Life cycle assessment projects

These projects used a life cycle assessment to measure and compare the environmental impact of a rehabilitation project compared to new construction. They demonstrate the environmental benefits of preserving existing buildings.

Red River College, Winnipeg

An entire city block of the Red River College Princess Street Campus was redeveloped. One of the buildingsa six-storey wood and clay brick warehouse building from the early 1900swas rehabilitated, and facades and materials from the other existing buildings were reclaimed and reused.

The Athena Institute conducted an assessment of the Red River College project to determine whether the environmental merits of renovating the existing building outweighed the merits of constructing a new building on the site. Their results indicate that over the full 75 year expected life of the project, the total energy use and greenhouse gas releases are about half of that of the benchmark design.

Emily Carr House

An interactive museum and private residence, Emily Carr House demonstrates the shows continued and adaptive reuse.Two models of the Emily Carr House were created for the impact estimator one modelled after the existing building and a hypothetical house modelled after modern practices. The models have the same physical specifications (i.e. a wood frame with wood clapboard siding), but the hypothetical house was modelled using new materials and adheres to the modern building code.

Three different scenarios were conducted between the original house and the hypothetical house. In each scenario, it was determined that the hypothetical house consumed more energy in its construction and had a higher environmental cost than the original house. 

Angus Technopole Building, Montreal

The Angus Technopole rehabilitation project is an excellent example of how buildings can be reused and renovated to incorporate environmentally friendly elements. A study was conducted to assess the possibility of converting a locomotive manufacturing factory into a commercial/industrial mall. Most of the original building was retained, including most of the structure and the envelope modifications.

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute researched the environmental merits of rehabilitating the Angus Technopole Building and discovered that compared to tearing down the building and constructing a new benchmark building on the site, renovations resulted in significant environmental savings. The building also demonstrated excellent repeatability and maintained many of its character defining features.

Now House Project

Now House is a process for retrofitting existing older houses into net zero energy homes – homes that produce as much energy as they use on an annual basis. 

Just like a typical city house, a Now House is connected to and uses energy from the local utility. However, unlike typical homes, a Now House produces energy to send to the utility company. Annually, zero energy homes produce enough energy to offset the amount purchased from the utility provider, resulting in a net zero energy bill.

The first application of the Now House process was to a 60 year-old wartime house. Wartime houses have a similar layout and footprint, and with a million such houses in Canada, they provide opportunities to replicate the process.

Current applications include community projects involving ten wartime homeowners in one community and a group of five homes owned by a social housing agency.