OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

AVAVA Systems: Renewable Energy + Modular Housing = Smart Communities!

AVAVA Systems mission is to design the most compelling and sustainable solutions for affordable housing in the world. We believe renewable energy should be fully integrated into to our living and working spaces as a standard option. This combined with a high efficiency building envelopes and natural water treatment systems will allow people to build new towns and cities nearly anywhere in the world in a way that is truly sustainable. Our designs are intended to be locally manufactured and assembled in order to create jobs for these communities. For the people, by the people!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
42 20

Written by

AVAVA Systems is passionate about creating housing ‘for the people, by the people.’ One of our core goals is to leverage design to make housing something that does not require specialized skills or tools to build. It should be simple, easy and fast to construct. This will make it possible for any community to build their own housing. Also, in parts of the world where reliable infrastructure is scarce or nonexistent, it only makes sense that this be “built-in” or integrated into new developments. This is far more efficient than the “add-on afterwards” strategy that is often planned but not often implemented.
Imagine planning a real estate development and knowing exactly what it will cost, how long it will take build and that ‘sustainability’ won’t be cut out half way through to save time or money. This is the goal for the designers at Avava systems. We also want to work directly with the people living and working in these developments so we can consistently improve the design and adapt it to their needs.

Questions we have…
1. What areas are most in need of this type of product and at the same time are open to a new way of building communities? Who can we talk to in these areas to get the conversation started?
2. Who else is passionate about solving this problem? Who can we partner with to make the design better (especially in the renewable energy sector) or get the resources to scale with the demand?
3. What are the most important things to you in a place you live? What makes your house a place you are proud to call home?   

What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

Our product is intended for a number of communities, these are as follows:
The 863 million people across the world are living in slum conditions. (As of 2015). The 42 million people left homeless because of natural disasters. (2010 Figure). The 27 percent of Americans that spend more than half their income on rent. (As of 2010) The 3 billion people, or about 40 per cent of the world’s population, that will need proper housing and access to basic infrastructure by 2030, according to UN Habitat

Our population is expanding at an exponential rate and the only way to achieve an acceptable standard of living for the people of this planet is through innovation. We implore you to help us with this mission.

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

If renewable energy comes standard on any living or working space we build, than the need to “transition” becomes unnecessary. In addition, if these spaces are so elegant and desirable that all the surrounding communities decide they simply must have them, than you start a renewable energy movement by demand. This is a very important factor. The majority of people didn't crave electric automobiles until Tesla started making them desirable. We must combine the form of beautifully designed housing with the function on renewable energy in order to create a scaleable solution that will go viral.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Avava systems has approached the owners of a few vacant lots around the San Francisco Bay area and has received permission to do a pilot projects at these locations. This would allow us to test an initial production run of our units as well as get feedback from local users. We are also in conversation with a architecture firm that is working on sustainable work force housing for a number of projects throughout North America.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

The folks at AVAVA Systems love meeting anyone who is passionate about affordable, sustainable housing. With that said, we are especially interested meeting people are working on real development projects and are open to innovative methods. We are also currently in fund raising mode, so if you or someone you know is interested in investing in “the most compelling way to build our communities” we would love to talk to them. Finally, we are always interested in talking to mechanical engineers and industrial designers.

(UPDATE)
One of the best things about contributing to this challenge has been the talented people that have come forward to offer their time and expertise to help us be more successful.

1. Thank you so much to Matthew Chow from the IDEO team for the help he gave us regarding our business strategy. Matthew started with a great template to evaluate our product applications. He then helped us figure out a clear and concise business plan around that application including potential partnerships, value proposition and growth strategy. Matthew's energy was inspiring and he asked some really good questions. We really appreciate the time and effort he devoted to our company.

2. We have been contacted by mechanical engineer who shares our vision for creating affordable, sustainable and sexy housing solutions. We look forward to collaborating with her. We have also been contacted by a designer who is focusing on better utilizing public and vacant spaces, and we hope to provide him with some innovative solutions.
A big thank you to OpenIDEO for getting our idea in front of people in a way that inspires them. We look forward to strengthening these relationships and building more as we move forward.

