Keeping track of what’s going on in the world of low-impact, sustainable housing is, and was, a challenge. We did a study for CMHC back in the early 00’s looking for great examples for a series of case studies that required collecting a ton of info on many projects. CMHC published only 3 of 24 case studies, but we had hundreds of submissions to a survey that we sent out to over 7,000 design professionals in 2004 and 2005.

We chose the term ‘low impact housing’ to describe the database because we were looking at the gamut of housing projects affiliated with so many different programs and standards:

  • Sustainable
  • Ecological
  • Factor Four
  • Factor Nine
  • Green
  • Healthy
  • Low Emission
  • Passivhaus
  • Zero Emission
  • Zero Energy
  • Zero Carbon

The common theme is that the programs, and the projects themselves, went far beyond being energy efficient. They all address a broad range of concerns about environmental impacts throughout the lifecycle of a house – from site selection through design and materials choices, construction, operation, maintenance and demolition.

The Low Impact Housing database is still online, kept up by Sealevel Special Projects because it’s a cool resource.

Go check it out!
Add your project!
Link it to other organizations compiling case studies!

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tiny mountain cabin picture, found on

Notice the steep pitched metal roof. The snow has slid and/or melted off the peak, but there’s still a deep blanket on the rest of the roof, meaning there’s great air sealing and a lot of insulation under it!

You get a Tiny House that works in cold climates!

In 2015, I did a presentation for the NS Tiny House Movement Meet Up group.

I flagged some of the issues I saw in terms of cold climates and energy efficiency and how to solve them for tiny houses.

Here’s the presentation. I’m planning on expanding it and adding a couple of case studies, along with a voice over and an interview or two.

Let me know what information you’d like to have added!