Going off the grid might always sound like a rustic, rural lifestyle in a sustainable log cabin, but Norway's Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings and architecture firm Snøhetta have a project proving that's far from the truth.
The Centre and the firm teamed up to design a house in Larvick, Norway with a roof covered in 1,614 square feet of solar panels. The house was built with solar in mind, ensuring that the panels hit the appropriate 19 degree angle to maximize hours of direct sunlight. Also incorporated is a solar thermal system for heating and hot water as well as a system of rainwater collectors for the toilets and garden. Other green features typical in energy-efficient design include maximization of sunlight and natural heating through thoughtful window placement and geothermal energy from underground wells to ensure that the house is capable of meeting the needs of the typical family without connecting to the grid. The house is expected to generate a grand total of approximately 23,000 kWh of electricity each year from solar panels and collectors, but the home only needs 7,272 kWh.
At least part of the reason the home will generate so much additional electricity is the important considerations made for maximizing solar and coupling it with other sustainable design strategies. The leftover electricity will be used for other resources, like the heated pool and charging station for the family's electric car. A wood-heated sauna is also built into the home along with an outdoor dining area made from reclaimed timber and space for a vegetable garden.
Based on photos of the project and the many amenities included in the design, it's safe to say the off-grid home of the future will not need to forgo the creature comforts homeowners are accustomed to. In fact, it will more likely make them cheaper.
Read more about the project from Green Building Press.