The future of urban housing is energy efficient refrigerators

Katera’s holistic vision of reform in the construction world demonstrates the arrogance of stereotypical Silicon Valley, to build a completely new production system off the ground using billions of dollars of investment. It also has a fraction of the effect of European models trying to recover using a simple, straightforward and standard set of parts.

According to Gerard McCougie, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Century Homes, Irish pioneer of off-site construction, the company shared a common blind spot with many American technologists: it ignores leading innovation abroad. While the wooden frame building in American construction was favored on site with readily available raw materials ફો Ford pickups are piled up with two-by-four અને and more space- and material-barrier builders in Asia and Europe have completed prefabs and modular technologies. . Katera ignored these examples, which gradually developed skills by focusing on specific areas at a time. Instead, he tried to redesign the wheel, bringing every aspect of the complex construction process inside the house and building lots of different models together and greatly increasing the cost.

“What you don’t know or what you don’t know catches you,” says McCougie, who spoke with Katera leaders. “There were things they were certain you needed to do, but [they were wrong], Off-site is not a one-trick pony. You have to crawl before you can walk. The least experienced person in my company knew more about off-site construction than their senior leadership. ”

Explosion model of retrofit
0. R38 Effective Envelope 1. Glazing with low solar heat gain coefficient 2. Low emission internal shades 3. Ceiling fan for circulating air inside the units 4. Lightweight air distributed by central ventilation system 5. Decentralized cooling by “boost” in- Variable air volume unit activated by suite control

Many efforts are underway to decarbonize the buildings. An example is the Holistic Energy and Architectural Retrofit Toolkit (HEART), a cloud-based computing platform that includes decision-making and energy management features.

Mardith Miotke

The Energiesprong model, which has retrofitted thousands of homes in the Netherlands and across Europe, relies on Stromversneling (the name means “rapid acceleration”), a network in which contractors, housing associations, parts suppliers and even financiers work closely. Nor does it match the caterpillar scattering system. Right now, the Energiesprong system can rebuild a building in about 10 days. Other startups and construction companies offer commendable upgrades: Dutch firm Factory Zero, for example, makes pre-built modules for roofs boasting electric boilers, heat pumps and solar hookups. Greening an old building is almost plug-and-play.

It is part of a larger European model that begins with an ambitious emissions policy and is supported by programs such as Horizon Europe with retrofits and incentives and funding for new buildings, subsidizing novel construction methods in effect and innovating windows, doors and HV. Makes. Systems A key component of its success is the government’s willingness to fund such upgrades for government-subsidized and public housing, usually post-war towers and townhouses in dire need of improvement. But Europe also has other notable advantages: building codes are more standardized across countries and across continents, including some progressive regulations. Passivhos Standard, ultra-efficient level of insulation and ventilation that drastically reduces the energy required for heating and cooling. The entire housing ecosystem is also smaller and more standardized, making it easier to support more experiments. Energiesprong uses a single building model, a handful of contractors and a relatively small pool of players in a small area.

Coordinating in a US city would be very difficult, much less across the nation. “Europe adopts a shotgun approach and funds numerous programs across the board,” says Michael Eliasson, a Seattle-based sustainable building expert and founder of Larch Lab, a design studio and think tank. As opposed to focusing venture capital on a handful of single-minded hypergrowth startups, it is an approach that spreads risk between different ideas. “The US is a kind of sniper rifle,” he says. “Katera fails and it affects the entire prefab construction industry.”

The emerging model in Canada wants to imitate Europe. City Housing Hamilton, the municipal housing authority for the city of Ontario, recently used the National Housing Fund for a complete retrofit of the Ken Soble Tower, a waterfront high-rise for seniors that was built in 1967 and fell into disrepair. The project, which included paneled exterior cladding, new high-performance windows and electrification of the heating and gas stove, was completed by the building. Passivhos Standard; The total energy required to cool and heat a unit is equivalent to three incandescent bulbs, with a 94% reduction in energy consumption thanks to extreme efficiency. The beautiful new bay window that offers seating, beautiful views and daylight suggests that there is no aesthetic price to pay.

Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects, who led the project and studied hundreds of similar mid-century high-rise buildings across the nation, said the project gave business to Canadian companies producing high-tech windows and cladding, suggesting that such work Can help in the development of domestic industry. More green building projects. He has also led the formation of the Tower Renewal Partnership, an organization dedicated to pursuing similar retrofits across Canada. But Sean Botham, City Housing Hamilton’s development manager, says that despite all the benefits they’re seeing for Tower residents – better air quality, infection control, mental health and cognitive functioning, and “you don’t see the social scenarios.” The agency is unlikely to pay an 8% cost premium to upgrade other buildings in its portfolio without further funding support.

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