Hats off to IBACOS and all the sponsors and participating companies that provided funding, products and services for the “Energy Efficiency Lab Home” built in the community of Ohio Township just outside of Pittsburgh. The home was officially opened by IBACOS with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 11, a beautiful, sunny day.
IBACOS is a research organization with one of its goals being to make homes actually self sufficient in terms of energy. Attending the opening of the lab home, I was somewhat skeptical of this lofty goal, but was truly amazed by the time I left.
The house utilizes some of America’s most energy-efficient building products and systems, including Gorell R-5 Energy Star qualified windows, geothermal heating, solar energy panels, state-of-the-art lighting and so much more. Some of what I observed represents new paradigms in home building. I’m not an engineer, but I always figured engineers knew what they were doing by placing heating and cooling ducts on outside walls of homes. Not in this house. Small, round plastic ducts have replaced the kind of metal vents we’re all familiar with – and they’re on the inside walls of the lab home.
There’s more. Instead of intermittent blasts of heat and cool air, the warm or cool air emitted from these ducts is pushed through constantly and gently, in low volume. You can barely feel the air moving and you can’t even hear the heating and cooling system.
I had asked about concerns for how “tight” this home is. I’ve heard that a home that’s too closed up can invite problems involving mold and mildew. These issues have also been addressed in building this home. The Lab Home features an air re-circulation system that cleans and re-circulates air in the house.
Another thing that’s impressive about the Lab Home is that it was designed to be a home that’s affordable to most Americans. It isn’t at this point, because of all the time, research and experimenting that was involved, but homes just like this one will be affordable – hopefully some day very soon. If you look at this Lab Home, you’ll see that it’s not unlike other modest, new homes in the plan.
If you would like to see or learn more about the Lab Home, visit this web site --http://www.theresearchalliance.org/111110-lab-home-ribbon-cutting.aspx
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