Autonomous buildings are buildings that operate independently from infrastructural support services. We design our buildings to naturally heat and cool them self all year around without any additional fuel. The energy that is needed for lights & appliances is easily generated with an off-grid solar & wind system that produce clean electricity all year around. By producing their own water our buildings work towards water conservation, which is important because fresh clean water is a limited resource. Our buildings are also designed to process their own sewage so they do not contaminate the environment.
Researches states that roughly 90% of the total carbon emission of conventional buildings are generated during the operation phase, and 10% is generated during the construction. The highest energy consumption for conventional buildings are caused by heating & cooling the indoor space. Because autonomous buildings are not dependent on any fuel, they do not contribute to any carbon emissions during the operation phase. For reducing our emissions during the construction phase we choose to build mostly with natural materials such as earth and stone instead of manufactured materials.
Below are short descriptions of the autonomous systems that we implement in our designs.
1.NATURAL HEATING & COOLING
By combining ancient methods and modern techniques our buildings can heat & cool themself naturally without consuming any fuel. This is based on designing the building to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer for cooling. By creating a thermal storage around the building & using materials with high thermal mass capacity inside, we can store solar energy from warmer seasons and use it during colder seasons. This system provides comfortable temperatures all year around without using any mechanical or electrical components.
For providing comfortable air temperatures, each building has underground ventilation channels (cooling tubes) and skylights that together creates a natural ventilation system without consuming any energy. The cooling tubes are installed 3 to 4 m underground and in the back of the building while the skylights are installed on the front end of the roof. Together they create a natural convention through the interior that requires no mechanical fans to function. When hot summer air travels underground, the air temperature will cool down before it enters the building and when the cold winter air enters the tubes it will heat up to comfortable temperatures. This is simply because the temperatures under the ground surface are comfortable all year around.
For fresh and drinking water supply, the roof & landscape of our buildings are designed to catch rain & snow water and store it in underground water tanks. The water goes through a series of particle & bacterial filters which cleans the water all the way to drinking water quality. The yearly precipitation of your climate and the buildings consumption need are the main factors for calculating the amount of water storage that is needed. You can store water for a yearly consumption as long as the catch surface and the amount of water storage is designed based on the yearly precipitation of your local climate.
4.BIOLOGICAL SEWAGE TREATMENT
For grey and black water treatment each structure has integrated greenhouse zones & outside gardens where all the sewage is treated with biological processes. Plants are used for cleaning and consuming all sewage so there is no waste product left in the end of the cycle. Grey & black water are treated separately. The grey water from the sinks and showers are re used first for watering eatable plants indoor and then recollected and used to flush the toilet with it. The blackwater is turned into liquid where non eatable plants consume it in lined botanical cells outdoor. This system is based on Earthship Biotecture technology.
5.SOLAR & WIND ENERGY
For electricity and hot water services the building use solar panels and collectors in combination with wind mills if necessary. Power is collected during the day and stored in batteries to provide electricity at night and cloudy days. The hot water is heated by solar collectors and has a backup system that always make sure the water temperature is comfortable. As the building has a natural heating and cooling system that does not require any energy consumption the amount of energy needed is only for lights, outlets and pumps.