Carleton University celebrated the grand opening of the Urbandale Centre for Home Energy Research on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.
The 1,600-square-foot, two-storey solar-powered house is perched on a low hill at the north end of Carleton’s campus. Inside, long-term research projects are responding to a growing demand for resource sustainable, energy efficient houses. The house will be a test bed for innovative concepts that challenge the traditional way houses are designed and built, with a goal of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the Canadian residential sector.
Ian Beausoleil-Morrison, Canada Research Chair in Innovative Energy Systems for Residential Buildings at Carleton, prepared the research proposal in 2012, landing $1.5 million in funding from Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Research Fund and various industry partners, including Urbandale Construction. The home was also supported by Carleton’s Office of the Vice-President (Research and International) and the research-intensive Faculty of Engineering and Design.
Cynthia Cruickshank, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Sheryl Boyle, an associate professor in the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, have been on board from the start. The three have supervised several graduate students who modelled systems for the house and will continue to guide students to push the home energy envelope.
A major project in the house is investigating seasonal thermal storage, or how to store energy collected by the house’s solar panels during the summer and store it for use during the dark winter months. Piping has been installed in a giant insulated underground sandbox to carry heated water into the house to supply most of its hot water and heat. Another system being tested is a cold-climate air-source pump that uses refrigeration technology to extract heat from outside air. Generally ineffective at extremely cold temperatures, the pump in the Carleton project is being pushed to more efficiency by pre-warming the air in buried rock.
“This project combines the expertise of engineers and architects so it’s not only good science, but it’s attractive as well. It’s an interdisciplinary project, and it’s supported by the community.”
– Carleton President Roseann Runte
“CFI is a major supporter of this project. Without their support, this research centre would not be here today.”
– Nimal Rajapakse, vice-president (Research and International)
“This state-of-the-art facility is a place where researchers and industry partners come together to advance our understanding of how we can design our homes to be more sustainable. The ideas they develop will have an enormous impact on Canadian competitiveness and quality of life.”
– Gilles Patry, president, Canada Foundation for Innovation
“We’re very honoured to be part of this project. We hope that over the years the information from this research can be integrated into residential construction.”
– Peter Weiss, general manager, Urbandale Construction
“Canadians use almost as much energy per capita as the highest consuming country in the world. A lot of energy is used in the places we live. Housing is one of areas where we can make a big difference. If we can make our buildings more efficient and make greater use of local renewable energy resources, we can lessen the demand for central energy supplies. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish in this facility.”
– Ian Beausoleil-Morrison, Canada Research Chair in Innovative Energy Systems for Residential Buildings
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