Prefab Passive House-Inspired Design a Response to the Affordable Housing Challenge


A partnership between two universities in Montreal, TeamMTL, have launched their "passive house-inspired" entry for the 2018 International Solar Decathlon, a competition that challenges teams to design, construct and operate an architecturally-sophisticated and energy efficient solar-powered house.

With the help of industry partner Ecocor, a construction company that manufactures Passive House buildings, "TeamMTL" created a home-design strategy that dramatically reduced the demand for a substantial heating and cooling system.

TeamMTL have called their concept the Deep Performance Dwelling (DPD), a net-zero energy capable house that combines passive house-inspired design and a Building Integrated Photovoltaic Thermal system. Together, these systems ensure high-performance capability through passive and active systems, superior indoor air quality and up to a ninety percent reduction in energy demand for heating and cooling.

Passive House is a rigorous international building standard for energy efficiency in a building, drastically reducing energy consumption and its ecological footprint.

According to the team, the deep performance dwelling is intended as an urban single-family home that answers the pressing global challenge to provide affordable and robust housing in cities.

“TeamMTL’s goal is to employ socially, culturally and technologically advanced architecture that embodies energy efficiency, comfort, affordability, environmental sustainability and ecological awareness,” TeamMTL Architecture Lead Ben Wareing said.

“Sustainable building starts with quality construction and design, and Ecocor’s 21st Century, prefab approach to building the most energy efficient homes on the market today helped us reach our objectives.”


The design combines Montreal Row House typology and the Siheyuan Courtyard style, common in China.

TeamMTL will now take their innovative "deep performance dwelling" to the 2018 Solar Decathlon. A jury will evaluate the house’s cost feasibility, power efficiency, environment adaptability, power generation capacity, and architectural quality.

Originally launched by the US Department of Energy in 2002, the International Solar Decathlon Competition involves participants from universities across four continents. Each team has to design and build a two-story, net-zero energy capable, solar-powered house with a floor area of 120-200 square metres.

The 2018 competition will be held in Dezhou, China.

[Related reading: Cornell Tech Tower To Set New Green BenchmarkGreen Powers Combine To Create More Efficient And Comfortable Buildings]


Conceived for maximum flexibility and adaptability, the dwelling will address contemporary living, allowing for various family compositions, live/work scenarios, sharing economy opportunities and inter-generational living in a dense urban setting.

The house's components will first be shipped to a site in Montreal and assembled in mid-June. Once assembled, the house will be on display for the public through October, and TeamMTL will host open houses and other events that demonstrate its energy efficiency. Then the house will be disassembled, packed and shipped again, via train and boat, to Dezhou, China for the competition in the summer of 2018.

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