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Home automation

Control your environment

Light, fresh air, the optimal use of space – all at the touch of a button – that’s what you get with VELUX home automation systems. For more than 30 years, we have developed the world’s most advanced electrical skylight and roof window product range.

Our prime focus has always been to provide the most innovative mains that empower the user with maximum control over their environment. At the top of the list is our new electric, ventilating "no-leak skylight" combined with our new Pick&Click™ blinds. This system provides full control over the amount of light, heat and fresh air that enters your room. The advanced RF remote allows the users to create advanced programs that automatically control the window and blinds, maximizing energy efficiency.

Meet your own personal light and fresh air requirements today with VELUX blinds, and electric and manual controls.

Home automation

Control your environment

Light, fresh air, the optimal use of space – all at the touch of a button – that’s what you get with VELUX home automation systems. For more than 30 years, we have developed the world’s most advanced electrical skylight and roof window product range.

Our prime focus has always been to provide the most innovative mains that empower the user with maximum control over their environment. At the top of the list is our new electric, ventilating "no-leak skylight" combined with our new Pick&Click™ blinds. This system provides full control over the amount of light, heat and fresh air that enters your room. The advanced RF remote allows the users to create advanced programs that automatically control the window and blinds, maximizing energy efficiency.

Meet your own personal light and fresh air requirements today with VELUX blinds, and electric and manual controls.

 

Energy

Decreasing consumption and improving living
 

Energy independence

Societies all over the world are facing a challenge of finding new ways to enhance energy independence while ensuring healthy, safe and pleasant living conditions. Active House USA combines the most advanced building innovations with systematic performance tests and careful attention to its surroundings. The result is a home that is more comfortable, healthy and easy to operate, at the same time as keeping energy consumption to a minimum. 
 

Solar orientation

Orienting the design of the house to the sun’s path, is an important element of site planning for successful performance of the home. Proper solar orientation allows us to take advantage of the sun’s rays for passive solar heating and cooling and allows us to tap into something truly amazing – free energy. A well-designed and correctly- oriented house not only focuses on healthy comfort, but also increases solar heat gain in winter and reduces unwanted heat in summer. This simple consideration can reduce a house’s energy use considerably and at no extra cost − for the entire life of that building.

Correct solar orientation can also provide glare-free natural light throughout the house. Although it is desirable to limit north-facing glazing to avoid cold temperatures, incorporation of a balance of vertical daylight from the north, as provided by VELUX Energy Star qualified Sun Tunnel or traditional skylights, ensure a constant natural light with less glare.
 

Passive solar design

The design which includes daylight in energy calculations reduces the need for artificial lighting and reduces utility usage and bills. As a bonus, using less artificial lighting cuts the amount of heat generated in the house which, in turn, further decreases the demand for air-conditioning in summer. Passive solar design is one of the most effective ways in which we are incorporating the sun’s power to enhance the energy efficiency of Active House USA.
 

Energy efficiency

The Building Envelope consists of the floor, walls, windows, doors and roof of the home. The Active House USA envelope offers all the benefits of the traditional building envelope and a great deal more. Thanks to use of Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) from Insulspan, it is more durable and energy efficient; and it allows the occupants to live in quieter and safer comfort while spending less on utilities. The exterior walls of Active House USA are designed and constructed to guarantee that the home will perform effectively and efficiently without energy loss or mould concerns.  Along with our quality-managed sealing program, the SIP system offers a superior energy rating of R25 for walls and R45 for roof panels.
 

The Roofing

The Roofing on Active House is fitted with solar-reflective Solaris tiles from CertainTeed. They are coated with reflective granules to reflect most of the sunlight and heat and prevent the penetration of UV rays, protecting the roof and keeping it cooler. The tiles, therefore, last longer and the climate inside the home can be controlled more efficiently.
 

