Archetype Sustainable House


ADespite the abundance of sustainable building technologies in today’s market, various social, technical and financial barriers have slowed the green transformation of the building market. The Archetype House project was initiated to educate and motivate the public and building industry professionals to move beyond these obstacles and to adopt greener building practices. By showcasing the best green technologies and designs the market has to offer in a real-world, full-scale demonstration, the house reveals the feasibility of building homes that use less energy, water and natural resources, and generate less waste, while also being more comfortable and providing a healthier indoor environment for occupants.

In 2005 the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the Design Exchange launched the Archetype Sustainable House Design Competition, which engaged architects, engineers, designers and graduate students from across Canada.  The challenge was to design a viable, sustainable single-family dwelling that would serve as a model or ‘archetype’ for future housing developments in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.

In June 2006, the ‘Building Blocks’ entry was selected by a panel of judges as the winning design.  Based on this design, two identical houses were to be built; House A was intended to be equipped with technologies that are practical in today’s market, while House B would showcase technologies of the future.  The two houses were constructed in 3 months in the summer of 2008, with the generous support of 182 sponsors who provided funding and in-kind contributions, including several members of the Building Industry and Land Development Association who donated labour and materials for construction, and over 1,200 volunteers.

The houses are appropriately located at TRCA’s Living City Campus at Kortright Centre in Vaughan, which is Ontario’s foremost environmental and renewable energy education centre for school children, working professionals and the public. The Archetype house will serve as a key educational tool around which school programs and green home workshops will be developed. A monitoring program will also be carried out in order to evaluate the performance of the two houses with respect to water conservation, stormwater management, and energy efficiency.  Costs and savings associated with individual technologies and materials will also be assessed relative to conventional alternatives to determine pay-back periods and assign a dollar value to the energy and water conservation data.