ARCHIVED - NRC Opens its Doors to Let You Discover New Housing Technologies

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June 06, 2006— Ottawa, Ontario

NRC's Twin Test Homes are fully finished, 2100-sq ft, four-bedroom houses that are used to test the latest innovative housing devices.
NRC's Twin Test Homes are fully finished, 2100-sq ft, four-bedroom houses that are used to test the latest innovative housing devices.

On June 3-4, 2006, NRC opened its doors to let visitors tour the NRC Canadian Centre for Housing Technology (NRC-CCHT) and discover its unique housing research facilities. The activity was a success as close to 400 members of the public in Ottawa crossing the house's threshold. All of them took this chance to get a first-hand look at new technologies such as a solar water heater, a high efficiency electrical motor, a solar photovoltaic display, and numerous construction mock-ups. The visitors were greatly impressed by the technical information available, the useful tips on making their homes more energy efficient received during the guided tours and the test house itself. This was the fifth year that NRC participated in Doors Open Ottawa, a once-a-year chance to explore buildings usually inaccessible to the public.

 
 
About the NRC-CCHT
 
 

Built in 1998, the NRC Canadian Centre for Housing Technology is jointly operated by the National Research Council, Natural Resources Canada, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Its mission is to accelerate the development of new technologies and their acceptance in the marketplace.

 
 

This facility was designed to provide a stepping-stone for manufacturers and developers to test innovative technologies prior to full field trials in occupied houses. In all, about 20 projects have been undertaken at NRC-CCHT, most involving innovative technologies.

 
 

The NRC Canadian Centre for Housing Technology features twin research houses to evaluate the whole-house performance of new technologies in side-by-side testing. At first glance they may look like regular suburban townhouses, but the twin buildings are home to many new technologies being developed and tested by the NRC. They offer an unparalleled opportunity for new products and systems to be tested in a real-world environment with simulated occupancy. Inside the houses, our scientists are re-creating the wear-and-tear caused by a typical family of two adults with two children.

For example, there are four table lamps on the living room floor (two 60-watt and two 40-watt lamps) that are used to simulate the ambient heat created by two adults and two children. When the lights are off, no one is home. The imaginary family also eats, bathes and cooks – activities stimulated by having water flowing at preset amounts throughout the day. Even breathing is taken into account, with piping that delivers carbon dioxide (CO2) to the various rooms, allowing testing of the air quality and circulation. These are just a few of the many details that make it seem as though the house is occupied by an average family.

Lamps in the house are used to simulate the ambient heat created by two adults and two children.
Lamps in the house are used to simulate the ambient heat created by two adults and two children.

While strolling through the house, visitors probably noticed other out-of-the-ordinary things helping to recreate an ordinary lifestyle, like wires coming from the ceiling, walls and floors. Not to be mistaken for the imaginary family's renovations, these wires are thermocouples, used to measure temperatures at various heights. The thermocouples are some of the more obvious measurement tools in the house, but there are also many more, especially in the basement, that measure everything from lights to the furnace.

This carefully-monitored environment allows NRC's scientists to develop and test innovative housing devices that will respond to the anticipated consumer demand for more efficient energy systems, like the eKOCOMFORT® integrated system, which combines the furnace, water heater and heat-recovery ventilator in a single appliance. This system offers significant space and energy savings, and is now available to the public after five years of testing within the NRC-CCHT.

Solar photovoltaic arrays tested on NRC's Twin Test Houses.
Solar photovoltaic arrays tested on NRC's Twin Test Houses.

The NRC-CCHT has also tested the Shower Heat Recovery System. This innovation uses the warmth of the water coming down the shower drain to warm the cold water that is moving up copper pipes surrounding the drain. Research has shown that this technology reduces the amount of heat needed to warm the water by 40 to 50 percent, and it is now approved for use in Canada.


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Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada
613-991-1431
media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

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