Loveleen Atwal, M.A.Sc. 2014
Supervisor: Dr. Rodrigo Mora
Full thesis available in the BCIT Thesis Repository
Aboriginal families are significantly more likely to live in poor housing conditions than the general population. Furthermore, in Canada, most of these houses are often located in colder regions, which challenge the construction, the indoor air, and the energy consumption. Poor housing is also related to poor child health outcomes. The overarching goal of this research is to develop a health monitoring system integral to homes that acts as preventive early warning system before problems become serious and sometimes irreversible. The underlying premise is that higher value can be gained from a system that combines different types of monitored data, such as indoor, construction, and energy, in building awareness and enabling better informed decision-making by homeowners.
This paper presents the results from a pilot study to generate preliminary knowledge on the key challenges faced in attempting to develop and deploy such a system in remote regions. In the study, the indoor environment and the construction moisture of three new homes from the urban Squamish First Nations reserve in Vancouver are being monitored. The construction is typical of local urban reserve homes. The indoor parameters monitored are relative humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide. The construction parameters monitored are the envelope moisture content and temperature.
Expectedly, preliminary indoor environmental data indicate the houses are performing well. However, warning signals from the construction need close attention. Furthermore, occupants, unaware of the energy penalties, seem to be driving higher ventilation rates. Consequently, validated energy simulation models were used to inform occupants on the price of excessive ventilation habits. Squamish home builders were given a performance report, with alternatives to address current issues and improve performance in future houses. The results from the pilot study demonstrate the value of a holistic monitoring system integral to homes. Further work is required to address the practical aspects of the technologies involved and to elaborate on the knowledge to implement a monitoring platform to make the systems operational on a wider scale.