Text description provided by the architects. The Quota House is part of a large development project: The MiniCO2 Houses. The project involves a total of six detached houses, each of which illustrates various aspects of reducing CO2 emissions in the construction, use and maintenance of a house.
The Quota House focuses on occupant behaviour and patterns of consumption, examining the degree to which carbon emissions can be reduced when the occupants are supported in more environmentally friendly behaviour – including the adoption of a quota system, a form of “budget” account which sets a clear, low target for the maximum carbon emissions the occupants should aim for each month.
There are three ways in which the house and its occupants can help to reduce CO2 consumption: Firstly, via the architecture of
the building, with functions suitably located in relation to daylight and solar orientation and to the need for privacy and family togetherness. Secondly, via built-in technology the house monitors and provides feedback on the consumption of electricity, heating and hot and cold water. And finally, by the occupants voluntarily observing an energy quota, which sets a maximum monthly target for the amount of CO2 they emit.
In the middle of the house is the so-called Climate Belt, a zone through which the occupants pass frequently during the course of the day. This is where they find the building’s information display, which conveniently lists consumption of electricity, water and heating, which can be read at any time and checked against the family’s daily and monthly quota.
Below the screen is the house’s emergency start button, in all senses a central element of life in the Quota House. If the family has exceeded its energy quota, the house shuts down. However, pressing the start button instantly reactivates all systems – but pushing the button also reminds occupants that they have exceeded their energy quota and must begin “putting energy aside” for next month.
Smarter occupant behaviour combined with an overall vision to reduce carbon emissions has been incorporated into the design of the house. This means that:
- The Quota House sets a limit on the monthly level of carbon emissions for which the occupants are responsible.
- The Quota House has built-in technology which helps occupants to turn off lights, switch on heating and ventilate at the appropriate times – and keeps them updated on the amount of energy they have used.
- The design of the Quota House makes it easier to conserve energy, e.g. via a covered outdoor drying courtyard which saves on tumble drying, a larder which saves on refrigerator space and a multimedia room which provides space for a more conscious use of electronic media instead of the traditional central location in the living room.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
The Quota House is not yet occupied. No specific calculations are therefore available yet of a family's energy consumption. But life-cycle analysis figures prepared in co-operation with researchers at SBi, the Danish Building Research Institute, suggest that it will be possible to make significant reductions in the total consumption of electricity and heating – and therefore in carbon emissions.
CO2 emissions stemming from consumption of electricity and heating during the service life of the Quota House are 15 and 10 kg of CO2/m²/year respectively over a 50-year period. For the Reference House, the corresponding figures are 24 kg of CO2/m²/year for consumed electricity and 13 kg of CO2/m²/year for consumed heating. Material consumption for the life cycle of the structure of the Quota House is 6 kg CO2/m²/year, i.e. slightly higher than the equivalent figures for the Reference House (5 kg CO2/m²/year over a 50-year period).
The MiniCO2 Houses Development Project
The Maintenance-Free House is one of six demonstration homes built in the coastal town of Nyborg in central Denmark. Five of the houses examine various ways of reducing carbon emissions; the sixth house brings these experiences together.
For many years, the efforts of the building industry to reduce CO2 emissions – not without reason – have focused on energy for heating and therefore also on airtightness and insulation. However, as national and EU building requirements become ever stricter in this area, it becomes relevant to examine how the industry can also reduce carbon emissions – for example, in terms of materials and of user behaviour.
The main objective of the MiniCO2 Houses development project is thus to reduce CO2 emissions in the construction, operation and maintenance of a house. The six houses share the same overall principles:
- Building type: Single-family detached home
- Size: 130 to 172 m²
- Energy guidelines: Danish 2015 Standards
- Budget: Normal economy
- Architectural design: Broad appeal
- Future: Sale of the house after completed experiment