This report investigates the possibilities and challenges related to the use of engineered timber as a low-cost and sustainable alternative for retrofitting existing buildings in Canada. Through a comprehensive state-of-the-art review and critical analysis of best practices and methodologies developed both nationally and internationally, this study identifies the most suitable approaches to enable the regional-scale adoption of timber retrofit systems, while also providing practical solutions to adapt them to the Canadian context.
To explore potential socio-economic and environmental benefits and implications, a detailed assessment of available life cycle cost-benefit analysis approaches is first conducted. To this end, the pros and cons of available software tools, methodological solutions, and data resources to compute embodied energy, embodied carbon emissions, upfront economic costs, and their life cycle counterparts in benefits for retrofitting Canada’s existing buildings are scrutinized. Then, practical strategies for enhancing the structural and energy performance of existing buildings are reviewed, classified, and evaluated. Finally, to create the knowledge foundation on which to devise an informed and holistic framework tailored to the specific characteristics of Canada’s natural and built environment, a detailed analysis of the structural and energy features of the local building stock is presented.
The report is structured into three main distinct yet complementary sections:
Section 1: unified life cycle cost-benefit analysis framework for sustainable retrofit of Canada’s existing buildings – this section focuses on best practices in computing upfront costs versus life cycle benefits in energy consumption, carbon emissions, and economic costs due to building retrofits, while also identifying data sources for ensuring their applicability in Canada.
Section 2: exploring the possibility of using engineered timber systems for combined structural and energy rehabilitation/upgrading of existing buildings in Canada – this section provides a detailed overview and appraisal of current trends in structural and energy building retrofit techniques, with a special focus on their applicability in Canada.
Section 3: final evaluation – a summary of results obtained highlighting current challenges and future promises for engineered timber retrofit solutions. The results presented in this report indicate that engineered timber retrofit solutions are a valid and sustainable alternative to more established materials and systems, often more expensive and environmentally invasive. Engineering timber has the potential to be widely applied in Canada, and to offer superior structural and energy benefits in a reduced timeframe.