World's First Active House in Denmark


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.

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  • Sea Wolf

    Very cool concept. Thanks. But just to poke some holes in it to stimulate discussion: What sort of economic activity has to take place to generate the $788,000 it takes to build this baby? How much energy does that effort take? And why are we so fixated on houses that use net zero energy? Energy is just flow. Nothing inherently wrong with energy flowing through human activities or human constructs. There’s no such thing as life of any kind on this planet that does not “use” energy. The problem is how much we’re using and what we’re doing with it. And that we’re using up too much stored energy from fossil fuels. And of course that we’re producing too much C02. We need to “use” a LOT less energy as we go about our existence, no question. But whether any given house nets out at zero over 30 years strikes me as an intriguing but largely irrelevant point.

    • Brian N.

      I agree with your overall point regarding conservation, but I believe that in the future “active” houses like this will play a large role in SUPPORTING the electrical infrastructure. Especially if electric cars are to become mainstream. Imagine if every house produced energy, not just used it?

      Obviously each house cannot cost $788k or this will not work, though! LOL

  • Portland Real Estate

    Sounds pretty cool, although I personally like the idea of passive houses better. A home that is just designed to stay cool or warm. Though, an active greenhouse would be really nice. On hot days with lots of direct sunlight it would be nice if my upper vents opened automatically to keep the heat under a certain level and get some fresh air in there. Tomatoes get particularly unhappy in a too hot greenhouse.

    • Pete Bursnall

      Just buy some automatic, wax cylinder window openers, easy and the tomatoes love it.

  • Susan Cook

    Thanks for highlighting this new house design. Very interesting drawings and data can be found on the sponsoring company’s website :

  • Jaya

    In the light of such a discussion, it is interesting to note that an organisation in India called BCIL (Biodiversity Conservation India Limited) is busy producing sustainable communities that are highly efficient in water, energy and waste management. Their T Zed Homes ( for example is a community that is 100 per cent sustainable in water and uses many energy efficient technologies.

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