Concordia University



Andreas K Athienitis, Eng., PhD, FCAE, FASHRAE, FIBPSA

Professor, Building, Civil, and Environmental Engineering

Director, Concordia Centre for Zero Energy Building Studies (EV 15.101)

Office: S-EV 15107 
Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex,
1515 St. Catherine W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 8791
Website(s): Solar Buildings


Dr. Andreas K. Athienitis is a Professor of Building Engineering at Concordia University.  He is the Scientific Director of the NSERC Smart Net-zero Energy Buildings Strategic Research Network (SNEBRN: 2011-2016)and the founding Director of the NSERC Solar Buildings Research Network (SBRN:2005-2010). He holds a Senior NSERC/Hydro Quebec Industrial Research Chair and a Concordia University Research Chair, Tier I. He obtained a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering (1981) from the University of New Brunswick and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo (1985). He was profiled as one of 25 top innovators in Quebec by Actualité Magazine (Sep. 15, 2009). Heis a Fellow is of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Fellow of IBPSA and Fellow of ASHRAE.

His research expertise is in solar energy engineering, energy efficiency, optimization and control of building thermal systems, buildingintegrated photovoltaics and daylighting. He is the author/co-author of more than 200 refereed papers, three books on building thermal and solar modelling and design, and more recently an advanced book on modelling and design of net-zero energy buildings.  He is a recipient of seven best paper awards,including ASHRAE Willis H. Carrier award. He has served as Associate Editor ofthe ISES Journal "Solar Energy" and in ASHRAE Technical Committees.He has received several awards, including an NSERC-ADRIQ (Association pour le développement de la recherche et de l'innovation du Québec) Celebrate Partnerships Award in 2012. His international activities include subtask leaderfor IEA SHC/ECBCS Task 40/Annex 52 focused on net-zero energy solar buildings,and contributing author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)for Direct Solar Energy. He led several innovative projects demonstrating building-integrated photovoltaic/thermal systems such as the John Molson School of Business building at Concordia and the energy design of the first near net-zero energy demonstration house in Canada, the EcoTerra.

He has received more than $22 M of research grants as P.I. including approximately $14 M for the SBRN and SNEBRN research programs (2005-2016). In 2011 he led the development of the $4.6M Solar Simulator and Environmental Chamber (SSEC) laboratory at Concordia. He has supervised over 70 students at all levels, eight of whom have become professors in Canada, the US and overseas. He has served both as Graduate Program Director and Undergraduate Program Director of Building Engineering, a unique academic program at Concordia. He is the founding Director of the Concordia Centre for Zero Energy Building Studies (2012), in which he leads a group of about 10 researchers and 50 graduate students and staff towards national and international initiatives.


  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, May 1985, University of Waterloo, Waterloo Canada
  • B.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, May 1981, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton Canada

Honours and awards

  • Fellow, Canadian Academy of Engineering
  • Fellow, ASHRAE
  • Fellow, IBPSA
  • Concordia University Research Award (Technology, Industry and Environment - Established Category) 2010.
  • Concordia University Research Chair Tier I  (Jan. 2006 – present) – Integration of Solar Energy Systems into Buildings.
  • Willis H. Carrier Best Paper Award from American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (1991).
  • Izaak Walton Killam Post Doctoral Scholarship (University of Alberta, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 1985-87).
  • Commonwealth Scholarship (University of New Brunswick: 1978-81).

Scholarly and professional activities

  • Associate Editor, Solar Energy
  • Appointed to Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) (2009).

  • Member of NSERC Selection Panel for Discovery Grants in Mechanical Engineering, 2009-2012.

  • Member of Canadian Delegation in US-Canada Clean Energy Roundtable Dialogue, Washington, June 2009.

  • Subtask B (Design tools) co-leader, IEA SHC Task 40 / ECBCS Annex 52 “Towards Net-zero Energy Solar Buildings”  (2008 – present)

  • Member of NSERC Selection Panel 2 for Strategic Grants (Energy),  2007 – 2008.

  • Associate Editor, Journal of the Intern. Solar Energy Society "Solar Energy", 1997-2004.

  • Member of the Building Operation Dynamics Technical Committee, and of the Radiant and in-space Convective Heating and Cooling Technical Committee of ASHRAE (2004-2006).

Professional society memberships

  • Member, Order of Engineers of Quebec

  • Member, Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineers

  • Member, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

  • Member, International Solar Energy Society (ISES).

Research interests and activities

Research activities are focused on development and integration of solar energy systems into buildings to generate electricity, useful heat and for daylighting. My long term vision is the realization of solar buildings operating in Canada as integrated advanced technological systems that generate in an average year as much energy as they consume.

A key element of our approach is that solar technologies are integrated in an optimal manner with energy efficiency measures, with the building envelope and with HVAC systems, so the potential energy savings are even higher than separately applying the two approaches and reductions in total cost may be realized.