Windows and Doors

In addition to the VELUX Skylights and sun tunnels, the Active House USA uses window manufacturer, Loewen, and doors from Webster. The windows are all constructed with high-performance, low-e glass with argon between the two panes. By using a denser gas, such as argon, the insulating performance of the window is enhanced dramatically. In addition, a metallic coating used on the glass greatly reduces the heat transfer, or emissivity, of the windows.
Non-toxic sealants around windows and doors on the interior, durable caulk around the exterior, and foam insulation in door jams tighten the envelope to prevent air leaks and reduce heat transfer. And at the end of the Loewen windows long design life, the entire windows and doors are recyclable.
 

HVAC

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment and installation in Active House USA have been designed by the engineers at Scott Lee Heating Company, who analyze the HVAC system in relation to the conditions created by using the solar design, the airtight envelope and the sealing of air leaks.

Active House USA is fitted with the new Lennox SLP98V; 98.3%-efficient furnace and XC21, 19 SEER Air Conditioner, which is the most efficient and quietest available.

With dramatically reduced heating and cooling demand through design and construction, the small amount of heating and cooling that is needed, will be provided at the highest rate of efficiency. Similarly, new HEPA filters and recovery ventilation systems will help maintain improved air quality inside. These types of products make the building perform better at a greatly reduced cost.

The Active House HVAC system incorporates a natural ventilation system into the mechanical HVAC system. The centrally located stairwell together with VELUX Skylights atop the stairwell, and windows in the stairwell provide light to the center of the home. The skylights are motor operated to provide a natural draft in the house, with fresh air supplies.

Heat, humidity and moisture sensors automatically operate the opening and closing of the vents, and the HVAC system depending on local climate conditions. The system can also be manually controlled via a central panel in the home or by using a smart phone.
 

Water Heating Design

The Water Heating Design for efficient heating and distribution is part of Active House USA’s holistic approach to the construction of the house. Hot water is provided primarily by the Solar Thermal System. There is also a highly efficient natural gas backup for high demand situations, with a power ventilator on the heater to control combustion products and preserve indoor air quality.

An efficient water heating design reduces the amount of energy lost in transit, which reduces the homeowner’s operating costs. The initial construction costs are also lower. One method to maximize operation of the water heater is for example, reducing placing the washing machine as close to the water heater as possible. Laundering clothes accounts for approximately 23% of indoor water use each month.

We have installed an efficient, cost-effective PEX piping systems which by using tubing can be threaded throughout the house. PEX systems have about 90% fewer elbows, on average, than copper piping, and no chemicals are used for connections. It also takes less energy to manufacture and is a recyclable product.
 

Solar Power

Solar Power is provided by a photovoltaic system designed by Micro Grid. Active House USA’s location has peak annual energy demands for both heating and cooling. However, they are usually limited to short periods, and for the rest of the year more power can be generated than the house requires for its operation. When the amount of energy used equals the amount of energy generated, a house is defined as a “Net Zero Energy”.
 

Natural Gas

Natural Gas is another energy source used in Active House USA, readily available from a local supplier. Laclede Gas Company. Natural Gas is a clean, low-cost, domestic energy source, and provides an opportunity to broaden our energy resources for the customer. With our holistic approach to energy efficiency, there are plans to provide additional natural gas car charging station in the garage, giving the owners very cost- effective, sustainable fuelling options for their vehicles.
 

Performance Verification

As a prototype home, an additional part of the building process will be post-occupancy performance verification. The High Performance Buildings Research Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia Energy Efficiency Research Consortium (MUEERC) will conduct digitally monitoring and measure Active House USA’s energy use and indoor air quality for a minimum of one year. In addition, The Active House Alliance and VELUX Group will participate in the ongoing testing, data collection and dissemination in association with MUEERC, the project manager at Verdatek Solutions LLC and the builder, Hibbs Homes LLC.

