Toronto firm sustainable.TO Architecture + Building snatched the top prize in an International sustainable design competition on Tuesday.

Head Designer Paul Dowsett and his team's winning "Low Cost, Low Energy House" was selected from 65 entries from around the world, as part of an online competition to design an ultra-sustainable "passive house" for the harsh New Orleans socio-environmental situation.

Winning "Passive House" — image by sustainable.TO

The Passive House Standard and the 2030 Challenge, which has influenced the Better Buildings Initiative issued by U.S. President Barack Obama is, according to the Canadian Passive House Institute, "The world's most ambitious and scientifically verified route to truly sustainable buildings, achieving 80 - 90% energy savings over conventional construction."

According to a sustainable.TO press release, Head designer Paul Dowsett's winning "'Low Cost, Low Energy House' features an airtight, thermal-bridge free and super-insulated envelope combined with passive shading in the summer and solar heat gains in winter; concrete floor topping for thermal mass to radiate the heat into the space as required; highly reflective galvalume wall and roof cladding; a balanced energy recovery ventilation system and split-zoned high-efficiency heating and cooling units with an ultra high-efficiency on-demand water heater and supplemental radiant floor heating. The use of low-cost, durable and long-lasting materials, and proven construction techniques assures value to returning homeowners."

Additionally, "in accordance with post-Katrina building codes, guidelines and best practices, the house is raised 7 feet above grade, securing its safety during flooding and providing shaded parking, storage, and outdoor living spaces."

Many UrbanToronto-ers may recognize Dowsett's other ultra-sustainable works here at home. Previously, as a principal at Scott Morris Architects Inc., he also designed two off-grid, passive solar houses in Ontario (the Hunter House and Frog's Hollow).

For more information, please visit: www.sustainable.TO