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SaltWire: Creating beautiful buildings while embracing sustainability

Greater Heights of Growth initiative adds to success of Halifax’s Habit Studio

Habit Studio is one of the first architectural firms in the region to focus on producing only environmentally responsible designs following Passive House principles. HABIT STUDIO PHOTO


From a young age, Judy Obersi spent her time sketching her dream home and taking inspiration from the drives she took with her father looking at beautiful homes.

Now Obersi is the co-founder of Habit Studio, a women-led architectural and residential design firm in Halifax, focused on environmentally responsible residential design in Atlantic Canada.

“We consider environmental responsibility in all our work and design buildings that are beautiful and sustainable,” says Obersi. “These concepts are not mutually exclusive; you can have both.”

Habit Studio is one of the first architectural firms in the region to focus on producing only environmentally responsible designs following Passive House principles.

The firm follows the concept of passive house design which ensures all homes are appropriately insulated, and airtight, with quality windows and reliable ventilation systems.

“Passive houses go above and beyond the minimum standard of building codes, delivering buildings that optimize occupant health, energy efficiency, and long-term cost of ownership,” says Obersi. “In designing high-performance homes, we’re contributing to a low-carbon future and creating healthy, safe environments for homeowners.”

With 20 years of experience in building science and 10 years in passive house design, the firm aims to create meaningful homes that are comfortable, resource-efficient and foster connections. Habit Studio provides architectural design services, specializing in sustainable whole-home renovations and passive house new builds, and offers passive house consulting and education.

When Obersi and her co-founder, Lorrie Rand, sought resources to help their business grow, a friend recommended the Centre for Women in Business (CWB). Through the CWB, Obersi found the Greater Heights of Growth program.

“We do not have a background in business and even though we had gone through some excellent coaching that got us to where we are, I was interested in learning more about the core principles of running a business so I decided to sign up,” says Obersi.

The Greater Heights of Growth program, delivered by the Centre for Women in Business and funded in part through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy, offers an opportunity for high growth businesses to build a foundation and infrastructure to support the scaling of profitable growth, with effective cash flow management, innovative incremental drivers of revenue with a talented team and positive culture that is aligned with a clear vision and growth roadmap.

The program combines practical growth strategies with personalized learning experiences to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses through personalized coaching, peer-to-peer learning, sustainable scaling strategies, and more.

“I think the program’s biggest benefit is feeling like you have a better chance at establishing a successful business,” says Obersi.

“It allows you to be consistent and diligent in moving your business forward because without the focused attention sometimes you’re just hoping that things will work out. But with the program, you have literally been given the tools to succeed.”

The program focuses on strategic growth planning, analyzing industry dynamics, expanding business networks, optimizing processes for efficiency, evaluating and enhancing leadership and talent, and more.

Greater Heights of Growth provides a tailored approach to each participant, giving them access to personalized one-on-one coaching from the facilitators, peer-to-peer learning that provides a supportive community, strategic growth planning and other fantastic features.

“One of the things that I enjoyed from the program is that you get to meet other women entrepreneurs so there’s a sense of collectiveness,” says Obersi.  “There’s also the benefit of being able to have one-on-one coaching calls with both facilitators. The program also holds me accountable and allows me to make real progress.”

Obersi says owning a business can be overwhelming and sometimes you end up doing things you don’t enjoy but, through the program, she has learned to delegate roles and responsibilities so she can get back to what she loves most.

“I have a better understanding of the different phases a business goes through so now I can focus on my strengths and things that I enjoy doing while empowering my wonderful team. I’m now getting back to absolutely loving what I do.”

As someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, Obersi understands the importance of having resources available to allow entrepreneurs to thrive.

“I’m passionate about being an entrepreneur and I think that it’s unfortunate that businesses fail because they haven’t been given the opportunity to learn, so having programs that support the success of women-owned businesses is amazing,” says Obersi.

“I think that one of my biggest takeaways from the program is the specific tools and measures that you can take to ensure the success of your business. We learned how to establish strategic objectives, which can be linked to the past, where you are now, and where you want to go in the future.”

“This is a very robust program and everything about it feels substantial. It takes time and feels like a big commitment but it’s worth it,” says Obersi.

For more information on Habit Studio visit:

For more information on the Greater Heights of Growth program visit: