Sustainability is about existing with a balance between the biosphere and human civilization, by creating a balanced environment. A healthy ecosystem and environment are necessary for the survival of organisms and as humans, we have relied upon a lot of natural resources like minerals, petroleum, coal, gas, and more – the earth’s biodiversity, from birds to mammals, to marine life, we see a huge depletion in them. Our haphazard and involuntary actions to obtain these resources have affected the ecosystem. Some architects have managed to understand this and have integrated sustainability in buildings of Canada. 

Here are a few buildings that are sustainable in Canada:

10 of Canada's most sustainable buildings
Canada Skyline ©gary blakeley

1. Manitoba Hydro Place

Manitoba Hydro Place
Manitoba Hydro Place ©

Located in Winnipeg, the city with extreme climatic conditions, summer temperature of 34 degrees Celsius, and winter temperature of – 34 degrees celsius. The building is a perfect example of sustainability, a conjecture of advanced technologies and environmental concepts. Based on the rules of the IDP- integrated design process mandated by the client, cost-effectiveness, signature architecture, supportive workplace, 60% of energy savings, and urban revitalization. The site selection took place in such a way that 95% of the users had availability of public transportation. A capital “ A ” shaped twin-tower, rests on a three-storeyed street-scaled podium, intersecting at the north and spreading apart in the south for abundant sunlight and constant flowing winds. To let the sunlight penetrate till the core, the floor plates are kept narrow and the building is designed tall, with curtain walls of iron-glass insulating the building from outside heat and cold. A 115m tall chimney becomes the key element in ventilating the entire building drawing in and out the used air of the building. 

2. Vancouver Convention Centre

Vancouver Convention Centre - Sheet1
Green roof of Vancouver Convention Centre ©

This center houses a building with terraced gardens, an urban plaza, a park, and an ecosystem, comprising 2,40,000 bees in 4 different colonies and 4,00,000 species of plants. The grid of the street is taken into consideration for designing 35% in a water body, forming a shoreline for marine ecosystems. With the help of seawater, the cooling and heating of the building in summer and winter take place, reducing 60% of energy usage. A water conservation and reuse system which reduces 70% of portable water usage. 

Vancouver Convention Centre ©


3. Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS)

Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) - Sheet1

An example of passive environmental strategies at the display, a living courtyard above the roof of the auditorium, provides natural light and ventilation in the building. Deciduous vines, acting as seasonal solar screens, help in ventilating the building naturally. A rainwater harvesting system is installed to minimize the use of potable water. The material of the structure is wood, which reduces and absorbs the carbon emissions by 90% and absorbs 904 tonnes of carbon.

CIRS Courtyard ©

4. Greenstone Building

Greenstone Building ©

A 200 unit government servant home, constructed from a mixture of concrete and fly ash, reducing the greenhouse emissions. To keep the interiors warm, a curtain wall on the south is constructed which absorbs and traps the heat in winter, to keep the atrium warm. Each office has a view outside, with thermal systems running across the floor, and controls the inside temperature of the building. Two roof gardens that play an important role in rainwater harvesting systems, which is later used for gardening purposes. Even the flooring is tiled carpet which is laid to reduce waste material.

Greenstone Building - Sheet1
Interiors of Greenstone Building © mansaac

5. C.K. Choi Building

C.K. Choi Building
C.K. Choi Building ©

To construct a sustainable building, the trees in the existing site were kept intact, instead, the construction took place in the parking lot, with more than 50% of the recycled materials collected from the nearby places. To reduce energy consumption, the western edge is surrounded by large trees and reduces the amount of sunlight entering the building. Openings are placed to allow air circulation, continuously providing fresh air within the building. Stormwater systems are installed underground for irrigation of the landscape.  

6. VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre

A single-storeyed organic structure constructed with rammed earth, with multiple entries to the central atrium. The roof panels are prefabricated, incorporating structure, sheathing, and roofing membrane, which involves fire protection and electrical services. Other net-zero techniques like solar panels, geothermal wells, blackwater treatment systems, etc. are used to reduce the energy consumption of the building. 

7. Centennial Place 

Centennial Place  - Sheet1
Centennial Place ©

40 storeyed and 24 storeyed high towers with glazed facade reducing the heat gain. With rainwater harvesting systems and greywater reuse systems, the structure is designed in such a way that the interior spaces minimize the usage of energy. The green roof reduces the emissions of the greenhouse gases, by keeping the interiors cool and reducing the usage of cooling systems. 

Centennial Place ©

8. Toronto Dominion Centre

Toronto Dominion Centre
Toronto Dominion Centre ©

To conserve energy resources, six building blocks are connected by a lake controlling the cooling systems of the interiors, reducing the greenhouse emissions. Even the green roof controls the interior temperature, with a provision of stormwater run-off. 

9. Earth Rangers Centre

Earth Rangers Centre
Earth Rangers Centre ©

A 325-acre conservation project with 324 solar panels in the parking lot, supplies electricity, also controls the temperature of the interiors with 44 geothermal wells dug underground is connected by concrete tubes that run across the building to supply fresh air and control interior temperature. 

10. University of Waterloo Environment Building 3  

University of Waterloo Environment Building 3  - Sheet1
University of Waterloo ©

A two-storeyed atrium is covered with plants, a living wall that filters the inside air of the building. Wood as a structural material is used to minimize the carbon footprint of the campus. To reduce the water usage, automatic low-flow faucets, and flush toilets and urinals functioning with the collected rainwater. These systems reduce about 87% of water usage. Automatic sensors that control the daylight and artificial lighting within the building. A rooftop covered with solar panels supplies electricity to the building reducing 45% of the consumption compared to a conventional building. 

University of Waterloo Environment Building 3  - Sheet1
University of Waterloo © university of

She is an architecture student , a dog lover , a travel enthusiast and a trekker. She is enthusiastic about writing and architecture so mixing both through architecture journalism. She has worked both in commercial architectural firms as well as a sustainable architecture firm and is juggling to find a balance between both.