Last year we mentioned this ultra-green Active House in Denmark. Even with all the windows, it's paradoxically efficient enough to capture more energy than the occupants need for heat and power. In fact, over 40 years, the idea is that surplus energy will offset the energy required for construction and materials, too. It's a step beyond zero net energy or even Passive House.
The Active House has a home energy dashboard, while triple-glazed windows, super insulation, and smart sunshades keep energy use down. When energy can't be minimized, solar thermal kicks in and grid-tied solar panels generate additional energy. There’s 72 square feet of solar thermal and 540 square feet of solar panels, according to Dwell.
You'll note that the home cost about $750,000 with all its high tech elements, but it turns out the family that tested it will leave the home with what seems like a mixed reaction. They learned a lot and didn’t feel like they were sacrificing anything to save energy.
On the other hand, Active House was too bright (and too hot) at times requiring the installation of manually operated blinds. Also, a bit of privacy was exchanged for natural lighting, creating somewhat of a fish bowl situation. Lastly, the Sorensens had to adjust to the dashboard interface and technical hiccups resulted in “constant visits” from technicians.
Dwell tells the whole story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Seems like current technology can reduce the environmental impact of modern living in many ways, but the bright green silver bullet still needs some tweaking going forward.
Photo credit: Jens Passoth and Dwell.