Feb 24, 2011

"Zero House" A Totally Self Sustaining House Concept

This concept is called the Zero House, and it was developed by a couple of architects who attended the Yale School of Architecture. 

Image © Specht Harpman Architects

Image © Specht Harpman Architects

Together, they have a firm called Specht Harpman Architects, with offices in New York City, and Austin, Texas.  The concept is extensively and remarkably well thought-out.  Absolutely no external hookups for electricity, water supply, or waste removal are required.  

It collects and stores up to 2,700 gallons of rainwater in a series of cisterns near the top so that the fixtures below can all be gravity fed, thus requiring no pumps. The water is filtered, then sterilized with UV light.  A 7,000 watt photovoltaic panel system on the roof feed electrons to an extensive battery bank that may not only meet, but potentially exceed the home's electrical requirements. Perhaps there would be a little left over to charge-up the electric car?  

It sleeps four adults and comes equipped with two king sized mattresses.  LED lighting, a Sun-Mar low flush porcelain toilet with remote composting chamber, tons of clever storage, a large flat panel TV, built-in furniture, a full-sized refrigerator, microwave oven, and an induction cook-top in the kitchen are all part of the package. 

Image © Specht Harpman Architects

The designers claim unheard of thermal resistance in the walls, ceilings, and floors of R-58.  Windows are triple glazed, and the whole structure is said to be able to withstand winds of up to 140 MPH.  It is equipped with a super efficient, dual zoned heating and cooling system.  They say that with the battery bank fully charged, the house can run for a week with no sun.

The main drawback to this house, at least from my perspective, is the price.  At $350,000.00, not including land, I know I won't be buying one soon.  On the other hand, one could argue that it is a bargain given that it should not have any utility bills, ever! 

Also, you don't need to figure in the cost of a foundation or site work, because the entire structure is supported on four stainless steel helical posts that allow it to be be erected in a single day in up to five feet of water or on slopes of up to 35 degrees. 

I see this as an idea whose time has come.  Perhaps mass production will eventually allow the cost to drop into a more affordable range.

Living Area
Image © Specht Harpman Architects
Kitchen / Dining Area
Image © Specht Harpman Architects
First Floor Plan
Image © Specht Harpman Architects
Second Floor Plan
Image © Specht Harpman Architects
Section View
Image © Specht Harpman Architects
You can learn much more about this concept by visiting:
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