At South Ural State University, work is being done on the project of an energy efficient house. Scientists from Polytechnic Institute and the Institute of Architecture and Construction together with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science are developing a unique project.
The main idea of the project is not just designing a beautiful, comfortable and efficient (from the position of resources consumption) house, but creating a special habitat for a Russia resident, which would maximally satisfy his physical, psychological and aesthetic needs.
The Dean of the Power Engineering Faculty, Head of the Department of Theoretical Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering, Sergey Gandzha, told us how the idea of creating such house came into existence, why the house is unique and how much time it will take to construct it.
– What problems does a person, who wants to build a house, face?
− In Russia, it is very important to create a perfect home for a person, as the entire life of a Russia resident goes in difficult climatic and social-and-economic conditions. Such house should perfectly combine landscape design, thoroughly elaborated aesthetic and comfortable interior, and economic consumption of resources (heat, electricity and water).
Unfortunately, the popular-today pattern is the following: free land sections get parceled into square areas and sold, and then everyone build their own houses the best they can. As a result, this fragile harmony gets distorted. A person can spend a lot of time and money, but he will never achieve the physical and spiritual comfort that he is aspiring to. He has to live among ugly buildings with high fences and uncomfortable internal interior; moreover, he has to pay big money for the inefficient system of central resource supply.
Mass media frequently discuss the topic of a global Russian idea which could inspire Russian people and bring the economy to the path of strong and constant development. Such ideas have always existed in the country. Previously they regarded the space, development of nuclear power engineering, creation of a powerful defense. Nowadays this idea can regard creation of a balanced comfortable habitat for Russia residents. Its implementation will require development of traffic infrastructure, the industry of new materials, computer technology for a smart house. Scientists from abroad are moving towards such development, and we should keep up.
– How did the idea to create such extraordinary house come into existence?
− The idea originated at the Power Engineering Faculty. We were invited to Izbushka (Rustic House) exhibition, which brought together producers of cottage construction who talked about their projects. There were interesting proposals which separately solved some problems. But the following question arose involuntarily: “Suppose you have unlimited resources. Which of these cottage complexes would you choose to live in?” None of these houses ringed a bell, because none of the projects completely satisfied the requirements of this harmonic comfort. And then the desire to create such project came into existence.
– Why did you unite your efforts with several Departments for implementation of the project?
− Our project is difficult enough; the Power Engineering Faculty alone is not enough to complete the task. Presently, all brilliant engineering ideas originate at the intersection of disciplines. In regard with strategic development of the university, the Rector encouraged us for this interdisciplinary cooperation. We united efforts of three departments: the Power Engineering Faculty, the Institute of Architecture and Construction, and one of the Faculties at School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. At that, power engineers are solving the problem of resources supply; architects are working on the problem of internal interior and landscape design, and specialists in computer technology are making the house smart. Our university has very powerful research and engineering background for implementation of such complex project. At the Power Engineering Faculty, we actively develop alternative sources of energy: wind power engineering, solar power engineering, thermal pumps. The Institute of Architecture and Construction is experienced in excellent designing. The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will be working on digitalization of the smart house.
– What is the specificity of your project and the most energy efficient house?
− Our project comprehensively solves all problems for creation of a comfortable habitat. The specificity of our future house is in the fact that it is going to provide itself with all necessary resources. For example, it will be receiving heat through thermal pumps which take geothermal heat from the earth. Electricity will be generated with the use of alternative energy sources: solar batteries and wind turbines. Water in such house will be supplied form the earth through a borehole. Such house will be able to be constructed practically anywhere, and it will provide itself with all the necessary. Moreover, landscape design was taken into account as well: a garden house will be constructed near the house to watch sunrise and sunset; there will also be a playground for children, necessary household outbuildings, and more. Our house won’t have a fence. Instead of it, low-growing bushes will be planted around the house, acting as a fence. The residential section will fit into the natural landscape without distorting it. Variants are being elaborated to construct such houses for the residence of one, two or three generations, i.e. the so-called family seat, just like it used to be in Russia. With such energy efficient houses, we will form ecologically pure settlements which take into account the specificities of the Ural’s nature. As the house does not require centralized supply, the number of houses in a settlement each time will be determined individually. Approximately, there will be eco-friendly settlements of 10-40 houses each. Also is this project we are planning to prohibit private individual construction. There will be a specialized enterprise which will construct key ready energy efficient houses and settlements at highly professional level. No matter how rich is a person, it will be difficult to comprehensively solve all problems of such knowledge-intensive and technically complex construction single-handedly. And without the comprehensive solution of all these issues we will find ourselves exactly where we are today.
– How much time will it take to construct the energy efficient house?
− In order to implement such complex project we need financing. Together with the architects and computer science specialists we are planning to apply for a grant intended for three years; we are not just planning to spend all the money on making all necessary calculations, execute engineering drawings and build the house. We want to create a system of computer-aided design (CAD) of such houses. SUSU has the Supercomputer Center which allows performing any calculations and any simulation. We also have an industrial partner which is interested in the project and ready to invest money and help us constructing the house.
– How is this project beneficial for SUSU?
− This project is perfectly fit into the strategy of development of our Faculties and the university as a whole, particularly in project-based education. We will actively involve students. They will be able to take direct part in the real-life project: develop power engineering systems, interiors, automation, etc. The first constructed energy efficient house is planned to be used as a laboratory for research purposes and study process, for polishing all engineering processes, and for further development of this idea.