The construction of a building is very important for the long-term health of occupants, the health of our towns and cities, and the health of the natural environment.

If we pay attention to how we're building, with a focus on quality materials, longevity and durability, there's no reason why our construction shouldn't last for 100, 200 or even 500 years!


  • STRUCTURE - Wood, steel, stone, concrete, fasteners, adhesives and engineered products that create the skeleton
  • CONTROL LAYERS - Insulation, air barriers, vapour barriers, flashing, drainage planes
  • OPENINGS - Windows, doors, and holes for mechanical and utilities.
  • FINISHES - Drywall, siding, paint, trim, shingles, stucco
  • SYSTEMS - Electricity, HVAC, data, plumbing pipes and sewage.


The performance of a building refers to it's energy efficiency, or how little energy it consumes because of it's insulation levels, air tightness, durability and quality of construction.

For example, a building might have well insulated walls and roof structure that keep the indoor temperature comfortably moderated. This is called the THERMAL performance.

Another example of high performance: A building that has minimal air leaks and well controlled ventilation is considered AIR TIGHT. Air tightness is measured in air changes per hour (ACH), or how many times all of the air in the building volume is naturally replaced with fresh air.

How does performance affect occupants?

  • The temperature inside shouldn't change much from about 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Farenheit), and the difference in temperature between head and feet shouldn't be more than 5 degrees Celsius.
  • Comfortable relative humidity level is about 50%
  • Fresh air should be supplied at 30 cubic metres (m3) per person, per hour (or approximately 18 cubic feet per minute per person, per hour).

The energy performance of a building also includes:

  • Efficient appliances, like Energy Star refrigerators, washing machines and stoves
  • Low energy, LED lights
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures and dual flush toilets
  • High quality windows and doors - triple panes of glass, integrated into the air tight and thermal layers
  • Low VOC finishes and furniture - VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds make the strong smells that come from paints and some furnishings. These VOCs can really affect the breathing and general health of some people.
  • Use of renewable materials with low embodied energy - the energy that goes into the harvesting, processing, manufacture, transport and use of a material must be considered. Use materials that have low embodied energy and high rates of renewability.
  • Use of durable materials that will last without much maintenance or replacement. For example, stone is one of the most environmentally friendly and longest lasting building materials. Any material that can last more than 50 -100 years is perfect! Investigate the lifespan of the wraps, tapes, insulation, structural components, wires, pipes and finishes used.