The sustainable design of our built environment must be a priority at the beginning of the new century. This is particularly true for Canada where affluence, a cold climate and great distances result in unusual and wasteful patterns of energy use (NRCAN 2003). In 2001 buildings in Canada accounted for 30 percent of the total secondary energy use and a similar percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. For these reasons there is an urgent need to build Canadian expertise in the sustainable development and design for buildings. The aim of the Design for Sustainability initiative is to focus sustainable design researchers on opportunities and solutions specific to Canada (Baouendi et al. 2001, Tucker et al. 2003). In this the CDRN goal is to provide the research that will help the design and construction sectors work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 80 million tons per year - or some 30% of Canada's Kyoto target for 2010.

While landmark buildings such as Manitoba Hydro will consume some 60% less energy than required by the National Energy Code, even their architects acknowledge that it is difficult and costly to achieve such a high rating. There is still much work to be done in making sustainable design affordable, accessible and an essential part of the design process.

To address this situation a four-part research strategy like that of Design for Productivity is suggested:

  1. Data Collection
  2. Analysis
  3. Integration
  4. Knowledge Exchange

Given the complexity of this problem and the diversity of issues and stakeholders, the CDRN's research is intended to provide a supportive and complementary role to ongoing initiatives such as LEED, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), the Commercial Buildings Incentive Program (CBIP) and the Model National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings ( MNECB).

In the Data Collection phase of this initiative, Cole, Rivard, Potvin, Hasdell and Harrop will monitor (using the proposed Sensor Network) "high performance" buildings (such as Manitoba Hydro Building in Winnipeg and the Equiterre Initiative in Montreal). The data collected will include current weather conditions; detailed energy use; building envelope performance; quality of the indoor air at key locations of the HVAC system and inside the building; interaction with users; water flow; and materials. The information generated by this project, unique in Canada, will prove invaluable to designers. In the Analysis phase, Cole, Boulanger, Danahy, and Seebohm will build on the work of the Interactive and Collaborative Design Visualization theme to develop advanced visualization and simulation techniques for sustainable design (including the representation and display of data collected by the Sensor Network). At the same time Lilley, Kroeker, McMinn, Straube and Harrop will build on the Rapid Prototyping and Fabrication theme to investigate material and assembly testing for environmental impact including the life cycle analysis of characteristics such as embodied energy of production and recycling. During Integration, Kesik, Lee, and Love will investigate the integration of alternative energy sources with contemporary architectural design while Rivard, Cole and Woodbury will research the integration of best practices in sustainability during the conceptual and schematic phases of design. Finally it is recognized that Knowledge Exchange is an essential part of sustainable design. Only through the sharing of knowledge, expertise, training and best practices can sustainability become an essential part of the design program. This is why the CDRN has developed a comprehensive knowledge exchange program, which is described in more detail below.

Innovation: The pan-Canadian and comprehensive nature of the data collection; the new approaches and tools for analysis; the integration with current practices; and the knowledge exchange program all represent new ideas and approaches to this problem and as such will have a transformative impact on sustainable design. Infrastructure: Again, all of the necessary components for this initiative are included in one of the research themes described earlier.


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