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More than a fifth of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, so making changes to how we design, heat and cool these structures will be important as we aim to reduce our carbon footprint. The Twin Suites Modular Lab, perched atop U of T’s Sandford Fleming Building, holds two identical, reconfigurable rooms where U of T researchers are investigating new building materials. Having two identical pods is key, explains Prof. Marianne Touchie of civil and mineral engineering: One room provides the baseline measurements, while the other is the guinea pig. To test a new kind of insulation, the team would install it in just one of the units, then measure both to detect how that material affects indoor temperature, energy use, air quality and other factors. Until now, this type of research has had to take place in people’s homes, which is both costly and time-consuming. The new labs will allow the research team, which includes professors Jeffrey Siegel and Kim Pressnail (above) of civil and mineral engineering, to perform tests quicker and more accurately, and enable them to do longer-term studies. Photos by Mark Sommerfeld

Photo of the Twin Suites Lab atop U of T's Sandford Fleming Building

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