Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 24, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

Energy Efficiency


  • Horizon continues its look at sustainability with a house that can save up to 90-percent of its energy costs. The traveling German structure is called "Das Haus," and it is currently on display at Tempe Town Lake, near the Tempe Center for the Arts.
Guests:
  • Wellington "Duke" Reiter - Vice President, Knowledge Enterprise Architecture at Arizona State University
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: energy, sustainability, german,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight on our continuing coverage of sustainability issues we look at a house that can save up to 90% of energy costs. The structure is called Das Haus and it's a traveling home featuring German sustainability and construction. Das Haus is on display near the Tempe Center for the Arts. Here is Wellington "Duke" Reiter, Arizona State University foundation. Thanks for joining us.
Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Glad to be here Ted.
Ted Simons: This is not exactly a house. What are we looking at?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Right. What you see today is a little bit the result of a victory tour to some degree. The Germans have been way ahead in solar and a lot of technologies related to sustainability. They were the winners in 2007 and 2009 of an international competition called the Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C., where houses are built by 20 university teams. They were one. They won two times in a row. They were measured and the reason it's called the decathlon, on ten different issues including energy efficiency and other terms. It's a pavilion that's a reminder of the two houses.

Ted Simons: And why were these houses winners? Is it insulation, is it being airtight? Is it the outward design?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Believe it or not the ten criteria cover a broad spectrum, market appeal, architectural design, engineering, energy efficiency, the ability to power an electric car, how the appliances work, how the water is filtered. Ten criteria and it's a very severe measurement.

Ted Simons: As far as affordability, what are we looking at in terms of cost? If we're looking at something affordable why aren't we seeing these being Biltmore often?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: They range from 200 to 400 K, plus or minus, in that range. We had a symposium yesterday to discuss this. Why do you not see more of this? Part of it is market appeal. A lot of us purchase Priuses because we can see readouts and appreciate the savings, but the look isn't for everyone. Now people are coming around to the idea that that's what energy efficiency looks like. Same could happen in houses.

Ted Simons: Is there any idea of building these on SPEC?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Absolutely. Here in Phoenix people are doing exactly that.

Ted Simons: Das Haus, you get guided tours, information. What else is happening in terms of technology and design with renewable energies and these homes, it seems like these are cutting edge homes.

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: They are. By the way, if we're successful, the entire solar decathlon will be surrounding the lake. This is just a precursor to what could be a spectacular demonstration of what these homes could be. The biggest innovation in a way is monitoring. It's letting you know what your house is doing and adjusting your behaviors accordingly there are now sensors in-houses that let you know how you're actually doing in terms of use of energy F. you would behave different you can do a whole lot better, even in your current home.

Ted Simons: You walk by a certain wall and the wall says you're using this much in terms of electricity in the laundry room, in the kitchen?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: You are very close to the way these houses can behave. They can monitor themselves. They know when the appliances are running ineffectively. They can let you know how they could be running in an optimal way.

Ted Simons: What challenges are there architect really speaking in having this kind of efficiency in a house that looks good, that people want to live in, that's cozy, homey?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: We had speakers yesterday on behalf of the home building industry, APS, and others. You can have all these technologies in-houses that for all appearances are like any other house you would want to own. For those that want a house that looks like a house there's that possibility and there's others that could look different.

Ted Simons: As far as existing infrastructure, do these things fit? Will they be able to adapt to what's there already?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Absolutely. The future in many of these houses is in the technology. Of course it has to fit in conventional spaces.

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Last question. You talk about this decathlon, this big project. There's a chance we could see something like that?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: There's a chance in 2013 and we're one of very few finalists that the Department of Energy is considering that would bring the entirety of the solar decathlon off the mall in Washington D.C. It would be surrounding Tempe Town Lake in 2013. It would be a great boost economically and complete the solar narrative in Arizona, saying this is the place to be.

Ted Simons: For those who opt down to look at this Das Haus thing, for those who want to check them out, what should you look for? What do you want people to take away?

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: You should look at the materials, you should assume many are sustainable. They have been refurbished, they are recycled. Don't just look at the gizmos, the gadgets. Look at the materials. They have all come from sustainable conditions.

Ted Simons: Interesting stuff. Good to have you. Thanks for joining us.

Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Thanks, it's a pleasure.

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