SOURCE: MasonryWorx

MasonryWorx

June 05, 2017 11:30 ET

New Growth Plan Requires Higher Building Standards

MISSISSAUGA, ON--(Marketwired - June 05, 2017) - As Ontario moves towards a higher-density future, it is more vital than ever to build the communities of tomorrow to a higher standard of architecture, energy-efficiency and built-form quality.

With the new Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe raising intensification targets to 60% from 40% to meet the needs of a growing Ontario, cities stand to face a transformational level of infill growth. With these higher densities, it is necessary to consider the building materials used for these types of dwellings, from an energy standpoint, quality of life and the quality of municipalities' built heritage. Masonry materials such as brick, block and stone are ideal for meeting the needs of a denser, built-up Ontario.

As communities grow upwards, more and more, the private realm becomes a semi-public realm in which the urban buildings themselves form the scenery. The quality of the built environment defines the community. Residents expect well-designed, attractive structures with a strong sense of place. As well, they expect building materials which resist noise penetration and help to reduce home heating and cooling bills. Masonry materials are traditional, natural building materials which convey both the required resilience and a strong sense of place.

"In an age of global warming and increasing densities, building tomorrow's communities predominantly out of glass is simply irresponsible," says Andrew Payne, Executive Director of MasonryWorx.

"As densities increase, resilience and energy conservation are growing more important, but so is aesthetic appeal. Whether it's a high-rise condo or a townhouse, people want to live somewhere that looks appealing but doesn't cost too much to heat or cool," says Payne.

Many new high-rises in the Greater Golden Horseshoe are clad predominantly with glass. Toronto is now dealing with the ongoing consequences of allowing developers and builders to utilize glass as the primary building material. Beyond the major safety concerns associated with falling glass, multi-unit residential buildings with high thermal transmittance envelopes -- like glass -- require HVAC systems with up to 50% more capacity in order to maintain a comfortable environment.

A recent study found that energy savings of 15% can be achieved in residential high-rises by changing the window-to-wall configuration to include a combination of masonry and glass. For office towers, savings of 10% can be achieved.

The Growth Plan envisions significant increases in urban density, from 400 residents and jobs per hectare in Toronto to 150 residents and jobs per hectare in urban growth centres like Peterborough and St. Catharines. Similar high densities are expected along key transit corridors throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe. At these densities, the energy savings and reduced carbon emissions realized from reducing the percentage of high-rise facades clad in glass can be significant -- savings for condo owners and helping to save the planet.

These densities will also require rethinking the way lower-density suburbs are developed. Increasingly high densities are creating "urban ribbons" in areas outside these growth corridors, where homes back on closely to each other. Some of these homes demonstrate a "Hollywood Façade," in which the building materials used for the sides and rear of the home are of a lower quality than the front façade. This "Hollywood Façade" effect creates interlinked ribbons of backyards where neighbours see only low-quality building materials, close to their own home.

"Adapting to higher densities means getting behind the Hollywood Façade and recognizing that the backyard is where we do most of our living. The back of the house is just as important as the front in a high-density world," says Payne.

Ontario's brick, block and stone professionals welcome the conclusions of the new Growth Plan, and encourage the use of natural, resilient masonry materials in combination with glazing as the preferred exterior cladding for new infill developments and intensification, as well as for new lower-density developments.

MasonryWorx represents industry professionals who create durable structures that increase in value, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and add beauty to neighbourhoods. Our members include product manufacturers, suppliers and contractors from across Ontario, who are committed to providing homebuyers, homeowners, architects, engineers, builders and government leaders with current information about the use and benefits of brick, block and stone masonry products.

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