Stephanie Vo, Alaa Zidane, Gianfranco Cammalleri, Iris Hu
Carbon Positive Affordable Housing:
Solar Suite

Urban centres are struggling with an affordable-housing crisis; sky-rocketing prices have made housing unaffordable for citizens around the globe. GHG-driven climate change has exacerbated this issue: future heatwaves, flooding, and droughts will threaten millions of homes and further burden families with hefty costs and strained resources. Throughout this crisis, low-income groups will be vulnerable to the resulting instability.

Our team designed Solar Suite as a solution. Solar Suite is an affordable, carbon-positive laneway suite.

Passive strategies like its rainwater-irrigated green wall, cross-ventilation, and open-concept design enable Solar Suite to use minimal energy. It then generates clean solar energy to power itself, and transfers surplus to the grid. Deliberate use of recycled and carbon-sequestering materials, like cedar siding and steel, also minimize emissions throughout its lifecycle.

Despite these carbon-positive elements, Solar Suite remains affordable for low-income renters due to its unique renting system. Each laneway suite contains two units. The lower-level unit rents at market price; the upper-level unit rents for less, with subsidies to cover any losses. Uniquely, upper-level units can be easily omitted if small lots prohibit larger suites, thereby improving replicability. In addition, prefabrication significantly reduces construction time, and long-term energy savings provide proven returns on initial investments.

Toronto Metropolitan Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.