— We are excited to have started building the SURE HOUSE in a parking lot on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken New Jersey. “SURE Construction” is a subset of our PopSci blog that we’ll use to chronicle our construction process. Check back often if you want to follow our progress and get a first hand view of how a sustainable and resilient house takes shape.

digital drawing of a HVAC system

Design of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) Systems

The mechanical systems of SURE HOUSE have been designed with the comfort of the homeowner in mind. A Daikin Applied central air handling unit, coupled with a zoning kit, provides zoned heating and cooling for SURE HOUSE. Wireless thermostats, coupled with a central interface, allow for responsive and intuitive control over the interior conditions within each zone. Meanwhile, a Zehnder America energy recovery ventilator acts as the lungs of the house, bringing in outdoor fresh air while exhausting indoor kitchen and bathroom air.
digital drawing of a floor plan

Controllable Heating and Cooling Zones

The indoor living areas of SURE HOUSE have been divided into four heating and cooling zones. The temperature and humidity in the master bedroom, kid’s bedroom, kitchen/dining space, and living/entertainment area can be independently controlled by the user. This allows the user to match the heating and cooling profile of SURE HOUSE to their living patterns, which is a simple, effective way to save energy.
Daikin central air conditioning unit

Condensing Unit

This is the outdoor component of the heating and cooling system which has been mounted on the roof. This unit utilizes a refrigerant loop to extract heat from the surrounding air during cold days and release heat to the surrounding air during hot days. The heated or cooled refrigerant is then fed down into…
central air handling unit on a building site with two workers

Central Air Handling Unit (AHU)

the central air handling unit, which is the most crucial part of SURE House’s heating and cooling system. A Daikin SkyAir unit was selected for its’ efficiency and form factor. The AHU mainly consists of a blower and heat exchanging coils. Air is taken from the hallway and blown past the coils, which have heated or cooled refrigerant running through them. The conditioned air is then distributed across the living areas of SURE HOUSE. How the conditioned air is distributed is mainly controlled by…
Daikin zoning kit

Zoning Kit

…a zoning kit, also provided by Daikin. This zoning kit comes with five outputs which split the air leaving from the AHU. The airflow with each of the outputs is controlled through automatic dampers, which limit or increase the air to each zone based on user input. This allows users to adapt the system to their own comfort standards and living patterns. For example, you can set the system to bring more conditioned air into the bedrooms during the night time when the living room and kitchen are not being used, thereby saving energy while still remaining comfortable.
house piping system

Heating and Cooling Ducts

If you were to talk about ducts here at Stevens Institute of Technology, people might think you are talking about our sports teams (The Stevens Ducks). Be assured, however, that there is no such confusion within the members of the SURE HOUSE team. The ducts are essential as the veins of the HVAC system, delivering conditioned air from the AHU all across the house. We are using special foam ducts from Zehnder and securing them in the ceiling space using gussets and mastic to prevent them from moving around during shipping.
Paul energy recovery ventilator

Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV)

An ERV is essentially a heat exchanger which takes the exhaust air leaving the house and lets it exchange heat and humidity with the fresh air entering the house. It also serves as the lungs of the house, keeping the air fresh while all the doors and windows are closed. This ensures that you are not throwing away the energy you spent heating or cooling the house. For SURE HOUSE, we are commissioning the Zehnder Novus 300, which is known for its’ extremely high efficiency (up to 95%).
Zehnder Comfotube ventilation pipes

Fresh Air Ducts

We are utilizing Zehnder Comfotube ducting to distribute fresh air across the house. This ducting is very flexible and easy to connect, making it excellent for installation.
Zehnder Comfotube ventilation pipes in a house

Fresh Air Manifold

A manifold distributes the flow from a single duct into separate ducts. This manifold provided by Zehnder allows us to take the air coming through the ERV supply duct and split it to provide fresh air to each of the four zones of the house. Keep checking back as we continue to install and test our mechanical systems.