Archive for the ‘Education Articles’ Category

CEU Article

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Universal Design as Social Sustainability

Universal design is for everyone. Informed by the preferences of as many people as possible, rather than retroactively adapting spaces for those who face barriers to access, universal design is an optimized, conceptual approach to development. But for universal design to flourish and spread, it needs to be recognized not just as optional, but rather as essential and even desirable. Shedding light on the catalysts for success, and exploring examples of how accessible design complements environmental sustainability and social sustainability, we can demonstrate to governing bodies, the general public and architects and designers the benefits meeting the accessibility needs of everyone.


CEU: Energy Retrofits

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Comparing Active and Passive Strategies

Building for energy efficiency in new construction has become routine when the right technical expertise is enlisted, proper building technology is selected, and few constraints limit the design. Retrofitting for energy efficiency poses a greater challenge when existing buildings employ dated systems, materials, and design practices. Priority must be given to those upgrades that will enable the building to achieve the greatest performance within the given constraints. This article describes how a post-secondary institution selected retrofit packages when presented with many possible options, including both building envelope and HVAC system upgrades.

By Aman Hehar and Matthew Tokarik


Continuing Education: Designing Interiors for Human Health

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Designing Interior Environments
that Support Human Health

Although we have known for a long time that Canadians spend over 90% of their time indoors, only recently have we consciously begun to design environments that not only meet health and safety regulations, but also actually improve occupant health and wellbeing.

By Kaitlyn Gillis
and Michelle Biggar


Continuing Education

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016



More stringent energy codes demand higher levels of insulation for external walls, and in many cases this means using exterior insulation, either as a substitute for traditional cavity insulation, or to supplement it. Additional insulation thickness and changes to the insulation location require additional consideration with regards to vapour diffusion and condensation control.
The varying vapour permeability of different insulation products, membranes, and other building materials adds complexity to wall assembly design.
Some insulation materials, like mineral wool and fibreglass are vapour permeable, while others, like XPS, polyisocyanurate, and closed-cell spray foam are relatively impermeable.

Energy codes are silent on this issue and building codes can be confusing in regard to the selection of exterior insulation and vapour diffusion control for walls. This article clarifies and provides guidance on vapour diffusion and condensation control in these new wall assemblies.


Continuing eduation: TELUS Garden

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Best Practice for Commercial Building Performance

The TELUS Garden development, located  in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, includes a 93,000m2 22-storey office tower at the corner of West Georgia Street and Seymour Street and a 53-storey residential tower [to be completed in June 2016] at the corner of Robson Street and Richards Street.
The project consists of 50,000m2 of office space, 4000m2 of retail space, and 424 residential units; transforming an entire city block into one of North America’s most technologically advanced commercial developments.

By Jubin Jalil and Gary Rhode

Continuing Education: Environmental building declarations

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

An introduction to environmental building declarations

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute recently began publishing a new kind of document, something we call Environmental Building Declarations [EBDs]. An EBD is a summary report of comprehensive environmental footprint data for a building and declares the life cycle impacts of a building according to a standardized format. It is a statement of performance and is typically publicly disclosed, like a nutrition label on a food package. The intent of the document is to present results as transparently and concisely as possible.

By Jennifer O’Connor and Matt Bowick, Athena Sustainable Materials Institute (more…)

Follow Up

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

More on the Continuing Education article [Energy Modelling – Designing Buildings for Real Performance] for LEED professionals published in the Winter 2014/15 issue of SABMag.

Read the original article …

Andrew Corney comments:

David Mead from WSP recently wrote a great article [Energy Modelling – Designing Buildings for Real Performance] in the Winter 2014/15 issue of SABMag. There is a lot to get excited about at the pointy end of performance-based design. Projects are committing to and hitting performance targets. It’s wonderful to see how far the field of performance-based design has come.

