MONTREAL — Concordia University has announced the opening of its new Solar Simulator-Environmental Chamber, a unique laboratory that the university said will revolutionize solar energy applications and building standards. Concordia also announced the inauguration of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Smart Net-Zero Energy Buildings Strategic Network, a new national research initiative headquartered at the university.

“These projects represent a huge vote of confidence for our work on solar energy and building innovation,” said Frederick Lowy, president and vice-chancellor of Concordia. “Our researchers have long been ahead of the pack in these closely related evolving fields and it is truly wonderful to receive provincial and national recognition for their efforts.”

The Solar Simulator-Environmental Chamber was built with $4.6 million in funding from Industry Canada and Quebec’s Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, under the Canadian federal government’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program. The university said the facility will strengthen Concordia’s expertise and Canadian leadership in solar energy applications, while greatly facilitating research to develop smart net-zero energy buildings that produce as much energy as they use.

The NSERC Smart Net-Zero Energy Buildings Strategic Network, headquartered in Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, is a national research initiative funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The network will receive $5 million in federal funding over five years and will establish research initiatives that will increase the use of net-zero energy buildings while developing the most effective methods for achieving zero average annual energy consumption at both the building and neighborhood levels.

“The research this network undertakes solves real-world problems and boosts the bottom line of its partners in industry,” said Dr. Suzanne Fortier, president of NSERC. “It exemplifies NSERC’s goal of connecting and applying the strength of the academic research network to addressing the opportunities and challenges of building prosperity for our country.”

This new research network grew out of the expertise established by Concordia and its partners through the NSERC Solar Buildings Research Network, which received federal funding from 2006-2011 and resulted in several innovations like the solar system integrated into the recently built John Molson School of Business Building.

This installation, which acts as a photovoltaic/thermal energy generating system, harnesses solar energy to produce electric power and simultaneously heat fresh air for ventilation, while being an integrated part of the building and its energy system. The installation was funded by the Department of Natural Resources Canada through the Technology Early Actions Measures demonstration program.

Publication date: 02/06/2012