Award-Winning Home Design Requires No Heating, Cooling Equipment

Even for treehuggers, the idea of home without any kind of heating or cooling system -- no furnace, air conditioner, swamp cooler or heat pump -- might seem a bit primitive. Yet the History Channel's Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge awarded just such a house the title of "Modern Marvel of the Year 2007" last month. In the Enertia Building System, according to the company's website,

...solid Energy-Engineered(tm) wood walls replace siding, framing, insulation, and paneling. An air flow and access channel, or Envelope, runs around the building, just inside the walls - creating a miniature biosphere. Here solar heated air circulates, pumping and boosting geothermal energy from beneath the house, storing it in the massive wood walls. Thermal inertia causes the house to "float" between the cycles of night and day, and even between the seasons.
In its press release, the History Channel noted that "The system also uses milled wooden blocks to eliminate the many materials and labor-intensive steps of house wall construction, replacing them with simple screwed-into-place units."While news of inventor Mike Sykes building system has been floating around the web for at least six months, and he's been awarded a patent for the design, MSNBC notes "No major homebuilders have yet shown interest in Enertia but Sykes' goal is to usher the technology into mass production."

Quite frankly, we're a little surprised at the lack of takers on this concept: Enertia's overview of its various models demonstrates that the homes are spacious and conventional-looking. They're also sold in kits, which should make for easy construction. The all-wood walls might scare away some developers or buyers working and living in areas prone to wildfires, but if that's not a major concern, it's hard to believe that buyers wouldn't snap these up if offered.

For another take on the science behind the Enertia concept, take a look at this video on YouTube. ::MSNBC, PRNewswire and Enertia

Photo credit: Jason Decrow / The History Channel via AP

Tags: Energy Efficiency | Green Building