Eco-Friendly Home Building
Innovations Boost Energy Efficiency
by John D. Ivanko and Liam Kivirist
Smart, innovative, technological breakthroughs are making buildings more energy-efficient, healthier to live in and highly attuned to our connected world.
“Homeowners continue to be interested in green building options because they help foster a healthier, more comfortable and affordable home—and it’s good for the environment,” says Dan Chiras, Ph.D., of Gerald, Missouri, founding director of the Evergreen Institute and author of The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy.
“Structural insulated panels in walls, roofs and floors dramatically reduce air leakage and heat loss through thermal bridging, or heat conduction through framing materials, facilitating a more energy-efficient home that can maintain comfortable temperatures with lower fuel bills than a conventionally built home,” advises Chiras. Find manufacturers via the Structural Insulated Panel Association at sips.org.
Efficient Heat Recovery
“The energy recovery ventilator, or ERV, ensures fresh air in tightly sealed homes with little heat loss,” adds Chiras. The UltimateAir RecoupAerator, a whole-house air filtration ERV, also flushes out harmful airborne pollutants commonly found in residences, replacing them with clean, fresh, healthy air.
“Many solar energy users want to monitor their system using their computer, tablet or smartphone through advances in energy software,” says Allison Lindquist, with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), which hosts the Annual Energy Fair and sustainable living event every June in Custer, Wisconsin. “One highlight last year was PacketFlux Technologies’ SiteMonitor.”
“When a homeowner views their energy monitoring data, they quickly begin seeing the correlation between their energy consumption and production,” adds Leon Dulak, the MREA site manager. “The direct correlation drives them to change how they live and use energy.”
Tesla Motors does more than produce high-end electric cars and solar shingles. The company is also on the cutting edge of future energy storage. Tesla’s new, compact Powerwall 2 battery system, complete with inverter, can power an average two-bedroom home for 24 hours.
Chiras says, “Utilities throughout the nation are cracking down with special fees on solar-home owners that occasionally pull electricity from the grid. I think more people are going to opt to go off-grid or install a Tesla battery to provide nighttime power to preempt this. It’s easier to maintain than a standard lead-acid battery, and should last as long. When its useful life is over, the homeowner returns it to the company.”
“Saltwater-based batteries for homeowners are coming up,” observes Clay Sterling, assistant professor of electrical technology at Kankakee Community College, in Kankakee, Illinois. “The batteries from Aquion Energy are non-toxic, safe and recyclable.” Their Aspen series of aqueous hybrid ion batteries contain neither heavy metals nor toxic chemicals and are non-flammable and non-explosive, adding to their safety.
Building green gets easier with green home plans. The protoype, super-insulated, 970-square-foot NewenHouse sustainable home in Viroqua, Wisconsin, is about 50 percent smaller and more than 80 percent more energy efficient than the average American home. The plans-and-services package for the Passive House-certified NewenHouse home features double walls for insulation and a super-efficient heat recovery ventilator. Four different home plans are available for houses under 1,000-square feet.
John D. Ivanko is co-author of ECOpreneuring. Liam Kivirist captures the latest technology news on TechSocket.net.