The BRE Innovation Park (Building Research Establishment) that lies 15km north of Toronto will soon build a new series of houses in which emerging building products and technologies can be researched and enhanced.

The Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP) is run out of The Living City Campus at Kortright, ON, where currently you can find a duplex called The Archetype Sustainable House (ASH). The twin houses act as a living laboratory with more than 400 calibrated sensors that monitor the performance of the buildings' systems. 

ASH will now be joined by a small subdivision of experimental houses to further facilitate research into green building products. 


“Each of those new buildings will be built to different performance targets for water efficiency, energy efficiency, accessibility, etc. It’s basically a sandbox to test and evaluate green building technologies,” said Glenn MacMillan, senior manager of water and energy at TRCA.

No one will live in these particular houses, they will serve as research and training facilities only. Hopefully soon, however, people will be living in houses that work better due to the research and conclusions that come from work done here.

 “We can simulate as if someone is living there for research purposes,”  MacMillan goes on to say, “We can control light bulbs, heat, toilet flushes, turn on washing machines. We have staff in the Archetype House doing research now so there are people coming and going all the time.”

Experimental subdivision Kortright Centre
Experimental subdivision Kortright Centre © Living City Campus

Research facilities such at this are essential for the building industry to keep positively evolving, as they offer an independent third party evaluation that can either validate or disprove manufacturers claims of performance.

Ecohome will be sharing much of the conclusions that come from research done at the Living City Campus facilities, for a sample of the type of research you can expect to see have a look at the comparison between ground source and air source heat pumps