construction Review
Construction Documents provide further details above and beyond the basic information required for permit application. This includes lighting design, construction material and assembly specifications, door and window schedules, and advanced building envelope details. These documents will also allow the prospective bidding contractors (see Tender below) to more accurately price the project for construction, and for the successful bidder to build without confusion.
Interior elevations or detailed design for custom millwork, washrooms, interior finishes, exterior decks, etc, as may be requested by you, can be completed as additional services.
With a set of construction documents complete, your project will be distributed for a competitive Construction Tender.
At this stage, we will meet with you on site with several prospective contractors (generally 4-5 contractors, and generally scheduled back-to-back on the same day). We will tour the site, further inspect existing conditions, and ask questions back-and-forth. These meetings will also allow you to get to know the contractors, and begin to understand what it would be like working with them. We recommend soliciting bids from at least 3 contractors. After the meeting the contractors will have a few weeks to coordinate subtrades and submit their bids, after which we will perform a thorough comparison and review with you to help you select a contractor for construction.0
Contract Administration assures both you and the Contractor that each are fulfilling your respective roles and obligations outlined in your construction contract. Additionally, it is an opportunity to assist in realizing the collective vision by providing technical interpretations to ongoing construction decisions as they relate to your needs, unforeseen site conditions, and the requirements of the Municipality and the Building Code.
Field Reviews and Reports
We will perform periodic site reviews of performance-related details pertaining to air-tightness, thermal effectiveness, and other key details that affect energy-efficiency and occupant comfort, in concert with the site inspections required by the Municipality. We recommend review of: substructure and weeping tiles, framing, insulation, air/vapour/weather barriers, window installation and sealing, HVAC systems, cladding, lighting, interior finishes, and final project completeness. Multiple items can often be reviewed simultaneously; therefore we are proposing 4 Field Reviews, along with ongoing coordination.
Sustainable will perform a blower-door test once all windows, doors, and air-barriers are installed. Blower door tests verify the quality of construction and indicate where/how air tightness can be improved – a key factor in building efficiency, long-term energy savings, occupant comfort, and durability.
"Our contractor worked well with Paul and his team and often commented that the architectural drawings were excellent and easy to follow."
– West End Home Review - HomeStars 2013
One of the first questions we get asked is “How much will it cost to build what we have in mind?”.
That’s a difficult question to answer, but we’ll try our best .
Your total Project Cost is made up of:
• Architect’s Fees & Reimbursable Expenses;
• Engineers, Specialty Consultants & Permits;
• Construction Cost (to build your home);
• Contingency; and,
• Taxes (HST).
Budgeting the costs of Design and Construction is an important first step to help you to avoid surprises and frustration. Share with us your budgetary goals and constraints. Only with full knowledge of your budget can we design within your constraints and allocate your project money wisely.
As architects, we can develop estimates in order to get the design into the right ballpark, and rely on Contractors to provide the actual construction cost. The architect, client and contractor best work together to arrive at a construction cost that works for the client.
The total funds available for your project determines what size of building you can construct new, or renovate/add to. When considering building new versus renovating/adding, costs per square foot tend to be similar. For a renovation/addition, savings are realized through lower material costs, but there are increased labour costs to work around existing elements, to maintain existing features, and to improve the building envelope. In the end, the cost-per-square-foot is about the same.
Every project is different, especially for renovation/additions, where reuse of the existing building comes into play. The table below is a good starting point for typical new-build and renovation/addition projects.
Project Budget Breakdown
"Sustainable remained very conscious of our overall budget throughout the importance of that cannot be overstated."
– Rosedale Residence Review, HomeStars, June 2010
The First Step.
Our job is to make a space that is perfect for you, and which doesn’t cost you more than you want to spend. Although it will be hard work, it can also be fun and extremely rewarding.
As we progress through the design process you will learn about many different options that you have for each area of your home. Each project is different, and some of the techniques and approaches we talk about are appropriate and possible for some clients, sites, budgets and projects and not for others.
Your responses to the following will serve as an initial guide for us to come up with a design that is right for you. It will also be an opportunity for you to start, or to further develop, your thinking about your goals and priorities, which will make it easier for you to make the many required decisions as we go along.
Once we have a good understanding of your desires for your home, we will draft a proposal outlining our fees and services, in parallel with the municipal approvals process.
Things to Consider.
1. What does your typical day in your current house look like?
2. What lifestyle are you looking for in your new home?
3. What architectural style do you like?
4. What type of spaces/houses inspire you?
5. How many people will be living in this space? Do you frequently host family gatherings?
6. What's your overall budget?
8. Is it important to meet LEED or Passive House standards?
9. Are you committed to building a sustainable home or do you need more evidence?
The Visual Part.
Before our first kick-off meeting, please take some time to collect some visual inspiration below.