Buildings use a lot of energy for heating and cooling throughout the year, homes are no exception. Harvard decided to build a zero emission “home” to test solutions that can be used in new buildings or retrofitted into existing structures. The design is smart in the sense it uses passive heat exchange and lighting while also using high tech sensors to monitor the home and adjust internal systems.
Rather than existing as a “sealed box,” HouseZero is designed to interact with the seasons and environment, sometimes rapidly adjusting itself to achieve comfort for its occupants without using powered HVAC systems.
For example, the home uses a “window actuation system” that relies upon software and room sensors to automatically open and shut windows as the outside temperature changes, intelligently moving air around the home to make it cooler or warmer (through cross ventilation and convection). This process is also driven by a “solar vent” in the basement.
This is a really cool way to bring post-secondary education to more people via the internet. Harvard and MIT are launching a new initiative built upon MIT’s expertise in online course delivery to launch a new project called edX that’ll give unbridled access to the knowledge in the two acclaimed institutions.
“Through this partnership we will not only make knowledge more available but we will learn more about learning,” Harvard President Drew Faust said this morning at a news conference at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. “Anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can have access.”
Faust predicted the venture would “change our relationship to knowledge and to teaching for the benefit of our students and students and would-be students everywhere.”
Standing beside Faust, MIT President Susan Hockfield said: “You can choose to view this era as one of threatening change and unsettling volatility, or you can see it as a moment charged with the most exciting possibilities presented to educators in our lifetimes. Online education is not an enemy of residential education but rather a profoundly liberating and inspiring ally.”