The Urbandale Centre for Home Energy Research is a full-scale experimental facility that is used for conducting long-term explorations of novel and unproven concepts aimed at radically reducing the reliance of Canadian housing on conventional energy sources.

Located on the Carleton University campus, this research house, which was commissioned in 2015, has a footprint of 6.1 by 12.2 m and includes a full-height basement and two above-grade stories.  The house is of wood-frame construction and contains more insulation than required by current regulations, but intentionally is not insulated more heavily than would be viable with current construction practices.  The building’s airtightness at 50 Pa depressurization was measured to be 1.3 ac/h.  All windows are triple-glazed with two low-emissivity coatings and argon gas fill.  Most of the house’s windows are placed on the south façade to maximize passive solar gains.

The facility possesses redundant energy conversion, storage, and distribution systems to enable research on numerous topics with minimal switch-over time required.  There is a large array of evacuated-tube solar-thermal collectors, two buried seasonal-thermal stores, an air-source heat pump coupled to a rock-bed thermal store, a water/water heat pump, radiant hydronic floors, supply and return ducts, an energy-recovery ventilator connected to dedicated ducting, and an auxiliary electric boiler.

This facility was made possible through the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Research Fund, Urbandale Construction, and our many research partners and supporters.

Research is currently underway on a number of topics, including the seasonal storage of solar thermal energy, active+passive solar systems, and air-source heat pumps.  As results become available they are presented at national and international conferences and then published in student theses and journal articles.  Click here for a listing of these publications (most are downloadable).

Posters describing some of the research facility’s key features

House construction
Solar thermal systems
Thermal storage systems

View a video by Rebecca Pinto describing the experiment she is conducting at the facility during the 2020-2021 heating season.  Another video by Rebecca Pinto can be viewed here.

View Sarah Brown’s Ingenious talk that describes the experiments she is conducting in the facility on a passive solar collection energy system (PiSCES).