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Founded in 2005 by Tom Knezic and Christine Lolley, Solares has earned a reputation as experts in beautiful and sustainable design. From custom residential projects in both urban and rural areas to major renovations and multi-use buildings, Solares’ portfolio of beautiful, sustainable projects is steadily expanding. Solares’ design philosophy merges principles of low impact building strategies with sustainable design. With a strong design, a home can be beautiful, spacious, and energy efficient – no compromises need to be made when it comes to efficiency and beauty.
Passive Solar design is one of Solares’ major design approaches. Whenever possible, their homes are designed using sun orientation, natural site elements, and building materials to heat and cool interiors with minimal energy waste. The philosophy is simple: collect the sun’s heat in the winter, and protect from the sun’s heat in the summer. When this design strategy is paired with high performance envelopes (always tested for air leakage!), insulation, and double or triple-paned windows, very little electrical heating or cooling is needed. Nearly all completed Solares projects are rated with the EnerGuide system by the Toronto-based Blue Green Consulting Group, and the firm abides by LEED standards and strives for Passive House standards whenever possible.
One of Solares’ most notable projects is Solares co-founders Tom and Christine’s reallife
home in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of downtown Toronto, which has been written about by the Globe and Mail’s Dave LeBlanc, Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter and photographed by Apartment Therapy for their House Tour series.
The 900 sq.ft. home, renovated in October 2014, was completely gutted and redesigned into a beautiful open concept and high performance home. The airy and open first floor hosts a large sitting area, a dining room area and a kitchen with a large kitchen island. A powder-room was added on a landing between the first and second floors, and the master bedroom, children’s bedroom and play room are nestled on the second floor alongside a large bathroom plus bath and laundry facilities. The basement was underpinned and finished as a separate, 450 sq.ft. rental unit for added income, with lovely high ceilings and large windows.
The finished product boasts an incredible 84% reduction in energy use, a 92% reduction in space heating, a 15-tonne reduction in C02 leakage, and a final air leakage rate of 2.08 ACH, a 71% reduction. The final EnerGuide rating is an impressive 83, almost triple its original 38.