Sustainable living The house that provides its own energy

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Construction is nearly complete on an innovative, multi-family house in canton Zurich that can collect and store enough solar power to fulfil the energy needs of its tenants. (SRF/

The project has been aptly named “The House of the Future”, and it is claimed to be the world’s first energy self-sufficient apartment block. The dwelling is being built in Brütten, and by springtime it will be ready to house nine families.

The construction of a self-sufficient house poses the engineering challenge of balancing tenant energy requirements with the amount of energy that the building can produce. To overcome this hurdle, the House of the Future minimises both energy consumption and energy loss, and has its roof and façade covered with energy-efficient solar panels. Once completed, only LED lights will be used, and all household appliances will comply with the latest energy consumption standards.

The engineering company behind the project estimates that only one hour of sunlight will be sufficient to power the entire building for 24 hours.

To ensure that surplus energy is available during bad weather days, a power-to-gas plant, which converts solar energy into hydrogen, has been integrated into the house. When insufficient energy is produced from sunlight alone, a fuel cell will use the hydrogen to generate the needed electricity.