Home for Life
With the Home for Life concept, VELFAC launches its own vision for the future within sustainable homes.
We consider it our responsibility to contribute to the development of new products and ways of building, and we believe, that the way forward is more than single-minded focus on insulation ability and reduction of the energy used for heating. With our Homes for Life we want to explore the possibilities that come from developing energy efficient buildings of the future using a holistic perspective. This is why we are testing our ideas in practice and developing real homes for real people.
One test is worth more than 1000 expert assumptions
"One test is worth more than 1000 expert assumptions."
Villum Kann Rasmussen
Therefore we are building real houses and trying things in practice. The purpose is to develop new knowledge about energy efficiency, comfort and the aesthetics of homes in the future. These houses will therefore be tested by a real family for a period of one year to establish all the benefits and pitfalls of the design.
CO2 emissions will be reduced
Scientists have confirmed that in 40 minutes, there is enough solar energy on the earth’s surface to cover the world’s usage for a whole year; good information at a time when climate change develops faster than first expected. However, this requires that we are able to 'harvest' the sun – and on a much bigger scale - develop and make use of new technologies faster than ever before.
The way we build and live can make a large contribution to minimising our impact on the environment. Energy used in construction and the operation of buildings in the Western world makes up about 40% of the total energy use – energy that is primarily based on coal which results in high CO2 emissions. The challenge is to develop buildings of the future to optimise the use of solar energy and minimise CO2 emissions.
VKR Holding, which is the parent company for VELUX and VELFAC, has initiated the construction of six demonstration houses in a number of European countries following the active house principle. These houses produce energy themselves and are examples of intelligent building with low energy use, a good indoor climate and an exciting architecture.
An active house contributes to a sustainable development by:
- Creating a balance between energy use and production.
- Considering life in the house through indoor climate, function and health.
- Creating experiences in and around the house.
The first Home for Life has already been built and is being tested by a family, and is the initial stepping stone of a project of eight active houses. The next example in Denmark will be the Green Light House. The project is being developed by the Municipality of Copenhagen, the University of Copenhagen, the Danish University and Property Agency, VELFAC and VELUX.
Download the full story brochure here, or read a summary of the project below.
People at the centre
During 2007 when we began to develop the Home for Life concept, we quickly agreed to start with people. Our proposal for the house of the future should not just be well insulated and self-sufficient with CO2 neutral energy. It must also be pleasant to live in. With lots of daylight and fresh air, and flexibility of space for both personal reflection and being together. And life, light and air should be reflected in the architecture of the house.
Existing know-how put together in a new way
The Home for Life has been created through 10 interdisciplinary workshops, where experts from the construction industry, research institutes, architects, engineers and other leading specialists have worked together and developed a model, where energy, aesthetics and comfort make up the key objectives.
Through development, building and documentation, Home for Life demonstrates how daylight and warmth can create a balance between energy, aesthetics and comfort – with humans at the centre.
- Solar cells, solar heating and heat pump produce electricity, hot water and room heating.
- Around a 50% contribution to the internal heat is produced by passive solar heat from energy optimised windows.
- Natural and mechanical ventilation as well as internal and external solar shading ensure fresh air and comfortable temperatures.
- The control system for the house reduces energy consumption and ensures a good indoor climate.
In Home for Life more energy is produced than consumed – and all energy is renewable
The energy goal for Home for Life is that the house is self-sufficient with energy. It produces more energy than consumed, and calculated according to Beat 2002, the energy for erecting the house will be paid back within a 30-50 year period.
Home for Life produces an annual energy surplus. The energy surplus is calculated at 9.4 kWh/m²/year.
The intake of daylight is optimised to reduce consumption of electricity. The window area amounts to 40% (against normal 20-25%) of the envelope, and windows are placed in all 4 facades as well as on the roof to ensure natural light is distributed into all rooms.
The Home for Life uses energy-optimised windows of the future where slim profiles are used resulting in a larger contribution to daylighting, and is installed with triple-glazed low-energy glass. The active facades regulate light and heat intake. The roof overhang facing south produces shade for during the high summer months, and allows access for a low winter sun. Shutters and sun blinds regulate heat and light intake, and privacy when needed.
Control of the house reduces energy use
The house is managed in such a way that the use of electricity and heat is minimised. In the summer, automatically controlled natural ventilation is used for airing the rooms. During the cooler months, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery is used so the cold air can be heated without the use of additional energy. Intelligent controls regulate the outdoor and indoor solar screening for optimising warmth and light intake, as well as turning off electric lights when the room is not in use.
