Monday, November 1, 2010

Ultra-Efficient Danish Home Produces More Energy Than It Needs

This striking modern home located near Aarhus in Denmark packs an amazing array of green building strategies into a small footprint, allowing it to actually produce more power than it consumes. Designed and built to be super energy-efficient, smart, eco-friendly, and powered by the sun, the zero-plus Home For Life is an experiment in creating the sustainable house of the future. A family has been living in the home now for 14 months and reporting on their activities and the home's performance in order to improve the design for future iterations.

The Home for Life is one of eight experimental buildings created by VKR Holdings to develop the sustainable home of the future. The home is designed using the Active House principle, which has a strong focus on energy-efficient design, daylighting and renewable energy generation. Every room has at least two walls with windows on it, so the home makes great use of natural daylighting. During the cool seasons, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery is used so the cold air can be heated without the use of additional energy

The home's windows cover 40 percent of the total floor area, which is twice the area of a traditional house. An Active House takes similar principles of Passive House design, but incorporates more daylighting and utilizes "smart home" devices to optimize the use of energy. It is one thing to design and build a smart and energy-efficient home, but little research has been done yet to see how livable they are. Data collected from this experiment is very important to future designs.

The family reports on how comfortable they are with the automatic controls -- when the climate was just right for them, and when the controls made it too hot or too cold.The south-facing slate roof includes the photovoltaic system, solar hot water system and skylights. The home's energy systems are all optimized and work together to minimize energy use. The roof is key to the design -- it incorporates renewable energy generation, skylights for natural lighting, and operable windows for cooling.

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