Demonstration houses that stress energy efficiency have traditionally concentrated on achieving good building performance, but often look experimental and alienate potential developers. This has resulted in a history of demonstration designs with limited market penetration. Our ongoing research project investigates the elimination of residential compressive cooling in transitional California climates through design and technical alternatives to the typical single-family, detached production house. The goal is to avoid peak electrical demand while continuing to provide occupant comfort during overheated periods.
A design workshop produced an initial set of house designs and cost estimates which were then
reviewed by developers and builders. Comfort and energy use parameters were used to optimize building technologies and to define the climatic range of application. The design most representative of market trends was taken through design development, including complete mechanical and structural
design. Further discussions with industry representatives generated interest in constructing a set of
The prototype house does not look substantially different than the average contractor-built house, but it has a number of innovations which increase thermal performance and marketability. Achieving a compressorless house with good building performance delivers other desirable characteristics: a heavier house with more sound and fire resistance, enhanced connections between interior and exterior living spaces, and a level of year-round thermal comfort not found in standard production housing. These characteristics can be packaged in a form that the industry can understand and sell.
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