This blog follows the latest trends in high performance housing from an insider's perspective. I am the General Manager of one of Ottawa's leading homebuilders - Urbandale Construction, and it gives me a firsthand view of how the industry is changing. I've seen the barriers that builders face when trying to market new technologies and I've been working directly to overcome these barriers to bring new energy efficient designs into Urbandale homes.

April 9, 2014 2 Comments

Carleton University’s High Performance Housing Project

CarletonWide_K_186On Friday I was a guest judge at the final presentations of Carleton University’s High Performance Housing group.  I’ve been involved with the High Performance Housing group for a number of years now, acting occasionally as a guest lecturer or mentor to some of the groups.  This year I wasn’t as involved in the project as I have been in previous years, but I was happy to have the opportunity to sit in on the student’s presentations of what they have been working on all year.

This year, all of the groups worked on projects related to the theme of arctic housing.  Housing in the arctic is challenging because of the extreme cold and winds, higher cost of materials and labour, and permafrost, which makes it impossible to build houses with conventional foundations.  Many of the building techniques that we take for granted here are not possible up North.

Overall I was quite impressed with the student’s presentations.  While some of them seemed nervous to be presenting to a packed class of peers and judges, the amount of time and effort they put into their research was clearly evident.  One group was even considering applying for a patent for their novel approach to designing a heat recovery ventilator optimized for cold climates.  The students in the High Performance Housing group embraced the idea that proper engineering analysis and designs can lead to a better quality of life and reduced environmental impacts for the future.

Posted by Matthew

2 Responses to "Carleton University’s High Performance Housing Project"

  1. Gary says:

    I have to hand it to you Matt. I am a Carleton grad, and I can say that your involvement at Carleton over the years speaks volumes about your commitment to better houses. I hope you will stay involved because you can offer invaluable insight from the industry side to young people heading for industry jobs. And kudos for the blog too. I know how much time these things take and, again, it shows your commitment. Good stuff! Keep going!

  2. Matthew Sachs says:

    Thanks Gary! Much appreciated. I hope to continue being involved with Carleton. Urbandale is currently funding a renewable energy technology research lab to be built on the Carleton campus. I’m hopeful that we will learn more about how future housing can incorporate these innovative technologies. I’ll be sure to post updates as construction progresses.


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Matthew Sachs


  • General Manager of Urbandale Construction since May 2008
  • Vice-Chair R-2000 Renewal Committee
  • Member of Energy Star Technical Advisory Committee
  • Greater Ottawa Homebuilders Green Committee
  • Recipient of Canadian Homebuilder’s Association 2009 R-2000 Builder of the Year Award
  • Participant in Natural Resources Canada’s Technology Roadmap for Sustainable Housing
  • Energy Consultant with Marbek Resource Consultants (Feb 2002 – May 2006)


Ottawa's Quality Homebuilder for 30 Years. Building R-2000 and Energy Star Homes in Kanata Lakes, Riverside South, & Bridlewood in Ottawa, and in eQuinelle in Kemptville. For more information on Urbandale Construction, please visit