Energy-Efficient Prototype Home Can Power Itself

September 26, 2012

green building

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a branch of the United States Commerce Department, has a new project. They recently showed off their new facility, built to resemble a house, which is expected to create enough energy to power itself over the course of a year. NIST intends to show that an average home can do the same.

A year of work has been put into the “house” already, and those familiar with the project indicate that the next step involves figuring out how to apply what has been learned to residential properties. The key, however, is affordability; the costs associated with such a move cannot outweigh the potential savings. If done right, though, families across the United States will be able to use less energy and see a reduction in their monthly utility bills. In addition, the environment will benefit from less pollution.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology built a facility that looks very similar to a house that a typical American family would reside in. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and two levels. However, during the construction phase, LEED Platinum standards were followed closely. These standards were established by the United States Green Building Council and incorporated both energy-efficient building techniques and green technology like solar water heating. In addition, all of the appliances that were installed are energy-efficient as well.

While no one will actually reside in the facility, sophisticated software will help NIST simulate what it would be like if four people were there on a daily basis. For instance, the sink will run water periodically throughout the day, the toilets will flush, and lights will switch off and on at different intervals. Home solar panel kits, a solar photovoltaic system, is in place to support both the appliances and the lights, and if more power is generated than is needed, a smart electric meter will ship it off to a nearby utility grid. If the weather isn’t cooperating, and the photovoltaic system is rendered useless, the grid will power the home.

NIST expects that the project will help determine if residential homes can successfully embrace the same type of technology and construction strategies that were used in their prototype. The facility may also give riseto new ideas and encourage others to act quickly to implement them. In a few years, residential homes and complexes like the Rockville Centre Apartments may be much more energy-efficient than ever before.

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology



Chris Keenan

is a green and general blog writer. He also maintains a personal cooking blog.