> SFU unveils innovative West House at Olympics

SFU unveils innovative West House at Olympics

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Lyn Bartram, 778.782.7439; cell 604.908.9954; lyn@sfu.ca
Stuart Colcleugh, PAMR, 778.782.3219, colcleugh@sfu.ca

February 11, 2010

More than 200,000 people during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver are expected to tour Simon Fraser University’s West House, a model sustainable home at LiveCity in Yaletown featuring the latest in green-building, clean-energy and smart-home control technologies.

The 56.7-square-metre (610 sq. ft.) prototype “laneway house” is the inspiration of Lyn Bartram and Rob Woodbury, both professors in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).

The energy-efficient house, which produces more energy than it uses, features a combined living/dining/kitchen area, bathroom and loft bedroom with small balcony. The attached 21-square-metre (226 sq. ft.) garage comes complete with an electric-car charging outlet.

"Laneway houses have a smaller ecological footprint and greater energy efficiency than regular single-family homes, says Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, who officially opened West House on Feb. 10 along with federal Treasury Board president Stockwell Day.

Since the city approved laneway houses in 2009 as a means of densifying some 66,000 single-family lots with compact housing, it has granted 21 building permits and has 50 more pending approval.

Bartram and Woodbury worked with city sustainable development manager David Ramslie to get West House built and ready for the Olympics in only a few months.

They hired local contractor Smallworks and quickly found local partners including MSR Innovations, Day4Energy, Embedded Automation, Schneider Electric, Pulse Energy, Terasen Gas and Ver-Tek to contribute solar and electrical systems, energy-management software and computer-control systems.

SFU researchers created the innovative intelligent data interface and display system called Adaptive Living Interface System (ALIS). Its purpose, explains Bartram, is to help the homeowner actually practice energy conservation, which current energy-control interfaces don’t encourage.

“I don't want to know about volts, watts and amp hours – I want to know if I can run the vacuum cleaner,” explains Bartram.

ALIS helps homeowners to change their lifestyle to reduce consumption. A detailed control display is located at the home’s entry, with just one button to hit to put the house into “away” mode and another by the bed to put it into “sleep mode”, for example.

A smart-phone application allows remote changes to energy settings with just a few finger taps. And in the kitchen, a backsplash glows in different shades of colour to show much energy is being saved.

The interface technologies, says Bartram, are all focused on modifying the occupant’s energy consumption behaviour.

Western Economic Diversification provided $347,000 for house construction and relocation. The city fast-tracked the project and provided land for the display site and a permanent location in East Vancouver to showcase the building and sustainable living practices after the Games.

Additional support was provided by BC Hydro and the national centre of excellence in graphics, animation, and new media, known as GRAND.



Comment Guidelines

sarah thompson

Wow, this is an amazing leadership step for SFU to be taking. Well done SIAT! I can't wait to go and see it.