Gallery: SOLAR DECATHLON 2009: Team Ontario/BC’s North House For Cold C...

north house, team north, us solar decathlon 2009, sustainable architecture, green building, passive solar design, passive house, solar power

We’ve been bringing you breaking coverage of this week’s Solar Decathlon in Washington DC throughout the week and one of the most interesting homes to emerge from the competition is the North House, a super sleek, high-tech solar powered home designed to generate more energy than it consumes – an especially impressive feat granted that the home was designed for the extreme climate of Northern Canada. Currently in 4th place at the Decathlon, Team Ontario/BC is exhibiting an incredibly impressive showing. With two days left of the competition, they still have a good chance to eek out some more points in the categories of Engineering, Lighting and the biggie, Net Metering, which could still put them in the lead.

Read the rest of this entry »


or your inhabitat account below


  1. sharon mintz March 20, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    could i come to visit you in Waterloo. I would like to see the structure. I was in washington when you were displaying it but you were closed.

  2. TN January 26, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I beleive that what sebastien meant to say is that the windows were a net gainer.. not as insualting as a wall.

  3. Sebastien October 22, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Hi, I was part of the engineering team on the north house. The windows are as insulating as a regular wall. They are quad panes.

    As for the comment about the roof, this particular house will be located in souther Ontario, and the roof, and PV panels will be able to take the load. This house is a concept, and could be slightly modified for different locations. For example, if we wanted to place this house in a more snowy location, the PV racking system would need some kind of slope.

  4. RobMacKenzie October 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm


    I am part of the team that built this house. I wasn’t one of the architects, but I can answer some of your questions. You’re right, the glass windows are very high insulation value. I have the stats on the insulation values at the end of this post. They are 2 sheets of glass sandwiching mylar films.

    As the article stated, the glass is used to heat the area. We pull in free heating by letting the sun shine through the windows.

    Through simulations we’ve found the interior glass temp. to be approx. 18 C (64.5 F). The North Wall is also highly insulated. The glass and shades work together to provide free heating throughout the winter, this system is more effective than having an opaque insulated wall.

    The floor has a phase change material to buffer the heat inside.

    Yes, it is a bit higher end then zerow house is, but that was our target.


    Window: R-8 (RSI 1.4) with frame

    Glazing: Solar Heat Gain Coefficient: 0.4

    R- 12.5 (RSI- 2.2) U= 0.454 W/m2 K

    Roof: R- 80 Nominal (RSI-14.2) R-73 Actual (RSI-12.9)

    Floor: R- 51 Nominal (RSI- 6.3) R-36 Actual (RSI-6.3)

    Wall: R-64 Nominal (RSI-11.3) R-47 Actual (RSI-8.2)

  5. Zard0z October 15, 2009 at 6:03 am

    “the North House has paid particular attention to tight insulation”

    Where? Most of the facade is glass! This was designed for a Northern Climate? I’d like to see the numbers on this one. Either they are WAY off base or they are using some cutting edge (and ridiculously expensive) materials. They are counting on their PV siding to make up for all the heat loss through their curtain walls. That my friends is not “passive” design. That is the definition of active design. They wanted the modern look and climate be damned, we’ll just throw money at it until our numbers look right. Wrong. I’m sure they put a lot of effort into this but without looking at the data I’d say that they are over looking something. Either this isn’t affordable and marketable or its an icebox.

  6. heylookitsjames October 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Now maybe I’m just speaking through ignorance, but how would a flat roof handle a snow load associated with such a cold climate?

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home