As with the Northern Nomad v.1, the new v.2 will also be a student-designed and student-built net-zero energy tiny house, serving both as a research lab and an educational facility. The wonderful tiny house 1.0 now sits on campus and produces valuable data for research. The project attracted 200 visitors on the opening Saturday, and now we plan to build a net-zero energy tiny house v.2 beside it to broaden the research domain.


Nomad 2.0 will again be a multidisciplinary project supervised by professor Scott Bucking, with the design, planning, and construction carried out by Carleton’s engineering students from the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental streams. The project will serve as an invaluable learning opportunity, equipping students with insights and skills on designing and constructing a dwelling of the sustainable future. The result will be a fully student-built structure in the following year which will also serve as a living lab as well as an educational facility.


The second house in addition to the first is imperative for the study of small-scale smart grid system where the interplay of generation and storage across multiple houses will offset the need to tap into the electrical grid at all. Only when necessary the absolute minimum power will be drawn from the grid during off-peak hours, and power will be fed back into the grid during peaking hours to help alleviate demand on the grid network – all to help avoid the grid operators from firing fossil fuel power plants to meet the city’s demand.


Research enabled by the interconnected tiny house platforms will yield insights on the operating strategies with on-board generation and storage systems, which is applicable to Canada’s northern housing and energy issues, viable off-grid living solutions, smart grid systems, and minimum emission operation.

The Background

Thirty-three percent of the energy used in Canada was used for the residential sector in 2016, with more than half of that amount used for heating alone. Cooling energy consumption is growing in percentage by the year, and it accompanies a sharp spike in energy use that prompts fossil-fuel based power plants to kick in to help meet the electrical demand. Northern and remote communities also post a unique challenge, as they often lack access to the greater electrical grid and they are left to solely rely on diesel generators – a big culprit in carbon emissions into our very own atmosphere. Researching highly efficient building envelopes and integrating sustainable power generation and storage, and smart control strategies stand to have a powerful impact in fighting the climate crisis. Beyond the environmental scope, we continue to inspire and educate students and visitors by our exemplary rendition of the Northern Nomad 1.0, which we hope to expand with an even more ambitious Northern Nomad 2.0.

The Rollout

Your donation will be used to push the research and prototyping of sustainable and resilient housing. Below are the features and technical highlights of the Northern Nomad v.1 and the upcoming v.2. that your support would go towards developing.

Highlight of Northern Nomad v.1

  • Net-zero energy home on a small mobile platform, designed and built by Carleton students
  • Fully electric operation including heating during winter, with 3.6kW generation and 21kWh storage capacity
  • Fluid real-time power switchover between electrical grid to on-board batteries based on software control
  • Complete off-grid operation potential without compromising expected comfort
  • Construction innovation: Use of vacuum insulation panels as part of building envelope, implementation of building-integrated solar panels that perform as heat and energy generator simultaneously, and soon-to-be-implemented space conditioning control strategies based on near-future weather, current interior temperature and battery state.
  • Real-time logging of vast datapoints: temp, RH, airflow at various wall assemblies and around vacuum insulation panels, within energy recovery ventilator, underneath building integrated photovoltaic panels (BIPV), ambient conditions, etc.; power draw on each appliance and for space conditioning; power draw from the grid, battery charging patterns, PV generation patterns, conversion efficiency, etc.
  • EV charging
  • Designed and inspected to building code
  • Digital twin of the building including HVAC and plumbing systems
  • Fully finished interior and continuous tour programs

Highlight of Northern Nomad v.2

Everything Nomad v.1 is, plus:

  • Smart software control to draw power from the electrical grid only when the grid is fed by clean power.
  • Ability to project near-future energy demand in house itself and borrow electricity from neighbor’s battery bank should the internal battery bank be empty and the grid powered by dirty fuels at the moment.
  • Prefabricated wall assembly for scalability and construction efficiency
  • Accessibility issues tackled
  • Incorporate greywater treatment strategy

The Impact

The funds raised will cover parts of building materials cost, equipment cost like inverters and charge controllers, logistical costs like inspection,  and supporting graduate researchers. Your support will go a long way. Thank you for your generosity and interest.

Other Comments

If you’d like to learn more, check out the below links for the Northern Nomad project in the media,


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