BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — An energy-inefficient, late 1920’s vintage bungalow in West Lafayette, Indiana, will become a living laboratory for resource-efficient remodeling and net zero research thanks to a combined effort by the Whirlpool Corp. and Purdue University.

Whirlpool engineers are working with Purdue University to transform an off-campus house into a net-zero energy, water, and waste structure. Called the ReNEWW house — for Retrofitted Net-zero Energy, Water and Waste — the structure will be renovated to include energy-saving features, such as a high-efficiency HVAC system, solar panels, a “gray” water system that reuses water from sinks and showers, and other technologies that promote resource efficiency.

“Net-zero energy means that over a certain timeline, usually an entire year, energy production equals energy consumption,” said Eckhard Groll, project sponsor, professor of mechanical engineering, and director of the Office of Professional Practice at Purdue University. “It’s going to be a super-efficient home.”

Over the next three years, Whirlpool engineers that participate in the Whirlpool Engineering Rotational Leadership Development (WERLD) Program and are enrolled in the engineering graduate program at Purdue University will have the option to live and work in the house, which Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. is leasing from the university. After initial collection of baseline data, such as how much energy and water the home consumes, Groll said the students will work on converting the house into a net-zero home. Improvements will include replacing windows, insulating and air sealing the building envelope, and installing a solar power system and a highly efficient HVAC system.

Plans for the home also call for finishing the large basement into a laboratory environment. Engineers will install an instrumentation system that monitors key data and employ the lab and data collected to help develop a next-generation, high-efficiency appliance suite in conjunction with Purdue University.

“The goal of this project is not only to learn more about resource sustainability, but also to demonstrate how any home can become resource efficient when the right kind of modifications are made,” said Bob Bergeth, Whirlpool’s general manager of builder sales. “After we’ve compiled this valuable research, we plan to share it with our homebuilder partners interested in the benefits of sustainable building. The project will also provide valuable insights which inform our engineers on future product design.”

For more information on the ReNEWW house, click here.

Publication date: 5/5/2014

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!