North House is a new and innovative pre-fabricated solar-powered house; it is a green housing model that produces more energy than it consumes and makes sustainable living attractive and rewarding. The combination of passive and active solar design, integrated energy production, customized components and mobile interactive technologies, produces an attractive high performance home that sets a new standard for solar design in Canada’s northern climate.
North House was designed as an entry in the 2009 United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon (20 teams had been selected for the decathlon). The competition was to design, build and operate a highly efficient, completely solar powered house using solar technologies with market potential. The University of Waterloo School of Architecture led an interdisciplinary team with student and faculty members from the School of Architecture and the Faculty of Engineering at Waterloo, as well as students and faculty members from Ryerson University and Simon Fraser University. The expertise brought to North House spanned a range of engineering disciplines, sustainable architectural design, industrial design, responsive envelope design, interactive technology design and building science. The students and faculty were joined by industry professionals in software engineering, advanced custom manufacturing, project management, and mechanical manufacturing. Team North finished fourth in the competition.
The University of Waterloo and the rare Charitable Research Reserve worked together to provide a permanent location for North House at rare to be used as a working model of green technology and a place for continued research. In research at rare, it is a prototype to test systems and assemblies; to monitor its performance under a range of real-life conditions. North House has been called a living lab to be used to continually test the limits of performance of systems and materials, investigating new and innovative technologies, and to develop a set of responsible parameters for the design of homes in the natural and urban landscapes.