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A Zero Energy House That You Can Control With Your iPhone

The Soleta House is packed with green gizmos—and looks good, too.

  • <p>Part of a prototype line of eco homes, the Soleta House combines high-tech design with woodsy appeal. Oh, and you can control it with your smartphone.</p>
  • <p>The zero energy house, conceived by the Justin Capra Foundation for Invention and Sustainable Technologies (FITS), is a multi-functional shed that’s mobile and affordable, with low maintenance costs and a "positive eco-impact."</p>
  • <p>And, unlike most other entries in the eco-home market, the Soleta House is a well-considered piece of design. The house employs natural and renewable materials that give it a cabin-like feel.</p>
  • <p>An exterior wood lattice acts as a natural screen to modulate sunlight passing into the house.</p>
  • <p>The interiors are characterized by broad open spaces without partitions. The pitch of the roof delineates the "rooms" from one another.</p>
  • <p>Insulated glass windows admit plenty of light into the house while keeping in heat.</p>
  • <p>The design makes use of a series of sustainable features including solar heat, rainwater collectors, in-floor heating, “natural” and “forced” ventilation systems, LED lighting, and high-efficient fixtures.</p>
  • <p>The house’s ventilation and energy are monitored by a totalizing climatic conditioning system (KNX) at all times. The latter can be controlled by your smartphone to suit your preferences.</p>
  • 01 /08
    | The Soleta House

    Part of a prototype line of eco homes, the Soleta House combines high-tech design with woodsy appeal. Oh, and you can control it with your smartphone.

  • 02 /08

    The zero energy house, conceived by the Justin Capra Foundation for Invention and Sustainable Technologies (FITS), is a multi-functional shed that’s mobile and affordable, with low maintenance costs and a "positive eco-impact."

  • 03 /08

    And, unlike most other entries in the eco-home market, the Soleta House is a well-considered piece of design. The house employs natural and renewable materials that give it a cabin-like feel.

  • 04 /08

    An exterior wood lattice acts as a natural screen to modulate sunlight passing into the house.

  • 05 /08

    The interiors are characterized by broad open spaces without partitions. The pitch of the roof delineates the "rooms" from one another.

  • 06 /08

    Insulated glass windows admit plenty of light into the house while keeping in heat.

  • 07 /08

    The design makes use of a series of sustainable features including solar heat, rainwater collectors, in-floor heating, “natural” and “forced” ventilation systems, LED lighting, and high-efficient fixtures.

  • 08 /08

    The house’s ventilation and energy are monitored by a totalizing climatic conditioning system (KNX) at all times. The latter can be controlled by your smartphone to suit your preferences.

Ninety years ago, avant-garde architects were designing houses with modular spaces that echoed the efficiency of planes and cars. Today, we have automated planes (military drones) and, soon, driverless cars. Isn’t it time, then, for our homes to be just as technologically ambitious?

The Soleta House, or Soleta zeroEnergy One, is a step in the right direction. This prototype line of eco homes includes multifunctional structures with high-tech, clean-energy systems that can be controlled via your smartphone.

The project, currently on display outside the American embassy in Bucharest, was developed by the Justin Capra Foundation for Invention and Sustainable Technologies (FITS). The goal was to design and build a zero-energy shed that could be used as a house, studio, or office in various climates. It also had to be affordable and versatile, with low-maintenance costs and a "positive eco-impact," the company says in a statement. Naturally, it had to be good architecture, too.

FITS laments how many "low-energy" housing prototypes maximize performance at the discomfort of their occupants and the quality of spaces. The Soleta House was designed to counteract this trend. Its architecture employs an expansive palette of natural and renewable materials that give the house a pleasing, cottage-like aesthetic. It uses high-performance insulated glass to create airy, light-filled living spaces while still retaining thermal loads. Partitions are eliminated inside in favor of a quasi-open plan that subtly delineates one "room" from another.

Nearly every sustainable feature imaginable was embedded in the house, including solar heat, rainwater collectors, in-floor heating, "natural" and "forced" ventilation systems, LED lighting, and high-efficient fixtures. A totalizing climatic conditioning system (KNX) closely monitors the house’s ventilation and energy at all times; when used optimally, KNX can cut energy use by up to 45%. Best, it’s easy to control: You can use your smartphone to calibrate the interior environment to your exact specifications. Finally, there’s an app for that.

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