Plenty of natural daylight, fresh air and good materials ensure that the house is healthy and comfortable to live in.
The house of the future will be pleasant to live in and around. It must not be too warm in the summer or too cold in the winter. It should be flexible so that it gives space for both togetherness and for peace and quiet. And it should be easy to maintain and use.
Fresh air is plentiful in the Home for Life. In the winter, the air enters via the mechanical ventilation system, which also ensures a warm level temperature is maintained, and heat from the exhaust is reused. The equipment is programmed so that it adapts to the ventilation requirements of each room.
In the summer, fresh air enters through natural ventilation which is controlled by internal sensors, so that rooms are not ventilated more than necessary and at the same time, maintain a good indoor climate. The natural ventilation replaces a requirement for mechanical system, thus saving energy.
Room heating and cooling
The temperature in each room can be regulated independently so that it adjusts to the activities in the room. The house can also shield itself from the sun in the summer, so as to limit unwanted heat gain indoors. The screening is designed to fit the conditions of the facade and its orientation; and is automatically regulated in such a way that the inside temperature remains stable.
Home for Life is designed to make use of as much passive energy as possible. Passive energy in the form of high daylight levels, passive heat from the sun together with ventilation via thermal lift and wind influence on the facades.
The active facade
In Home for Life, comfort is obtained by the help of an active facade.
An active facade:
- Regulates the light and heat through the windows.
- Ventilates so there is always a healthy indoor climate in the house.
The active facade changes according to the seasons and needs. It can either be open to let the light and warmth in, or it can be closed to screen against the sun and maintain warmth during the night.
Life, light and air reflected in the architecture
The principal architectural idea in Home for Life is to unite single-family house requirements to experience, functionality and energy consumption in an integrated design. It is the light incidence, the active facade, the relationship between inside and outside, and the flexibility of the house that gives it the high architectural quality.
The arrangement of the house
Home for Life is designed with good space for both togetherness and peace and quiet. Emphasis is placed on creating special places for active experiences and
flexible utilisation. The house is located on the north-west part of the plot to give the best possible space for gardens as well as utilising the height of the plot against North. The building appears as a sculptured building body where the carport and outbuilding are integrated. The upper floor of the house also maximises the view from the plot.
The choice of slate covering on the facade and roof reflects both the wish for durability, low CO2 influence and minimal maintenance, but also the wish to integrate the dark surfaces of the solar cells, the solar panels and the windows. The wood covering and wood flooring, with their feeling of natural warmth, give a contrast to the hardness and cold expression of the slate.
Dissolution of borders between inside and outside
In the Home for Life, the borders between inside and outside are dissolved. The windows and patio doors make inside and outside flow together so the room appears larger and more airy, while the windows that meet the ceiling together with the skylights, ensure that the daylight comes deep into the rooms.
One test is worth more...
From 1 July 2009 until 30 June 2010, the Home for Life will be tested by a family of two adults and two children.
Measurement of energy use and production
During the test, detailed energy consumption data will be recorded to show how much energy is used and produced in the house. In this way conditions, calculations and assumptions can be examined and subsequently validated. The Engineering College of Aarhus is responsible for the data capture.
The second part deals with the integrated control. Intelligent control of the house is necessary to reduce energy use and increase comfort by using the windows as best as possible as sources of light and ventilation. Therefore VELFAC has cooperated with The Engineering College of Aarhus and the Alexandra Institute with Home for Life as a showcase. This cooperation has developed into a research project called 'Minimum configuration - Home Automation'. The project will develop and test strategies for the configuration of intelligent operation in the house via innovation. The purpose of the project is to develop and collect ideas for how cordless operations can be both useful and relevant for users. It will give the residents a complete entry to operation possibilities of light, heat and energy use as well as consumption data.
Intelligent operation of Home for Life
|The following elements in Home for Life are operated automatically but can be manually overridden by remote control:||Additional operations:||A part of the operation shall be developed together with the users, such as:|
|Windows on the roof and facade.
||Inside curtain on the facade is operated by pushing a switch.||Time of moving sensors in connection with lighting.|
|Outside sun screening on the roof and facade.
||Lights operated by pushing a switch and by moving sensors on the ceiling/wall (automatic).||Standard temperature in the different rooms.|
|Inside blind on the roof.||
Heating operated by room sensors on the wall
|Opening/closing times for windows.|
|Mechanical ventilation operated by room sensors on the wall (measures CO², humidity and temperature).|