By Jesse Caplan
A team of architecture and engineering students from Ryerson and the University of Toronto are working together to build sustainable and affordable housing in Callander between North Bay and Nipissing.
Future-Living Lab is a student-led group that experiments with sustainable and affordable housing design. They are currently in the process of developing their first sustainable home.
“We want to bring sustainable housing to a wider audience, to people who may not realize that sustainable homes are an option,” said Adriana Menghi, a fourth-year architecture student at the University of Toronto and the group’s external affairs executive.
“As students, this is an opportunity for us to get on site, hands on experience.”
Dan Sobieraj, a fourth-year Ryerson architecture student, is also working with the project.
Sobieraj explained that the house is being built largely using sustainable materials, like straw bale and timber, both renewable resources.
It will also be entirely covered with a natural clay plaster, to limit moisture absorption and potential water damage.
Sobieraj said that while the construction of these homes do require more careful design than a traditional house because of how new the concept is, they also come with a number of benefits.
“The manufacturing of the materials use very little energy, and they do not release many greenhouse gases,” he explained.
Other measures taken to increase sustainability include a shed roof that collects rainwater and strategic placement of windows to increase sunlight during the winter months.
The house is being built for a friend of a professor in North Bay.
“It was an investment for him to let us build his home,” Menghi said. “But at the same time, it was also a fraction of the cost of a traditional house.”
Going forwards, Menghi said that the goal was not to mass produce sustainable homes, but instead to use this project to explore different technology, and potentially develop their own.
“We will be installing sensors into the home when it is finished so that we can record how efficient the design was,” she explained, adding that the project’s results could potentially be used in future studies surrounding sustainable housing.