2 Minutes with Andreas Athienitis
April 29, 2014
Buildings consume over half of Canada's electricity production, making the optimized operation and improvement of energy efficiency in buildings an important step towards reducing our use of carbon-based energy sources. Dr. Athienitis is an internationally recognized researcher in solar energy and building energy systems as well as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. He has led the establishment of two NSERC strategic research networks. He is currently the Scientific Director of the NSERC Smart Net-Zero Energy Buildings Strategic Network.
|Andreas K. Athienitis||
The whole area of buildings and the building environment is going through a transformation now driven by two aspects. One is the push for a reduction in the environmental impact, greenhouse gas emissions. The other is the need to save energy. A net zero energy building basically produces from renewable energy sources as much energy as it consumes over the course of an average year. Because of the new technologies, from solar, energy efficiency, HVAC, smart coatings, automation technologies, all of these are coming together, and they make it possible to design and operate these buildings in a much more efficient way than was possible before.
Those efficiencies involve basically, first of all, optimally designing buildings, so that you have good surfaces, appropriately oriented for capturing solar energy, and we are talking about three types of solar energy use: It's daylight, solar heat, and solar electricity. By doing that, and then combining it with energy efficiency measures, that is optimal levels of insulation and efficient windows, then we can achieve net zero energy.
NSERC funding provided us with support to cover all stages of our research – everything from basic research, exploratory type of work, looking at innovative new ways of doing things, energy efficiency and solar – and then network project grants such as the NSERC Solar Buildings Research Network that I led from 2005 to 2010 and presently the Smart Net-Zero Energy Buildings Strategic Research Network that I lead now from 2011 to 2016. So there is a strong role for universities and networks such as ours to support that move that will affect our quality of life, and so the economy with job creation, increased exports and enabling Canada to remain a leader.