Virginia Tech’s Lumenhaus is an 800-sq-ft energy-optimized “smart house” that features an active motion control system to minimize the overall HVAC load. It recently won the first place of the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe.
The control system uses servo motors and a series of belt-driven linear actuators (in a custom size) to drive 9-feet-wide panels over the bedroom spaces and 18-ft-wide panels over the main living room. The house also features a Siemens APOGEE building control system, which controls ten stops in the system. The APOGEE control system is programmed to send a signal to automatically close the panels if, for instance, the wind gusts reach 30 mph, in order to protect the house.
“The thought behind the Lumenhaus design was to build a sustainable smart house with the ability to maintain optimal energy performance at all times. So when the weather is good the house automatically opens up and doesn’t use energy,” said Professor Joseph Wheeler, Virginia Tech’s project coordinator. “Conversely, when the weather turns bad a system is in place that enables the house to protect itself.”
The Lumenhaus features a “whole building design” construction approach, wherein all of the systems and components of the house have been built and designed to work together in order to maximize the owner’s comfort with environmental protection. The house has an integrated environmental control system that is powered by motion control products from Thomson (www.thomsonlinear.com) and Kollmorgen (www.kollmorgen.com).
“To create a more energy-efficient house, the idea was to protect the glass in the house when the weather becomes extreme,” said Wheeler. “But we didn’t want to lose beautiful, natural light in the house. We started by designing polycarbonate panels filled with aero gel insulation, but the initial challenge was how to drive the panels back and forth over the facade of the house.”