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NSERC Smart Net-Zero Energy Buildings Strategic Network


The NSERC Smart Net-Zero Energy Buildings Strategic Network (SNEBSN) will conduct research aimed at facilitating the widespread adoption of optimized net-zero energy buildings (NZEBs) design and operation concepts in key regions of Canada by 2030. These buildings are well suited to Canadian climatic conditions and construction practices and will ultimately influence long-term national policy on the design of net-zero energy buildings. The network will provide training to leaders who join universities, industry and government and will bring together a variety of disciplines and partners to demonstrate the value of innovative NZEBs concepts.

The primary goal of SNEBSN is to investigate the best ways to achieve zero average annual energy consumption at both the building and neighbourhood levels through combinations of passive systems and dynamic building envelope technologies. This includes building-integrated solar systems and high-performance windows with active control of solar gains, short-term and seasonal thermal storage, heat pump systems, combined heat and power technologies, and smart controls.

Network Structure

Experts from related sectors, including electricity management and urban planning, will work together as part of a network of 15 Canadian universities with headquarters at Concordia University. SNEBSN also involves top researchers working in the general area of energy and buildings and includes the support of 20 industrial and government partners.

Research Objectives

The effective design and operation of a smart net-zero energy building requires a number of technological solutions and a multidisciplinary approach. The following research themes have emerged, taking into consideration strategic priorities and lessons learned from the NSERC Solar Buildings Strategic Research Network:

  • Theme 1: Integrated solar and HVAC systems for buildings;
  • Theme 2: Active building envelope systems and passive solar technologies;
  • Theme 3: Mid- to long-term thermal storage for buildings and communities;
  • Theme 4: Smart building operating strategies; and
  • Theme 5: Technology transfer, design tools, and input to national policy.


  • Development of innovative concepts and systems for cost-effective net-zero energy homes and commercial buildings suitable for Canada and for export through prefabrication;
  • Development of advanced smart building operating strategies that will result in reduced and optimally shifted peak electricity demand. These strategies will contribute to dramatic reductions in electricity consumption and a reduced need for new central power plants;
  • Development of design procedures and tools for net-zero energy buildings;
  • Training of over 80 highly qualified personnel who will join industry, universities and government, thereby contributing to achievement of the long-term network goal;
  • Provision of input to long-term national policy on the built environment, net-zero energy buildings and communities, and clean energy incentive measures; and
  • Significant reduction in emissions through adoption of the technologies, know-how and design techniques developed by the network.


Andreas Athienitis
Scientific Director
Tel.: 514-848-2424, ext. 8791
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