In many large, urban areas of Canada, most of the population lives in apartment buildings. In the downtown core of cities like Toronto, the proportion is up to 70 per cent. With the current trend to intensify urban areas to limit sprawl into surrounding valuable farmland, the proportion of high-rise multi-family dwellers is expected to increase.
When it comes to the energy efficiency of its buildings, Canada is something of a paradox. On one hand, the country has received its fair share of accolades for green initiatives. For example, this author was in France in September for an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) TC205/TC163 joint workshop, and received laurels for coming from the world’s only nation with a holistic building commissioning standard—Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Z320-11, Building Commissioning. On the other hand, the country recently ranked 11 out of 12 on the 2012 American Council for an Energy-efficient Economy (ACEEE) International Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
With the ever-increasing demand for efficiency in new buildings, as well as the retrofitting of existing facilities, exterior sheathing plays an integral role in reducing energy consumption and the associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. (This article deals with insulating, not structural, sheathing). Exterior insulation, continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges (other than fasteners and service openings), is the most thermally effective way to insulate a building. The sheathing’s thickness depends on the climate zone.
Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) offered an energy-efficient mode of construction long before sustainability was widely pursued, or even understood, in the overall building industry. In the intervening years, competing building methods have seen improvements in thermal energy efficiency, but the properties of ICF have remained virtually constant, until recently.
Ontario has signalled its intent to remain among the energy efficiency leaders in North America for new building construction in adopting American National Standards Institute/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers/Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA) 90.1-2010, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-rise Residential Buildings.