Carbon-neutral design takes a holistic approach to create an environment where all the house’s energy and functionality are derived from sustainable sources; hence, the process of its construction and operation does not burden the earth’s atmosphere with more carbon dioxide. Sustainable building practice includes calculating the amount of CO2 created by building (including manufacturing and transporting the materials), operating the home, and taking responsibility for removing at least an equal amount of CO2 from the air.
Generally a Carbon Neutral home can be outfitted with a large solar array, batteries and inverters. Smart energy systems can be implemented, for example using software that momentarily turns off the refrigerator when the microwave needs a bust of energy, ensuring a high quality of life at a minimum peak-surge in energy.
A 24 volt DC systems can be installed throughout the home with separate plugs to run all the electronics, digital, computers and cell phone chargers without need of any transformers. This Direct Current (DC) system feeds directly from a separate solar array and battery system without need of inverters (an inverter changes Direct Current – from solar power to 120 or 220V Alternate Current (AC) currently used for appliances light fixtures, etc.
All the Smart Home systems like water purification, pumps to augment water pressure in the home, well pumps, small home-desalination plants, motors for shades and ventilation systems can all be operated of the 24 DC solar power system, leaving the solar powered 220V AC system to run all the desirable conveniences of modern life.
Depending on location, water can be supplied by catching rain by “butterfly” roof designs, storage tanks, filters and pressurized by solar-powered pumps. In other areas wells can be used. In the Caribbean water can be supplied by solar powered home desalination units. New Microbial and Ozone Sanitizers can be added to reuse wastewater. Hot water can be supplied with solar hot water heaters.
Climate Control can be achieved in a variety of manners, depending on geographic location. On Pacific and Caribbean Islands the trade winds can be channeled through the home by the design of butterfly roofs. A series of motorized louvers, regulated by sensors, open and close to the prevailing trade winds.
The concrete interior of the SCIP build home can store the evening chill for use during the next hot day. Fans can distribute the air evenly and small solar powered airco/heating unit can be installed to get temperature exactly as desired.
In northern and mountain areas the insulation can be augmented by using a thicker foam panel. Special design and construction methods can eliminate thermal breaks in the concrete skin (areas in the wall/roof system, where heat accumulated in the house ‘leaks’ to the outside) SCIP buildings are by nature airtight and free of drafts so a thermal heat pump system can effectively heat and cool the house. Good ventilation in the house can be achieved with an air-exchange unit which heats incoming air by the exchanging heat from the outgoing air. Studio RMA is starting to build these homes in the Northwest USA.
Statistic show that 14% of all energy in the world is used for heating and cooling buildings, and 38% of energy use in the U.S. is to operate buildings. Yet, nowadays we can talk about a home that produces everything the house needs by itself – electricity, water, air conditioning, ventilation, just by smart technology (and nature) and the desire to absolutely not pollute or be harmful to others.
In essence a home operates on a Carbon Neutral footprint produces 100% of all its required energy and utility demands. Still the home will create CO2 during the construction process, the manufacture of materials and the transportation of personnel. This CO2 can be offset by intensive planting near the home. The organic waste and waste water system of a home is adequate to start a small forest in most barren areas.
Bio pools which are cleaned by plants, microbes and computer systems used in high-end Swiss spas can be part of enjoying a Carbon Neutral Lifestyle.
SCIP homes can have 100% Non-Toxic finishes and if the same strategy is applied toward cleaning and maintenance the house it is possible to live in a 100% allergen free, healthy environment.