Carleton University Professors Receive Funding To Improve Canada’s Building Sector

Carleton University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor Cynthia Cruickshank, and Burak Gunay, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, have received funds from NRCanada to improve building efficiency, and reduce emissions.

Cruickshank has received $5.1 million in funding from the NRCan Energy Innovation Program, and the Ontario Research Fund (ORF), to develop new building envelope technologies that make Canada’s buildings less greenhouse gas intensive.

“Carleton continues to take the lead on advances in sustainable construction,” said Rafik Goubran, vice-president (Research and International). “The Carleton’s Centre for Advanced Building Envelope Research (CU-CABER) research program will foster clean energy innovation and play an important role in developing new solutions leading to more efficient, resilient buildings.”

According to Carleton University, CU-CABER plans to develop approaches to building envelopes that are thinner and cheaper, as well as new methods for renovating existing buildings with fewer cost and less disruption.

“Solutions for existing buildings will play the biggest role in meeting Canada’s climate change goals,” said Cruickshank, professor and director of CU-CABER. “Although Canada will construct nearly four million new homes before 2030, more than 13.7 million homes are already built, and 62 per cent of them were constructed more than 20 years ago, before the National Building Code prescribed requirements for energy efficiency.”

The funding supports the construction of large-scale building envelope test equipment. The equipment includes a two-story guarded hot box with a spray rack capable of testing full-scale residential and building facades, and a materials characterization lab.

With this new infrastructure, researchers will have the ability to study how heat, air and moisture move through materials and highly insulated wall systems, and how these elements contribute to occupant health, comfort and building science risks (i.e. condensation, mold growth and rot).

In a separate grant, Burak Gunay, with fellow researchers Liam O’Brien and Scott Bucking, have received $510,000 from the NRCan Green Infrastructure Fund to develop new data-mining tools that will improve building energy efficiency, occupant comfort, health, and workplace productivity.

Carleton University Canal building — Photo Courtesy of

According to the University, this project will apply state of the art data mining techniques to analyze operational data sources such as building automation systems, energy meter networks, computerized maintenance management systems and Wi-Fi traffic data.

This data will be used to detect operational abnormalities and sub systems that may not be working correctly.

“There is a lot of focus on designing energy efficient buildings, but even well designed buildings can function inefficiently unless further quality assurance measures are taken,” said Gunay. “Without the proper tools it is very difficult for building managers to diagnose problems and correct them. This tool will provide operators with key metrics and insights into building functionality.”

The researchers have already applied the new technology of correcting programming errors in the environmental controls to Carleton’s Canal building, which according to the University, has resulted in saving approximately 30 per cent in office energy use.

Click here to view the full list of funded projects.