Too energy efficient to think


If you were walking through Millennium Park this past November, you might have seen Lumenhaus, an energy efficient house designed by a team of students and faculty from Virginia Tech. The prototype house is designed to run entirely on solar energy, using a combination of solar voltaic cells, insulation, and geo-thermal heating to keep the house powered and warm. It even comes with an iPhone app to control all parts of the house.

I was thinking about the house today when I read in this article that the National Renewable Energy Lab’s Research Support Facility building is so energy efficient that its silence weirded employees out. The building was designed not to need conventional heating or air conditioning, but the architects installed speakers that play noises mimicking heating and cooling noises anyways because “managers found that workers needed something more than silence”.

When I saw Lumenhaus, I asked the Virginia Tech students giving tours if anybody had ever slept in it overnight, and they said no. I wonder if somebody had lived in the house for a day, would they have said that the house needed something more than silence?

Related articles:
National Renewable Energy Lab’s Research Support Facility
A New York Times reporter’s visit to the facility

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