The Guardian just published an interesting article about the world's first Active House. An Active House, as compared to a super low-energy Passive House, is a highly efficient home that captures more energy than the occupants need for heat and power. In particular, this Denmark Active House should generate enough electricity over 30 years to cancel out the energy costs of building it. And it operates like a machine: a computer monitors the temperature and climate of the interior and opens, closes, and adjusts windows accordingly.
While still new(ish) in the U.S., Passive House is dominant overseas — probably due to its emphasis on actually reducing the amount of energy used by a house. Design of the building, rather than add-on technology, is key with Passive Houses. When all is said and done, Passive Houses require little or no energy for heating and cooling. But as The Guardian article points out, occupants of Passive Houses tend to buy supplemental heating equipment.
Thus, it seems that the Active House is somewhat of a response to what is happening with Passive Houses. Sure, an Active House will be super energy efficient, and the design will contribute to the home's efficiency (and reducing energy use), but after that, solar panels, solar thermal, etc., bridges the gap to generate more power than is used by the occupants. It's a positive energy or resource positive building.
I'm still researching other aspects of this high-tech home, but as a point of interest, by today's exchange rate, it cost about $788,000 to build. I'll also update the article upon finding more images.
[+] Light years ahead by The Guardian.
Photo credit: Morten Fauerby for The Guardian.