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:

  • Solar

This idea emerged from:

  • A Group Brainstorm

42 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Just wanted to mention again how helpful it was for AVAVA Systems to participate in this challenge. Thanks so much to all those who provided comments, suggestions and links to new technology. Here is a link our feedback page:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nbozzoydvuivnvl/Feedback%20-%20OpenIDEO%20Renewable%20Energy%20Challenge.docx?dl=0

Photo of Ryan Williams
Team

This is a great concept here! How much have you explored the specific technologies that you will need for this to materialize? What type of renewable energy? What specific building materials? What is the specific natural water purification that you reference?

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Thanks Ryan!

Yes we have. We have been designing and prototyping for over a year and we are pretty proud of it. We took a 100 sq ft model to the California dessert for a week and tested it, it worked really well! Time to assemble was 4 hours and it stayed cool with a small A/C unit on it's lowest setting.

The exterior is made of Structural Insulated Panels which are very efficient. We are still working on the mechanical systems, but we have been working with SunlightElectric on solar panel + battery package that should work in most climates. We would be open to using wind power as well, especially if we were buidling entire communities and could distribute the cost/power.

We have also been talking to a few local companies about rain water collection and grey water systems. It really depends on the location and environment , but most seem to think that a plant based water filtration system would be best. Again, it would also depend on the water source and number of houses we install. At certain point it just makes sense to engineer an centralized system. In either case, we would partner with one of these companies to develop the best solution.

We are now working on a 240 sq ft unit with kitchen and bath. Assembly would still be less than 1 day, and it would still be flat-packed and transportable.

Photo of Ryan Williams
Team

Fantastic....glad to see that you are already thinking through these details.

Photo of Steven Jacoby
Team

I know this is a little specific but definitely worth looking into. It's called an Omni Processor, it takes human waste and biomass and produces clean water, electricity, and ash out of it. Any harmful waste is destroyed and the clean water, electricity, and ash can be reused within the community. The initial investment may be expensive, but once divided by the number of people using it and the long term output of renewable sources it produces, it is well worth it.

It's very new technology and Bill Gates invested in the copy to help make it.

 http://janickibioenergy.com/s200.html

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Benjamin.
     This is really interesting work. I like the mission to provide housing during disasters. It might also be useful for refugee communities. Have you reached out to any relief organizations? Are there committees, or conferences on the built environment during disasters, where you can present your work?
    Your outline in the comment below is very helpful. Piloting in a vacant lot is a great idea. Have you considered setting up an office in one of your houses in a vacant lot - kind of like a "model" when one goes to see apartments in a new development so passersby can check out the product? Maybe have an "open house and/or a block party" - invite folk that may be potential users or investors?
   Where does your product fit in the Tiny House Movement in general?

   Good luck getting the pilots going!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Bettina

You are absolutely correct about the refugee communities. Once you have housing that can be set up in a matter of days and still collapsed and transported to another location, it really presents some interesting opportunities.

We have not reached out relief organizations yet. I assume you mean organizations such as the Red Cross, Docs without Border and Habitat for Humanity, right? We just finished testing our prototypes and contacting folks at those organizations is definitely next on our list. Do you know how I might get a soft introduction? I don't assume a email to their general in box is a very efficient way to proceed. Any ideas?

I feel that piloting a vacant lot would be huge step on our way to success. We are currently trying to find a developer to fund a project. We have a plan for a mixed use project here in Berkeley, CA and the city and the property owner is on board but we need funding. Standard financing methods have not been fruitful.

It "fit's" very well into the tiny house movement. Many tiny house solutions involve a trailer. However, most city ordinances don't permit living in your driveway. Also, there are a lot of backyards that are not accessible via trailer in urban areas. You can however get an AVAVA system back there. :-)

Thanks!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Benjamin.
USAID and Unicef came to mind when thinking about global relief. In addition to the organizations you mention check out Parters in Health.
USAID is involved in the Ebola response in Africa. They collaborated with OpenIDEO on ideas to assist health workers in a recent challenge. One major concern for health workers is heat related illness, due to local conditions and the need to use PPE. You mention that you tested your building in the desert and that it has AC. I wonder if your ideas might be useful for health teams working in Africa during this crisis.

Regarding the Red Cross - I volunteered with them after Hurricane Sandy. Speaking with supervisors who had worked many disasters they explained that the approach is to come in quickly, set up shelters, provide immediate care, and then to hand over the effort to local initiatives. During Sandy schools, churches, public buildings were used for sheltering. Local hotels were used when folk needed longer term housing. Depending on disaster location I can imagine sheltering and housing needs would differ greatly. Might help to research their needs further.

