12th July 2020


A concept image of the final product. Photo Credit: Team Ontario
A cleaner energy future

A cleaner energy future

Net-zero solar home, created by team of student engineers, is poised to compete in the prestigious Solar Decathlon.
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Made up of students from Queen’s University, Carleton University and Algonquin College, Team Ontario is a great example of the positive impact that institutional collaborations can have.

The team will take ECHO—their design for a functional home that generates more energy than it consumes—to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in October to compete against leading engineers from across North America.

A home for the future

“We really wanted to design and build a home for the next generation of homeowners,”

explained Cynthia Cruickshank, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University. “It’s a building that is just less than 1000 sq feet, so we see it as a home that a young family could grow into.”

In addition to incorporating vacuum insulation panels in the walls, floors and ceilings, and using highly efficient windows to minimize heat loss, Team Ontario designed and built a unique integrated energy system that uses solar energy as thermal input to a heat pump that provides space heating/cooling and domestic hot water.

“Over 80 percent of the secondary energy usage in the residential sector is used for heating and cooling demands, including domestic hot water, so we decided to find ways to increase efficiency in those areas,” said Cruickshank. “We’re demonstrating to people that if you have a good building envelope, energy and cost savings will happen.”

Collaborating towards success

Business Coordinator for Team Ontario and student at Queen’s University, Deng Pan, believes that by bringing a multitude of skill sets together, these types of collaborations have the potential to achieve great things.

“Algonquin College offers a great trades program so their students are very knowledgeable about building the house and what makes it structurally sound; Carleton and Queen’s have been responsible for the engineering innovation,” said Pan.

Staying in touch by email, Skype and Google Chat has allowed the team to stay on track and enabled them to iron out any issues collectively, as they’ve arisen. “Current technology has made communication very accessible,” said Pan. “Being able to have a constant flow of ideas between this number of people, all with their specific expertise, makes this a very unique and successful project.”

“By drawing on the collective knowledge and experience of students and faculty from Algonquin College, Carleton University and Queen’s University, this project shows how working together, we can build a highly skilled workforce to support our innovative economy.”

Spreading the word

Team Ontario’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by the powers in government, as Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Brad Duguid, pointed out: “by drawing on the collective knowledge and experience of students and faculty from Algonquin College, Carleton University and Queen’s University, this project shows how working together, we can build a highly skilled workforce to support our innovative economy.”

The project has acted as another great opportunity for Ontario to showcase the crucial work that it is doing in laying the foundations for sustainable economies and healthy environments for future generations.

Ontario Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, is a proud supporter of the work that Team Ontario has been doing. “I want to congratulate Team Ontario for their hard work and wish them the best of luck at the Solar Decathlon,” said Chiarelli. “The ECHO home and the students behind it are a prime example of why Ontario is considered a global leader in renewable energy, conservation and smart grid technology.”

The contest is a great platform for consumers to witness the innovations that students have made in the fields of renewable energy and sustainable living. The team is expecting 300,000 total house visits during the contest. But, the all-important question: do they have a chance of winning?

“Of course!” said Cruickshank. “We wouldn’t be going if we didn’t think that we could win; we definitely think that we have a good shot.”


Joe Rosengarten
editorial@mediaplanet.com

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