Solar Energy & Community Design Lab

The Solar Energy and Community Design Lab (SECD) is a cross-disciplinary research group focusing on the holistic design of energy-efficient, resilient, solar neighbourhoods. This research group aims to not only minimize negative environmental impacts in the built urban environment, but also improve quality of life for residents.

The solar energy design lab aims at exploring design principles in the built environment to enhance the solar capture and utilization in buildings and communities, and improve the energy efficiency of various type of buildings. Solar radiation can be used for passive heating, daylighting, and as renewable energy source for electrical and thermal energy generation, using photovoltaic and solar thermal collectors.

The solar design lab examines design principles that range from high-level design of communities, to building levels.  Community design principles include issues such as exploring patterns of neighborhoods, density, layout of streets and their effects on solar capture and energy performance. Building level design target the shape and layout of various types of buildings (commercial, residential and institutional), and their building envelope.

Through designing neighborhoods and simulating their energy use, researchers at the solar energy design lab aims at establishing how factors such as density, building heights, building footprints and the heterogeneity in building types impact the potential to achieve self-sustained solar communities. The Solar energy lab will be performing studies in different locations in Canada, incorporating differences in climate. Findings from the study will help with the establishment of policy to support development of low carbon solar neighborhoods.

Caroline H-Vermette, PhD (Eng), MS(Eng), MS(Arch), BA (Arch)
Assistant Professor in Architecture, Solar Energy and Community Design Lab


Graduate students (MASc or PhD) with background in building engineering including building envelope, heat transfer, building mechanical systems, building science, building construction and with knowledge of programming are needed to conduct research in the Solar Energy and Community Design Lab (SECDL). Please contact Professor H-Vermette if you have the above background and are interested in researching the above mentioned topics. SECDL offers the opportunity to collaborate with industry partners, to develop industry experience in building sciences, energy efficiency and energy systems, and to tackle issues pertinent to the development of sustainable environment.


PhD Studentship in Environmental Design:
Mixed-Use, Energy-Efficient, Solar Communities

Start date: September 2018 or January 2019

The objective of this fully-supported four-year Ph.D. studentship is to develop novel Design Methodology of Mixed-use, Energy Efficient, Low Carbon, Solar Communities.

The duties of the successful candidate include the following:

  • Research related to improving energy efficiency in building and communities (including methods of energy generation, sharing of energies between buildings, etc.). Research methods might require programming and simulations using advanced energy programs such as EnergyPlus. TRNSYS, etc,
  • Developing models of advanced energy systems for mixed use communities
  • Analysis of energy performance of mixed-use neighborhood patterns. 
  • Writing reports and papers based on the results 

Candidate Selection Criteria
A number of skills are required to conduct this research including knowledge in energy simulations (or capability of developing proficiency in energy simulations), knowledge of basic building system design (building envelope, building mechanical systems, etc.) and computer programming. The following are essential conditions:

  1. Be a new PhD student to the University of Calgary (i.e. not currently enrolled in a University of Calgary PhD program), beginning a doctoral program in September 2016 or January 2019.
  2. Be of the highest caliber (GPA of at least 3.5/4.0, or equivalent, in their last two years of study).

Priority will be given to students with (1) a positive can-do attitude and willingness to work hard, (2) ability for team work, (3) Publications; (4) a demonstrated knowledge in energy modeling, and usage of advanced simulation tools such as Energy Plus and (4) experience in computer programing . 

Good communication skills in written and spoken English are essential.

To Apply
Please send applications and enquiries to Dr. Caroline Hachem-Vermette ( including:

  • A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date
  • A sample of publications (conference paper, journal paper)
  • Contact details for three academic or  professional referees
  • A personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining your suitability for the work

The ideal candidate has a background in building engineering or mechanical engineering.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.



Caroline H-Vermette, PhD (Eng), MS(Eng), MS(Arch), BA (Arch)
Assistant Prof, EVDS, Solar Energy and Community Design Lab