Interview with Jack Laken

President of Termobuild Canada [ ,] in Toronto, engineer Jack Laken [ ] has long been a missionary of passive heating and cooling of buildings. The question is: How well are we listening?

1. You describe Termobuild as the “Specialists in Thermal Mass and Energy Storage”. What does that mean?

We bridge the gap that exists in the market for energy saving with both precision engineering and advanced systems management controls designed to capture, store and release free and abundant natural heating and cooling energy upon demand. The process whereby energy is harvested and saved for future use is based on the scientific principle of thermal mass.
Some refer to energy storage as the Holy Grail of construction. Using energy storage takes full advantage of both financial and energy efficiency. Most jurisdictions offer off-peak energy pricing to help customers save money.

2. Has this system got a track record?

We have many installations that usually deliver top performance compared to a portfolio of buildings. In the category of educational facilities one of our school projects was rated #1 in a survey of the 500 best energy performers.

3. How does it work?

Termobuild’s method seamlessly ties into building blueprints  in the preconstruction phase. By integrating our system with the building fabric we transform dormant concrete floors into powerful energy storage batteries. Our intelligent energy management system balances the supply of energy while relying on significantly smaller HVAC equipment. The system’s added resilience to climate change and its built-in passive survival elements ensures its reliability in extreme weather conditions and power failures.
The activation of dormant hollow-core concrete slabs is actually a very simple process once it has been strategically designed and implemented. The system will basically run itself with little to no intervention required.

4. Can you use the system in all types of buildings?

Our system has been successfully applied in a variety of educational, medical, office and even custom residential projects. It is extremely well suited for high occupancy facilities such as nursing homes, retirement communities and large-scale retail stores such Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart or Ikea.

5. There is more interest in passive design and the use of free heating and cooling. Can Termobuild take advantage of this?

Of course passive design and free heating and cooling are attractive features for any building. Our solution provides all of these advantages while elevating the benefits to another level – with ventilation at the epicenter of our system, fresh air is constantly being introduced into buildings to provide a clean and healthier indoor environment.
Thermal energy storage reduces or eliminates the need for conventionally larger and bulkier equipment. In addition, concrete floors do not have any moving parts so applying hollow-core floors as integrated radiant heating/cooling panels and energy storage batteries does not require any maintenance other than conventional duct cleaning. The result is a capital savings on equipment plus long-term operating and maintenance costs.

6. How has the market received it?

The system has been widely applied in Ontario at universities, colleges, schools, medical facilities and office buildings. Currently there is much buzz about our system in the U.S. and we are primed for expansion in 2015.