Aleutian Islands   Living Building Challenge Alaska   Our design for Atka, one of the Aleutian Islands, recalls traditional design vernacular while utilizing modern, cost-effective, and sustainable techniques. Our goal is to provide equitable living conditions for people who face economic and social challenges, and to respect nature by minimizing resource and energy consumption as guided by the Living Building Challenge.  Our proposal not only responds to the Living Building Challenge, but has also been designed to achieve the energy-stringent Passive House Standard, to target LEED Platinum Certification, and to meet ENERGY-STAR for New Homes.  The home’s panels will be prefabricated in Seattle, to be flat-packed and shipped to Atka, in order to minimize on-site construction time.
       
     
  Eastern Avenue 2016   2016 Race to Zero Student Design Competition (Ryerson University)   “The 2016 Race to Zero Student Design Competition had 31 teams from 25 collegiate institutions competing to design cost-effective, zero energy homes for mainstream builders.”  Eastern Pine Project - Ryerson University, True North Design Team Pine Project - Ryerson University, True North Design Team  Winner: First Place, Small Multifamily Housing Contest  http://www.ryerson.ca/graduate/buildingscience/student/2016_doe-rtz-easternpine/
       
     
  Far Rockaway   New York   Our proposal for Far Rockaway establishes a series of, ‘safe-to-fail’ measures to ensure the neighbourhood remains safe before, during, and after severe weather events. As ‘safe-to-fail’ structures, when overpowered by Mother Nature, they safely react to prevent extensive damage and allow the community to self-recover.  The first two combined strategies enlarge the existing beach and reintroduce a natural dune system. When a storm surge hits, the enlarged beach and dune system will slow down and dissipate the surge, lessening the impact of damage further inland. The dunes and beach system will enhance tourism by attracting people to swim, surf, and explore the area. Positive economic growth will in turn spur increased urban density, and vice versa.  The third strategy is a water baffle / parking structure, acting as a substantial breakwater beyond the beach and dunes during a severe weather event. The retail promenade along the new esplanade atop the parking structure fosters access to local businesses. The design is considered safe during and after a severe weather event.  These water baffle / parking structures work together with our fourth strategy: areas with built-up grade. The residential and commercial neighbourhoods sit on stilts, adjacent to an artificially raised grade that protects utilities and services below. We propose that only 20% of the land area need be raised to provide the required protection, as an economical and environmental alternative to raising 100% of Far Rockaway. Should the local site service fail, all homes are designed using Passive House principles and durable materials to remain comfortable without power.  Rather than spending many years (and many dollars) in planning, research, and design after the fact, smart planning, sustainable design, and resiliency should be built into all neighbourhoods before disasters occur.
       
     
 the sun was shining, on that beautiful day,  so we ran outside in the yard, to play and when we arrived, we were shocked to see,  an upside-down house, made just for three we circled around, but with no door in sight,  we feared we might have to camp out ‘til night  just then, with a “POP!”, it became clear:  the doors were all hidden, at the front, side, and rear we crawled through the dormer and windows, so proud,  up a house that just screamed “NO ADULTS ALLOWED!”  then up on the ladder we climbed and we climbed,  to sit on a platform so nicely designed hanging from rope nets, only then could we see,  an itsy-bitsy non-stinging pollinator bee  “but where did he come from and where will he go?”  we asked ourselves, and soon he did show standing up tall, we had a great view,  of flowers and plants, all yellow through blue  we loved our new playhouse for so many reasons,  especially in summer, and through all the warm seasons growing each day, our hobbies grew too,  and with three special functions, it always felt new  but one day we outgrew it, as all children do,  and eventually we had moved on to something new just then an idea popped into our dad’s head:  he decided it would make a fantastic garden tool shed a few days later, it was right-side-up,  he’d transplanted our flowers - even the last buttercup! now every time we come home to visit,  there are our playhouse and plants, by the thicket
       
