Task 28
Task 28
SHC Task 28

Solar Sustainable Housing



Marketing and Communication

Co-leads: Netherlands and Norway


Research on low energy houses, sustainable solar houses, environmentally friendly houses, passive houses (and more nice names) has been done in many fields and also in many interesting combinations of fields. Research on technical solutions for energy saving has been combined with research on functional and aesthetic architecture. Important research has also been done to find out how the occupants use new technical equipment or how they like the architecture of solar houses. Many issues have been investigated, but still new questions can be asked. The figure below illustrates how three different research fields often are related in interesting projects, the circle in the middle illustrates where the "marketable housing for a better environment" should be.

The objective of subtask A is to describe the "marketable housing for a better environment" from the market / occupant point of view looking at both technical and architectural aspects. What type of houses will be built in the next 5-10 years? What type of installations and technical solutions will be used? What cost level is acceptable for sustainable houses? What qualities on architecture, materials, comfort, user friendliness etc. will be asked for by the customers?

The objective for the communication part is to link the housing industry and Task researchers to help set research priorities, design the demonstration projects and disseminate results

Overview of Results

  • Questions and issues from industry and customers to help fix priorities for Task analytical work.
  • A web site: Model Sustainable Solar Housing (1)
  • Market/industry input for Task 28 Demonstration projects
  • Press kits of Task 28 Demonstration Housing
  • Builder workshops to disseminate Task Experience

Activities leading to results

Interview builders to:

  • determine what qualities / user benefits such housing should possess and what are the barriers to market growth.
  • identify technical questions they would like to see clarified which could lead to an improved future housing product.
  • collect promotional literature of their "eco" or very low energy housing.

Interview occupants of existing sustainable solar housing projects to identify:

  • which features of the house were decisive in their purchasing it,
  • which features, after living in the house they particularly appreciate and
  • what could be / must be improved.

Evaluate how contemporary government-programs promote low energy, sustainable housing. Examples programs are: R2000, EPA-Star Homes, Minergie and E-2000. Define strategies and channels to publicize Task 28 housing.

Evaluate the above information and develop internal guidelines to help prioritize the analyses work as well as the design of the demonstration projects.

Document model housing projects meeting Task criteria. With a graphic artist, develop a format for communicating the issues, concepts and features to be reported. Produce a Web site (1) and track the distribution / or number of hits.

Collect marketing material developed by the builders to sell the housing units.

Interview the company sales representatives and : - compile statistics on what population segment is buying the units. - identify what features are decisive for buyers. - compile a checklist of marketing features and strategies for the projects.

Produce Press kits (4) of Task 28 Demonstration Housing. These can be edited, translated into local language/s as national brochures. The purpose is to illustrate the diversity, living quality and performance of such housing, future oriented and affordable.

Plan builder Workshops (5) to disseminate the experience of the Task and stimulate the demand for the Task publications and tools.

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Design and Analysis

Lead: Sweden


This Subtask is comprised of two coupled sets of activities and objectives - both design and analyses. The design part involves evaluation and documentation of the design, construction and performance of sustainable solar housing projects existing at the Task beginning. Design of new demonstration projects will also be a part of this subtask.

The analyzing part involves life cycle asses of the energy, environmental and economic performance of combinations of systems in the context of low energy housing. Optimisation of the demonstration project designs and production of design-guidelines are also a part of this subtask.

Overview of Results

  • The design-guidelines: Marketable Sustainable Solar Housing: Plans, Details and Performance (2)
  • Designs for Task demonstration housing projects
  • The handbook: Guide to Cost Effective Design (3)

Activities leading to results


Define for the purpose of the Task "sustainability" and "solar use".

  • agree on criteria for assessing sustainability and solar use.
  • set benchmarks from current best practice
  • fix targets for the Task demonstration housing. This activity will draw on the experience of ECBCS
  • Task 31 as well as national activities to achieve a consensus on working definitions, verifiable criteria and targets for Task 28. The criteria will address resource consumption, environmental impact, indoor environmental quality, functionality and costs.

