There are a lot of interesting technologies at Rockspan.  Here’s a short list:

ABC Wall technology.  PEX tubing embedded in composite Prestressed Concrete walls turn our house into a giant heat exchanger.   Energy is stored in the walls, but it is also absorbed or rejected according to the needs of the occupants and the weather conditions outside.  72 sensors in the walls constantly monitor wall conditions and are compared with data from sensitive pipe mounted meters that measure flow and temperature.  Variable speed, permanent magnet circulators push water throughout the house to low-energy Caleffi actuators that open or close depending on conditions. See more here...

Climate Automation ENV.  The only HVAC control system that can manage the ABC Wall technology.  As their website says it: “ENV balances all aspects of the home environment - from forced-air to radiant systems incorporating real-time weather data, a statistical database, and established rules that result in an ideal climate not just for the home environment, but the Earth's environment as well.”

A super-efficient variable output (1/2 ton to 2.5 tons) ground source heat pump from HydroTemp captures energy from the house envelope and redistributes it to interior walls, exterior walls and through a ground loop (to heat exchangers in the barn) for heating, cooling and domestic hot water through an indirect hot water storage tank.

Electrical power comes from a 10.5 KW Photovoltaic panel array on the nearby barn.  Our plan is to be NZE (Net Zero Energy) so that we are producing as much energy as we are consuming on an annual basis. We are grid-tied to Ozark Electric distribution Co-op, but backup in case of a power outage will be supplied by the PV array, a 1-2 day battery backup, propane generator or all three.

Northstar 2 volt tubular plate gel technology solar batteries.  Northstar is a local manufacturer and they are introducing a new 2 volt solar battery that is excellent for our use.  We are using 72 of these 370 amp/hour OPZV batteries and will be monitoring their performance with an IP link.

The PV array is built with Hybrid thermal solar heat exchangers also known as PVT for Photo Voltaic Thermal.  The energy lost to heat in the conversion of light to electricity is partially recovered and utilized in the barn radiant floor in the winter and to supplement the house HVAC system.  These same heat exchange panels will reduce the surface temperature of the PV cells, thereby improving their efficiency.  At night, in summer, we hope to circulate water through these same heat exchangers to dump energy to the night sky to improve the performance of the house ground source heat pump.

Caleffi Solar Thermal Domestic Hot Water.  We’re using the most advanced solar thermal system for heating domestic hot water.  It starts with a new, patented solar collector design by Bob and Max Rohr and includes a Caleffi drainback design with a 120 gallon super insulated tank and control.

The water supply starts with a steel and plastic lined, 460 foot deep well with a standing water level (measured in December) at 100 feet.  All incoming water is filtered to five microns (for raw water used for irrigation) and the drinking water is further treated with a 1 micron filter, activated charcoal filter and UV light source.  Both flows of water are charged with dual 120 gallon pressure tanks mounted in the barn for extra elevation in case of power failure.

A four stage Orenco AdvanTex septic system will practically eliminate bacteria leaching into the nearby environment.  The house septic system includes a thousand gallon primary tank, a 1500 gallon secondary tank, an AdvanTex filter system and four 100’ laterals along with electronic monitoring and controls to assure performance.

Internet Access comes through a new Exede satellite service that has excellent performance both up and down.  Special stimulus pricing for traditionally underserved rural areas makes the bills reasonable. This internet service will provide VOIP ( Voice over Internet Protocol), security, entertainment and data.

Tornado resistance.  Each concrete wall section is reinforced with 16 1/2 cables pretensioned before being poured.  Each wall is also reinforced with steel rebar and mesh.  The walls are anchored to the oversized foundation and are bonded to the first floor slab with 5/8” rebar on 2’ centers.  The roof includes a steel deck with a 4” reinforced concrete cap that bonds to the walls with 5/8” rebar.

Radiant heating and cooling.   The walls exchange heat inside to provide both heating and air conditioning.  We use Watts FlexPlates and Radiant PEX stapled up below floors along with Radiant PEX in the basement slab to provide warm floors.  There’s a ProMelt snowmelting system in the concrete entrance outside of the north facing front entrance.  We built a “Wave Ceiling” in the living room to provide fast response, low-mass overhead heating and cooling.  So, the house features active radiant panels in the ceiling, walls and floor.

Rainwater collection system.   All three roof systems on the house are equipped with roof drains that collect the rainwater and carry it to a ConTech collection tank that holds 4,000 gallons.  Our house will collect about 50,000 gallons of water in a typical year.  This water will be used for drip irrigation around our house and for our rainwater fish tank.

Residential fire sprinkler system.  We’re installing a NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 13D multi-purpose residential fire sprinkler system throughout the house.  There are 26 heads installed in a continuous 1” PEX circuit that also functions as an irrigation resource for the house and nearby plants.

Natural ventilation.  We’ve designed the stairway (with it’s penthouse on the roof) to return damp air to the basement for latent cooling in the summer.  That same stairway will gather and remove hot air from the building envelope during the summer and shoulder seasons.

Filtrexx mesh containment tubes are filled with perennial seeds and compost on the jobsite to provide retaining walls without concrete, stone or wood.  They hold embankments in place without danger of failure while providing new places for plant growth.  Each soil sock has drip irrigation tubes and a connection to the rainwater collection system.

Daylighting.  We use Velux eight sun tunnels to provide daylighting for the top floor of the house and the storage building off the carport.

Recyclable PVC green roof with a high albedo.  We use three flat roofs on our project that are covered with recyclable white PVC.   White roofs have a high albedo meaning they bounce back solar energy to prevent overheating.  Other parts of our roof will have growing plants to provide cooling and vegetables.  The roofs are also programed for entertainment, bird watching and stargazing.

Home run domestic plumbing.  All the hot and cold domestic water uses are provided by continuous circuits of colored PEX piping that are plumbed without traditional fittings.  These circuits begin at a manifold location in the mechanical room that allows each faucet to be isolated and shut-off in case of replacement or failure.

An Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) constantly delivers fresh air to all the rooms of the house and flushes stale air outside.  The ERV reclaims about 75% of the energy used to heat or cool the air (depending on the season).  This technology prevents mold, filters the air, removes odors and keeps every room fresh.

Gypsum floor underlayment.  We’ll pour a 3/4” thick layer of a gypsum based cement over all the plywood subfloors.  This will provide a 2 hour fire rating, sound dampening and protection against insect infestation.  Because the gypsum mixture pours right up to the drywall, it seals out smoke, air infiltration and bugs.

Wilson Cell Phone Signal Booster.  The concrete & steel walls along with our rural location makes cell phone reception problematic.  So we use a Wilson Electronics cell phone booster system.  It works great.

Elgato streaming HiDef TV over WiFi.  Our entertainment will come from Apple TV streaming over satellite.  A technology known as Elgato distributes broadcast TV on all our computers and portable devices over our wifi networks.

Solar powered rainwater fish pool.  We’ll be using rainwater and a solar powered pump and filter system for the fish pond outside the front door.

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24 Interesting Technologies
Rockspan Tech