Searching OpenIDEO might be a great resource for contacts. Challenges may overlap and there might be folk that posted work that may be of interest? Also there is an upcoming challenge on Education in Refugee Communities. Perhaps there will be posts by NGOs working in these areas that may benefit from your products?
This looks like a good resource - http://www.archdaily.com/388076/four-ngos-launch-housing-competition-to-aid-disaster-survivors/

The tiny house in a backyard idea reminds me of someone who stayed in an Airstream Trailer in a backyard via AirBnB. I wonder if you place a tiny house in a vacant lot in SF and host guests via AirBnB if it would generate publicity and get word out as many folk visited?

Dave's slam idea sounds great. What do you think?

Bettina

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Bettina

Thanks for the suggestions regarding global relief organizations! USAID offers innovation investments also, so I think those are some great suggestions.

Few things would make AVAVA more proud that being able to help in the fight against Ebola and other health/disaster crisis. I think the fact that our products can be temporary or permanent would be a huge benefit. "Use it as long as you need - 3 months or 20 years"

We would also love to team up with the AirBnB community. I can think of some amazing places these could be set up for vacations, including quite a few in SF. Dave's Moduluxury slam is a great first step in both of these directions. We are going to get working on that....

Thanks again for the ideas!

Benjamin

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Winning Idea ....... congrats team Avava!

Photo of David Wilson
Team

Here is some recent news that could play a role in making the AVAVA System a true "off the grid" solution: http://www.ibtimes.com/tesla-working-new-battery-home-energy-storage-market-elon-musk-1813754

Photo of Michael Kozel
Team

David, in addition to what you point out about "off the grid" a decentralized power storage solution also makes perfect sense in earthquake country and in any place where we still have to rely on an above ground power grid that at least partially fails at every major or minor storm impact.

Photo of Kevin Casey
Team

My firm manages several thousand major remodeling projects and we work with numerous architects and contractors on our system. Every project ends up being a custom design/build project despite our best efforts to get greener through prefab. What we've found is that prefab is all too often promoted by idealists who like a modern look but lack the required engineering, operations and construction expertise. Without the full range of expertise something inevitably breaks down.

Ben and I met a few times as he has developed Avaya and it is the only viable material system that I have seen. That's no small feat.

This team has designed, fabricated, permitted and built structures in California (earthquake country) for a fraction of the time and cost of traditional building. They are able to do so because they have the design, engineering and operational expertise to do so.

There's something to this and it might be a really big deal.

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Thanks for your comment Kevin!

AVAVA Systems is looking forward to working with forward thinking companies like New Avenue Homes (http://newavenuehomes.com/). I think it's fantastic you are helping your clients simplify the construction process. There are so many things people don't know and have to learn the hard way!

Having a platform like New Avenue Homes is going to help everyone in the process (contractors, architects and home owners). We look forward to collaborating with you!

Photo of Joshua Hori
Team

Neat idea here. Have you reached out to some of the college campuses who are/have implementing/ed a self sustaining living solution for their campus? Hire students to create and live in the module houses for the year, testing and fixing issues that may arise, and then possibly sell the module home to the red cross or other community in need while also building a team of support through the students who made and lived in these module homes? A year of living in these module homes would definitely iron out any kinks and give you time to document and fix issues that arise.

Could I also request a raspberry PI be implemented with these solutions to provide an automated way to control the power and provide communication between the modular homes? If you also have a small green house, possibly have the raspberry PI also control the watering for the plants. Such as what they do here: http://www.gereports.com/post/91250246340/lettuce-see-the-future-japanese-farmer-builds

Also a server for all of these devices to be connected to of course. And a resource that details building construction, maintenance, troubleshooting, and noting issues to be aware of. Would be great to have a bunch of DIY (Do It Yourself) tutorials on hand if needed.

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your comment Dave! I love the idea of a challenge reframe. Your assessment of our situation is pretty accurate as well.

AVAVA Systems has figured out the design and manufacturing aspects. Our Mission Critical Aspect for moving forward is a Sales and Marketing campaign. Our product is fast, elegant and sustainable, but it's new and not many people are aware it exists. The first step to solving this challenge to capture and spread the story of people using our products. We would like to do 3 pilot projects in order to accomplish this.

