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Big Idea: Zero Carbon House

In every sense of the word, the Zero Carbon House [www.zerocarbonhouse.com] is a big idea. Using renewable energy and a host of smart implementations of green technologies, carbon emissions normally generated by everyday activities like heating and cooling and other power needs, growing and procuring food, and even transportation to and from the home have been virtually eliminated; it’s truly what the name implies, and it’s for real, built from the ground up in Scotland. How is that possible?

The design and building specifications for the Zero Carbon House reads like a ‘how to’ for green building. According to the site, “Power will be provided by two on-site wind turbines and can be stored in a Redox Fuel Cell system (read more about them here [treehugger.com]) to even out fluctuations in generation and demand. Power can also be stored in the electric vehicle’s battery system. A grid connection will be retained as backup but the power storage system will maximize the use of renewable energy on site rather than exporting power to the grid. This improves the project economics as well as minimizing impact on the local electricity distribution network.” What’s more, “Zero carbon heat from the heat pump will augment passive solar collection in a doubly-insulated greenhouse to provide suitable growing conditions for a range of fruit and vegetables grown in a hydroponics system.” The house also features high-efficiency radiant floor heating (among other nifty ideas to live comfortably without generating carbon) and is designed to be self-financing after three years, mostly as an education and training center.

The house is based on a standard design, making it easily replicable since there aren’t any really unusual twists and turns in the architecture. While the house is just a prototype for now, it seems like this is a big idea whose time has come; it sure would be nice to not have to worry about having to get green power [www.sundance.tv], and to be able to worry less about your carbon footprint [www.sundance.tv]. If you’ve got a big idea (or even a slightly smaller idea than a whole house – this is a big one!), get those cameras rolling and submit it right here [www.sundance.tv]; you could win a Lexus hybrid lease and $10,000 to make that big idea a reality. We know the world needs all the big ideas it can get.