Lowering the carbon intensity of the built environment is one of many tasks that must be undertaken in order to address climate change and to encourage sustainability. The siting, design, construction, occupancy, renovation, and disposal of single-family homes are all factors that contribute to the large carbon emissions generated by the sector. There are numerous strategies that seek to minimize the amount of emissions generated by a house during its lifecycle. This paper explores the use of so-called natural building systems in building envelope construction.

Though not the silver bullet for the home industry, natural building systems are an underexplored—and underexploited—approach to home construction in Ontario. This paper will explore the barriers that this building typology faces in Ontario as well as emergent strategies for overcoming these barriers. It will be shown that within the Ontario Building Code there are numerous opportunities to make the permitting process less costly and more predictable (e.g., fewer delays). These barriers need to be eliminated if natural building systems are to emerge as a relevant strategy for lowering the carbon emissions of the residential sector.

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Author notes

1 MES, PhD Candidate, Environmental Applied Science and Management, Ryerson University, craig.brown@ryerson.ca.