In recent years, approaches to urban runoff management have become more holistic. The industry has seen a major shift towards low impact development and green infrastructure - natural and built systems that provide ecological benefits and help maintain pre-development hydrology.
Working towards a more sustainable future by facilitating adoption of green technologies through monitoring, research, and knowledge sharing.
The low impact development approach to water management focuses on preserving or re-establishing a site's pre-development water balance. It includes practices like green roofs, bioretention areas, grassed swales and permeable pavements.
STEP is involved in the monitoring and evaluation of a range of technologies that harness the sun's renewable energy, including photovoltaics, solar water heating, and solar air heating systems.
The use of permeable pavement in parking lots, driveways and roads allows rainwater to slowly infiltrate into the ground, resulting in less surface runoff, and greater protection of downstream aquatic habitat, property and swimming areas.
The Living City Campus is a centre of excellence for urban sustainability, where people gather to learn, research, demonstrate, and get inspired by technologies and practices that help build sustainable city regions.
Bioretention areas, also known as rain gardens, are shallow depressions in landscaped areas that are designed to receive and treat stormwater runoff from paved areas by using the natural properties of soil and vegetation to remove contaminants.
Heat pumps are among the most energy efficient technologies available for conditioning indoor air and generating hot water. STEP has evaluated two types of heat pumps - air source and ground source - installed at the Archetype Sustainable House.
Practicing effective erosion and sediment control during construction projects is essential to preserving the health of our terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Current approaches focus on preventing erosion, creating multiple barriers to the sediment release from the site, and applying promising new technologies like polymers.
STEP energy evaluates technologies that help reduce energy related emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants, and prevent smog-related heat build-up in urban areas. Research is focused on leading edge technologies such as alternative heating and cooling, solar, smart grid integration and geothermal.
The health of soil, vegetation and the lakes and rivers they drain into are intrinsically linked. Recognizing these connections during urban planning and development processes is key to creating functional landscaped areas. STEP carries out research and develops guidance on best practices for maintaining healthy soils.