Great Gulf

Great Gulf unveils newest active house in Ontario

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

An active house that sets new standards for indoor comfort, energy efficiency and sustainable building practices was recently on display in Bradford, Ontario. Last week, Great Gulf unveiled Summerlyn Active House, a third of its kind in Canada, but the first production and sale home.

The customizable design will soon be available in select communities across the province. Those who choose to live in one are promised a better quality of life—sleep, moods, concentration, productivity—while simultaneously reducing their impact on climate change.

Brussels-based Active House Alliance—founded by Great Gulf and Danish-based manufacturing company Velux—came up with the design’s methodology ahead of the world’s first certified active house launch in Etobicoke seven years ago. Since active house principles and specifications were defined in 2011, they have been applied to numerous building types: single-family and multi-family residential, social housing, offices, schools and more.

Tad Putyra, president of Great Gulf Low-Rise & Home Technology, calls it a paradigm shift in building design. “After years of research to understand residents’ experiences living in these homes, we’re thrilled to roll out this innovative approach to building design across Ontario,” he said. “The Active House label is a signal to homeowners that their house is designed to improve their overall well-being, and future-proofed for their evolving needs.”

Great Gulf

A work-from-home space with access to natural light. Photo courtesy of Great Gulf

An active home reduces energy usage and carbon emissions. Due to an abundance of natural light there isn’t as much use for artificial light during the day.

Indoor air quality and thermal climate are also higher quality. Some hallmark features include oversized windows and operable skylights for natural light to pour through. Natural airflow moves through the rooms and insulated walls, while floors and exteriors reduce unwanted noise.

Designed by in-house architects and constructed in Great Gulf’s 200,000-square-foot Toronto manufacturing plant, the house is built with prefabricated, CSA-certified wood panels using a robotically precise 3D computer modelling process that pre-emptively eliminates issues before they arise. The parts are then transported to the site for just-in-time assembly.

Inspiration comes from active house projects in China, Germany, the Netherlands as well as Great Gulf’s own active houses in Toronto and Thorold. “Active House has the potential to transform the homebuilding sector the same way electric vehicles have revolutionized the auto sector,” added Shaun Joffe, executive director, sustainability and building sciences at Great Gulf.

active houseA multi-year partnership with Georgian College will provide scholarships and give students exclusive access to Great Gulf’s facilities for applied research.

“This new collaboration between Great Gulf and Georgian College will encompass various initiatives, including developing next generation talent for the sector, experiential learning opportunities for students, and exploring research collaborations,” said Dr. Bill Angelakos, dean of Design and Visual Arts, Computer Studies. “As part of the collaboration, Great Gulf is extending utilization of Bradford’s Summerlyn Active House as a living laboratory rich with applied research possibilities to help evolve people-centric, and sustainable approaches to homebuilding.”

Feature photo, from left to right: Shaun Joffe, Councillor Joseph Giordano, Kathleen Schofield, Dr. Bill Angelakos, Dr. Yael Katz, Tad Putyra, Bill Tresham, Mayor James Leduc, David Bell, Amanda Wilson Watkins. Photo Credit: Tanja-Tiziana. 

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