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First Press Release for 100k house

by Chad Ludeman on November 15, 2007 · 6 comments

in Press and News,press release

We released the first official press release for the 100k house project today. Check it out at the following link for more info:

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Geoff DiMasi November 15, 2007 at 4:49 pm

This is a fantastic project.

I am excited to follow the progress.

2 Micah Hanson November 15, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Passive heating and cooling shouldn’t cost a dime extra because these strategies can be accomplished by thoughtful and strategic placement of fenestration. I would almost put those in the “need” column.

For passive cooling, the simplest method when you cannot rely on regular wind direction and speed (I assume this will be urban infill/rowhome so site orientation is limited) is to design the stair or your double height space so it utilizes the stack effect. You just have to figure out how to get operable windows that are either physically accessible or remotely operable at the highest point of the home. Open these windows along with some windows or doors on the lower level, and voila, warm air rises sucking outside air into the lower windows creating a cooling breeze. It’s a little more complicated than this (there are some fluid dynamic concepts to consider), but this is the basic idea.

3 chad November 15, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Agreed. I feel like it would be relatively easy and cheap to rig a simple automation system that would regulate the opening and closing of a few windows in select positions as you indicated based on the indoor and outdoor temperatures and humidity levels.

It may also benefit us to lift the slab up a few feet rather than to put the slab on grade but we’ll have to weigh the costs.

One hope is that we may be able to eliminate a cooling system altogether (if passive cooling can be achieved) and spend the savings on a passive hot water system connected to radiant heating in the ground floor slab.

4 Micah Hanson November 15, 2007 at 9:33 pm

There is a strident minority that would consider a new home without a mechanical cooling system. Certainly, a lot of people in the city go without – those that live in older buildings. At the same time, if optimum comfort for most people is a goal, then I don’t know that I would recommend eliminating the cooling system. Most of North America’s climate is simply not very ameniable to passive cooling during the dog days of summer – especially to modern thermal comfort expectations.

The worst case scenario would be the couple that buys the home and realizes they aren’t quite as committed to energy conservation as they thought. Forgoing the AC seemed great until the hot and humid nights in Philly set in. They then start installing window units throughout the house. I think the best strategy is to rely on a superior exterior envelope, simplify and minimize duct runs, and go with the smallest unit possible that is only used when absolutely necessary. I think the type of person that would buy this house would be very in tune with this idea.

In the same vein, I have found from past experience that home automation systems seem very simple but the ultimate price tag can be outrageous. The components aren’t necessarily expensive but the installation costs that must include a certain amount of commissioning and testing can run up the price.

There is something to be said for low-tech solutions that require the occupant to be truly engaged in the “respiration” of their home and understanding the natural processes such as heat exchange. Part of knowing your home becomes knowing which windows to open during certain times of the year and certain times of the day.

Once more R&D money get dumped into new energy sources and conservation technologies, I think we’ll see more affordable home automation systems that are literally “plug and play.”

5 chad November 16, 2007 at 12:40 am

I agree that no cooling system could be a tough sell and in the end we will most likely end up with, as you say, the smallest system necessary for temporary needs. I also agree that off the shelf automation systems are expensive now but that is not what I am suggesting.

I am suggesting a simple micro-controller similar to what is used in commercial applications that can be purchased for around $300. Once you have that there is a bit of extra wiring that will be needed and some clever interpretation of some schematics. Couple that with a few electric windows that can be hooked to the controller and you have a home made automation system for under $1K. I’m sure I’m over simplifying things but someone more clever than I with electronics could probably pull it off if they were up to the challenge.

In order to meet our costs targets while still offering innovative design and modern technology we will need to devise custom solutions like this.

Having said all this, in the end I’m sure we will be telling the homeowner how great it is that they are intimately involved in the low tech system of opening and closing strategically placed windows themselves to aid in passively cooling the house. :)

Great comments Micah!

6 caroline November 16, 2007 at 9:29 pm

this is really an amazing project! I can’t wait to keep an eye on it. I hope this starts a bigger trend in Philadelphia.

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