Green building, energy efficient homes and
Home Energy Systems designed by: Brad Lindsay
Data Acquisition by: Subrato
Chandra, PH.D Florida Solar Energy Center
Lennox Air Conditioning
Natural Light Tubular
Photos of this project: click
O.P.E.R.A. Energy House
The focus of this home design is to shift as much power use to off
peak hours as possible without affecting lifestyle, comfort or quality of
Electrical demand (during on peak hours), is rising and auxillary
power plants must be built to meet this demand. If future homes were
designed in such a way that most of the electrical demand was used during off
peak times, the building of these expensive power plants could be reduced.
This saves our resources, reduces high pollution times, curbs energy increases
and can easily be avoided.
History of home
Since this country was settled first in cold climates, the
generations before us learned quickly how to deal with keeping warm and staying
alive. Free standing wood burning stoves heated the small homes from
the center of the house. Wood had to be chopped and being human, the
closest trees were cut down for fuel. Keeping heat in the house became a
major concern and it was found that by putting something, anything above the
ceiling would equate to less hours on the axe and more time in the house.
Cow dung, straw, old clothes, burlap bags, wood chips, all
made a difference by resisting the flow of convective and conductive heat.
The house was definately warmer and hands had less callouses from chopping
We now use a variety of fibrous insulation products to resist
(R-Factor), the flow of convective and conductive heat: blown fiberglass, batt
fiberglass, blown cellulose, rock wool even shredded blue jeans are being sold
as non-toxic, non irritiable insulation. These products work very well for
what they were designed for: resisting the flow of heat out of a
home. Fill the walls and ceilings with insulation and use less fuel
for heating. The higher the R factor, the more you save. So
impressive are these products that National codes dictate minimum levels for all
home builders before homes can be sold. City inspectors measure each home
before occupancy certificates are granted.
insulation is effective at resisiting the heat flow from a building, it falls
short of protection from heat flow when subjected to the effects of infrared
heat. Unlike convective or conductive heat which is a type of heat
movement, infrared heat is an electromagnetic wave, like microwaves, sound or
light and can only be stopped by being absorbed or reflected. Moving at
186,000 miles per second (speed of light), this invisble source of heat
"sees" through fibrous insulation as it's emitted from hot walls and
Home builders for decades have been forced by mandated building
codes to pack homes full of fibrous insulation products in the walls and
ceilings in an attempt to "resist" (R Factor), the flow of heat into or out of
homes. These codes even dictate how much and where this insulation is to
be placed. Designed for cold climates to keep heat in (like wearing a
sweater during the winter), insulation resists the movement of conductive and
convective heat movement from a home. However, there are 3 known types of
Since conventional fibrous
insulation is rated only for resisting two of the three types of heat movement,
it stands to reason there is a piece missing from the pie. Controlling
this missing piece regarding radiant heat flow into or out of buildings dictates
the need for one or more reflective surfaces with a low emissivity. This
product is called a "radiant barrier system" (RBS). RBS is a thin,
reflective membrane that changes the direction of infra red radiant heat.
Conventional fibrous insulation products do not address radiant heat as
there is no reflective surfaces. Further, when immersed in a bath of
radiant heat, fibrous insulation has a tremendous capacity to store heat for
hours after the sun goes down making your home hot and requiring energy to
remove it. Change the direction of radiant heat and energy consuming
convective and conductive move with it.
Testing on full size, identical
homes by Arizona State University in 1986 have proven that a much higher level
of thermal performance, energy reduction and interior comfort can be reached
using only quality radiant barrier
products. The logic is simple: Use mass as a heat exchanger and
change the direction of infra red heat using RBS at the exterior and roof of the
home as opposed to resisting heat flow using conventional fibrous insulation
products. Twenty years of defining and refining products for this home
produced the O.P.E.R.A. House:
On Peak Energy Reduction Architecture.