     
  Joplin House   Tornado-Resistant House for Missouri   In May of 2011, Joplin, Missouri was hit by a catastrophic EF-5 tornado. Killing 158 people and destroying nearly 7,000 homes, it was the deadliest American tornado in over 60 years, and it is thought to be the most expensive tornado in history.  Designing for a tornado-prone region is a unique challenge, but one that is nonetheless important to the many residents who find themselves facing these circumstances. Fortunately, it is not impossible.  Joplin House takes its shape from the archetypal street-front profile often seen in older parts of the city. Two large covered porches constructed of wood sit at the front and rear of the house, serving as the “outdoor rooms” familiar to the district, while also shading the front and rear from direct sunlight. Inside, the generously lit open living space occupies the southern side of the building, while the private spaces lie along the northern side.  The structure consists of a simple frame, easily constructed using conventional construction methods or, if finances allow, structural-insulated panels (SIPS), which could expedite the construction process as well as being significantly thermally efficient.  The exterior is clad in corrugated Galvalume, which is very long-lasting, reflects heat, and is resistant to damage from hail. Adjustable perforated metal shutters, mounted on tracks, address security and privacy while blocking sun in the summer to keep the interior cool. In the winter (or when desired) they are adjustable and can be lowered to allow daylight and solar heat gain. Similar perforated panels may be attached seasonally onto the clerestory at the top of the house; the southern roof contains small lengthwise ridges for safety while this installation occurs.  While much of the construction outlined above would address some aspects of tornado-aware design, it is the safe-room at the core of the house that provides the strongest response. Designed to FEMA standards, the room rests on its own foundation and is unconnected to the surrounding structure. The reinforced concrete masonry unit ((CMU) wall construction is largely projectile-resistant and contains a tornado-safe door and no windows. Nonetheless it serves a double purpose as a washroom for the home. Similarly, the concrete that keeps the occupants safe in an emergency also acts as thermal mass, storing solar heat for long winter nights. As it cannot contact the structure, a nook exists above the room, for storage or as a child’s loft play area. The safe-room need not be an oppressive element within the design; the very features that render it safe have a role to play in day-to-day life, as well.
       
     
  Middle Ground   Living Cities Competition   As the world’s population migrates to urban centers, we have no choice but to combine and layer multiple, differing uses. Typically, residential and office zones are built in isolation, creating segregated neighbourhoods. This creates a scenario where buildings remain empty for large timespans, and amenities are doubled, one created for each zone. In a reconfiguration of this model, Middle Ground creates a novel inter-relationship between an office building and a residential building, with shared uses, amenities, and systems. This manifests an alert and lively mixed-use building that is activated 24 hours a day – by residents in the evening and night, and by office workers during the day. Street life is weaved throughout the building, as residents and office workers cross paths, addressing the lack of social interaction evident in most residential towers and office buildings, while reducing dependence on transportation. To increase the health of both residential and office occupants - each of them boxed up high above the street - Middle Ground radically reconfigures the tower typology, accommodating socially-engaging programs spanning multiple levels and spaces. The well-being and sustainability of living and working in dense high-rise cities relies upon it. Green spaces weave between live and work towers, increasing serendipity and a sense of a community within a larger volume. To reconfigure the tower, we must bend the street into the sky.
       
     
  New Orleans   Modern Low-Cost, Low-Energy Passive House for the Lower 9th Ward   International competition-winning entry to a challenge posted by Design by Many, the Low Cost/Low Energy Passive House for New Orleans employs an efficient linear organization, and very simply integrates both passive and active climate regulation systems. The Passive House for New Orleans design conforms to both the post-Katrina New Orleans building code, ensuring security in case of flooding; as well as principles of the stringent, German PassivHaus standard; resulting in a highly resource and energy-efficient design. This is accomplished through features such as: an optimized insulation strategy; a highly airtight building envelope; concrete floors as thermal mass; deep roof overhangs to provide passive solar protection in the summer while allowing passive solar heat gain in the winter; and an elevated floor height raised seven feet above-grade, providing both flood resilience in the Lower 9th Ward and shaded parking and living spaces below. Additionally, highly reflective, self-venting, recyclable Galvalume roofing and exterior cladding; an east/west axis to address natural ventilation and day lighting; and a simple, prefabricated construction process minimize upfront construction costs and achieve an astonishing degree of energy-efficiency.  In the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, SUSTAINABLE.TO noticed that not only were the 19th century “shotgun houses” prevalent among the structures remaining intact and habitable, but they were also very beautiful in their own right. With high ceilings and local, cypress wood-frame construction, the Low Cost/Low Energy Passive House for New Orleans keeps true to its architectural heritage, while maintaining a high level of appeal in the 21st-century.
       