Collect and evaluate information on the design and construction of housing existing at the start of the Task projects which fulfilling the above criteria.

Supply the collected material to Subtask A for inclusion in the Task Web Site: Model Sustainable Solar Housing

Compile this material and with performance data from Subtask D to co-produce the book: Marketable Sustainable Solar Housing: Plans, Details and Performance.

Design Task 28 demonstration projects with:

  • market input from Subtask A,
  • analytical support from Subtask B,
  • insights from the evaluation work of Subtask D
  • design advice offered by Task experts during the expert meetings.


From the designs collected above, develop simplified abstract computer models ("shoeboxes") of detached, row and multi-family housing.

Define climate types and fix occupancy and appliance profiles.

Calculate the energy performance of the base designs and compare the results from the different Task expert and computer tools.

Identify combinations of conservation, solar and backup-systems for each of the housing types and climate/occupancy profiles; and suitable computer models.

Computer model design/system variations over the building life cycle to quantify:

  • energy consumption for heating, water heating, ventilation, lighting and cooling
  • environmental impact of key components and systems with regard to both "grey energy" and material flows
  • first costs and operational costs

Support the design of the demonstration housing with such life cycle analyses.

From the Task experience:

  • identify computer tools which are suitable for analyzing such housing and
  • write user advice and worked through examples.

Combine what is learned from modeling, laboratory testing of components and produce the Guide to Cost Effective Design (3).

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Construction and Demonstration

Lead: Australia


The objective of this subtask is to assure that the demonstration houses fulfil the all the Task objectives by writing the design brief, providing quality control during construction, and debugging the houses during commissioning.

Overview of Results

  • write design brief
  • give input to the Guide to Cost Effective design (3) and the Workshops (5).

Activities leading to results

Design briefs:
These documents state the goals, target values, and constraints for the demonstration projects. The brief will reflect the marketing input from Subtask A and the targets set in Subtask B.

During project construction Subtask experts will periodically inspect the construction site, review the selection and delivery of components, the workshop drawings for systems as part of a quality control process.

Upon completion of construction the housing will be inspected and operation of all systems tested. A user's manual will be reviewed with the occupants. Deficiencies will be noted and revisions inspected for compliance.

The experience from writing the design brief, providing quality control and the commissioning will be documented as input to the Guide to Cost Effective Designs [3] and the Workshops [5]

The above documented experience will be reported during final Task workshops for homebuilders.

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Measurement and Evaluation

Lead: Germany


The objective of this subtask is to evaluate the performance data from housing projects existing at the Task beginning. Laboratory testing of innovative components and systems and monitoring the demonstration projects will also be carried out in this subtask.

Overview of Results

  • Performance data from projects existing at the Task begin, evaluated and reported for the documentation co-lead by Subtask B / Design.
  • Test performance data from components and systems evaluated and reported in the Guide to Cost Effective Design [3].
  • Performance data from the Task demonstration housing for the Press Kits [4].

Activities leading to results

From the ca. 40 housing projects identified during the Task Definition Phase, the best projects will be selected for detailed evaluation of available monitoring and simulation results. The most significant performance data will be re-calibrated to a common units basis and presented in Marketable Solar Sustainable Housing (2).

Laboratory testing: 
Key components will be tested under controlled laboratory conditions and results incorporated in the Guide to Cost Effective Design (3). Task demonstration housing will be monitored using a common monitoring protocols. Displays of monitoring output will inform visitors of the energy concept and momentary performance.

Monitoring of demonstration projects: 
During the construction of the demonstration projects a detailed monitoring plan will be completed, considering also the key parameters simulated in the analysis work of Subtask B. Upon completion of construction the projects will be monitored. Results will be evaluated and summarized for the Press Kits (4) and presented at the national Workshops (5) after the conclusion of the Task.