Sustainability Journal By: Kirsten Archer

Here you will find a series of journal entries that will explain and discuss information involving a broad outlook on sustainability also a more specific outlook on sustainability in the design industry. I will be expressing my thoughts on this topic, its related issues, and innovative ideas encouraging sustainable practices.

Sustainability-Week 1

Sustainability is defined as:

The ability to maintain rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non- renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely

Sustainability at Sheridan College

Sheridan College has an intergrated energy and climate master plan which was developed in order to meet the following goals.

  • Use at least 50% less source energy by 2020
  • Create at least 60% fewer Greenhouse Gas emissions
  • Generate an acceptable Internal Rate of Return on recommended investment
  • Create a campus-wide energy culture
  • Ensure energy supply reliability
  • Be a platform for new energy and waste technologies
  • Use Sheridan as a ‘living laboratory’ to develop competitive sustainability, energy and climate curricula
  • Create a national and community role model with world-class energy performance

In 2014 Sheridan produced 1,105 tones of landfill waste, which costs about $137,000 in hauling fees. By reducing the landfill waste not only does Sheridan reduce its impact to the environment but also saves money for the college.

Sheridan College's Waste Bin Program

Sheridan also offers occasional repair cafes to students and faculty . At such event skilled fixers volunteer their time to repair any household items including anything from appliances, to electronics to clothing. The repair cafe aims to reduce waste sent to landfill and change society's throw-away mindset. For more information regarding sustainability at Sheridan click the following link.

Sustainability-Week 2

Renewable Energy is defined as:

energy obtained from natural resources that can be naturally replenished or renewed within a human lifespan, that is, the resource is a sustainable source of energy.

Solar, wind, and water power

Solar energy is energy from the sun in the form of radiated heat and light. The suns energy can be used to provide lighting and heat for buildings and to produce electricity. In today's society there are two common types of technology that involve electrical or mechanical equipment. First, solar collectors or panels are used to heat or ventilation air for use of in buildings. Second, solar photovoltaic technology uses solar cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Wind power is developed by the kinetic energy that wind it self obtains. This energy can be converted into two forms of energy much like solar energy. These two forms of energy include: mechanical and electricity. large wind turbines are built on wind farms which are in a close proximity to existing electrical grids and have good wind regimes. The provincial leaders in wind power capacity is Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. FUN FACT: I personally saw a wind farm for the first time on the way to a hockey tournament. The wind farm was located in Windsor, Ontario.

Hydroelectricity is created by the kinetic power that is produced by the natural flow of water in rivers. To produce hydroelectricity, the water flow is directed at the blades of a turbine, making it spin, which causes an electrical generator connected to the turbine to spin as well and thus generate electricity. The amount of energy produced depends on the volume of water and its speed therefore most hydroelectric stations are located at a sharp incline or waterfall to take advantage of the speed gained by the water falling due to gravity.

Energy Star Company

The ENERGY STAR initiative is a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and industry to promote energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR is helping Canadians save money on energy bills, increasing the competitiveness of our commercial and institutional sector, and helping us fight climate change.

Energy Star Label

The above Energy Star label is to help identify the best ways to save energy. The above label says this product, this home, this building or this factory is doing the right things to save. Below is a quick video explaining why Energy Star is a great example of providing sustainable energy efficiency.

Sustainability-Week 3


CaGBC: The Canada Green Building Council

This council exists to accelerate the design and construction of green buildings across Canada. They are advocates of the approach in design that one day every Canadian will have environmentally responsible, economical profitable, and healthy places in which to live and work.

Their vision is a transformed built environment, leading to a sustainable future.

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

LEED sets the standards and evaluates buildings that incorporate:

  • Design
  • Construction
  • Operational practices

LEED essentially provides the criteria and strategies to the design and build a profession to qualify for an environmental designation of certified silver, gold or platinum. LEED's standards influence how products are developed, manufactured, and marketed.

Sustainability-Week 4

LEED in Oakville, Ontario

Currently in Oakville there are four LEED designed buildings including:

  • Oakville Transit Facility; LEED Silver Certified
  • North Operations Depot; awaiting certification
  • Sixteen Mile Sports Complex; LEED Gold Certified
  • Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre; LEED Silver Certified
All LEED certified buildings except the North Operations Depot (top right) who are currently awaiting certification.

Sustainability-Week 5

LEED in Orillia, Ontario (Hometown)

The Orillia Public Library opened in 2012

This new public library is located in the core downtown of Orillia and has obtained LEED silver certification.

The following photographs are of Lakehead University also located in Orillia Ontario.

