Think Your Old Home Can’t Be Ultra-Efficient? This Harvard Initiative Begs to Differ

Ultra Efficient Home

At the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities, a new green housing initiative has been launched. The twist? Unlike most such initiatives, the HouseZero Project plans to convert a home from the 1920s into a no-emissions, ultra-efficient home.

“In the U.S., most of our building stock has already been built,” professor of architectural technology and the leader of the CGBC program, Ali Malkawi, said to Curbed.com. “We’re shattering the belief that you need to build new buildings to be efficient. We want to show how this can be replicated almost anywhere, and solve one of the world’s biggest energy problems, inefficient existing buildings.”

In order to achieve their goal of an ultra-efficient 1920’s home, the HouseZero Projects is planning to undertake the following steps:

  • Solar Vents: Create a thermal uplift to draw cool air from the basement when warm.
  • Maximized Window Shape: Allows more light in during the winter, and limits it during the summer, both to reduce need for artificial lights during the day and also maximize heat.
  • Install a Geothermal Heat Pump: Let’s the home be heated or cooled by the steady temperature of the planet.
  • Solar Shingles: Allows the little need of energy be met by an onsite production.

The project is essentially designed to be a how-to for homeowners with less-than-efficient buildings to renovate their home and make them more sustainable. Of course, these changes should not be attempted on your own. The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends having an electrical contractor or electrician evaluate any home over 40 years old, some even say over 15. Such large-scale renovations should be done only in close collaboration with licensed electricians.

There is also the factor of cost. The process by which the HouseZero Project is renovating their home is indeed cost prohibitive for many Americans, but the point is less to provide an absolute road map that must be followed in one fell swoop, rather something that homeowners can pick and choose from when they have the funds to make renovations.

As the HouseZero site says: “While a homeowner may not be able to implement every aspect of HouseZero, applying one or more of its components could positively impact its environment, the health of its occupants, and building operating costs.”

If you are looking to make your home more efficient, talk to the Electricians at Penna Electric Today