A house that can control its own climate sounds pretty amazing as we suffer through what may be the hottest year on record. While smart thermostats like the Nest do some of the work, it would be far more effective if the entire structure was helping out.
That's the idea behind the Great Gulf Active House. Controlled by the Somfy TaHoma smart house system, skylights, windows, and blinds all react to the weather to make the internal climate as comfortable and energy-efficient as possible. When the house needs to let off some steam, it opens the skylight and a few windows. If it's hotter than 77 degrees Fahrenheit, windows automatically shut and the air conditioner turns on. The homeowners can also program when the blinds should open and shut, so the sun's rays don't overheat the house.
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The 3,200-square-foot home has a thermostat on each of the three levels, so they can be set to different temperatures based on where everyone's spending the afternoon. It also uses renewable energy and less fresh water, thanks to its rainwater cistern. Because of all the skylights, suntunnels, and windows, the house needs very little lighting help from lamps during the day. A greywater heat-recovery unit uses the warmth from showers and baths to raise the temperature of cold water as it comes in. To cut down construction time, energy use, and building waste, the designers used prefabricated wood panels. It took only a week to complete the framing.
The Ontario, Canada, smart home was built by Great Gulf, in collaboration with architecture firm superkl and the Active House Alliance, a European organization that creates efficient dwellings. "We see them as concept houses, except we're building them for the real world," Christopher J. Wein, Great Gulf's president, told Dwell. It's already working on a second house in Toronto, so pretty soon Canada could be full of climate-controlled houses.