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PEER – Prefabricated Exterior Energy Retrofit

Developing, testing and validating innovative prefabricated building envelope technologies for retrofitting existing Canadian homes from the exterior.


Canada’s 14.5 million dwellings account for more than one sixth of national energy use and close to 14 percent of Canada’s energy-related GHG emissions.Footnote 1 In retrofit programs to date, exterior wall insulation improvements were uncommon, even though walls often account for 25 to 35 percent of the heat loss of a typical existing home.Footnote 2 As Canadian jurisdictions introduce carbon pricing and policies targeting net-zero energy housing, significant levels of investment can be anticipated in housing energy retrofits in the coming years. This project seeks to develop technologies and processes for applying prefabricated components to retrofit existing homes and buildings from the exterior. This approach promises to dramatically improve energy efficiency and enhance aesthetics while reducing the cost and complexity of a conventional retrofit.

Research Methodology

Guided by an advisory committee to provide technical guidance and market intelligence, the project team will collaborate with industry partners  to create technology specifications and build and test prototype prefabricated panels. The research will investigate and refine the workflow for converting 3D scans done on site into digital files for use by manufacturers to build custom panels for specific retrofit projects. Field tests of prototype prefabricated wall systems will be conducted to evaluate thermal and moisture performance as well as cost effectiveness.  Finally a technology development and deployment plan will be generated for commercialization of prefabricated wall systems for deep energy retrofits.

Vision, Goal and Objectives

The overarching vision of the PEER project is to enable the Canadian manufacturing and renovation industries to commercialize new prefabricated façade retrofit technology. The project goal therefore is to develop a process for conducting such retrofits and to prototype and test panelized retrofit kits. Project objectives include:

  • Develop specifications and prototypes of prefabricated retrofit wall systems with a minimum RSI of 4.2 (R-24);
  • Work with manufacturing partners to fabricate prototypes;
  • Link with renovators/builders to install, test and measure thermal, air leakage and moisture performance of different types of retrofit wall assemblies for laboratory tests and field tests on various housing types;
  • Develop a technology roadmap for commercialization and liaise with industry partners and renovators to establish dedicated service offerings for exterior deep energy retrofits. 

Tasks and Timeframes

High level project tasks and targeted completion dates are listed below.

Phase Tasks Targeted Completion
  1. Collect data and establish consortium
  • Benchmark current retrofit best-practices to establish cost and performance targets
  • Convene Advisory Committee
  • Establish Consortium of Industry Partners and other stakeholders

Spring 2017

  1. Analyze building stock, develop value proposition and business strategy
  • Analyze existing stock energy use, cost and GHGs by  vintage and geography
  • Review of international projects undertaking exterior home retrofits
  • Develop innovation and business strategy

Summer 2017

  1. Develop concept and evaluate
  • Develop digital workflow including building capture, Building Information Model (BIM), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)

Fall 2017

  • Develop panel concepts and designs
  • Conduct heat, air and moisture analysis

Winter 2018

  • Evaluate hygrothermal and energy performance

Spring 2019

  1. Demonstrate technology and  commercialize
  • Conduct controlled field test at CanmetENERGY  Ottawa labs

October 2020

  • Develop cost / benefit analysis, commercialization roadmap and industry guidelines for installers

March 2023

Potential benefits

Recent intiatives in Europe indicate that prefabricated exterior retrofits offer a significant new market. This represents economic opportunities for panelizers and contractors alike. Homeowners and housing providers stand to benefit from reduced operating costs, improved comfort and improved curb appeal. Finally, deep energy retrofits promise to significantly reduce GHG emissions in the existing housing stock.


For further information, contact Mark Carver, Housing & Buildings R&D, Buildings and Renewables Group, CanmetENERGY:

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