There's something good brewing in Denmark.
Experimentation there may be of great help in the future to the U.S. and other energy-short nations. The Danes are apparently ahead of the pack in coping with problems of limited energy supplies.
In the August edition of Builder magazines, official publication of the National Association of Home Builders, a special 16-page report on passive solar energy should be "must" reading for every builder and architect.
The message is basically this"
The Danes, whose economy five years ago was heavily dependent on foreign oil, launched a broad program of diversifying and converting energy use to coal and natural gas and started to explore alternate possibilities -- solar, wind and geothermal energy.
Nuclear power was strongly opposed by the public and, since the mishap at Three Mile Island, opposition has increased even more. Thus, the Danes turned the major effort to reducing home energy consumption.
Half of all energy consumed by the Vermont-sized nation of 5 million is used to heat homes and other buildings. That government statistic, then, became a target for reduction.
In May, 1977, the Danish Ministry of Commerce asked builders to compete in the design of an attractive, low-energy house with a living area of about 1,300 square feet to shelter a family and keep all heat requirements to 5,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) per year.
American homes vary from 5,000 kwh to 25,000 kwh, depending on climate and thermal insulation, to show the challenge facing designers.
Twenty-five entrants joined the competition to build six model homes and construction began last May. In October, the Thermal Insulation Laboratory of the Technical University of Copennagen sealed the house for a year's detailed measurement of performance of the various energy uses.
Some of these techniques were to use extra insulation, recover heat from exhaust air, use alternative energy sources (i.e. earth and sun), and capture free heat on the interior in the form of body heat, electric light and appliance heat.
One other measuring device, labeled "mrs. Hansen," is a barrel-like heat emission device used to simulate body heat. Researchers believe that the hanging barrels will emit heat in amounts similar to that of an actual living resident of the home. The "mrs. Hansens" will be used to determine how much body heat is actually retained by the house.
The new technology includes load-bearing insulation, air exchangers in the ventilation system for heat recovery, waste water heat recovery in the sewerage system and a custom-designed fan coil heating system with individually-controlled room temperatures.
One model result was that 31 percent of the head load was provided by human heat, the remainder coming from electric lights and appliances and by heat collected by passive and active solar systems.
While the year-long study of sealed houses study continues, there is widespread use of district heating in Denmark. This is a direct system of producing heat in a central facility and distributing it via water in insulated pipes to individual residences.
The energy-saving accomplishments of the Danes are a ready-made resource for anyone heeding the cries of governmental warnings including those who cry crisis.
The special report may be ordered for $1 or 10 copies for $5 by writing "Passive Solar," Builder Magazine, 15th and M Sts., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005.