Designing for better novice assembly: towards energy efficient novice building

This research is about technologies for ‘DIY’ or ‘novice’ home-construction. The research asks if high energy efficiency homes could be built by novice and non-expert builders. Energy efficient construction is an increasingly expert craft: with specialized knowledge, tools, and practices now required to achieve excellent building energy performance, this presents barriers to building efficiency for novice builders. This research will identify the barriers and opportunities for evolving more energy efficient novice building processes by working with Habitat for Humanity (an organization that specifically leverages novice labor) and Passive House 43 (a Toronto based energy efficient home designer) to understand Habitat’s current construction practices, and how their use of novice labour shapes energy efficiency in the completed homes. Using human centered design and analysis methodologies (such as stakeholder interviews, process blueprinting, and builder/resident journey mapping), researchers will work alongside the design and construction team for a live Habitat for Humanity project build to envision feasible possibilities for more energy efficient novice processes. The results of this research will form a set of design and process recommendations that can be used on future Habitat for Humanity projects to address the need for affordable energy efficient home-building.

Faculty Supervisor:

Jonathan Enns


Natalie Kopp


Passive House 43 Architecture


Architecture and design


Professional, scientific and technical services


University of Waterloo



Current openings

Find the perfect opportunity to put your academic skills and knowledge into practice!

Find Projects