Lakehead University

  • LEED Platnuim Academic Building
  • Architects: Moriyama & Teshima Architects
  • Opened September 2010

Key Highlights

  • Green Roofs
  • Geothermal Heating and Cooling System
  • Low-Flow Water Fixtures
  • Recycled Building Materials
  • Secure Bicycle storage Areas and Shower/Changeroom Facilities
  • Daylight harvesting
  • Etc.

Site Plan

Stormwater Retention and Bioremediation Pond—Surface water is filtered by an oil grit separator (OGS) to remove particulate, oils and heavy metals before being cleansed and oxygenated by the plant material and gravel in the bioremediation pond. Harvesting greywater for non-potable uses cuts the use of potable water for interior fixtures by 61% and irrigation by 100%. Stormwater run-off is maintained at the level prior to the development of the site.

Dual Duct Dedicated Outdoor Air VAV System—The HVAC system utilizes two parallel air distribution systems: one for outdoor fresh air only and one for heated and cooled air. This split system maintains a high level of indoor air quality and increases energy efficiency by providing heated or cooled air only when necessary.

Sustainability-Week 6

Recycling Materials For a Permanent Purpose

Inventor/Engineer Peter Lewis
  • New Zealand based company
  • Lewis transforms plastic waste into bricks that can be used for building garden retaining walls, landscaping walls, and shelters for hurricane tsunami struck areas.
  • He Developed a machine called Byfusion which can turn anything from drink bottles to meat packaging into blocks.
  • Rebuilding communities using old plastic

The quick video below demonstrates how these recycled plastic made blocks are used to build houses.

Sustainability-Week 7

Sustainable Paint

A message from Dulux TRADE: Our commitment to doing more with less We want to play a positive role in creating a brighter, more sustainable future for our planet and our communities. We are fully aware that this hinges on our ability to do radically more while using less. By creating more value from fewer resources, we are also securing our own business success – and helping you secure your future too.
  • Natural paints are the only true non-toxic paint since they contain no VOC's and are made from natural ingredients such as water, vegetable oils, plant dyes, and natural minerals
  • The main binders used in natural paints are: linseed oil (from flax seeds), clay, lime, and milk protein.
  • Non-toxic - no hazardous fumes or harmful effects on health. This is significant for allergy sufferers and
  • chemically sensitive people who are unable to tolerate chemical paints.
  • Environmentally Friendly - use renewable resources; are biodegradable, can even be composted.
  • Microporous - allow walls and surfaces to breathe, preventing condensation and damp problems, and
  • reducing associated indoor allergens. They are also less prone to paint flaking, peeling and blistering.

What is VOC?

VOCs are organic (carbon based) chemical compounds that evaporate easily in the atmosphere, and are known to be a major contributor to global climate change. Many of them are highly toxic and linked with numerous health problems such as respiratory disease, asthma, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin disorders, eye irritation, liver and kidney damage and even cancer. Modern chemical paints continue to emit VOCs many years after their application.

Sustainability-Week 8

The Tiny House Movement


  • the ability to live free of paint rent, mortgage, and utility bills
  • can build a custom tiny home for an affordable price
  • free of debt
  • carries a much smaller environmental footprint, reduces the amount of resources we as humans consume to live, and encourages us to consume less in general.


  • Traditionally 2.4x5 metres
  • contains a living area, sleeping loft, kitchen and bathroom, and are constructed to fit a trailer so that they can be easily moved.
  • possible to build a tiny home that is entirely self-contained and off-grid, generating their own water and electricity
The above diagram shows the reasons why people are choosing to live in a tiny house.

Inspirational Tiny Homes

Floor Plan Example

Sustainability-Week 9

Evergreen Brickworks

550 Bayview Ave #300, Toronto, ON
Photograph of Evergreen Brickworks


deepen the connection between people and nature, and empower Canadians to take a hands-on approach to improve our urban environments, Evergreen works together to improve the health of our cities—now and for the future.

  • 42,324+ native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers planted in parks and public spaces across Canada in 2013.
  • Evergreen works with volunteers and community members to monitor and restore Metro Vancouver and Greater Toronto Area waterways. Together, we remove invasive plants, reintroduce native plants, monitor water quality and learn about the importance of our local streams.
  • Building a more sustainable food system starts with restoring the connection between food producers and food consumers. We believe that promoting family farms and local producers can help preserve the health of our cities, the integrity of our environment and the strength of our communities.
Photos of exterior and interior spaces from Evergreen Brickworks

Sustainability-Week 10

Halton Waste Management Facility

5400 Regional Rd 25, Milton, ON
Diagram demonstrating landfill

The above technique is used so that waste does not contaminate ground water. Two liners are used so that if something were to happen to the first on the second would still protect the ground water from contamination. After the waste is covered with a final cover to keep all waste contained.

