Retrofit Canada in the News: Canadian Architect

Retrofit Canada co-founder and board member Peter Amerongen and his son, Max, submitted this story to Canadian Architect about the Sundance Housing Co-op energiesprong-inspired panelized deep retrofit, a project led by Butterwick, a green builder in Edmonton, Alberta.

Max, an Edmonton writer and designer, wrote the story explaining what a panelized deep retrofit is and why Canada needs to get serious about deep retrofits.

The piece includes some well-placed shoutouts to Natural Resources Canada, a funder for the Sundance Housing retrofit, and Smart Sustainable Resilient Infrastructure Association, a funder for the first three single-family home panelized deep retrofits in Canada, also led by Butterwick.


Aside from the obvious motivation—avoiding planetary catastrophe—deep retrofits provide a chance to transform buildings in a relatively cost-effective way. Reduced energy costs are an obvious benefit, and while we don’t know what mix of energy solutions will make up our future zero-emissions grid, everything points to a significant price increase. A deep retrofit can also fix deferred maintenance problems, and reduce future long-term maintenance costs by employing the best building science.
The process starts with a Lidar scan of the existing buildings. The resulting point cloud is used to determine the building geometry and the locations of key elements. These dimensions are turned into panel drawings which are sent to the panel factory.
When the panels arrive on site, original windows and doors are removed, and the panels are flown into place by a crane. Each panel includes the primary air barrier, vented rain screen, and new high-efficiency windows and doors. They are tied back to the existing structure as they are put in place. A finishing carpenter follows the panel crew, installing new window returns and casings. Once a building has been covered in panels, cellulose insulation is blown into the cavity between the panel and the existing structure.