Ben Hildebrandt


Video of the Researcher

Lab name




Full name

Ben Hildebrandt


Building better load bearing and insulated walls

Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials

I want to improve the quality of homes in North America.

The technology is available to make homes more durable, efficient, comfortable, and affordable to operate and maintain.

We are however in an industry with a vast majority of contractors, builders, and developers focused on profit. There are a few out there who have the homeowners’ best interests in mind but some of these are lacking a knowledge of durable and sustainable building techniques and available products.

Rounding out the equation is the homeowner. Most homeowners just want a home to live in and are unaware of when corners are being cut or when drastic improvements to their home are possible.

My goal is to educate both homeowners and the construction industry as to:
– What the true definition of a sustainable home is
– Proper, durable building practices
– The products and building practices available to make any new or existing home more sustainable.

Once we are all on the same page and know the possibilities we will see a drastic improvement in the quality and sustainability of our homes.

Describe your research

Describe your research: Constructing better thermal insulating walls
One of the funnest piece of equipment we have here in that area is our wall testing
structural rack in behind me. With this we get to test new methods of constructing walls and see how they compare structurally to our standard existing wall construction methods such as 2 by 6 exterior wall at 16 and 24 inches on center.

We’ve tested a few different wall systems in here thus far. Right now we have it configured for testing some window header beams. One of the things with existing homes right now in existing construction methods is the methods of construction uses wood. That wood provides a bit of a break in the thermal performance of the walls.

I’m trying to make things more efficient and higher performance. We’re trying to reduce the amount of structure within the walls and improve the amount of insulation while still maintaining that structural capacity of the wall systems to make sure these homes aren’t going to fall down after we build with new methods. Testing with equipment such as this allows us to work with those new systems and verify how they will perform before constructing a whole home with those methods.

Describe your research: Constructing better load bearing walls

The beauty of this assembly we have here is its capacity to test a lot of different things. We have the beam going across with several rams: hydraulically powered rams on there. We can raise this beam up, we can test a wall up to twelve feet by 12 feet in size full standing, and then we can also lay that wall flat and put structural loads onto the face of that wall to replicate wind loading which is one of the main things we test for it and looking for the strength of the wall system.

The other beauty of this rack system is that it’s fully computer-controlled and automated. We get many data points every second while we’re doing our tests. We can test deflection in many different directions and see how its performing at given loads.

With the computer monitoring we can test many different ways and the way of rack is constructed we can adopt to do a variety of different tests. It’s one of the one of the things we pride ourselves in here at Green Building Technologies is our ability to adapt to whatever testing needs are required to help bring these new technologies to bring these new technologies to market.

Describe your research: Constructing more innovative container homes

One of the big things we did with them was to analyze the performance of this
container home in terms of thermal efficiency and air leakage. We provided input as to how they can make their next version better and more efficient.

Specifically we looked at the application of prefabricated container homes for use in
northern climates such as the Northwest Territories are in the Yukon where typically materials and crews are very expensive to get up in those locations and so they’re looking at the business case of being able to do homes such as these that are entirely fabricated and ready to live in Calgary and just shipped up and placed on site up in  locations like that.

We helped them a lot with how we can design a 20-foot container or a larger 40-foot container which would have two bedrooms in it and a bathroom. How we can fabricate something like that, have it meet installation requirements through climates up north but also still be very cost-effective and competitive in relation to standard building techniques in those areas.


Institution name

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Type of institution