I am looking for new graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with strong backgrounds in building engineering or civil/mechanical engineering and related fields (applied physics, architectural engineering etc) to work in exciting projects using a new state-of-the-art solar simulator and environmental chamber – an internationally unique laboratory.

Dr. Athienitis with the JMSB solar façade system in the background.

Teaching activities


Design principles of solar buildings, including direct gain, indirect gain and solaria. Analytical and computer models of passive systems. Performance of glazing systems, transparent insulation, and airflow windows. Building-integrated photovoltaic systems. Thermal storage sizing for solar energy
storage; phase-change thermal storage. Thermosyphon collectors. Prevention of overheating, shading systems and natural ventilation.

Depletion of conventional energy sources and emission of greenhouse gases. Principles of renewable energy systems; production of electrical and thermal energy, photovoltaic systems, wind power, fuel cells, hybrid systems. Reduction in carbon dioxide and other emissions. Hydrogen and other forms of energy storage for renewable power production. Integrated energy systems for buildings and automobiles. Small-scale renewable energy systems for buildings; independent versus grid-connected systems.

Production, measurement and control of light. Photometric quantities, visual perception and colour theory. Daylight and artificial illumination systems. Radiative transfer, fixture and lamp characteristics, control devices and energy conservation techniques. Design of lighting systems. Solar energy utilization and daylighting. Integration of lighting systems with mechanical systems for energy conservation and sustainable development. Students will complete a design or research project.

Modelling of building envelope thermal performance. Thermal bridges and stresses. Moisture transfer and accumulation. Thermal storage systems integrated in the building envelope. Advanced glazings and evaluation of window performance. Experimental techniques for performance evaluation of the building envelope; infrared thermography, guarded hot box and calibrated hot box tests.

Student supervision

I am currently supervising 6 Ph.D and 4 M.A.Sc. students, as well as two researchers. Employers of graduated students include Purdue University, Carleton University, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, SNC- Lavalin, Natural Resources Canada – CANMET, Hong Kong Polytechnic and several large engineering design and consulting firms.

Students interested in my projects may contact the Project Administrative Coordinator Lyne Dee or myself.

Research activities

Current projects

Funded by NSERC, NRCan, CMHC, Hydro Quebec and other industries in the SNEBRN Network:

  • Development of innovative photovoltaic-thermal systems and their integration into the building envelope and with HVAC systems;
  • Solar design, modeling and daylight control of perimeter zones in office buildings;
  • Integrated modelling, design and control of direct gain systems with floor heating;
  • Load and demand management in solar-optimized buildings;
  • Modelling and design of net-zero energy solar buildings;
  • Test of novel concepts in a large scale solar simulator – environmental chamber laboratory; this unique laboratory enables testing of solar systems and advanced building envelope components under simulated sunlight and exterior temperatures in the range -40 C to 60 C. This internationally unique lab includes a large scale solar simulator.

Research facilities

Major research facilities of my team are the Solar-Daylighting lab on the 16th floor of the EV building and the newly built Solar simulator – Environmental Chamber Laboratory. The Solar-Daylighting lab and its adjacent atrium as well as the roof of EV and BE will be used for many unique projects of the Network. A variety of equipment has been acquired, including solar instruments, infrared camera, particle image velocimetry system and heat flow meters. Our lab also includes an artificial sky (3 x 3 x 3 m) facility.

The large scale solar simulator shown in the figure below (left) integrated with a two-storey high environmental chamber (right) is a unique facility that will allow the testing and development of building-integrated solar systems and advanced envelope assemblies under a broad range of simulated outdoor temperatures and solar radiation levels.

Demonstration projects

Dr. Athienitis and his students played a key role in the design of the EcoTerra - an innovative solar house built under the EQuilibrium housing demonstration program conducted by CMHC. The house includes roof building-integrated photovoltaic/thermal (BIPV/T) systems designed by Athienitis and his students. Simulation models for research, design and control, as well as innovative whole-house energy systems aimed at achieving net-zero annual energy consumption have been developed.  These systems integrate our BIPV/T designs with existing technologies such as passive solar and ground source heat pumps. A BIPV/T roof based on concepts and designs developed by our group was built as a complete prefabricated module in the factory of our partner Alouette Homes, who received the "Reconnaissance - Recherche et développement en habitation" award of the Quebec Construction Association in 2008 with special mention of our team’s role in the research. This is the first time that a complete roof section is built as a hybrid solar-thermal and electricity generating system (BIPV/T roof), complete with wiring, ducting and ready for assembly with other building modules.

The most recent demonstration project involving a full scale facade-integrated BIPV/T system at the JMSB building of Concordia University received much international attention, including a special program on Discovery Channel. It is the world’s first fully functional architecturally integrated BIPV/T façade to use high efficiency distributed air inlet technology.

Concordia solar simulator testing BIPV/T air collector in horizontal position (can vary tilt angle from vertical to horizontal).
Concordia mobile solar simulator with two-storey high environmental chamber (custom design).
EcoTerra demonstration with BIPV/T system (top roof).


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