New standards

During the building of the Smith residence, a range of newly established standards such as the ANSI-700 national Green Building Standard, Energy Star, Builder’s Challenge, and Indoor Air and Water Sense Programs were incorporated into our quality management program, ensuring a building that combines innovation with well-known solutions.

The first Active House in the USA was constructed with a systems-based approach to quality and continuous performance testing of the existing site redevelopment and design. We have thus been able to identify components that are competitive with the traditional counterparts while outperforming them in energy efficiency, CO2 emissions, conservation of resources, environmental impact, maintenance costs, and occupant comfort. In addition, low-impact site renovation and storm water control improvements have been added to improve the home site.
 

The unique challenge

Our strategy with Active House USA is that we are being guided by the culture and well-established architecture standards of the Old Webster district. We have taken traditional home design and made it into an Active House. The end result is a home that is built in harmony with the character of the surrounding neighborhood, but that outperforms them significantly over its life with minimal operation, energy, and maintenance costs. 

 

 
 

Environment

Paying respect to history, nature and community
 

The first Active House in the USA has been built in the well established neigborhood of Webster Groves, a St. Louis suburb where historic buildings, beautiful surroundings and a strong community all add to an environment that attracts families in search of a good life.

The site of the Active House is located about two blocks from the downtown Webster Groves business and shopping district.
Here, Hibbs homes and their clients, the Smith family, found an opportune site for the family’s new home. The site had an existing bungalow-style home on it that was vacant and in severe disrepair. With the old building removed, the site was perfect for an infill replacement home. 
 

Recycling Teardown Components

When removing the existing house, Hibbs Homes applied a teardown practice focused on reuse  and recycling. “We keep a lot of material out of landfills simply by the way we handle teardowns,” builder Kim Hibbs explains. “In fact, our teardown practices have allowed us to greatly diminish disposal costs. As the cost for materials and the demand for them increase, it has created a situation where good materials that have historically been considered as consumables now carry a commodity status, giving them real value. Our customers are very excited about this value-added process; it allows them to participate with us in being environmentally responsible, and it does not increase the costs of tearing down the older house or constructing a new infill house,” says Kim Hibbs.

The removal of the old house on the Smith residence site also benefitted a humanitarian organization. “We have deconstructed much of the existing home with Habitat for Humanity taking a large amount of materials for repurposing,” says Kim Hibbs.
 

Reusing Infrastructure by Building Infill Housing

Cities all over the world are struggling to reduce urban sprawl and create and maintain high-quality housing. Infill houses can be ideal in achieving these goals. In short, infill housing recycles previously developed sites. The most obvious advantage of infill housing is that the infrastructure already exists: streets, water, sewerage, electricity and transport systems. Infill houses help renew neigborhoods and create and maintain convivial communities in which people want to live.

There are numerous advantages to infill housing:

  • It maintains and increases property values 
  •  It can cut down on commute times, save gas and decrease automotive pollution
  • It reduces highway congestion and cuts spending on new roads
  • It puts residents within easy reach of mass transit and the city’s cultural attractions.

Webster Groves is an area known for its well preserved historic buildings and abundance of trees and parks. Creating an infill house here required careful attention. “We had to follow fairly strict design standards to comply with surrounding homes,” Kim Hibbs explains.

The result is a house that has all of the qualities of a traditional Webster Groves residence: a spacious building with a large porch, several storeys and a balanced appearance. But while the house looks traditional, the materials and devices used in the Smith residence are all state of the art in terms of energy efficiency and indoor environment. The first Active House in the USA shows how infill housing can be constructed with great respect for an area’s history, environment and local community.

Construction in progress
 

Matt Belcher, Active House project manager, and the Smith family just before demolition begins.

Construction has officially started. Major project partners and Jeff Smith turn the first patch of soil.
Cameron Smith, daughter of the owners, turns the first spade of soil at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Groundbreaking for Active House USA, 2 May 2012.
Structural beams beingm set to carry the SIP roof panels.
Everything is coming together perfectly.