OCH’s Presland Net-Zero  Project Serves as a Template for Future Deep Energy Retrofits

Written by: Jennifer McIntosh and Daniel Dicaire, Ottawa Community Housing

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.

Construction on the project was completed in the fall of 2021.

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.

Federal funding is provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Infrastructure – Energy Efficient Buildings Program. This program supports the development and implementation of building codes for existing buildings and new net-zero energy-ready buildings through research, development and demonstration projects. CanmetENERGY-Ottawa is also collaborating with OCHC to monitor the performance of the retrofit, as well as providing ongoing research on Prefabricated Exterior Energy Retrofits.

This project has addressed many years of capital repairs while also improving the interior comfort of the unit and eliminating GHGs emissions.

How does it work?

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.

You can watch our video about the project on our YouTube channel.

The insulated, 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 was 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.

Real-time monitoring allows OCH to track the benefits and savings of this project.

What does it mean for tenants?

“It’s so nice now I want to invite everyone over. It makes my house more beautiful and more nice than before,” one tenant said.

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.


The PEER project has been selected as part of the Clean50 Top Projects Awards. It is an honour to be recognized by Delta Management’s Clean50 Award Program for recognizing sustainability leaders. The PEER Pilot Project was the first panelized, net-zero retrofit of its kind in Canada and it is an important step towards improving the energy efficiency of affordable housing.

Dan Dicaire, OCH’s Manager of Sustainability and Conservation, received the Young Energy Professional of The Year from the Association of Energy Professionals for Canada in 2020, in part because of his work on project such as PEER Presland.

What’s next? 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.Thanks to $300 million in funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for capital repairs – a portion of which is allocated for projects that improve energy efficiency.  This funding will tackle the first 25 percent 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.

Are you interested in learning more about this great project? If so, consider joining Daniel Dicaire as he shares more details of this case study and answers questions at the FREE AEE Canada East webinar scheduled for April 22, 2022.

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