Built in 2008, the Archetype Sustainable House demonstrates viable, sustainable housing. Through education, training, market transformation and partnership programs it influences how communities are built, planned, constructed and lived-in to minimize ecological footprints and improve people’s quality of life. The Archetype Sustainable House serves as a ‘Living Laboratory’ and is used by local universities, collages, and industry partners for research projects. The houses are also used for meetings, seminars and events and are toured by students and public on a regular basis.

The two semi-detached houses demonstrate a multitude of innovative technologies, products and building practices aimed at conserving energy, water and other resources while greatly reducing heating and cooling costs. The effectiveness of the innovative practices and products installed here are being evaluated by the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP). These demonstration homes are open to the public and provide a learning facility for trades, builders, students and homeowners.

The Archetype Sustainable House will be incorporated into the  Innovation Park.  The building has received multiple certifications and was designed to demonstrate the following:

  • LEED® Platinum Certified
  • R-2000
  • GreenHouse™ certified construction- https://www.enerquality.ca/program/greenhousetm/
  • Highly insulated building envelope
  • Roof mounted and building integrated photovoltaics
  • Multiple integrated heating/distribution systems
  • Water conservation strategies including low flow fixtures, rainwater harvesting and landscaping
  • FSC® certified wood and engineered joists
  • Renewable, recycled and low-impact materials
  • Onsite waste minimisation.

In Fall 2016, House A is planned to be refurbished to becoming a Home Modification Showcase for Ageing in Place.


The design of the houses is the result of a national competition conducted by Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) and the Design Exchange. The challenge was to design a single family home that demonstrates the best in environmentally sustainable design and would be a model for housing development in the GTA and beyond. Materials and construction labour were donated for the projected, with the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) coming forward with an offer to construct. BILD members represent the land development, home-building and professional renovation industries in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Archetype Sustainable House was designed to be constructible for production builders on a variety of lot sizes. It showcases a flexible design with building block modules that allow a range of design options without the cost of modularity. The attic and basement are also designed to be renovation ready, allowing occupants to adapt their living spaces as their needs change.

Some key features include:

  • 90% of the wood is FSC® certified
  • Drain water heat recovery
  • Drywall with 95% recycled gypsum and paper
  • High efficiency windows
  • Natural ventilation
  • Advanced framing techniques
Archetype Sustainable House Window Detail