First-year results of an experiment in the family home of the future now available
The Simonsen family in Århus has just moved out of the family home of the future after taking part for a year in the experiment Home for Life.
Home for Life has provided in-valuable learning for the building sector for how to address the challenge of building sustainable homes of the future
The Simonsens, a family of five, have loaded the last moving boxes onto the removals lorry and said goodbye to a year of family life in the future. For a year, they were human guinea pigs for the experiment Home for Life, testing a so-called Active House. The house saves energy and electricity, has a comfortable indoor climate and is an attractive place to live that fits in with its surroundings. The Home for Life partners are the VELUX Group and VELFAC. The house was built to glean new knowledge of how high-quality building materials, technology and family needs can be harmonised with everyday life in the future.
Home for Life is based on new products, new technologies and a series of prototypes put to use here for the first time in a unique combination. This is an important aspect of the experiment and reflects the two objectives of acquiring new knowledge by putting theories to the test and of gaining and sharing experience through innovation.
Results to be shared with the building sector
"Our experience with Home for Life has given us a clear indication that, in 2020, we will be able to build active houses as standard. We have been through an invaluable learning process that has provided us with unique data and experience about products, solutions and needs. We can see that it takes time to complete the jigsaw puzzle of technology, components, user requirements and design. The house has shown how sensitive it is to change and variation, and just how many factors must be taken into account to achieve the best result," says Lone Feifer, Strategic Project Director at VELUX A/S.
The year's experiment has produced five important results:
• Energy consumption can be kept low in the future: but the house's energy consumption in the first year was higher than the theoretical calculations. One key explanation lies in the fact that the Simonsens' behaviour patterns were different from what was programmed – for example, they wanted room temperatures 2-3 degrees higher than the set temperature dictates. Conditions affecting the building and the technical systems changed along the way – the heating system was dimensioned too close to the calculated consumption and was therefore unable to cope with the periodic demands for additional heating. A heat pump dimensioned to suit the house will now be installed. Once the monitoring period has come to end, the consumption required by the control systems will be halved. Energy production of thermal solar collectors and solar cells met all expectations – and even exceeded calculated figures.
• The house's energy consumption for heating was higher than expected: for the first year, there is a divergence of twice the calculated need. In the future, this figure will fall when the control system is optimised during transition periods (spring and autumn) and throughout the summer.
• The control system was a great family attraction but an unexpected energy guzzler: The central location of the control system's screen made it a popular gathering place. But the system itself was hampered by the fact that this was a running-in year, affected by both adjustments to the technical systems and overcontrol by the family. In the future, the system's energy consumption will be considerably reduced and its control functions made even more user friendly.
• The house stands out with a good indoor climate: measurements of room temperature, humidity and CO2 throughout the house show that the overall indoor climate was as expected and comfortable for the family. Average temperatures were 2-3 degrees higher than calculated. CO2 content was significantly lower in rooms with natural ventilation than in those without. The family experienced the best indoor climate in rooms with natural ventilation.
• Good light influx from all directions – user experience generally positive: the Simonsen family generally reported that the daylight and fresh air in their home was a very positive experience, though occasional overheating caused by the south-facing windows was troublesome. Windows fill the south facade of the house, which has led to excessive overheating and temperature variations due to lack of control synchronicity. The large and varied influx of light through the roof windows and facade windows is of great importance to wellbeing.
Home for Life is one of six buildings constructed by the VELUX Group as part of its Model Home 2020 project. They all meet the legislation expected to come into force throughout the EU in 2020. The driving force behind them is the vision of the so-called Active House, a building in which low energy consumption is combined with a good indoor climate and interplay with the surroundings. For more information on the results, go to: www.activehouse.info .
Measurements, observations and interviews are carried out by The School of Engineering in Århus, the Alexandra Institute, VELFAC and WindowMaster. The project is financed by The Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority. Home for Life was developed by VELUX and VELFAC in cooperation with aart arkitekter and Esbensen Consulting Engineers.
Home for Life is awarded the Green Good Design Award 2010.
Experiment 1 - Home for Life
Home for Life is a visionary proposal for the family home of the future. The project was developed by the VELUX Group and VELFAC in cooperation with aart arkitekter and Esbensen Consulting Engineers. The building is the result of an interdisciplinary project to incorporate the issues of energy consumption, comfort and visual appeal into a holistic entity, with these parameters being mutually complementary and maximising quality of life in the home and its surroundings. WindowMaster, Sonnenkraft and SuperWood, all VELUX Group companies, have contributed with products to the house.
Home for Life is the first of six buildings in Europe to be constructed by the VELUX Group as part of the Model Home 2020 experiment.
Read more at: www.velux.com/modelhome2020
About the VELUX Group
The VELUX Group creates better living environments with daylight and fresh air through the roof. The VELUX product programme contains a wide range of roof windows and skylights, along with solutions for flat roofs. The Group also supplies many types of decoration and sun screening, roller shutters, installation products, products for remote control and thermal solar panels for installation in roofs. The VELUX Group, which has manufacturing companies in 11 countries and sales companies in just under 40 countries, represents one of the strongest brands in the global building materials sector and its products are sold in most parts of the world. The VELUX Group has about 10,000 employees and is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by foundations and family. For more details, visit www.velux.com .