Birgit Siber, a principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects, is being recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Sustainable Buildings Canada (SBC) for her commitment to sustainable design in the built environment.
The award, which recognizes exemplary devotion to the cause of greater sustainability in the built environment, will be presented at the Green Building Festival in Toronto on Oct. 8.
“It’s our responsibility to design as sustainably as we possibly can,” said Siber in an email to the Daily Commercial News. “Any project can and must be viewed with sustainable objectives, even unlikely ones such as the metals testing facility we designed in Hamilton.”
Siber has practised architecture at Diamond Schmitt in Toronto since 1996 and became a principal in 2003. She has become well known for green building initiatives through advocacy, research, innovation and design excellence across a range of building types.
“I think of architecture as a team sport, a creative and complex opportunity to work collaboratively towards sustainable design solutions,” said Siber.
She led the design installation of the first large-scale living wall biofilter in Canada more than a decade ago at the University of Guelph Humber campus.
“I had the unique opportunity to pioneer the first large-scale commercial application of the biofilter living wall,” said Siber in the email. “This Canadian technology has been incorporated in many buildings now, including more than two dozen Diamond Schmitt designs. It’s a powerful symbol of green building initiative.”
Siber also spearheaded ecoMetrics, an energy-use benchmarking databank and analysis tool to highlight and inform strategies for energy-use reduction.
“I think our work at Diamond Schmitt along with our consultant RWDI in developing ecoMetrics had a significant influence on the industry,” said Siber.
“We developed our own internal data bank to unpack our project portfolio’s energy models and frame their content in graphic terms to help us better understand energy use. It was a fairly opaque practice previously and ecoMetrics shed light on energy modelling and the energy conversation, which is an important aspect of sustainable design practice. It influenced the evolution of the new publicly available EnergyCompass tool.”
As project architect, Siber focuses predominantly on institutional and laboratory projects including the LEED Platinum certified CANMET Metallurgical Materials laboratory in Hamilton, the recipient of a 2015 AIA COTE Top 10 Award for sustainable design. Lazaridis Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University achieved LEED Gold certification and won a Civic Trust Award (UK) and SCUP Excellence in Architecture Award (USA) in 2019.
Siber serves on the Toronto 2030 District Advisory Board and the RAIC Committee of Regenerative Environments (CORE), states a bio issued by Diamond Schmitt, adding she also served on the Diamond Schmitt sustainable design committee and has presented at Canadian and international sustainability conferences, contributing to the design conversation on biophilia, resilience, energy literacy and net-zero energy.