Less Can Be More

By Rochelette Dumbrique and Catherine Dowling.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the 2008 Landmarks not Landfill: Heritage and Environmental Sustainability Conference, Romas Bubelis, architect for the Ontario Heritage Trust, presented how design and construction techniques from early twentieth century architecture were inherently sustainable. These buildings were built at a time before air conditioning and electricity became widely available and consequently, they harnessed the natural energy from their local microclimate and applied the principles of passive systems in order to be habitable. As sustainability has become a central concern and focus for architecture in the twenty-first century, passive systems have re-emerged as methods to reduce resource and energy consumption. To illustrate the integration of passive systems in early twentieth century architecture, this paper presents case studies of the Canadian Birkbeck Building in Toronto (1908) and the Terry Thomas Building in Seattle, Washington (2008). The Birkbeck Building employed natural ventilation, passive cooling, daylighting, and combined with the building’s durability and adaptability, comprised the Birkbeck Building’s sustainable features. One hundred years later, the same principles of passive systems applied in the Birkbeck Building were integrated into the design of the Terry Thomas Building. Architecturally, the Terry Thomas Building was also designed for future flexibility and adaptability to achieve long-term sustainability. Passive energy strategies of natural ventilation, passive cooling, and daylighting helped the Terry Thomas Building meet the North American, environmental standards from the perspective of the green building rating system for new construction and major renovation, known as LEED-NC. Established by the U.S. Green Building Council, this code, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—New Construction, has been promoted over the last few years as a new standard and qualification for environmental design in architecture and interior design. This paper illustrates the successful integration of passive systems in new buildings and the resulting environmental benefits.

Keywords: Passive Energy Strategies, LEED-NC, Natural Ventilation, Daylighting, Passive Cooling, Environmental Building Design

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.105-121. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.898MB).

Rochelette Dumbrique

Research and Innovation, School of Interior Design, Office of the Vice President, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Scholars Program, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Prior to entering the Ryerson University School of Interior Design, Rochelette worked in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Toronto, Canada-based, MMM Group, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm. Her research focus is based in sustainable building design, passive strategies in interior architecture and the relationship between climate and the built environment.

Prof. Catherine Dowling

Assistant Professor, School of Interior Design, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Catherine completed a Master of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto following degrees in architecture and environmental studies at the University of Waterloo, a degree in interior design at the University of Manitoba and study at Arcosanti in Arizona. As an intern architect and registered interior designer, her teaching, research and practice is founded on design and construction excellence, and design thinking, with an emphasis on the process of making. Her collaborative studio, Dowling Architects, has received the Ontario Association of Architects 2006 Honourable Mention for Architectural Excellence, the 2007 WoodWorks award, and been published widely. Catherine’s academic research explores the relationship between design and learning, the realm of the handmade and the impact of kinesthetic creation on the processes of critical thinking, learning, education and cultural design literacy. www.dowlingarchitects.ca