Stockbridge Green Architects

Zero Carbon Emission

A Metaphor


This is a simple device that handles a fixed set of operations. The little rectangle, a solar Cell, to the upper right makes it all possible. If there is enough light to enable you to differentiate the display and the buttons, you can turn it on and it just works … no worries.


My response was, “Why not a building?” This Idea inspired me to action.


It turns out that you can apply this principle a building. A house can be designed and constructed in such a way that it can be “turned on” and adjusted at commissioning and then operate for years without further attention or resources. With other sustainable improvements, it can be made better for you and more comfortable. Admittedly, the building application is a little more complicated.


When you maximize efficiency in construction, energy requirements can be reduced by 80% and a lot of things get simpler. We all learned from our fathers to turn off lights and adjust the AC. It saves money. Soon, these actions become obsolete. For example, a building designed to meet the PassiveHaus standard will loose heat at a rate of 1 degree in a 24 hour period in winter conditions. It would take a week for the indoor temperature to drop from 72 to 65 degrees if there were no thermal inputs to stop the process; such as lights, people, solar gain or cooking. If you lower the thermostat, you will mechanically cool the building to reach the lower temperature; an unnecessary waste of energy. When you remove the human factor of fiddling with the controls, energy loading can be accurately calculated and provided for. Allowances can be made for leaving the widescreen on 24 hours a day.


To meet the zero carbon emissions goal, the only energy source is electricity generated by solar panels on the structure; no oil, no natural gas, no wood. With traditional construction you would have to cover the entire house lot with solar PV to meet the total energy demand. With an 80% reduction in required energy you can throw in a few extra panels for the electric car (no gas for personal transportation) and easily fit the array on a south facing roof.