Passive House for Brampton’s Mount Pleasant Village

Courtesy of Daniels Homes

There is a new development coming to Brampton that raises the bar for environmentally sustainable buildings in the GTA suburbs. Built by The Daniels Corporation, on the north side of Bovaird between Mississauga Road and Creditview Road and located within easy walking distance of the GO station and Mount Pleasant Village’s Civic Square, this master-planned community will boast innovative features designed to improve energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

Construction on a 26 floor condo tower will start later this year. A state-of-the-art ground sourced geo-exchange system will provide zero emissions heating and cooling for the condo units.

Next year, the company will start construction on an environmental highlight, two six story purpose built rental buildings to meet Passive House standards. Availability of these rental units is forecasted for 2025.

Passive House comes from the German “Passivhaus” and is considered to be the most rigorous voluntary, energy-based standard in the design and construction industry today. Passive House buildings can result in up to 90% savings in energy used for heating and cooling, compared to conventional buildings. And the energy efficiency is designed into the building’s core and exterior rather than being dependent on complex heating and cooling systems that add cost and require care to maintain efficiency.

A neat feature of the Daniels’ rental project is that it will use mass timber construction, the first building of its kind in Brampton. Mass timber is made from layers of boards using a “cross-grain” technique, meaning each layer is glued at 90 degrees to the layer below it. This creates a slab of wood that can be used to make the entire building including, floors, walls, ceilings and other structural elements.

Mass timber is as strong or stronger than concrete or steel. It does a better job of insulating the building from heat and cold and from transmitted noise both outside and inside the building. The slabs can be manufactured in a plant and then transported and assembled on-site. This reduces construction costs and timing as well as the amount of site transportation.

Generally, people are happier, healthier and more productive working or living in a space where they experience higher levels of thermal comfort. Thermal comfort is a concept worthy of its own article but, basically, it is the combination of air temperature, air velocity, relative humidity, and the radiant temperature of walls, floors, ceilings, that affects a person’s sense of how cold or hot they feel. Mass timber buildings typically deliver superior thermal comfort.

Counter intuitively, mass timber can also perform better in a fire than concrete or steel. As the outside layer of wood chars, the inner layers are shielded from the heat slowing down the burning process. A burning mass timber building may remain standing longer than its steel or concrete counterpart where structural integrity deteriorates rapidly at sustained high temperatures.

Perhaps the best feature of mass timber construction is the carbon emissions reduction it provides. Wood supply is effectively carbon neutral so long as it is sustainably sourced. A substantial amount of carbon is sequestered in the wood itself. More carbon is saved by the reduced building time and transportation requirements by assembling the building in modular form. On balance mass timber buildings reduce global warming potential by more than 25% according to a study done by the University of Washington.

Environmentalists are rightly concerned about the sustainability of forestry practices that may be used to harvest wood for mass timber construction. Procurement must come from sources using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) practices, considered the gold standard of “climate-smart forestry”. But mass timber may be the only way to accommodate our growing population while meeting our carbon reduction goals. So, hats off to Daniels for bringing this innovative building material to Brampton. Let’s hope it is the first of many!

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