Midland 21 May — The Dow Chemical Co. has launched a show-home that it contends will eliminate utility bills, but at what price?
Midland 21 May — The Dow Chemical Co. has launched a show-home that it contends will eliminate utility bills.
The 3,400-square-foot “Vision Zero” home in Bay City will produce as much energy as it consumes using Dow products, from Styrofoam to insulate the basement to Powerhouse Solar Shingles to generate solar power on the roof.
The house uses 60 to 70 percent less energy than a conventional home by altering its insulation, electric and water systems and parts of its interior — from electronics such as televisions and computers to flooring and paint, Dow officials said.
“You essentially have no utility bill for the life of that house,” said Jim Gurnee, marketing director at Dow Building Solutions, the division that partnered with Saginaw-based developer Cobblestone Homes.
The Vision Zero home uses a wide range of Dow materials and sustainable technologies, including next generation insulation and air-sealing products, and the revolutionary new Solar Shingles. The solar components on this home, which includes a demonstration of Dow’s solar shingle, will produce enough energy to supply all of this home’s electricity needs plus additional electricity that can be sold back to the local utility company for energy credits.
Cobblestone has also incorporated a wide range of products from a number of other leading suppliers that will conserve energy or harness renewable resources to keep the Vision Zero home comfortable, while meeting the zero-energy threshold. The house uses geothermal heat pumps to heat and cool the home, solar water heating systems to provide hot water, as well as LED light bulbs and ultra-high efficiency appliances that can be found throughout the house. When you combine the energy efficient insulation materials, energy saving appliances, geothermal energy, and solar power, you get a net-zero energy home – a home that essentially sustains itself.
Dow has moved beyond its original household products, including Ziploc bags and Saran wrap, to serve the comprehensive needs of homeowners, Liveris said.
The company will do this in the Vision Zero home by using Thermax, Weathermate, Froth-Pak, Safetouch and Great Stuff Pro to insulate walls and floors. To help with temperature control, Dowfrost provides heat transfer fluid to extract heat or coolness from the ground.
Gurnee declined to say what the house is expected to cost but said that it is “affordable.”
The house will be used initially as a training facility and a museum for educating builders and the public about energy conservation and Dow products. It will likely be put up for sale next year, Dow officials said.
The Vision Zero home can be built for any climate and has received interest from DTE Energy, which inquired about replicating the project in Detroit, said Melissa Wahl, who owns Cobblestone with her husband Mark.
As the comment above points out, we are still analyzing much of these technological developments, and we do not know how effective they will be. I can remember that GE had such a house built some twenty years ago, and many of those products that made the home sustainable have not come to the market. The same may occur with this project. We really do need to focus on passive means combined with appropriate technology to produce sustainable homes. I would like to see products designed for green retrofits to older homes becoming more of a focus myself.
What a fine piece of marketing bumf. “This house can be built for any climate” is the claim but only of it is located in the lower 48. This house could not be self sufficient built in Alaska on perma frost. Dow is attempting to be all things to all people. It aint gonna happen! About 30 years ago we saw several energy efficient model houses built by various sponsors. I visited those I was able to reach. In those days electronic controls was a big item for optimizing energy use but any number of vendors or technologies were used not just products from one company source. The house looks lovely and by the look of it, is scalable to some extent. There is one fly in the ointment . Developers must be more aware of the need to orient roof ridges to maximize solar input. If ridge runs north south. one side of a roof is not going to be very effective. How much space is now left? Needing to orient roof ridges a certain way is bound to have a big influence on how tract housing streets are laid out. Estate size lots may give a bit more freedom. BUT! if this is an estate lot how about the septic field and the geothermal collection field. Will there be a conflict in land use within the property boundary. Vertical geo-terhmal system requireing drilling deep but has its own problems including the cost of drilling. What happens when you hit solid bedrock 10 feet down. ? Is this going to be equally effective as bureing the heat collection pipes in a horizontal field that has to be extended outside the property lines in order to have sufficient collection area?
The theoretical solar input is 1000 watts per square meter. How well does the Dow roof tile work? Being fixed to the roof it cannot be a tracking array and evidently tracking arrays collect 20% more energy than non tracking. By definition this kind of collector simply cannot be that efficient.
Sealing insulation and double or triple glaze windows with or without eGlass is also knows as a good heat conserver. So what happens to indoor air quality? I’m assuming the question of how healthy is it, alludes to this aspect of tighter’n a drum, house construction. Supposedly heat exchangers that are capable of 100% heat transfer from outgoing to incoming fresh make up air are possible. In the real workd it is likely going to be more like 70% -80% heat transfer because 100% is going to be too expensive. Interior rooms could be illuminated with the light pipes but that isn’t a DOW product as far as I know.
Has anyone ever done a study of the effect on the ground when tightly packed single family dwellings are all sucking heat out of the ground en masse. As far back as 30 years ago we heard reports of an ‘ice lens’ forming around geothermal collector piping . This in turn meant the ground took longer to heat up and being usable for plants, lawns and food gardening.
Is mass use of geothermal heating conducive to having home grown food plants in all areas. Seems to me northern area may discover spring in ground comes later than pre geothermal use.