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Grant appears in the Top 100
Innovators & Entrepreneurs Magazine

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Grant Walkin

Grant Walkin, the founding principal of Litebox, is a licensed professional engineer (P.Eng.) specializing in building envelope and structural glass engineering. With a career spanning 15 years, Grant's expertise encompasses a diverse range of projects, from residential homes to towering commercial buildings, museums, and airports across Canada and the United States.

Grant’s success is underscored by significant academic achievements. After earning an undergraduate degree and gaining substantial work experience, Grant embraced a bold leap back into academia, venturing 'across the pond' to the University of Bath, UK, to pursue further studies. Notably, the program's distinctive structure within a shared architectural and civil engineering department fostered a collaborative learning environment. It was here that Grant's introduction to 'Passivhaus' principles ignited his profound appreciation for the intersection of science and building design, sparking his true passion for the field.

Now, as a well-seasoned and dedicated building scientist who has completed over 100 projects, Grant indulges his passion for creating high-performance and architecturally inspiring buildings though Litebox. Situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Litebox prioritizes high-performance design with Grant and his team reshaping the future of building envelope engineering and construction through innovative solutions. Litebox's emphasis on healthy, resilient, durable, low-energy, low-impact, high-performance buildings resonates with clients who share their values of innovation and sustainability. Collaborating with architects, builders, and owners, Litebox blends cutting-edge engineering expertise with a profound understanding of sustainability principles. Their goal is to create optimized structures that not only boast aesthetic appeal, but also withstand the test of time while providing unparalleled comfort for occupants.

We spoke with Grant to delve into Litebox's innovative approach to sustainable design, which not only redefines the concept, but also enhances the aesthetic appeal of our surroundings.

Grant, can you share what inspired you to start Litebox?

I was driven by a glaring gap I observed within the industry. My passion stemmed from the desire to assist building owners in comprehending the significance of high-performance buildings, guiding them toward sound financial decisions. Given the substantial investment involved in properties, whether single-family homes or multi-unit residential and commercial buildings, making informed choices is paramount. It's not solely about the materials utilized in construction or the mechanical systems for heating, cooling, dehumidification, and ventilation; it's about improving indoor air quality and ensuring the longevity of the structure. The market inundates consumers with products touted as "wonder materials," promising ease and speed in construction. However, it's imperative for an external consultant to scrutinize these claims and discern facts from mere marketing gimmicks. Moreover, achieving a cohesive design requires seamless integration of diverse materials, tailored to meet the unique needs of each building type. Whether it's an indoor swimming pool, an office complex, or a multi-unit residential property, each presents distinct challenges. Our approach considers a myriad of factors, ensuring the creation of optimized structures that stand the test of time.

What makes Litebox unique?

Our distinctiveness lies in our unwavering passion and our specialized expertise in high-performance buildings. Personally, I am deeply committed to enhancing the quality of the built environment and dedicated to designing structures that excel in performance. There's a prevalent misconception surrounding high-performance buildings, often reduced to considerations of cost or energy savings alone. My mission is to debunk this myth. Recognizing that we spend the majority of our lives within these spaces, prioritizing the creation of healthy environments is vital. With increasingly frequent and severe weather events impacting communities worldwide, insurance rates are soaring, making it financially burdensome to secure coverage. Hence, our focus is on crafting resilient and durable buildings designed for the long haul. Additionally, our active engagement within the industry sets us apart from competitors. We regularly contribute to industry events and are actively involved in various associations, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of innovation and best practices.

You’re leading the trend in the high-performance building niche, with innovative designs that blend beauty with resiliency and comfort to create structures that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also endure the test of time. Can you share some more insights on this?

Absolutely. In today's evolving landscape, there's a growing emphasis on high-performance building designs. While prioritizing energy efficiency and functionality is crucial, we also recognize the significance of architectural aesthetics. After all, a super-insulated, high-performance building lacking visual appeal may struggle to maintain its value over time. Take, for example, the charming old buildings scattered across Europe or historic cities like Chicago. While not all may have been initially constructed with architectural splendor in mind, over the years, less visually appealing structures have gradually been replaced with more aesthetically pleasing alternatives. This underscores the importance of exterior design enduring through generations, ensuring that buildings remain relevant and avoid contributing unnecessarily to landfill waste. At Litebox, we're committed to striking a balance between functionality and beauty, crafting structures that not only meet the highest standards of performance but also captivate the eye and can last generations.

Is there one project that’s left a lasting impression on you?

There are actually two projects that have deeply impacted me. Firstly, my own home in Toronto. Undertaking a deep energy retrofit, I not only conceptualized the design, but also personally executed the work. This hands-on approach allowed me to intimately engage with various high-performance building materials, membranes, tapes, and insulation products. It was essential for me to gain firsthand experience in order to effectively advocate for what works and what doesn't in building design. Transitioning from theoretical designs to physical construction in three dimensions provided invaluable insights into efficiency and practicality.

The second project that remains memorable is the structural glass façade at the podium level of the Bay Adelaide Centre North Tower in Toronto. This project, my inaugural endeavor in structural glass design, involved a striking 29-foot-tall (7.9m) glass wall supported by laminated glass fins. Tasked with creating a visually seamless facade, I employed advanced techniques to hide all hardware connections in the floor and ceiling. Where exposed, the glass façade is simply just the face glass, the glass fins, and the structural silicone that connects the two. The building entrances were the most challenging; here the glass façade was designed to hang over the revolving doors and be supported by the two flanking glass fins – all while maintaining acceptable post breakage retention should in the event one glass panel breaks, the glass façade would still stay standing This project challenged me to push the boundaries of conventional design, leaving a lasting impression on my approach to structural engineering.



Grant Walkin

Founding Principal


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