Dedicated to sustainable,
high performance building

2014 AWARD-WINNING PROJECT: One Planet Reno, Ottawa

The story behind this project is as compelling as the building itself. The design team looked at almost every green building metric and made an earnest attempt to incorporate the best of each in a truly holistic approach to sustainable design. The result takes a standard Ontario residential prototype and updates it in an engaging and sometimes quirky way. The energy performance in particular is exemplary.

The One Planet Reno project set out to create a beautiful and functional family home for four, complete with a home office, while minimizing the ecological footprint of construction and eliminating carbon emissions from operations. A major renovation of a neglected century-old home was chosen as the basis for the project in order to minimize embodied energy.

The house had good solar orientation, a deciduous tree to the south, a footprint of approximately 50m2, excellent access to amenities and transit and a Walkscore of 95. The aim was to preserve existing trees and the heritage character of the structure – including the exterior brickwork – while creating a high-performance envelope.

The owners used the guiding principles of the ‘One Planet Living’ program and the Passive House standard for energy performance. The LEED for Homes Platinum certification was achieved through a holistic approach to sustainable design that included the following strategies:
• Orient and fenestrate for control of solar gains and optimization of daylight.
• Super-insulate and use a ‘passive before active’ approach to energy design.
• Minimize the ecological footprint of the construction and operation of the house.
• Choose materials and finishes that result in healthy and inspiring interior and exterior living spaces.

Balancing the constraints of One Planet Living and Passive House standards with the desire for beauty and functionality presented numerous challenges. For example: having a narrow city lot; using walls from the original house; underachieving R55, but avoiding an ugly spray foam, windowless box; harvesting solar energy, but still having sunny spaces for recreation and food production; retaining elements of the original house to reduce embodied energy and respect the vernacular, but requiring an air tight envelope; using and re purposing building elements [with the associated additional labour cost], while respecting a project budget; and requiring a solar power plant, but not wanting active solar to define the architecture.

The resulting form, with the primary living space on the second floor and a roof that functions for both recreation and energy production, is a compromise of all the complex and competing requirements of the project. The exterior is clearly contemporary, yet maintains the traditional relationship to the street and uses warm materials. The interior is modern, open, and bright, but uses reclaimed and repurposed elements to bring warmth and comfort. Despite the many compromises that were necessary to meet the design objectives, the home and its occupants use 90% less energy than a typical house, while living in extreme comfort with uncompromised air quality.

Client Scott Demark
Carolyn Jones, Tobias Fellows, Daniel Pearl and Simon Jones
Project Manager
BuildGreen Solutions
General Contractor
Botan Construction Ltd.
Mechanical Designer
EcoGen Energy
Structural Engineer
Halsall Associates
Christian Lalonde

Framing and engineered wood insulated with mineral wool and spray foam insulation, fiberglass windows by Inline Fiberglass , partially vegetated roof.  Zehnder Novus 300 ERV [Energy Recovery Ventilator], photovoltaic and solar heating panels.