The use of energy that has been produced and transported is seen everywhere. This includes building heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and much more. Energy end-use is a very important part of sustainable energy, as excessive or inefficient use of energy negatively affects both energy transport and energy production. Research in energy end-use include how design of the system using energy as well as how it is being used. One such area of research is in building design. Modifying the design and occupant behaviour of a building can have a significant impact on how much energy is required, reducing the transportation need and the required energy production. Researching sustainable methods for using energy is crucial for sustaining the provincial, national and international energy demands.

Carleton’s sustainable energy research in energy end-use includes:

  • Energy Efficient and Net-Zero Energy Buildings

Reducing the energy end-use by a building, either commercial or residential, is an effective way to reduce electrical grid-strain and ultimately pollution from large energy producers required to meet the demand. Energy efficiency in buildings reduces the electricity demand of appliances, heating, cooling, lighting etc. Net-zero energy buildings incorporates energy efficiency with building design features, and energy production and storage (solar panels and batteries). The product is a house with zero net energy use annually.

Other strategies to reduce the effect buildings have on the electrical grid is to focus energy reduction techniques on the peak hours, when the grid is already experiencing large demand. Projects underway in this area at Carleton University  include the Carleton Research and Innovation in Sustainable Energy (C-RISE) House  – a full-scale research house to be built on Carleton University campus. Carleton University is also involved in the Solar Decathlon in collaboration with Queen’s University and Algonquin College. Solar Decathlon is a U.S. Department of Energy initiative for students to design, build and operate a solar-powered house. More information on Carleton’s involvement in Solar Decathlon can be found here.

  • Building Performance Simulation

Building performance simulation (BPS), is a method to analyze the simulated performance of a building on a computer. BPS enables new ideas for sustainable building design to be tested in a much cheaper setting (compared to experiments). BPS simulates external and internal conditions in a building to replicate what would really be happening with real occupants. The use of BPS in research is useful for designing residences and commercial buildings with lower energy use annually, or over on-peak (high energy use) times of the day.

  • Solar Control and Daylighting

Controlling how sunlight enters a building and the amount of light received over the day is an effective method of shifting energy end-use from fossil fuels to natural sunlight. Using solar energy to heat up and/or light the interiors of buildings reduces the heating demand, as well as electrical lighting demand. There is an optimization process in the use of solar energy and daylighting without adversely affecting occupant comfort levels (overheating or need for privacy).

  • Green Roofs

A green roof is the transformation of a typical flat roof top, to a “living roof” covered (or partially covered) in vegetation. Green roofs have the potential to reduce absorbed solar gains, which can thereby reduce the cooling demand in the summer months. As well, green roofs absorb and make use of rain fall, reducing direct water run-off from the building.