June 13, 2017

When buildings are considered more speculative investments than human right … the choices of materials are made based solely on upfront cost, not long term durability (or occupant comfort, or environmental impact). .  Buildings are not being built to last.  It is a fool’s game. Our buildings should be designed to function for several generations not just one.  The building envelope should be made up of materials that last a similar length of time so that the overall durability of the building is...

June 13, 2017

Image from : 2017 ,Chris Magwood , How I Got Run Over by the Carbon Elephant…or Buildings as

This chart shows total carbon emissions created when building a 100m2 homes.  Amounts of carbon are taken from The ICE2 database and the ECN Phyllis 2 database.

The first bar graph shows code minimum building using common materials: concrete foundation - xps foam insulation –vinyl siding -asphalt shingles

The second graph also shows a code minimum building that uses lower carbon material options: lower carb...

June 13, 2017


What are the steps toward a construction industry that contribute to lowering greenhouse gasses?  The problem is multi-pronged and interconnects outside the parameters of the traditional building industry.  This 6 part series is my broad mapping of where clean energy, natural materials and designing using natural systems could become the path to a more sustainable future.   


With a dirty energ...

October 18, 2016

We are building a small studio out of an old brick garage.  The existing masonry walls are rough and definitely not air tight. In this design we want to leave the brick exposed on the exterior to match the house.  So the air barrier has to happen on the interior side of the brick. 

Since 90% of heat loss is through air infiltration, it's important to have a good air barrier.  Since getting moisture stuck in the wall is very bad, having something waterproof to stop bulk water but vapour...

October 4, 2016

How hard is it to get a roofing quote?

One would think that an architect of 30 years would have no issues having a simple roof replaced.  But the market is focused on doing the cheapest, fastest asphalt shingle roof the building code will allow. Being that the building code is simply the lowest quality allowable, I am always striving for better.

My problem it seems is that I have sufficient knowledge to require more of the contractors than what they typically are prepared to do.  All I was asking...

March 6, 2015

urban straw bale renovation 80% reduction in energy use


This ninety year old masonry Tudor style home is situated in the Beach area of Toronto along the slopes of what was once a natural ravine.  It is perched on a challenging site, set mid-slope between the road in front and a laneway behind.  Since its original construction, there have been minimal changes to the building. To honour this history, the beautifully paneled living and dining rooms were restored.  The spaces that wrap around these...

Please reload