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.

December 13, 2010 No Comments

Self Cooling Buildings

I found this interesting article in the New York Times archive on Self Cooling Buildings.  The concept is to use passive ventilation techniques, some of which have been used for centuries, to avoid the need for air conditioning.

One technique is the use of strategically placed vents that use temperature and pressure differences to create cross currents for a comfortable indoor environment.   Other examples include motorized skylights and automated blinds to control overheating from direct sunlight.  So far these building concepts have only been applied to commercial office space, but there’s no reason why the ideas can’t be applied to new home construction.  It’s a great idea, especially in a climate like Ottawa where air conditioners are really only needed for a few weeks throughout the year.  The main problem that I see is with consumer acceptance and expectations.  For most homeowners that want air conditioning, it might take a lot of convincing for them to accept a cool breeze and shade as a realistic alternative.

Posted by Matthew


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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