Housing Retrofits in the Wake of the Pandemic

Several months ago, we were honored to have Ya’el Santopinto and Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects speak at the Accelerator’s Global Happy Hour about their work on the Ken Soble Tower in Hamilton, Ontario. The project is the first Passive House retrofit of a residential tower in North America, and it has attracted a lot of attention because of what it could mean for aging high rises across the continent. Apart from breathing new life into these structures, these retrofits will drive down building emissions and allow governments—whether, local, state, provincial, or national—to better meet climate goals.

In the wake of COVID-19, however, there is a growing recognition that there are additional benefits to implementing a large program that would further encourage Passive House retrofits like the one currently underway at the Ken Soble Tower. As Santopinto and Stewart note in a recently published article that is part of Canadian Architect’s “Pandemic Effect” series, this includes providing a major boost to industries throughout the housing and construction sectors, ensuring housing security, and improving the health of occupants.

The two described a notable shift in focus in their article, especially now that they are seeing “more homes with inadequate fresh air supply, mould growth and severe overheating risk,” they wrote. “Now, in the era of COVID-19, public interest has moved squarely to a health-first focus.”

To read the full article on Canadian Architect, click here.