Unfortunately, predicting energy performance still takes a lot of work. This work is still too time-consuming and costly to incorporate into most projects, so there are still very few that invest in predictive analysis and post-occupancy verification. Most projects do well to run late-stage ASHRAE 90.1 calculations.

The use of simulation to help improve design needs to be broadened, and quickly. This is possible if the barriers to doing high level, informative simulation of early design concepts are broken down. Designers need access to software that guides them through the choices they need to make without asking them to make decisions relating to variables that are not well known or easy to know.

This is happening. Performance software is being made more accessible to users through more intuitive interfaces that speed up calculations through cloud processing power. Pre-populated assumptions for values that otherwise need to be guessed are also speeding up analysis for both novices and experienced users. In many cases, these assumptions make it easier to compare performance across projects in early design.

Progress in building performance is happening. Designers are increasingly empowered to make better decisions. Specialists are predicting real-world performance. What a great time to be designing buildings!

Andrew Corney is the product manager for Sefaira Systems, a cloud-based analysis tool using Energy Plus designed to help HVAC designers conduct rapid HVAC sizing and load calculations. Previously, Andrew is a PE with over 13 years of experience in high-performance design consulting and previously founded WSP’s successful Built Ecology group in San Francisco, CA.

David Mead, author of the article, replies:

In my recent article looking at delivered in-use building energy performance I noted the risks implicit in the use of concept level energy modeling tools.  I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the points that were made in the article relating to the undoubted benefits of such tools but also highlighting the risks of directly applying modeling output in the absence of experienced technical oversight.

The more nimble energy analysis tools, such as Sefaira, aid the design process by providing near real-time analytical feedback.  This allows energy analysis to keep pace with an often rapidly evolving building design during the Concept and Schematic Design phases. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the benefits of speed are gained through simplifications in input data through the use of modeling assumptions.

Building physics is extremely complex, involving multiple interdependencies between climate, building envelope, systems and occupant usage patterns. The impacts of design choices are not always intuitive and a single incorrectly applied modelling input or assumption can result in fundamentally flawed design guidance.

This last point is true of any energy analysis tool. Given that the decisions made early in the design process are often the most impactful, it is crucial that individuals understand when guidance from the software can be safely applied and when more detailed analysis techniques should be used.  Precisely for this reason, it is during the early design stages that input from an experienced building physicist is most needed.

David Mead AIA, IES, LEED BD+C is an associate with WSP Built Ecology in Seattle, WA. David has been working for over 10 years on high profile sustainable building designs first as an architect and for the past five years as a high performance design consultant to architects and engineers looking to enhance their designs.

CEU: Thermally efficient building envelopes

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Visualizing the pathway to low energy buildings

Thermally efficient building envelopes have long been recognized as a necessity for low energy buildings in heating dominated climates. Low energy buildings are not only a goal for buildings built to green rating systems, but are also a stated long-term developmental objective of energy standards that are applicable to all large buildings. Building envelope thermal performance is an increasingly essential consideration as industry is tasked with designing and constructing buildings that consume less energy. This article provides an overview of the resources that are now available to practitioners to help design building envelopes that can be aligned with specific project performance objectives and construction realities.

By Patrick Roppel


CEU Article: Designing buildings for real performance

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Energy modelling must deliver the goods

The next great leap in the design of sustainable buildings is measuring and reporting the operational building performance. Traditionally design teams have ensured buildings are built as designed but have had limited involvement in the operation of a building. New rating systems, building codes and client contracts are dramatically changing this. Design [and construction] teams are being asked to specify and guarantee the maximum annual energy use of their buildings as estimated using energy models. This creates complex new relationships between designers, energy modellers, contractors and owners. This article explores what is driving the market toward actual energy performance, tools that are used to accurately estimate energy usage, guidelines on how to achieve accurate energy modelling results, and methods to verify performance.

By David Mead (more…)

CEU Article - Advancing Sustainable Design with Life Cycle Assessment

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Advancing Sustainable Design with Life Cycle Assessment

By Jennifer O’Connor and Matt Bowick