Fred Clark, a residential and
commercial builder in Bartow Florida, is the owner/builder of this home is
using the designs, products and applications provided by Horizon Energy
This home is designed to maximize the use of off peak
power by using a combination of RBS to keep the heat out during the summer and
heat in during winter while the mass walls keep the interior temperature within
a few degrees. During the hot season, the A/C will run only at night when
it's more efficient by removing heat from the mass walls using long run
cycles. During the day the walls then absorb any heat gain from windows,
doors, appliances or occupants. Since the walls are always cooler than
body temperature, the mean
radiant temperature (MRT) of each room stays at a comfortable level.
During cold months the reverse is done and the walls are heated during the day
using a solar water heater built into the exterior walls. MRT may soon
become the benchmark by which the comfort of homes is measured
In the past, air temperature, humidity and air movement have been
considered the primary concerns when considering human comfort. However, we now
know that that the subtle effects of infrared heat gain and loss has a profound
effect on our comfort.
Human skin has the highest known a value of emissivity (.98), which
means, in layman's terms, radiant heat emits from our bodies faster than any
other surface known to man. Conversely, we are also excellent absorbers of
infrared heat and our bodies respond according due to sensory organs located at
key points in our skin. Thermal response results from two sets of sensory
organs within the skin.
These two sets
of organs allow us to sense our thermal surroundings, allowing us to determine
if we are gaining or losing heat. As warm-blooded mammals, humans produce
energy by metabolizing food, with most of this energy taking the form of heat.
This metabolic heat is produced by the body all the time, mainly as a result of
muscular activity, although almost all bodily functions produce some heat. In
general the more active we are, the more heat we produce. (source: click
- The first of these, the Bulbs of Krause, are sensitive to heat
loss. They number around 150,000 and lie within 0.5mm of the surface of the
skin. Whilst spread throughout the body near the openings to sweat glands,
there is some increased concentration around the fingertips, nose and bends of
- The Organs of Ruffini, however, are sensitive to heat gain and
number only around 16,000. These lie much deeper within the skin, mostly
around the lips, nose, chin, chest, forehead and fingers. Due to the increased
insulation provided by skin depth, these are much slower to react to changing
environmental temperature than the bulbs of Krause.
When the MRT in a room becomes
negative we feel cold. When the MRT in a room is positive, we become
warm. The goal of this home is to keep the MRT at a level where comfort is
controlled by the surfaces around you as opposed to conditioning the air which
uses more energy. This concept greatly reduces the need for mechanical
heating and cooling. In fact, calculations for this home indicate only 2.4
tons of cooling will be needed to maintain comfort.
Homes built like
this in the desert of Phoenix Arizona have been using 92% of the power during off peak
periods and have unmatched interior comfort and energy bills that are a
fraction of conventionally built and insulated homes. Widespread use of
this type of building would decrease the need for on peak power, allow for
growth and expansion without a need for power plants to handle demand and allow
electric utilities to use power generation equipment more efficiently. In
short, a win win for everyone. The homeowner gets a comfortable energy
efficient home, metropolitan areas will have reduced pollution due to more power
being used off peak and utilities can meet growth and expansion without the need
for more power plants.
It is a primary goal of OPERA House to not only use
grid power more efficiently but also create a more comfortable environment by
using logic and basic physics. It's time we re-evaluate not only
construction methods that have remained basically unchanged for generations, but
how the environment around us affects our comfort and the energy required to
- All walls, ceilings and roof
decking will be thermally protecting using only our patented RBS products. No fibrous insulation
will be used in this home.
West wall will generate sufficient hot water using solar energy and RBS to
meet the total needs of the home for domestic hot water and space heating
during the winter.
- Mass walls around the
perimeter and strategically placed interior mass walls maintain interior
comfort within a few degrees.
- Solar heated hot air from the
attic will be drawn into a modified clothes dryer eliminating the need for a
6000 watt heating element and exhausting 1400 cfm of conditioned air to the
- Underground return ducts and
supply ducts inside the conditioned space reduce heat gains and losses and
allow for air conditioning (humidity and filtration)
- Low voltage lighting and tubular skylights reduces heat
- Low E Glass reduces heat gain
through the windows
- Increased attic venting at the eves and
roof peak to minimize attic temperature
Return to Fred Clark's home click
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