Responsive Architecture helps control the sun in Virginia Tech’s award-winning LumenHAUS solar home

It has been five years since Virginia Tech University’s LUMENHAUS, an 800-square-foot sustainable smart home, was introduced to award-winning acclaim, and the building project is still providing learning experiences for energy efficient architecture.

LUMENHAUS is a collaborative student research project designed to build a 100% solar-powered home.It was also Virginia Tech’s entry into the 2009 Solar Decathlon and 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe, taking first place honors in the latter competition, as well as receiving the 2012 AIA Honor Award for Architecture.

What makes LUMENHAUS special is that it is based on a breakthrough concept called Responsive Architecture in which the home automatically responds to changing environmental conditions to keep occupants continuously comfortable. SageGlass® dynamic glass plays an important role in this design. The electronically tintable (EC) glass enables maximum daylight harvesting while controlling the sun’s rays and preserving a view to the outdoors.

The video below provides a great overview of how Responsive Architecture is used in the house.

Today, LUMENHAUS resides on the school’s Blacksburg campus, providing new teaching and research opportunities. Several solar house classes have been developed including “The House of the Future,” which focuses on components, systems, and innovative materials that might be used in a new dwelling. And an “Urban Garden” project has given students an opportunity to build a prototype exhibit for the largest undeveloped site in the city of Chicago using innovative wall and screen systems developed for LUMENHAUS.

The building provides all the amenities of a modern home without using outside electricity. It was conceived and built by students and faculty of Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design. The net-zero energy home incorporates a number of cutting-edge technologies that work together to maximize comfort with environmental protection.

An array of electronically tintable glass provides both automatic and manual sun control on the west facade of the building. As part of LUMENHAUS Responsive Architecture, integrated daylight sensors automatically tint or clear the glass depending on the effects of the sun’s rays. The occupants can also adjust SageGlass’ tint wirelessly through an iPhone or iPad-controlled management app.

SageGlass modulates light, heat gain and glare in LUMENHAUS. Rather than using conventional sun controls such as mechanized window shades, blinds and louvers that tend to block sunlight and views, SageGlass provides a solution that enhances occupant comfort and enables unobstructed views to the outdoors. By regulating solar heat gain, it conserves energy and reduces the capacity requirements of HVAC systems.

LUMENHAUS is the result of a unique collaboration between academia, corporate partners, fabricators and material providers. “One of the most significant measures of LUMENHAUS is the connectivity of creativity and technology,” explained Robert Dunay, FAIA and Director of the Center for Design Research at Virginia Tech. The project’s educational goal is to develop architecture that challenges conventional practice and stimulates new considerations for residential living. Precise sun control is critical because LUMENHAUS is completely solar powered. Other sustainable features include the use of passive-energy systems, radiant heating and building materials that are from renewable or recycled sources.

600450 Responsive Architecture helps control the sun in Virginia Tech’s award-winning LumenHAUS solar home
Date: 2 May 2014

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