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Overview of Research Initiatives

Dr. Russell C. Richman, P.Eng., Ph.D.

Associate Professor (Building Science)

Dr. Richman is classically trained as a Civil Engineer and has researched in the combined fields of Building Science and Sustainable Buildings for over ten years.Dr. Richman’s recent research has focused on innovative envelope systems and economic analysis addressing the existing energy inefficient Canadian building stock.The following summarize a selection of Dr. Richman’s current research projects and initiatives.

For more information on research activities at Ryerson University, please browse "Sustainable Buildings Group".

For more information on research activities outside Ryerson University, please browse "Ontario Building Science Network".

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1)  2006-present: Creation, Development of a Sustainable Renovation Index for Residential Housing

In an effort to address the growing burden of the existing energy inefficient canadian housing stock on current and future generations, development of sustainable renovation principles and practices is necessary. A key focus of the Sustainable Buildings Group (headed by Dr. Richman) at Ryerson University is to address topics related to research in sustainable renovation. Current projects and further information can be viewed in the Sustainable Buildings Group pages within this site.  Renovation2050, external link is the first research house associated with this initiative.  Topics within this area include: (i) occupant healt, (ii) energy usage reduction, (iii) materials/assemblies performance, (iv) psychology of energy efficiency, (v) water resource usage reduction, (vi) life cycle assessment, (vii) reduction of overall environmental impact.

2)  2003-present: Creation,Development and Validation of a Solar Air Collector Curtain Wall

This work began a new research direction in the building science research group at the University of Toronto.This innovative system involved coupling near-passive solar collection with existing curtain wall assemblies.The idea of combining these two elements was never attempted prior to this research.Laboratory testing and numerical modeling validated the system and proved its ability to perform on par with traditional solar air collectors.

3)  2007-present: Conception of a Nested Envelope Residential Dwelling (Gemini House), external link

Dr. Richman is a lead contributor in the creation and development of a new research area focusing on an extreme low energy home design.The Gemini housing design involves building two buildings within one: a “core” building and a “perimeter” building. Both buildings are designed to control heat as well as air movement.The perimeter building is designed much the same as a traditional low-energy demand building.The core building, since it is not exposed to the exterior weather elements, will not be conventionally constructed; however, it will be constructed with thermal insulation and an air barrier system.  The first Gemini House is currently under construction., external link

4)  Research and Development to Support an Ultra-Energy Efficient Residential Building Stock in Ontario

This research focusses on identifying existing and potential super-insulated building envelope assemblies for single family dwellings (SFD) in Ontario.  The research will analyze and experimentally test the identified assemblies in a laboratory setting.  Using this preliminary experimental data, recommendations will be made to conduct further research on specific assemblies through installation in a full-scale laboratory (i.e. a typical Ontario SFD with and without occupancy) to gather long-term, in-situ, performance data.  This data will be used to support co-development of highly efficient energy delivery systems and renewable and bio-energy systems. The research will inform the spectrum of stakeholders from home owners to policy makers.

5)  Research to Support Further Adoption of the Passive House Standard in North America

Dr. Richman is part of a group that organized and hosted the first Passive House training in Canada.  The group went on to form Passive Buildings Canada, external link.  Dr. Richman is also one of the founding members of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS, external link) technical committee and has been in discussions with CanPHI, external link.  In coordination with this role, research is currently underway to address a multi-tude of outstanding questions to support further adoption of the Passive House standard in the North American context.  Research questions include (i) construction practices, (ii) material/assembly performance/analysis, (iii) policy implementation, (iv) constructability.

6)  2004-present: Conception and Development of the Build Better Now Initiative

Dr. Richman was a co-creator of the Build Better Now initiative in the building science research group at the University of Toronto.This initiative proves it economically advantageous to build residential dwellings to a higher standard initially rather than retrofitting in future years, simply stated, we should be building tomorrow’s buildings today.Until this research, the housing industry was uncertain as to long term economic comparisons between retrofitting and building to a higher standard initially.This research has started to change how large tract-home builders design and construct new housing.