Area II: Enhancing Building Performance in Community Housing

What approaches to the renewal, design and operation of community housing will address environmental and tenant needs?

The National Housing Strategy seeks to address building performance issues by “improv[ing] asset management … and address[ing] ongoing operations, maintenance and repair issues.” to “mitigate the causes of climate change, and build climate resilience.”

Building construction and operations account for 17% of total GHG emissions in Canada. Inefficient energy and heating systems contribute significantly to emissions, especially in older buildings, which describes most community housing in Canada (75% built before 1990).

Temperature regulation is often difficult in community housing due to poor ventilation and insulation,driving up operating costs. A focus on energy efficiency is needed to lower operating costs, protect resident wellbeing and increase climate-related resilience.

Our Objectives

1. To inform investment and program decisions through improved and expanded data on the performance of community housing buildings
2. To develop holistic approaches for assessing the costs and benefits of adopting sustainable technologies and designs in community housing
3. To identify if and how concerns for environmental performance are linked to other building issues in community housing (e.g. unit size, accessibility and common space)
4. To assess partnerships and strategies that support sustainability and resilience in community housing through innovative approaches to repair, renewal, design and construction.

Our Team

Runa Das | Area Lead | Royal Roads University

An interdisciplinary sustainability scholar, Dr Das’ work centres on energy use, energy justice and environmental behaviour. Her work is motivated by real world issues such as climate change and sustainability. In particular, her interdisciplinary research explores the assessment and practice of environmental and social sustainability with a specific focus on energy-related issues.

Marianne Touchie
Co-Investigator | University of Toronto

Dr Touchie’s research focuses on improving the energy performance and indoor environmental quality of existing buildings to make them more comfortable, healthy and sustainable through comprehensive retrofits. 

Russell Richman
Co-Investigator | Ryerson University

Dr. Richman is a civil engineer and building scientist with a private consulting practice. His building science research focuses on improving energy efficiency.

Robbi Humble
Master’s Student | Royal Roads University (Regina/Treaty 4)

Robbi’s research interests focus on the socio-cultural processes needed for equitable sustainability transitions. Supported by the Community Housing Canada research partnership, Robbi’s MA research will explore how community housing stakeholders are shaping future housing and energy pathways through their decisions about the community housing building stock.


Quantifying the prevalence of energy poverty across Canada: Estimating domestic energy burden using an expenditures approach.
Runa Das, Julia Martiskainen, Grace Li

Enhancing building performance in community housing: Year one research journey (Year-End Report. No.4). Community Housing Canada.
Robbi Humble and Runa Das
Area of Inquiry II presents an overview of Year 1 of their research programme.

Presentation: Identifying sustainability synergies in current Canadian community housing literature
June 3, 2021 – Runa Das, Esther de Vos, Robbi Humble, Russell Richman, and Marianne Touchie
Presentation at the Canadian Sociological Association Conference at Congress 2021, University of Alberta, AB. Session: Sustainable Housing: Social and Environmental Synergies and Conflicts.

Reframing stakeholder decision-making using a relational, systems approach to advance wellbeing and building performance in community housing
June 3, 2021 – Robbi Humble. Presentation at the Canadian Sociological Association Conference at Congress 2021, University of Alberta, AB. Session Sustainable Housing: Social and Environmental Synergies and Conflicts.

In Partnership With