Impact of an Energy Efficiency Regulation in Northern Canada / by Paul Castrucci

Think about building a net-zero energy home with all its challenge except in remote regions with temperatures dropping to - 60 F for extended periods of time? As part of a graduate research, at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, Asok proposed a protocol that uses delivery of prefabricated homes to build affordable net-zero energy homes for Canada’s northern regions. As part of the research,  1200 homes built in the North since the 1950s were evaluated to study its impacts of energy policies on home. The findings were presented at the 7th International Building Physics Conference in September 2018 in Syracuse, USA.


Northern Canada faces a severe housing shortage. Existing building standards in the North were developed for southern Canadian climates. Homes built to these standards deteriorates quickly due to the North’s extreme climate. The region is remote with no roads or rail link to the South. Nearly all supplies, food, fuels, including building materials are shipped once or twice a year from the South making them more expensive; energy in the North is 10 times higher than average energy cost in Canadian southern cities. Additionally, there is a shortage of skilled-labor, a lack of housing market or incentives to address uniquely northern problems.  An affordable  and sustainable approach is needed to address the Canadian Northern housing crisis. The governments of these regions have identified the need reduce fossil fuel consumption to address climate change, become fossil fuel independent and the need for appropriate building standards as urgent for the region.

As part of the research, 1200 homes built in the North from 1950s were evaluated. Specifically, the impact of a city by-law introduced in 2009 in the city of Yellowknife, Canada that mandated ENERGYSTAR compliance and blower door testing. Findings show a substantial reduction in energy consumption when using simple strategies – such as reducing building air change rate, using triple glazed windows, increasing the building envelope, and improving mechanical systems efficiency. 

Presentation by Asok Thirunavukarasu, Hua Ge, and Andreas Athienitis

Special thanks and institutional support from:

Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Paul A. Castrucci, Architect, New York City