Physics Useful for Improving Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Published on January 17, 2019

Christoph Reinhart, associate professor for MIT’s architecture department, has been using scientific concepts and physics based strategies to help improve the energy efficiency of building design, such as natural lighting.


Reinhart is the head of the Sustainable Design Lab at MIT and a environmentalist; designing energy efficient buildings that are also comfortable to inhabit is a top priority for him.


Urban planners and architects in more than 90 countries are using his lab’s energy efficient designs for natural lighting (sometimes called ‘daylighting’), along with his lab’s performance analysis for environmentally conscious urban buildings.


Reinhart is also the CEO of a related company, Solemma, which handles tools for environmental analysis, and provides a software for energy modeling and optimized natural lighting design.


Mapdwell is another company that Reinhart also has a hand in, which is able to analyze the cost-benefit of having solar panels installed, and inform the business or company if it would be beneficial for them to consider solar energy.


While extremely important, Reinhart says that there are some challenges that come with using light for design purposes, such as keeping glare and heat production to a minimum.


In 1998, Reinharts team developed a software that analyzes the use of daylighting in a building, DAYSIM, which is now used worldwide to help model and design buildings around the availability and abundance of daylight.


For Reinhart, consumer behaviours are a significant factor in determining the energy use of a building, and that by modeling a single building these behaviours are noticeable, but by modeling an entire city, “that problem explodes on you,” he says.


However, by combining the known energy usage of a building with a slew of consumer behaviours, Reinharts team is able to recognize which user behaviours match up with the correct amount of energy use, and can disregard the rest.


By repeating this process the most likely uses of energy in a building can become more clear, which is useful in determining how an entire city uses its energy, allowing for targeted and direct energy efficiency upgrades to be applied where they are needed most.   


Designs and Planning for Energy Efficiency Upgrades at Home


As an Ontario Homeowner, you may be concerned with rising energy prices or the possibility of an upcoming energy shortage, but by making improvements to your home’s energy efficiency you can: lower your utility bills and home energy consumption, improve your home’s level of interior comfort and air quality, and even improve your home’s market value.


The first step to making energy efficiency improvements is the same for any building, home or business - through planning and design. A Home Energy Assessment is the best way for a homeowner to plan energy efficiency improvements, as it not only shows every different way that energy is consumed in a home, but it also shows which strategies for improving energy efficiency would be the most effective and affordable to consider in order to reduce home energy consumption.


Our Registered Energy Advisors are happy to answer any questions you may have about your home’s energy efficiency or the assessment itself, and they are able to help you decide which strategies for improving energy efficiency would be the best fit for your family’s needs, budget , and lifestyle.


Additionally, up to $5,000 of rebates are available to homeowners who make improvements to their home’s energy efficiency - having a Home Energy Assessment done can help your home qualify. These rebates are available to customers of both Union Gas and Enbridge.


The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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