Imagine a subdivision of homes of the future—energy efficient, sustainable, accessible—where nobody lives, but is visited by hundreds of thousands of people.
That’s what the Toronto Region Conservation Authority
is building at its Kortright Centre for Conservation
in Vaughan. Construction will start in the next couple of weeks on the new BRE Innovation Park at the Living City Campus
at Kortright. Although there are BRE (Building Research Establishment) parks in other countries, this will be Canada’s first, providing a stage for builders and suppliers to test new materials, products and building techniques and share the results with industry, government and academic researchers.
The site is already home to the Archetype Sustainable House
, which showcases sustainable technologies, materials and practices. But over the next few years, that anchor project will be joined by seven new buildings of about 1,000 square feet each, forming a small inhabitant-less community. Installing the infrastructure will cost about $2 million—the City of Vaughan requires the project to be linked into the municipal sewer system—but much of the labour and material will be donated by partners eager to demonstrate how their innovative products and techniques can create more sustainable communities.
“Each of those new buildings will be built to different performance targets for water efficiency, energy efficiency, accessibility, etc. It’s basically a sandbox to test and evaluate green building technologies,” says Glenn MacMillan, senior manager of water and energy at TRCA. Some of the buildings, like the visitor’s centre that is being built by Ellis Don
, will be owned by the authority, while others will be owned by the developer for up to five years.
Although no one will live at the subdivision, the buildings will be tested for their liveability by the many visitors and by staff. “We can simulate as if someone is living there for research purposes,” says MacMillan. “We can control lightbulbs, heat, toilet flush, turn on washing machines. We have staff in the Archetype House doing research now so there are people coming and going all the time.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Glenn MacMillan