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  • Tiffany Jockheck

How to choose a sustainable architect in 2020,

Toronto, Muskoka Ontario

As we welcome the new decade and year, everyone's thoughts may be revolving a little around what they want to get done in 2020. Maybe there is a renovation or addition you've been wanting to do and you're not sure how to start.

Choosing an architect can be a tough task, and now more than ever.

Climate change and pollution are something we can no longer ignore, building and construction are responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world, with operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) accounting for 28% [1]. Business practices will need to change accordingly. However even if this responsibility should be taken on by all businesses, only demand from consumers will change the market. Environmental architects,engineers and contractors, already have mandates to reduce energy, carbon emmisions and provide solutions for thier clients to do the same.

An architect’s work experience must be considered. Their depth of knowledge into sustainable building practices will be next. How much background or experience do they have in building science? Do they consider low carbon materials? Do they have any accreditation or experience building in conformity with environmental ratings systems such as LEED, Passive House, Net Zero etc? Take a look at their previous work to help answer some of these questions. Schedule a call to get an understanding of the Architect's process to get from pen to shovel. If you feel comfortable with the process then schedule an initial consultation on your site to discuss your specific needs. At Stone's Throw Design Inc. we prepare draft zoning at this 2 hr consultation to show what are the as of right options for the site and what process you would have to go through to go beyond this point. Picking the right architect is about the relationship and good communication.

It is not all about the architect however, the team needs to be considered too. What contractors, engineers and consultants do they work with? Does the project team include a building scientist, and how do they ensure the proper materials, techniques and care is applied to the project? For example, consideration for a complete air tightness scheme during construction. With 90% of heat loss happening do to lack of air tightness, without a plan, cold air will only filter pollutants through any insulation you installed.

Along with using the proper materials you want to make sure that things are disposed of properly. Does the project team make sure to sort and dispose of everything in a way that has the least impact? Climate change is a multifaceted issue that needs attention brought to each part of a project and that requires having a integrated design team.

Once you’ve ensured the right people, the design development can be begin. This is one of, if not the most important aspect of a project since this is where you will decide the broad strokes of the design and make your goals that the team works toward . Function, size, orientation, air tightness and total energy goals steer the design and construction process. The design stage is also where the team will be specifying materials that will be used in your project, and where you have the opportunity to choose materials that not only look beautiful, but perform better and have a lower amount of embodied energy.

The most environmental aspect of the project will be what you don't have to build. Next, is what you do not have to to continually replace or repair. There is a saying "buy cheap, buy twice. As important as it is to find an architect with a team that will design and build your project to your liking, it is up to you as the consumer to request something within your and the planet’s means.


Those interested in meeting experts and learning more can check out the green building learning zone at the green living show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, March 13-15th. Link below.


Sources & additional information:


BBC - Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about:


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