Environmental technology

Aside from its sustainable roof system, Blacksburg, Va.-based Virginia Tech's lumenHAUS contains numerous other environmentally friendly aspects, including:

  • A concrete floor with a radiant floor heating system, which heats the house using a water-to-water heat pump that extracts heat from the earth during the winter and uses the earth as a coolant during the summer. The concrete absorbs and stores heat from sunlight, using it to heat the house during the night. The floor also contains recycled fly ash.
  • A sloped roof that collects rainwater that is filtered and can be used for drinking water. Water used in the house (for the shower, sink, etc.) goes through a series of biofilters in the surrounding landscape.
  • The Eclipsis System, which is an advanced building façade with two layers. A metal shutter shade slides along the north and south fa├žades, offering protection from direct sunlight and allowing natural lighting, views to the exterior and privacy. A sliding insulating panel is a translucent polycarbonate panel filled with aerogel, which is lightweight and provides insulation equivalent to a typical solid wall during harsh weather conditions without blocking natural light. Opening or closing the Eclipsis System can help control the natural heating.
  • Wood material that has been harvested from fast-growth, sustainable forests
  • Durable and recyclable zinc cladding and aluminum framing
  • Sliding doors that can help naturally cool and ventilate the house. The doors include bug screens.
  • A light emitting diode (LED) lighting system built into the insulating panels of the Eclipsis System and throughout the house. It uses energy collected during the day to provide light for interior and exterior spaces.
  • A computer interface that manages all the house's systems. It can control lights, temperature, etc., at home or remotely. The management system offers live feedback of the house's energy consumption, allowing users to make changes to be more energy-efficient.
  • A transportation system made up of removable and reusable components. It can transport the house easily and without expensive permitting and little on-site assembly.
  • A modular design that allows the house to grow as a family grows. Modules easily can be added to increase living space and removed when the space no longer is needed (for example, when children move out). The extra modules then can be used for another family's house.

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to The power of light.