International architecture firm Snøhetta has partnered with Norway's Research Center on Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB) and to design and build a remarkable experimental house that helps move the development of very efficient buildings forward. The ZEB Pilot House is claimed to generate almost three times the amount of electricity it requires, with the significant surplus available to help run an electric car, for example.

A lot of sustainable technology was used on the build. The roof sports a 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft) photovoltaic array, and a 16 sq m (172 sq ft) solar thermal panel array, in addition to a rainwater collection system that provides water for toilet and garden use. In order to ensure all available rays are caught, the roof also slopes 19 degrees toward the southeast.

A Snøhetta representative told Gizmag that the photovoltaic array is expected to produce 19,200 kWh annually, while the home's total electricity needs are calculated at just 7,272 kWh per year.

Inside, carefully-placed glass encourages solar heat gain, while a heat exchanger expels excess heat and redirects it to warm tap water. An efficient underfloor heating system is also installed.

Surprisingly perhaps, at least given its focus on minimal energy use, the ZEB Pilot House also boasts a swimming pool and shower, which are warmed using surplus heat.

Moving outside, an atrium with fireplace and furnishing has been constructed for outdoor dining, and a small breakfast spot is built from recycled timber blocks. There's also a firewood-heated sauna and fruit trees and vegetable gardens to enable small-scale food production.

The ZEB Pilot House was completed earlier this month and its performance will be monitored longterm to ensure that it meets all estimates. Research organization SINTEF and building supply firms Brødrene Dahl and Optimera were also involved in the project.

Sources: Snøhetta, ZEB

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