Canada calling… get involved with the Reframed Lab

15 October 2020

The Reframed Initiative is calling on European industry partners to participate in a six-month exploratory design process to develop next-generation refurbishment concepts with the mission to transform existing housing into high energy efficiency buildings. (click here to subscribe)

Taking inspiration from the Energiesprong approach to retrofitting residential buildings in Europe, the Reframed Initiative in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada is working with designers, builders, owners, financiers, and policymakers to scale up deep retrofits. The initiative is a partnership between the Pembina Institute, a non-profit think-tank that advocates for strong, effective policies to support Canada’s clean energy transition, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, and the City of Vancouver. Their goal is to work together to address the climate emergency in Canada by preserving and upgrading existing residential buildings that provide affordable housing in a market with high rents and low vacancy rates.

Deep retrofit designs wanted

Encouraged by Energiesprong’s success in implementing its revolutionary, whole house refurbishment approach in Europe, the Reframed Initiative is teaming up with BC Housing, a crown corporation accountable to the provincial government that develops, manages and administers housing in the province, to commission deep retrofit designs for up to five multi-unit residential buildings. The target archetype is typical to B.C., low-rise (less than four storeys), wood-frame building with 11-50 residential units.  This programme aims to demonstrate advanced innovation in building retrofits that make buildings more energy-efficient, less polluting, and more resilient to earthquakes and extreme weather.

Looking for integrated technologies

Reframed is particularly interested in retrofit solutions that integrate technologies such as pre-fabricated exterior wall and roof panels, high-efficiency and low-carbon mechanical systems, roofing solutions that integrate on-site renewable electricity, storage and/or thermal generation, seismic upgrades and climate adaptation measures. To facilitate early integration of innovative solutions, design teams will be multi-disciplinary and include practitioners such as architects, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, modellers, performance monitoring specialists, among others. Energiesprong’s European partners and solution providers would be welcome to partner on a design team![1]

Next generation solutions in six-months

Selected teams will participate in an exciting new exploration lab, called the Reframed Lab, which will bring them together in a six-month exploratory design process where they will share retrofit ideas and learn from experts on technical innovations, resilience, embodied carbon, and health. The aim of this collaborative design process is to demonstrate next-generation solutions that integrate health, seismic and fire safety and climate adaptation measures with envelope and mechanical upgrades to improve the energy efficiency of old buildings and cut carbon pollution while minimizing tenant disruption.

Each design team will design a retrofit specific to one building and consider how the solution could be applied to the other buildings. Design teams will determine the appropriate combination of interventions to balance the needs of the building, owner and occupants with respect to costs, performance targets, and health and safety requirements. Being near a fault line, seismic safety is a priority in British Columbia. Each building will be assigned a project technologist by BC Housing to work with the team of experts. The teams will then come together to share their expertise and provide feedback on the different retrofit designs for each building. The designs will be evaluated by a jury of experts and Reframed partners who will recommend a preferred design for the design and construction phase of the projects.

Sanne de Wit, Head of Ideas at Energiesprong Foundation, said, “We are really happy to see that the Canadians are moving forward in terms of reducing the energy needs of old buildings. We love the idea of the Reframed Lab, launched by our Canadian counterparts. Pembina and the other partner organisations involved in the initiative really are frontrunners when it comes to energy transition. I can’t wait to see the outcomes of their design process. I can imagine that many of our European contacts and partners will be interested in joining this initiative.”

To find out more about the Reframed Initiative and to register your interest, visit:

[1] The primary consultant leading the design team must be an engineering professional licensed to practice in B.C.

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