Climate solutions for the built environment

Kelly Alvarez Doran OAA  MRAIC


Kelly is a father, architect, educator, and activist.  His holistic approach to the design of the built environment has been shaped by his experiences working across the world first in the resource development sector and at MASS Design Group’s East African office where led the design and implementation of several of MASS’s projects, notably the award-winning Munini District Hospital and the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture.  Working in these contexts brought about a profound sense of a building’s provenance and the scales of social and environmental impacts inherent to the built environment. 

In 2020, Kelly established the Half Research Studio at the University of Toronto to catalyse a conversation around the embodied carbon and life cycle impacts of buildings in Canada. The graduate level studio has engaged over 20 leading offices, trained 34 students, and has published internationally acclaimed research demonstrating how and where a building’s upfront impacts reside. The Studio’s research underpinned the embodied carbon policies co-authored by Kelly that were recently adopted by the City of Toronto.

Kelly is a regular speaker, writer, and advocate for the integration of life cycle assessments into design thinking. He is a Senior Fellow of Architecture 2030, a member of the Royal Architectural Institutes of Canada’s Committee of Regenerative Environments, and a Steering Committee member of Architects Declare USA.

Juliette Cook


Juliette is an intern architect, lecturer, researcher, and new mother. She brings a lifecycle lens to design thinking across a diverse portfolio of projects - evaluating these from the perspectives of embodied carbon, operational performance, cost, reuse potential, toxicity, labour, and more. She feels strongly that a return to a deeper understanding of materials, the ways they are made, and the ways in which they go together will enable a more regenerative design.

Juliette leads a collaborative project through the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad that will showcase the economic viability and environmental necessity of deconstruction and material reuse across Ontario. She has worked with the City of Toronto on a benchmarking study on embodied carbon, helping to inform a future system of tiered targets and developing a standard reporting template for whole building life cycle assessments. Juliette has experience as a material research specialist at MASS Design Group, and as an architectural designer and sustainability consultant at White Arkitekter, where she created a palette of non-conventional, low-carbon materials for a large-scale cancer treatment centre.

Juliette’s background in geography and environmental science has informed her knowledge and interest across various scales, from urban planning down to landscape design. In rediscovering the wonders of the world through the eyes of her young son, she has a deep commitment to design and policy work that will shape a healthier future for people and planet.

Ryan Bruer  OAA  MRAIC


Ryan is an architect and artist. He is committed to a future of building with renewable and circular materials. A graduate of the University of Toronto, his thesis proposed a reinvestment in skilled labour education with natural and bio-based materials as a critical building block of a low-carbon transition for the construction industry. 

Ryan’s experience on multi-unit residential projects informs an understanding of existing approaches to construction in Canada. His recent work with BDP Quadrangle delivered Low-Carbon Now which aims to address the urgency of immediate carbon reduction opportunities across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. He continues to lead training workshops for designers to accelerate Life Cycle Assessment literacy and alignment of best practice across Ontario’s architecture and engineering firms.

Ryan brings a passion for communal stories that are bonded to materials. Holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts his first solo exhibition received multiple grants through Canada Council of the Arts. The show demonstrated a printmaking practice dependent on material circularity through repair and exchange. Before his interest in buildings, Ryan ran a community bicycle shop that focused on educational events to train riders and young mechanics.

Rashmi Sirkar

Rashmi is an architectural designer and researcher. Her current research focusses on the potential for circular design through reuse at building and material scales, the expanded use of biomaterials, and the implementation of regulatory policy that encourages circular procurement. Beyond materiality, her interests lie in exploring building science solutions for climate positive design and the relationship between architecture, economics, and media-politics.

Rashmi’s Master of Architecture thesis at the University of Toronto WoodLoop investigated the creation of a circular economy of building materials through the assessment of demolition permits, the modelling and life cycle analysis of stick frame houses and the policies and practices surrounding deconstruction, salvage, and reuse. Her thesis was supported by multiple grants that enabled field research across seven North American cities and was awarded the CAGBC Scholarship for sustainable design and research by the RAIC Foundation. Subsequently she has worked as a research associate with where she is explored systems electrification, low carbon retrofits and multiplex creation through the lens of affordability and engagement with citizen developers. Rashmi is a member at Toronto Circularity Network and the Dutch Canadian Circularity Alliance, working towards a wider advocacy and adoption of reuse policy and practices in Toronto.

Rashmi’s work today is informed by her experience as a designer and social entrepreneur in India where her practice emerged at the intersection of sustainability, design, and development. She co-founded Mana Organics in 2011, a women led organization that worked with collectivizing small farmers in rural India to facilitate organic farming at scale. She also served as managing director at Pitara Designs and Textiles (2015-2018) - a clothing design studio and manufacturing facility in New Delhi that worked with extensively natural materials and craft communities across India.

Miriam Palmer

Miriam is an architecture student at the University of Waterloo, where she was first introduced to lifecycle thinking through the work of several professors. She has worked with landscape and architecture offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Munich - where she participated in the final stages of a successful material reuse competition proposal - before joining the Ha/f team. Miriam looks forward to expanding her understanding of material, craft, and circularity with a particular passion for public policy and research.

Born and raised in Toronto with a lifelong interest in local urban history, Miriam has a deep investment in questions of heritage, urban regeneration, and adaptive reuse. Beyond an architectural perspective, she is excited by the interdisciplinary cultural engagement that a low-carbon future could involve. Miriam’s involvement in student activism has included housing advocacy and organizing open creative spaces for making and peer exchange.

As a student, her research interests have ranged from affordable mass housing and urban form, to the spatial history of queer nightlife in North America and the history of domestic labour in cohousing communities. She has continuously held a feminist historical lens, and her work often engages with gendered spaces and stories. True to her roots as an urbanist, Miriam’s design work often deals with densification, compact communities, mobility networks, and rewilding urban landscapes.