Key Attributes:

  • Salvation army trailer located on site which accepts items that are in good condition including: Clothing, Linens, Shoes, Belts and Purses ,Antiques, Book (hard covers and paper backs), TVs (including console TVs), Stereos, Radios, VCRs, CD & DVD Players, Furniture (clean, undamaged), Miscellaneous items (lamps, pictures, kitchen equipment, stuffed toys and dishes), Bed frames and headboards, Computers, Bric a brac, Area Rugs – clean in good condition, Metal desks or metal filing cabinets, Metal vertical or horizontal blinds, Barbecues without propane tanks, Air conditioners
  • Offers paint and stain for free
  • landfill gas collectionthe collection of the landfill gas, Halton Region has installed over three kilometres of piping within the buried waste at the Halton Waste Management Site (HWMS) to allow the gas to flow, under vacuum, from the landfill’s interior to the Site’s first-ever enclosed flaring system. The gas collection and flaring process reduces odour at the Site, as combustion of the gas renders it virtually odourless.a gas utilization system constructed and operated by Oakville Hydro Energy Services Inc. (OHESI) to generate electricity from the landfill gas collected by Halton Region’s system. Preliminary construction activities for Phase 2 started in early September 2006. OHESI’s landfill gas utilization facility is now generating and transmitting “green” energy to the power grid, derived directly from the Region’s landfill gas supply.
  • Sorting bins to drop off scrap metal, wood, plastic, etc.

The above video will give you a virtual tour of the Halton Waste Management facility

Sustainability-Week 11

Famous Sustainable Buildings

Genzyme Center

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Architect: Stefan Behnisch

LEED: Platinum

Sustainable Attributes:

  • Glass exterior walls to maximize natural light, open atrium to allow natural light, solar panels generating renewable energy, low water fixtures,computer-controlled window blinds track the sun's position and automatically adjust to maximize light while deflecting heat, minimizing the building's dependence on electricity for lighting and cooling, green roofs with succulents and other low-water plants reduces storm water run-off and absorbs heat to decrease cooling needs.
Bahrain World Trade Center

Location: Manama, Bahrain

Architect: Atkins Firm

LEED: Certification

Sustainable Attributes:

  • Wind turbines, Concrete flooring, Gravel roofs,Glass as shading, Operable windows, Heat recovery system, Variable-volume chilled water pump, Energy efficient fluorescent lighting, Solar powered road and amenity lighting, Reflective pools
Corallo House

Location: Santa Rosalia, Guatemala City

Architect: Paz Arquitectura

Sustainable Attributes:

  • Merges nature into the architecture, preserving existing trees, glass exterior walls, heat repelling foundation and sustainable materials

Sustainability-Week 12

Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl is defined as:

the migration of a population from populated towns and cities to low density residential development over more and more rural land. The end result is the spreading of a city and its suburbs over more and more rural land. In other words, urban sprawl is defined as low density residential and commercial development on undeveloped land.

Causes of Urban Sprawl:

  • Lower land rates
  • Improved Infrastructure
  • Rise in standard of living
  • Lack of urban planning
  • Lower house tax rates
  • Rise in population growth
  • Consumer preferences

Effects of Urban Sprawl:

  • Increase in public expenditure
  • Increased traffic
  • Health issues
  • Environmental issues
  • Impact on social lives

Sustainability-Week 13


WaterSense Logo

What is WaterSense?

WaterSense is a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services.

WaterSense brings together a variety of stakeholders to:

  • Promote the value of water efficiency.
  • Provide consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and an information resource to help people use water more efficiently.
  • Encourage innovation in manufacturing.
  • Decrease water use and reduce strain on water resources and infrastructure.

What the label means:

products with the label:

  • Perform as well or better than their less efficient counterparts.
  • Are 20 percent more water efficient than average products in that category.
  • Realize water savings on a national level.
  • Provide measurable water savings results.
  • Achieve water efficiency through several technology options.Are effectively differentiated by the WaterSense label.
  • Obtain independent, third-party certification.

Sustainability-Week 14

I would like to take the time now to reflect back on how much I have learned over the course of four months about sustainability. More specifically, the need to consider sustainable design in order to be the change of the future. I have learned about urban sprawl, LEED, the CGBC, sustainable materials, efficient energy saving solutions, efficient water saving solutions and much more. Creating a greener future starts with how I choose to contribute. As a student studying Interior Design I am choosing to make a change by implementing sustainable design ideas into my future studio projects and eventually realize projects. Thank you Anais Deragopian for a great semester!

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