Theme II - 2.1

Net-zero energy pre-engineered housing envelope options

Project Leader

  • H. Ge


The objective of this project is to move housing design towards net-zero energy by integrating new technologies into advanced pre-engineered housing systems. Pre-engineered net-zero energy housing offers many advantages, including the following:

  • Foster the adoption of the new energy-saving technologies in the building industry risk-free by integrating them into one system, the performance of which can be validated by analysis, testing, and field investigation before the systems are mass manufactured.
  • Mitigate the high energy cost and provide quality housing at reasonable cost in remote regions such as Nunavut where the construction season is short, climate is harsh, adequate roads lacking, communities sparse, transportation costly, and qualified work force scarce; yet, population, development, and use of energy is expected to increase due to large reserves of natural resources; for example, Nunavut is completely dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation (27%) and heating (33%). This fuel is bought in bulk once a year by the government and subsidized at an average of about $1500 per person.

This project builds on existing housing technologies for the Arctic regions such as the Low-energy House (Rode et al., 2009) in Sisimiut, Greenland, monitored by the Technical University of Denmark, on Canadian and Scandinavian experiences (Fazio & Poliquin, 2000), and on previous and current experimental work by members of this team including hygrothermal investigations of different wall configurations (Fazio et al., 2007) and whole building Heat, Air and Moisture (HAM) transport and indoor environments (Vera et al., 2010a,b), both conducted in full-scale and in two-story test huts built within a large climate chamber. Investigation of building envelope options will include Structural Insulated panel (SIP) construction, double wall systems and systems used in Scandinavian countries. Initially, SIP panels and other components and systems, such as materials and joints used in a housing system pre-engineered and built in Nunavut, will be tested in an inverted test-hut in the lab by subjecting the hut to cold temperatures and negative pressure on the interior and simulated indoor climatic conditions on the exterior, and monitoring the HAM response of the test hut. The investigation will then be extended to a full-scale test hut subjected to extreme climatic loads and conditions reproduced in the Concordia solar environmental chamber. Solar technologies as well as other technologies, developed under project 2.3 and the other themes will be integrated in the test hut and their contribution to the performance of the system investigated in configurations optimized first through building simulation. The performance of the components and of the systems will then be generalized to target housing designs for other regions. The research will include three sub-projects as follows.


  • 2.1a Comparison of different advanced envelope systems for low energy housing (SIP, double wall etc)
  • 2.1b Investigation of pre-engineering envelope systems integrating solar technology to advance NZEH for urban and remote regions and  reduce costs through mass production
  • 2.1c  Develop & validate models to predict the performance of building envelope systems & size components for NZEB