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Harvard to Embark on HouseZero Project

Friday, June 9, 2017

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A pre-1940s timber-framed house is getting the ultimate upgrade.

The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design announced the retrofitting of its old headquarters building as “HouseZero.”

Images: Snøhetta

The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design announced the retrofitting its old headquarters building as “HouseZero.”

The project aims to demonstrate “how to transform a challenging building stock into a prototype for ultra-efficiency, rapidly reducing the level of reliance on energy-intensive technology while simultaneously creating comfortable indoor environments,” according to the website of Snøhetta (Oslo, Norway), the lead architect on the project.

“Before now, this level of efficiency could only be achieved in new construction,” said Ali Malkawi, professor of architectural technology at the GSD, founding director of the CGBC and the creator of the HouseZero project. “We want to demonstrate what’s possible, show how this can be replicated almost anywhere, and solve one of the world’s biggest energy problems—inefficient existing buildings.”

Design Goals

The team essentially wants to create a house that will adjust itself around its environment in order to maintain a comfortable living temperature inside. Their targets include 100 percent natural ventilation, 100 percent daylight autonomy, near-zero energy required for heating and cooling and zero carbon emissions. Facets of the energy efficient concepts (led by Sweden’s Skanska Technology) include:

  • The current HVAC system will be replaced with a thermal mass and a ground source heat pump for extreme conditions;
  • A solar vent will instigate buoyancy-driven ventilation; and
  • Triple-glazed windows will employ natural cross ventilation through a manual and automated systems that monitors for temperature, humidity and air quality.


The team essentially wants to create a house that will adjust itself around its environment in order to maintain a comfortable living temperature inside.

The building will also have an experimental lab hardwire to the building’s exchange system to enable researchers to test, swap and optimize new technologies, facades and materials.

“All components of the building are censored to generate data that will allow the building to adjust itself and fuel CGBC research focused on actual data and simulated environments,” said Malkawi.

The construction is estimated to take about seven to nine months and will be managed by Columbia Construction (North Reading, Massachusetts). No cost estimates were released.

   

Tagged categories: Green building; Net Zero Energy ; Retrofits

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