A group of Concordia and McGill students are heading to China to show off their design for an energy efficient home, a project that’s 18 months in the making.

The group, comprised of students from a variety of faculties, including engineering, design and architecture, are taking part in the 2018 Solar Decathalon, a competition between universities around the world to design the most sustainable home.

“The first strategy is to limit our energy demand,” said McGill architecture student Ben Wareing. “We have high insulation, we have thermal bridging, our home is extremely air tight (with a) high efficiency EIV system, high performance doors and windows.”

The focus is on harvesting solar energy to reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

“Instead of using oil and water and other resources, we can use something new – the sun,” said the project’s communications manager and Concordia student Sophie Jemtrud.

The project didn’t just teach lessons on sustainability, but also teamwork.

“You learn how different students think differently in different faculties,” said McGill architecture student Sarah Ives. “They approach from different angles and they look at things in a different way.”

The house, which was constructed on Concordia’s Loyola campus, is the sole Canadian entry into the contest, in which they’ll be judged on energy performance, air quality, water consumption and other metrics.

“For the competition, we need to simulate everyday consumption,” said Wareing. “We need to cook two meals, we need to drive an electric car around and we need to generate enough energy to charge it.”

After 18 months of building, the team will dismantle the house in the fall to ship it to China. Once there, they’ll have just 18 days to redo all that work.

“We only have 18 days in China, so we used the summer to make mistakes and to learn about the construction by actually doing it one-to-one,” said Jemtrud. “Hopefully, when we get to China, we can put it together easily and it will be a smooth process.”

Quebec Energy Minister Pierre Arcand has toured the house and says it’s proof the province has much to offer when it comes to sustainable technology.

“Quebec is a place where you need to export goods, but you need to export your technology, your innovation,” he said.