Insulating energy-efficient homes

Design/construction professionals working on single-family residential projects are facing diametrically opposing forces––the need for energy efficiency, environmentally sensitive construction, and macroeconomic demand for lower construction costs. As specifiers aspire toward a ‘net-zero-energy’ home, with a price tag currently out of reach for most Canadians, this author discusses what can realistically be achieved at an affordable price for a typical Canadian home.

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Sheathings reach beyond the code

The Canadian government recently suggested energy efficiency is an important tool for addressing climate change, promoting economic activity, and supporting energy security. Further, it says Canada will aim to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

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Jet-grouting: A soil improvement technology

Jet-grouting is a soil improvement technique used in many parts of the world. It involves mixing in-situ soil with water-cement grout, which is then injected into the soil with the aid of special tools at high speeds of over 200 m/s (656 ft/s) and under high pressures ranging from 30 to 60 MPa (4500 to 9000 psi). Jet-grouting was introduced to British Columbia in 2004; since then, several applications for soil improvement––both temporary and permanent––have been successfully carried out in the Lower Mainland.

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Multi-use atrium focal point of research institute

An underused existing light well at the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute provided the jump-off point for an atrium that serves as a science café, auditorium, and workshop venue. Located at McMaster University in Hamilton, the atrium is part of a larger facility containing a centre where researchers and other staff work on clinical trials and epidemiological studies in understanding the impact of digestive health and nutrition on disease across the lifespan.

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Reinventing Canadian masonry

For thousands of years, masonry has been the building material of choice in many regions, with an infinite number of possibilities of pattern and form. Brick and stone are durable materials that never go out of fashion; they have been used to construct castles and cathedrals, pyramids and great walls, schools and museums, hospitals and high-rises, bridges, roads, and fences.

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Designing outside the fire-rated glass box

When using the Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) approach espoused by the U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), team members pool together their knowledge instead of parcelling it out to specialists who work in isolation from one another. Such integration allows building teams to more efficiently evaluate and manage the design for cost, quality-of-life, and long-term performance (among other factors) from technical planning throughout construction.

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ICFs and the new green standards

As sustainable building has become the preferred (or, occasionally, required) construction method throughout North America, design professionals are turning to insulating concrete forms (ICFs). When comprising the building envelope, these materials provide occupants with a safe, clean, healthy, and comfortable environment in which to live and work. Whether residential multi-family, commercial new construction, school, theatre, healthcare, or retail, ICF structures also help reduce a building’s carbon footprint—their insulation can mean less energy to heat and cool than is needed in structures built with conventional materials.

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