Green Building & Sustainable Development
Architecture for a Cleaner Earth - New Home Design Solves Housing Energy Crisis
Homes in North Carolina have to cope with America's most violent weather- hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms that knock out power for days and weeks. All that natural energy gave Wake Forest builder Michael Sykes an idea- a house that makes its own weather. Since the late 1980's his company Enertia Building Systems, Inc. has been building homes that heat and cool themselves without fuel or electricity. Sensing a growing national problem with energy costs, housing costs, natural disasters, and dependence on foreign oil, Sykes is making his Enertia homes available nationwide as affordable pre-cut numbered kits.
The earth stays warm in the minus 459 degree cold of space by its atmosphere and the thermal inertia of its huge mass. So every Enertia house has a miniature atmosphere surrounding a massive structure that can store energy. Each house is designed not just for today, but for a hundred-years-out when energy will be costly or unavailable, and each house can adapt if and when the climate changes. The rooftop can produce all the power the home needs, and the greenhouse-atrium can produce enough food, year-round, for a family of four. Enertia has built many homes that are self-sufficient, not even connected to the electric system. The technology is fully explained at www.EnergyWithoutOil.org
Not only is the energy needed to run a conventional house expensive, but so is the equipment. Heat pumps and furnaces cost money and have to be replaced every 10-15 years. So replacing equipment with good design saves initial cost, as well as running costs. But the big saver is the pre-cut numbered kit construction- labor costs go way down. "One of our clients in southern California built his Enertia home for 25% of the local going total-cost square-foot rate," says Sykes, inventor and President of the company. "While building green to reduce pollution is a noble cause, the real kicker that will save the planet is saving money. It's expensive to foul the earth".
Once it was thought the home of the future would be plastic, but that thinking has changed with the shortage of petroleum. The current trend is to natural bio-based materials. Modern structures, like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, are carbon fiber, so the skin of modern Enertia homes are nature's carbon fiber- wood in engineered glued layers for maximum strength. In the current trend for "Green" materials the Enertia home is at the top- the kit materials are 100% renewable.
This huge carbon content is what really makes the Enertia home stand out. "Do you know your carbon footprint?" says the BP television ad. By not needing fuel the home is close to a zero carbon footprint, but since the structure sequesters tons of carbon it makes the home better than 'carbon neutral'- building one actually helps clean the planet. Sykes calculates "building and living in an Enertia
house is like taking 50 cars off the road."
Enertia plans to appoint a Builder/Dealer in each of the 50 states, two or more in large states like California that have differing climate zones. "We are looking for builders with an environmental and futureproof thought process. Builders who want to put their clients into a home that will still be viable 20 years from now." say Sykes who is designing a specific model home optimized for each state's climate. "As we builders' say-it is a ground floor opportunity."
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