Beyond Great

December 5, 2022

Award Magazine, December 2022, Natalie Bruckner

Specialists in green building design are coming up with solutions for every eventuality. Green building design is hardly a new concept, and yet its meaning has changed dramatically over the past four decades, and even more so over the past few years.

At one time it was a reference to air tight buildings; today it is a more holistic concept that covers everything from reducing the harmful effects of a building on its occupants to structures that will withstand increasingly extreme weather events. One major benefit of this sector is the experts’ willingness to evolve and pivot as necessary, according to new findings and a changing world.

Case in point, Williams Engineering. Lindsay Austrom, team lead, sustainability at Williams says that after seeing a shift in focus during the pandemic toward building health, interest in green building design is once again at an all-time high.

“In many ways the pandemic made us take a step back as buildings were running their air systems for longer and running at reduced capacity – from an energy efficiency perspective, it wasn’t great. Now, especially with some of the extreme weather events that have occurred, we are more focused than before and considering how our buildings can handle those stressors. It shifts the focus onto adaptation, mitigation, and resilience, as well as how to support the people in the building,” says Austrom.

The future, as Austrom rightly says, is largely unknown, and challenges with the supply chain, for example, have shown the industry it needs to be prepared for every eventuality. “It has made us question assumptions such as preparedness, and consider, ‘are we being resilient in our approach?’”

This has in turn resulted in some great opportunities. “Through a combination of smart new construction and developments, as well as creative rehabilitations and conversions, there are some great opportunities ahead. The Reframed Initiative is a great example of what is being explored when it comes to this,” says Austrom, who is one of six teams involved in the B.C.-based program that is aimed at developing replicable deep retrofit solutions and scaling their implementation.

The program (an initiative of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation, and the Pembina Institute) is now wrapping up. Findings from the six-month program that explored various deep retrofit design solutions for six multi-unit residential buildings will soon be available. “It has been an interesting process as we looked at various scenarios and systems. Projects like this allow us to access more information to make better decisions.”

Read the full article in Award Magazine – Award-December-2022-Beyond-Great