Sustainable Buildings Network



Buildings account for 42.8% of all GHG emissions in the GTHA1, making them the biggest emitting sector. Therefore, it is imperative that building designers improve building efficiency and develop solutions to reduce their carbon footprints to achieve Canada’s 2050 net-zero target. Addressing this sector will require transitioning to new green development standards, as well as deeper energy retrofits for existing buildings.

The Sustainable Buildings Challenge engages undergraduate and graduate students in sustainable technical design and policy creation. Each year, the Sustainable Buildings Challenge focuses on an existing building hypothetically going through a tendering process for building performance and sustainability improvement.


The goal of the Sustainable Buildings Challenge is to engage students in tackling real-life problems faced by urban buildings. Drawing from their day-to-day experiences as building users, participants are expected to apply technical knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, whilst considering how their design decisions have social and environmental consequences and how these consequences would apply on a broader scale. The challenge aims to foster collaboration amongst students from various backgrounds and provide an opportunity for participants to develop professional skills in time management and oral/written communication. The problem statement has been left deliberately open ended to further encourage diverse approaches.


The challenge will be completed in teams of 3 to 5 students from various backgrounds. Participants will be introduced to the technical and policy aspects of the problem package.  They will have approximately five days to work on their solutions, poster, and presentation. 

General competition and project information will be posted on the Miro board. For fairness, participants are encouraged to voice any questions or concerns regarding competition rules and format in the beginning. Any subsequent questions or concerns  should be submitted via discord, where answers will be regularly provided and accessible by every team. There are also question periods scheduled throughout the week when teams can consult with practicing professionals regarding their analysis and solution. 

At the end of the week, the final showcase will be hosted in person and be broadcast via zoom. Teams will present their design outcomes in person or online, whichever they signed up for at the beginning of the competition. Each team will prepare a 8-minute presentation for the judges followed by a 8-minute Q&A and discussion period.

Past Challenges

Click here for details on the 2023 Sustainable Buildings Challenge.

  1. The Atmospheric Fund, “Carbon Emissions Inventory in the GTHA,” 2018. [Online].  Available: [Accessed 29 August 2021] ↩︎