Photo by Tyler Irving

A project led by Climate Positive Energy Member Shoshanna Saxe and supported by CPE, has received $740,000 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. Under NSERC’s Alliance grant program, university researchers collaborating with private-sector, public-sector or not-for-profit organizations are eligible to receive support for research projects led by strong, complementary, collaborative teams that will generate new knowledge and accelerate the application of research results to create benefits for Canada. 

Titled “Building More with Less: Achieving a Sustainable Built Environment,” the research project identifies quantitative building and urban design pathways to both build the housing and infrastructure Canada needs, while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with construction material use, in line with Canada’s international climate commitments. This research will play a key role in supporting Canada meet its housing and infrastructure capacity while at the same time respecting the carbon impact that results from construction.  

The research combines analytical and design approaches —investigating material design, structural design, and building and neighbourhood form design — to re-think current planning and construction practices, and to identify new, reduced GHG emission approaches to building, infrastructure, and urban design. The project brings together researchers and 12 private sector companies. This unique consortium will support and learn from the research and from each other on how to deliver real-world low GHG construction. All partners will be involved in co-creation of knowledge through bi-annual research workshops, data sharing, and advice to highly-qualified personnel on their projects, and findings will be shared broadly by the partners both within their own firms and more widely to clients and supply-chain partners. 

“It is impossible to build new, or retrofit old, buildings and infrastructure without creating adverse environmental impacts,” said Professor Saxe. “This project will re-think current practices, redesign what we build and how we build it, and engage stakeholders across the built environment ecosystem on new approaches to policy, planning, and construction. The ultimate goal is to change what and how we build in Canada to align with both our need for more housing and infrastructure, and our climate responsibilities.”

Dr. Shoshanna Saxe is an Associate Professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Sustainable Infrastructure.  She investigates the relationship between the infrastructure we build and the society we create to identify opportunities – and pathways – to better align infrastructure provision with sustainability.