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Ottawa Community Housing’s Sustainability team has partnered with Natural Resources Canada on an innovative project that focuses on improving the energy efficiency of affordable housing, by retrofitting homes to Net-Zero energy and Net-Zero Greenhouse gas emissions.

The Prefabricated Exterior Energy Retrofit (PEER) Pilot Project is a solution aimed at breathing new life into four, 70-year-old townhomes on Presland Road in Ottawa’s Overbrook neighbourhood.

This innovative retrofit involves the installation of prefabricated, insulated panels to the exterior of the home without the need to re-locate tenants. To be able to complete the work, staff constructed a workshop dedicated to the creation of panels and brought the research to life with their innovation and hard work.

How does it work?

A highly insulated and airtight shell was built and placed over the home’s roof and existing walls, right down to the foundation. A heating and cooling system with an electrical heat pump was installed, making the homes energy efficient and Greenhouse gas emission free. Doors, windows and the roof were replaced. Finally, an array of solar panels were installed on the south-facing roof of the four townhomes. The solar panels will generate enough power annually to offset the consumption of the four homes – making them Net-Zero.


The four, Presland Avenue homes before the retrofit. 

Prefabricated panels were built at a separate workshop and delivered onsite. 

The homes, pictured after the project’s completion. 

Articles and Studies on the PEER Project

Design and Sustainability Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does this project benefit OCH and the tenants?   

2. At what stage is the project now? 

3. What’s next?

Ottawa Community Housing manages 15,000 homes all throughout Ottawa. Two-thirds of the housing stock is more than 50 years old. The city’s Waiting List for affordable housing has more than 10,000 people on it.  

We need to maintain our existing stock while building new affordable homes. This pilot is a deep energy retrofit, which is traditionally costly, slow and disruptive. At Presland, we were able to get funding for 50 percent of the cost of the project. The project also reduces the disruption for tenants by performing much of the work from the outside of the building while the building is occupied. This project has addressed many years of capital repairs while also improving the interior comfort of the unit and eliminating GHGs emissions.  The tenants benefit from a repaired more comfortable home which now has central air conditioning.

Work began in spring of 2020 and is now complete.  The monitoring phase started in Sept 2021 and we are closely tracking the performance of the homes. You can see the output of the solar panels live in the above window and we are working with our partners to report on the performance of the project annually.

The natural gas heating system was and replaced with an electric heat pump. The hot water tanks were replaced with a heat pump as well. Additionally, 35-kw of solar panels will be placed on the south-facing roof. The solar panels will generate as much electricity as the building consumes each year making the homes net-zero. New windows and doors were installed. Heat recovery ventilators were installed to keep as much heat inside of the building as possible and further reduce energy consumption. The new building envelope has 10 inches of insulation to keep the building warm and a new air and vapour barrier to make it airtight. This eliminates most of the building’s convective and conductive heat losses, keeping the heat in the home and reducing energy requirements. 

OCH has used the lessons learned from this project to create a long term capital
plan that aligns with the City of Ottawa’s 
Climate Change Master Plan which aims to have all GHG emissions in Ottawa eliminated by 2050. We have received funding from the CMHC Co-investment fund to tackle the first 25% GHG reduction in our portfolio. OCH is currently working with consultants and contractors to scale the work that has taken place at Presland into deep energy retrofit for high rise buildings and large townhome communities.

Tenant Newsletter Stories

OCH Research Project to Save Energy and Update Older Townhomes

As a result of the retrofit, the four homes received an electrical upgrade, a new roof, new windows and a bank of 35-kilowatt solar panels that will produce 40,000 kWh annually – about as much as it takes to power four homes each year.  

OCH Staff Given Young Energy Professional of the Year Award

Ottawa Community Housing takes the phrase “going green“ seriously. In the past 10 years, we have worked to reduce the impact our operations have on the environment, by building more efficient housing and doing renovations in some of our existing communities to reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool tenants’ homes.
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