About the Project
Morrison Hershfield, in partnership with BC Housing and project sponsors, expanded the Building Envelope Thermal Bridging (BETB) Guide to include details applicable to all Canadian climates and energy codes. A first of its kind online database, ThermalEnvelope.ca was developed, providing a streamlined, automated process for users to easily search and compare over 600 building envelope details and assemblies, calculate the overall thermal transmittance of walls, roofs and floors, provide compliance documentation and collaborate with design teams.
Migrating the expanded BETB Guide to a web-based platform minimizes the need for project specific thermal simulations, making calculations less onerous in practice. Users search for and easily compare details using criteria like construction or insulation type, proprietary systems and/or desired performance level.
These tools play an important supporting role in achieving net-zero design and implementation and facilitate the design and construction of more thermally efficient building envelopes by making information and tools readily available to stakeholders. The ground-breaking and internationally significant online database is timely in the context of new regulations requiring detailed thermal transmittance calculations to minimize thermal bridging and industry demand for objective and consistent information about building envelope thermal performance.
This new and expanded resource goes beyond BC climate and construction practice and applies to all energy standards and climates in Canada. It also provides details that apply to net-zero energy or Passive House design for new construction and retrofit projects. It is timely and necessary given the new and contemplated changes to energy efficiency requirements in jurisdictions across the country and commitments made by the federal, provincial and territorial governments to reduce greenhouse gases under the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
Prior to launching the BETB Guide in 2014, the impact of thermal bridging was largely overlooked in practice, energy standards and energy calculations. Their impact is now clearer, and comprehensive thermal bridging calculations are becoming a requirement in codes and standards across Canada and internationally.
The expanded BETB catalogue includes over 600 details. After each release of the updated Guide (four updates), details were re-assessed, recirculated and ranked in order of priority, based on industry feedback. New details were constantly added to the queue and ranked based on impact, usefulness and client input.
ThermalEnvelope.ca is a highly intuitive online database that consolidates vast amounts of technically sophisticated and complex information, a catalogue of over 600 common building envelope assemblies and interface details along with their associated thermal performance data into an accessible, practical and easily understood tool that allows practitioners to make informed design decisions.
The online database was developed to create an enhanced and intuitive user experience including all the features a user would expect when calculating the thermal performance of the building envelope. The user interface, functionality and features of the online database were defined from scratch based on the team’s technical expertise and feedback received throughout the multi-year process that included many presentations and workshops with industry stakeholders.
The adoption of the BETB methodology into standard practice will help inform building design and reduce energy use in buildings. The expansion of the BETB Guide and development of ThermalEnvelope.ca was highly collaborative, aiming to meet the needs of multiple stakeholders to ensure the most inclusive and effective tool possible. The result is a first-of-its-kind website applicable to all energy standards and climates in Canada, with the potential for future expansion.