Written by: Chris Habets, J.L. Richards & Associates
Embarking on a journey from Ottawa to Toronto aboard the Via Rail train, our destination was the Toronto Metro Conference Centre, where The Buildings Show awaited. Little did we know that this trip would not only offer insights into the latest trends in construction and architecture but also lead us to some fascinating educational bits that could revolutionize the way we approach sustainable building practices.
Vancouver’s Green Initiatives:
The trip started with a captivating presentation from Vancouver City, shedding light on their commitment to environmental sustainability. By implementing greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting and soft limits in 2026 for existing large commercial buildings, Vancouver is taking a proactive approach to monitor and control emissions. The city has set hard total energy demand intensity (TEDI) limits for these buildings by 2040, with plans to launch a Request for Proposal (RFP) in March for fast-and-happy decarbonization plans, offered free of charge. The program includes a walkthrough, AI/automated audit, and modeling, along with support for Level 2 (L2) if desired.
Reaching out to Abhijeet Singh at can provide more information, especially regarding thermal imaging projects—an area where Ottawa is already making strides.
Energy Engineer Green Retrofits:
The exploration continued with insights from Green Retrofits, showcasing expertise in developing decarbonization roadmaps. Noteworthy was their focus on presenting overall paybacks, amalgamating various measures rather than isolating individual components. They anticipate stricter regulations for existing buildings, signaling the need for more comprehensive approaches to sustainable retrofitting.
Energy Engineer and Contractor Collaboration:
A joint presentation revealed a shift way in trust away from RS means costing method. They emphasized the pivotal role of commissioning and Measurement and Verification (M&V) in their projects, underscoring the importance of ensuring that implemented measures achieve the desired outcomes.
Air Sealing and MURB Decarbonization:
Testing larger buildings revealed unexpected tightness, challenging preconceived notions – the buildings were half as leaky as expected (or twice as tight). Multifamily Residential Buildings (MURB) decarbonization, especially with tenants in place, proved to be intricate. The key takeaways included prioritizing decarbonization of central components, strategic envelope improvements (primarily windows), and decentralizing ventilation systems.
AI for Building Automation Systems (BAS):
An innovative software utilizing a building’s thermal mass to reduce energy consumption, caught our attention. With integration into existing BAS, it demonstrated particularly exciting Return on Investment (ROI) in larger buildings with more thermal mass.
Adding to the Energy List – Promising Products:
Several promising products caught our eye, potentially enhancing our energy list. Diverso Energy, functioning as a geothermal “utility” company, offers a unique approach as an ESCO for geothermal solutions. Essex Energy Corp specializes in solar installations, GLP provides branded Midea heat pumps for residential and small commercial use, and MrCool offers competitive heat pumps in terms of specifications per dollar.
Architectural and Mechanical Innovations:
Modern Niagara’s collaboration with BlueFrontier on liquid desiccants and indirect evaporative cooling with thermal storage rooftop cooling units showcased impressive results with a minimum COP of 4.9.
HydroSolar.ca presented hybrid PVT solar, solar thermal solutions, and Nordic heat pumps for an efficient combination of renewable technologies.
Sharing Knowledge Across Disciplines:
Several products were identified for sharing with other groups. Triodetic, based in Arnprior, emerged as an alternative to screw piles for foundations, while Osblock offered a unique approach with Reverse-SIPS, akin to insulated concrete forms but with wood. Nature Fibres provided eco-friendly insulation options using hemp and wood fibers, and Armatherm addressed thermal bridging solutions.
The trip from Ottawa to Toronto not only provided an opportunity to witness the latest innovations in sustainable building practices at The Buildings Show but also unveiled a wealth of educational bits that could shape the future of construction and architecture. As the industry embraces new technologies and approaches, it becomes evident that collaboration and knowledge-sharing are key to creating a more sustainable built environment for future generations.