Swedish 'Thermos' House Offers Low-Emission Life


Photo courtesy OneTonne web site.

Swedes are greener...they recycle more, live in smaller apartments, drive less and bike more than the average American. And now Volvo, A-hus, and the (definitely not green) utility Vattenfall are offering a lucky two-child family the chance to live the low-carbon dream, in a specially-design low-energy 'Thermos' house. And they are picking up the tab. There is only one problem.
See that green copse of trees? That's where the Thermos house will be built, in a suburb of Stockholm called Hässelby.

The project's amibition is to provide a family (it is not specified that the family must be Swedish in application forms, but it must be an average two-child family with one of the kids a teenager) with a two-story wooden house, a five-seater electric car, and lots of the latest energy-efficient emissions for six months.

The house, designed by renowned Swedish architect Gert Windgård, is not designated a passive house per se, but is said to maximize its own electricity production through a complete front facade of solar panels (solar water heating and solar electric) and minimize heat loss through a double-doored entry, built-out window boxes and fantastic insulation. (The U-rating in the windows is 0.8.)

The HVAC system recycles air warmth - there is no furnace in the house so appliances, body heat and sub floor heating do the extra work to keep the house warm in winter. The house, as designed, is said to be approximately "80 percent efficient," and the family will get their remaining required electricity from Vattenfall's wind and hydro power.

Windgård said he designed the house to appeal to Swedes' love for their little red and white wooden cottages, while still being "absolutely modern." He's referred to the house as "a thermos with an exciting design."

The lucky winners of Wingård's Thermos house will also receive Volvo's C30 DRIVe Electric car for their transportation needs, and the plan is that some electricity generated from the banks of solar panels will be used to charge the car, which requires eight hours for a full charge that lasts for 150 kilometers.

So what could be wrong?

Well, the entire 'One Tonne' concept is assuming that the average family needs a two-story house and a car in order to get by. That's not an entirely false premise, it's just a flawed one. We already know that if we continue with the lifestyles we have in most of the Western world, we'll never be able to meet sustainability goals or our need to lower carbon emissions to deal with and slow global warming.

But the One Tonne project is aiming to give a family an equivalent quality of life that the average Swedish family now has, only with much lower emissions - about one tonne per person per year. That's laudable, yet it doesn't help us see the possibilities of either car-free living, or more compact urban living, which are generally much lighter on the earth.

It will be interesting to hear who wins the One Tonne house and car, and how they like living in the house, however. Would you move to Sweden for six months to live in the Thermos house?

Read more at TreeHugger about Swedes and their habits:
No Bag Ban in Sweden Just More Soft Platics Recycling
Plastic Politics and Sweden's Bio-Bag Backlash
Swedish Green Train Project Breaks Speed Barrier
IKEA BoKlok Flatpack houses spread Swedish gospel
Where's the Beef? It's Heating Swedish Homes

Tags: Architecture | Green Building | passive house | Sweden