     
  New Orleans v.2   Post-Katrina Traditional Passive House for Central City   Through conversations with local redevelopment agencies and residents, SUSTAINABLE.TO learned that the post-Katrina New Orleans housing market demand is for beautiful, affordable, single-family homes built in the traditional New Orleans style. In response to this local preference, we have designed the exterior of this modular New Orleans Home to better reflect local traditional styling, while maintaining Passive House sustainable strategies to reduce the home’s energy consumption and to improve interior comfort.  We were asked by the St. Bernard Project (SBP) to design a model home for the 2014 New Orleans Home and Garden show to spread the word about the work they are doing throughout New Orleans. SBP volunteers had 72 hours to assemble the house inside the Superdome – studs, siding, flooring and roof – before the show opened on March 14th. After the show, the house was taken apart to be rebuilt for a deserving New Orleans family.  The house is designed to be constructed from a kit of standardized, volunteer-friendly, pre-built parts. An illustrated booklet details step-by-step instructions for the construction and assembly each individual component – similar to a piece of IKEA furniture. The parts are pre-built in a controlled environment – keeping volunteers sheltered from the elements – and can then be shipped to affected areas for rapid disaster relief. Because the kit of parts can be mass produced by volunteers, construction costs are minimized when compared to a traditional build.
       
     
  Resilient House   Post Hurricane Sandy Low-Cost Passive House for New York   Winner of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)-sponsored international competition, Resilient House for Far Rockaway, New York has a layout which orients living spaces towards the sun, and minimizes interior partitions. Structurally insulated panels (SIPS) allow for a tightly-sealed and highly-insulated building envelope. Combined with a highly-efficient, managed ventilation system and upgraded windows, these design strategies achieve a projected 65% reduction in annual energy consumption. The house will be built by Friends of Rockaway according to FEMA regulations above the floodplain with a flood-proof foundation to ensure that future natural disasters will not affect the structure. By using in-factory, pre-fabricated, volunteer-friendly construction methods and equipment, Resilient House can be built for less than traditional, site-built housing.
       
     
  Swallow Hollow   Purple Martin Condo Living   Swallow Hollow was created to emulate the Purple Martin’s natural habitat of collective dwelling, while providing them with protection from predators, and naturally ventilated spaces.  Taking advantage of the Purple Martin’s acceptability of grouped housing was essential. Our idea of creating a tree as well as the birdhouse required composing multiple birdhouses into one structure. The Purple Martin thrives under these conditions, so we have sized our design to suit. Contrary to traditional Martin Houses, we have embraced the informality as found in nature.  SUSTAINABLE.TO always strives to reuse materials in the interest of ecology and cost. We propose reclaimed construction waste to build our Purple Martin house. Wood scraps from building sites are used for the birdhouses. The small dimensions of the house make most scraps large enough to accommodate the design. The “branches” could be any number of reclaimed materials – broom handles, fence poles, re-bar, etc. The mast could be a long fencepost, or demolished flagpole. Sourcing materials from recyclers at the time of construction would determine exact materials. Our design is flexible in accommodating materials.  Created by SUSTAINABLE.TO for the 2010, Toronto Botanical Garden ‘For The Birds’ fundraiser, our Swallow Hollow was auctioned off to the highest bidder.
       
     
       
     
  SUNBOX   Mongolian Cool School   SUNBOX provides a solution to the challenging circumstances surrounding the proposed school extension at Tsast Altai, in Khovd, Mongolia. Pulled tight into the northeastern corner of the site, the extension opens up to the south, with the goal of gathering as much solar heat as it can. The southern roofline runs at a low 3m, occasionally popping up to 4.8m, to meet the existing school’s height with a clerestory.  The walls are thick, and super-insulated. Masonry harvested from local clay forms the structure entirely on the interior, holding up a light wood roof, while plaster-covered straw bale walls fully wrap around the building like the thick coat of felt around a ger. This self-supporting wall, made of waste materials, provides nearly half a meter of insulation without any drafts or leaks.  Extensive glazing along the south facade ensures an immense opportunity for passive solar heating, where the low sun in the winter months deeply penetrates the building to provide heat, but the high sun in the summer is shaded, keeping interior temperatures low.  The distinctive profile of the SUNBOX is designed to ensure sunlight is found throughout the building, in a series of bright interior spaces. A palette of hardy materials, a sense of play and child-scale detailing, and the use of vibrant colour throughout support the school program through the creation of a fun, warm, and safe environment.
       
     
  West Five   Proposal for an Energy Efficient Townhome Community   SUSTAINABLE.TO’s vision for a smart, sustainable net-zero community, submitted as part of an RFP solicited by Sifton Properties Limited. The design for Phase One sought to minimize the environmental impact of the development by carefully considering vehicular traffic to minimize the amount of hard paving required; planning ample greenspace and resilient landscaping to naturally manage rainwater & provide passive shading; and optimize solar orientation to take advantage of passive solar heat gain during the winter months and capitalize on energy production through roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels. Above code-average insulation, highly reflective light-coloured roofing, and efficient triple-glazed windows contributed to the reduction of energy needed to keep the townhomes comfortable throughout year.