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Laneway Expert Series: Build SMART

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

buildSMART prefabricated Toronto Laneway Suite

Ever since the inception of the laneway suite movement, professionals in the building industry have decided to take a leap, use the fundamentals of design and construction, and pioneer the development throughout Toronto. The growing interest has provided an opportunity for experts to showcase their innovation and technical prowess. These experts play various roles of designers, suppliers, and builders so TurnKey created this series to highlight experts who have contributed to great quality projects in the Toronto laneway space. In this segment of the series, we are featuring Build SMART.

Build SMART manufactures single-family and multi-family wall and foundation insulation systems with the ability to meet some of the highest energy efficiency standards (e.g. Net Zero, Passive House). They serve the United States and Canada working on a range of projects from tiny homes to affordable multi-family housing. Build SMART was founded in 2015, and is a sister company to Prosoco which has been around since 1939. Their mission is to transform North America with an approach to buildings as systems.

The Build SMART team focuses on producing high performance airtight building envelopes through climate-controlled factory production. This allows for meaningful reductions in construction time because permitting, site preparation, and foundation work take place simultaneously. Build SMART’s E-Wall incorporates important elements such as weather resistive barriers, flashing, continuous exterior insulation, air control layers, framing, and structural sheathing. Their custom interior partition system consists of high quality slab insulation and, along with their site installation accessories, simplifies the build phase enabling homeowners to meet Net Zero and Passive House design standards should they desire. To put the icing on the cake, when their J-Form foundation insulation system is combined with underslab insulation, it extends a project’s continuous external insulation over the edge of the slab to prevent heat loss during winter, gain during summers, and termite damage.

In many instances contractors reach out to Build SMART for information however, generally their client base includes homeowners, developers, and architects. These clients are slightly more conscious of the impact energy efficiency can have on their living costs and they usually want to build homes with great insulation seeking standards such as Passive house or Net Zero. The Build SMART team mentioned that some of their most fulfilling moments are experiencing client satisfaction and knowing that they produced another environmentally friendly system that will contribute to a family’s happiness for years to come.

One of Build SMART’s most recent projects is located South of Sussex Avenue on Huron street where three (3) infill residences were built to Passive House level of construction. Two of these homes were laneway suites built with areas of about 900 and 1100 square feet. These suites were developed to be a catalyst in the revitalization of the Huron Sussex neighbourhood and this new and attractive, pedestrian-oriented living lane provides a “green-spine” through the neighbourhood. The project also demonstrated that high performance/low impact construction could be less complicated and delivered without a cost premium over traditional construction, helping make Passive House and compact laneway living accessible to wider audiences. The project itself was constructed in a busy neighbourhood, right next door to a daycare. It was the first laneway project they’ve done but the team was excited to demonstrate their wealth of building expertise. Construction scheduling and environmental constraints were an initial concern, however, the Build SMART team was confident in the easy-to-understand nature and assembly of their prefabricated panels. Their integrated system supported the shortening of the construction schedule by 2 months, reducing impact to neighbours. The tight infill lot had extremely limited lay down area, so panels were trucked to site as needed and erected in place. The site installation took mere days, allowing the team to pick a good weather window for the install.

“The team understands that educating the industry about their E-Wall construction system, and transforming cultural attitudes of building owners and professionals is crucial to push the envelope of best practice standards,” said Brandon White of Build SMART. “At the same time, public education will raise the awareness and expectations of building occupants and users, and encourage market transformation.” The success of this project supports what many professionals communicate to clients - the knowledge and experience gained in the building industry are transferable and the smaller scale of laneway suite projects provide the opportunity to create functional spaces and energy-efficient technology.

Project Specs:

  • AWARDS | 2021 Canadian Green Building Awards

  • PERFORMANCE TARGET | Passive House, Zero-Energy, LEED

  • COST/LF | $287/LF

  • SIZE | 3 units, 4,500 square feet


  • ENERGY USAGE | Annual energy use: 19,767kWh - Renewable Energy Generation: 20,075kWh


  • EXTERIOR WALLS | Build SMART E-Wall: R-45, 2x4 3 7.5” in

  • Exterior Insulation

  • ROOF STRUCTURE | Thermapan R-54 Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

  • WINDOWS | Alpen Passive House triple glazed windows (R7)

  • FOUNDATION | Legalett shallow super-insulated foundation system (R-24)

  • VENTILATION | Build Equinox CERV2 automated conditioning Energy Recovery ventilation system

  • HEATING AND COOLING | Sanden cold climate heat pump

  • PHOTOVOLTAICS | Guelph Solar, 18 kW PV system

#BuildSMART #Toronto #LanewaySuites #GardenSuites #TurnKey #TorontoDoesItDifferent

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