What does it mean to live sustainably in the North? With two months of darkness, monthly utility bills over $1,500, temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius, and variable permafrost, it can be a challenge.
SAIT Polytechnic’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) department was approached by GBM Construction in Fort Simpson, NWT, to design a high-performance net-zero energy home. Through consultation with Fort Simpson-based engineers, architects and tradespeople, ARIS’s Green Building Technologies researchers brought together passive and active elements to design the ultimate sustainable home.
Fit for an extreme climate, “Arctic House” includes a high-efficiency, wood-fired boiler to generate the hot water used for radiant heat and domestic requirements, and embedded floor sensors to detect solar heat and trigger a small pump to redistribute hot water to cooler areas in the home. And, since the home will produce more solar energy than it needs during the summer’s long daylight hours, Arctic House will contribute the excess energy to the power grid and draw from the grid only when necessary – resulting in a net-zero energy consumption per annum.
“I think the sky is the limit in what we can do in the North. It’s a great place to test projects like these,” says Derek Erasmus, owner of GBM Construction.
The project will not only provide northern Canadians with more energy-efficient design options, but the lessons learned can help perfect net-zero energy housing design worldwide.