As we celebrate Earth Day, ERA is reflecting on the shift needed to meet Canada’s 2050 net-zero emissions targets. Our built environment plays an important role in creating a more sustainable future and ERA is committed to being a leader that champions climate solutions through our work. Here’s how:
Adaptive reuse of changing infrastructures:
High-impact adaptive reuse of existing structure can help to bolster many communities’ move from resource-based to creative economies. ERA’s work with historic infrastructure to find new uses for their spaces has spurred place-based economies. At the Distillery District, we transformed a brownfield site into an arts and culture hub, driven by below-market rents for artists’ studios. Our work at Cambium Farms in Caledon has adapted a barn to find multi-seasonal cultural uses supported by the site’s historic farmstead properties, contributing to a rural creative economy in the region.
Developing net-zero-ready approaches to building retrofits can build resilience, improve housing quality, and renew our existing built form to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our Ken Soble EnerPHit Tower Renewal modernizes a 1967 apartment tower to provide 94% carbon emission reductions, while taking a light-touch approach to embodied carbon by using low-emissions stonewool insulation. Our Gemini House converts a historic home to ultra-low carbon, while maintaining its historic façade. It does this by creating an interior highly insulated envelope, demonstrating that building conservation and high performance can be intrinsically linked.
Renewable technologies have revolutionized the potential for light-impact homes, both through the adaptation of historic buildings as well as through new construction. Our work on off-grid cottages has provided a model for high-performance living, helping to preserve Ontario’s pristine wilderness.
Mitigating impacts of climate change:
Innovative solutions can mitigate the impacts of the effects of climate change as they become all too frequent. Situated at the heart of a Toronto floodplain, Evergreen Brick Works is at constant risk of flooding. ERA worked with the project team to integrate stormwater and flood mitigation systems into the adaptive reuse of the site, including in the historic kiln building, which is now protected year-round form the harmful impacts of wind and floodwaters thanks to its enclosure and raised flooring.