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International Experts Encourage the Building Community to 'Go Active'

Written by Peter L. Mosca on Tuesday, 03 February 2009 6:00 pm

Researchers, engineers, architects and experts from the international building sector recently gathered in Copenhagen for the first international Active Housing roundtable discussion. The group focused on the concerns associated with climate changes, energy consumption and indoor living conditions. The event, hosted by VELUX, highlights the challenges of how to combine energy design and liveability factor considerations in new and existing housing stock, or 'Active Housing.'

"The overall aim of doing this is to create a catalyst effect for formulating a visionary response for innovative measures and solutions that tackle current challenges in the construction and building industry in one solution," said Michael K. Rasmussen, VELUX CMO, in his introduction to the Round Table Forum Meeting.

During the day, the participants were divided into seven groups focusing on defining content and values for the two overall 'Active Housing' terms, energy design and liveability factor. The most repeated points about liveability factors focused on the human behavior, incentives to act responsibly, as well as the need for scalable and flexible design solutions that can change during the life span of the building and its users.

"The energy design of tomorrow could be one of the greatest breakthroughs since modernism," the discussion group concluded. "We are searching for the good life -- health, fresh air and lots of daylight -- just as we did in the 1920's, but this could actually become a new era."

Themes concerning energy design included the need to re-brand sustainability with less focus on technical issues and more emphasis on creating a positive, appealing and rewarding story about being environmentally consciousness for users and experts. Another theme focused on the need to develop a means of measuring and benchmarking liveability.

Increasingly liveability is gaining traction in technology and advancements for the home and the persons living within it. Home Automation, Inc. (HAI), for example, a manufacturer of integrated automation and security products, offers a new suite of wireless energy management products designed for ZigBee&Reg;, a technology well suited to a wide range of energy management and efficiency, building automation, industrial, medical, and home automation applications.

One product, the Omnistat2 Wireless 7-day programmable communicating thermostat, is for conventional single stage heat/cool, heat pump, two speed heat pump, two stage conventional, and zone control systems. It can be controlled both locally and remotely and is designed to precisely control the temperature and humidity within the home. Using advanced digital technology it actually "learns" a home's heating and cooling patterns and adjusts control to maximize both the HVAC system's efficiency and the occupants' comfort.

In addition, HAI is a Gold Key sponsor of The Louisiana House - Home and Landscape Resource Center, better known as LaHouse, a family-type home designed to showcase innovations in home construction for Louisiana's sub-tropical climate and provide a model for the public to learn about technological advances in home building. HAI is the sole home control partner.

"HAI is always looking for ways to work with educational institutions that are helping to get the message out about how technology can make your home more energy efficient and the LaHouse is an excellent partner to work with in this endeavor," said Thomas Pickral, Jr., HAI Director of Business Development. "The LaHouse is a rare opportunity for the building industry and the public to see technology that is available today to make their home more sustainable."

"Both consumers and professionals can see first-hand and learn about many solutions - from ways to protect their homes from hurricanes, floods, mold and termites to the employment of highly energy efficient and healthy building, air conditioning and lighting systems to interiors that combine beauty, comfort and convenience with eco-friendly benefits," said Claudette Reichel, LSU AgCenter housing specialist.

[Note: Summaries from the Active Housing roundtable discussions, keynote speaker presentations and short video interviews of the keynote speakers can be found online at VELUX which has manufacturing companies in 10 countries and sales companies in just under 40 countries, creates better living environments with a wide range of roof windows and skylights, along with solutions for flat roofs.]

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