The modern house’s utilities are disconnected from each other and the local environment, resulting in wasteful homes that rely on remote sources for energy, water, and food production. UMD challenges communities to think differently about their homes with reACT (resilient Adaptive Climate Technology), a house that incorporates regenerative design principles and intelligent data systems to create a sustainable living technology that responds to the climate and user needs. reACT’s modular design also offers families, room for growth and advancement, encourages eco-friendly habits, and can meet the needs of growing communities. We believe that fostering adaptable home-based technologies and human-centered design to promote sustainability will change homeowner’s perspectives and incite a shift in the American housing market.>
Our primary architectural design goals in reACT were to minimizes resource waste, remain responsive to the climate, and meet the needs of the user and the larger housing market. The principles behind these objectives come from the Living Building Challenge, which unlike other sustainable design certifications, considers the entire lifespan of the materials used in the project as well as the resource efficiency of the building.
To minimize waste, reACT makes use of sustainably and locally sourced build materials, passive energy, and rainwater collection systems. The home also connects the resident to the ecological system that surrounds them and supports their home by incorporating into the home to create a cyclical system where plants provide for the residents and the residents use their waste to support plant life. Finally, the architectural design of reACT makes use of modular architecture to create a kit of parts that can meet the needs of any individual or community.
Our home design already encourages interaction between reACT, the outside environment, and the homeowner. However, the UMD team also aims to minimize energy and water use with an integrated system that increases efficiency, predicts and adapts to future weather patterns, and remains adaptable to future reconfiguration.
At the heart of reACT’s technological processes is the power system that was formed with the idea that the house’s electrical supply should increase self-sufficiency, use state-of-the-art technology, adapt to the user and modular design, and benefit the homeowner. To achieve these objectives, the power system is designed to sufficiently meet the energy demands of the other systems, remains adaptable enough to function in the modular design, and attains a maximum profit from selling to the grid. A home’s HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) and water system generally works at a great energy cost to the homeowner, so team UMD changed this in reACT by using high efficiency technologies and incorporating passive heating elements into our design for minimum energy expenditure. Finally, since team UMD saw integration as a central part of building a sustainable home that can manage resources by adapting to a homeowner’s needs, the outside environment, and future situations. UMD students wrote a physically based simulator called Virtual reACT (reactvirtual.eng.umd.edu) to manage the house’s water, electrical, and thermal energy use.