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Can We Envision Net-Zero Energy Buildings in the High North?

Note : the full title of this project is "Can we envision net-zero energy buildings in the high north? A Canada/Norway comparative study with prefabrication solutions for highly energy efficient buildings".

This project is part of the Université Laval / University of Tromsø research partnership.


Principal investigators

Louis Gosselin, Raymond Riise


Nadia Lehoux, Mohamad Mustafa, André PotvinBjørn Reidar Sørensen


Svein-Erik Sveen


Since they are responsible for a major share of our total energy consumption, buildings are one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The energy challenge of buildings is even more important for Arctic regions since their severe environment generates a high heating demand and can cause challenges to generate energy locally.

This proposal aims to reduce the energy consumption of buildings in the arctic and subarctic regions. Its main objectives are to: (i) Provide a detailed comparison between Norway and Canada with respect to building energy efficiency in the high north; (ii) Establish a framework towards highly energy efficient high north buildings considering different socio-economic and cultural contexts; (iii) Evaluate the potential of enhanced integrated prefabrication of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for different high north contexts. In the first task, a detailed comparison will be performed, including a comparison of building regulations, architectural features, specific energy contexts, heating and ventilation systems, value chain of the industry, etc. There will also be a comparison of building datasets from both countries. This will allow to share good ideas and practices in order to generate novel ideas concerning the viability of solutions that either country is not familiar with. The ongoing industrialisation of building construction offers a potential to reduce cost and increase efficiency, in particular in the high north. In Task 2, the prefabrication of integrated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems for the high north will be studied. In addition to the design of such system, a mapping of the process from the plant to the construction in Norway and Canada will be elaborated to show how and when the integration of HVAC can fit.

Energy simulations of buildings will be carried over to find potential architectural and engineering strategies to reduce net energy consumption (Task 3). The best solutions will be identified with the use of optimization toolboxes. These solutions must consider the various socio-economic and cultural contexts found in Canada and Norway.

The project is a clear step towards a development of the north anchored in sustainable development principles, as it will help designers to achieve more audacious energy targets in the north. This will yield a beneficial impact on the north and its populations since people of the north are among those who experience the more the negative impacts of global warming. The full training of two PhD students (one in Canada, one in Norway) is planned within this project. An undergraduate student and master students will also contributed to the research. With the various expertise of their co-advisers, students will develop a strong multidisciplinary background on energy efficiency in the high north.