Pilot Projects:

1. Vacant Lot Activation - Use a vacant lot (we have few here in the San Francisco Bay Area) to create a affordable housing community. Many vacant lots are mixed use, so we could also have some space for businesses or working professionals. Live/work space AVAVA style.

2. Backyard Affordable Housing - Find 2 to 3 people that need our product for a micro home in their backyard. Capture the story of who lives in these and how much they enjoy their space along with the financial freedom it offers them.

3. Disaster Relief: Let's get a few units ready for the next natural disaster. We can capture the story of how quickly we were able to set these up and get people safe and warm again.

Question #1
I think one of the other questions we should be asking here is which one of these markets is going to result in the largest reduction of carbon emissions?
Each house we sell/rent is going to provide a certain amount of sustainable power, but what will it be replacing?

For instance, if most disaster relief housing typically runs off a generator, that might be a better place to focus for this challenge than a new real estate development in which 30% of the local power comes from renewable already.

Question #2
Each of these markets has different customers. From homeowners to real estate developers to non-profits like the Red Cross. What are some ways we can better discover, understand, connect with these customers?


If we resolve the challenge of getting our product to be known and utilized for these markets (and others), the result will be hundreds of thousands of new housing units that come standard with renewable energy built in. I think this would indeed achieve the over reaching goal of the challenge.

Photo of Dave Zinsman
Team

"How about a moduluxury slam?"

Agreed, if you can get the product out there it could play a big part in empowering communities to transition to renewable energy.

I think you hit it on the head with "Question #2":
"What are some ways we can better discover, understand, connect with these customers?"
You have the product/tech capability; now you're looking to learn more from customers so you can get them the right features/benefits.

How do you feel about getting the product in front of people, or better yet, people inside the product sometime soon? The more people you can get inside the product, the better. If possible, even a little moduluxury slam with any OpenIDEO members who can make it.

The slam can be about getting you the feedback you need, and it can be based on anything.

"Spend an afternoon in moduluxury"
"Change your baby's diaper in moduluxury"
"Do your homework in moduluxury"
"Peel potatoes in moduluxury"

Happy to help you round up some OpenIDEO members and others in the area!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Dave,

I love the idea of the Moduluxury slam (great name btw)!

I talked to our team about how we can do this. We don't have the budget for a 'touring' unit at this time but we thought, but we think we could crowd fund one. One of the prizes could be to spend a night in a Moduluxury when it visits a town near you. This really is one of the critical points. We need to get more people to interact with our product, gain feedback and tell the story of how they felt about it.

Thanks for the offer to help. I hope we can find funding or get a crowd funding campaign up soon!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hello Everyone,

So there is a lot of information in form of words in this idea, which is awesome, thanks to everyone that has been contributing. I know there are people that prefer the visual (video) method of absorbing information though, so we made an impromptu video. If you want to just get the basics about what we are doing, start there! We also end with a question and we would love to continue to get feedback from the IDEO community.

Photo of Simon Heereman
Team

Dear Benjamin,

I really like the idea, which (as I understand it) creates a almost circular economy in a very small kit. Looked into using anaerobic digesters as part of the ecosystem, already? Anyway, as you put the mobility aspect very high this might not be interesting to you.

I really like how well refined your concept is already, wishing you the best of luck with it! And if you ever need a hand in southern Germany or Austria ... be it networking or hands-on ... give me a shout. Maybe I can support in any way...

Cheers,
Simon

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the comment! The ultimate goal for AVAVA is to provide an international housing solution for the millions people that are already struggling and millions more to come if we don't figure out a better way. That being said I am certain anaerobic digesters could play a part.

When you start looking at solutions for building entire towns and cities with our products, what to do with the organic waste is a question that will definitely need to be addressed. The mobility aspect allows for some interesting options around urban planning, but it does not exclude large, long-term developments. We would love to partner with companies that provide agriculture options as well.

Imagine we took all the grey water from our units, combined it with these guys (http://aerofarms.com/) to grow food and then took all the waste and put it in anaerobic digesters. That is a place I would want to live...

Btw, what is the final by product of anaerobic digestion? What do you do with it?
Do you have any mini units for small scale developments (10 to 40 people)?

Photo of Rick van Duin
Team

I love this idea and in specific the mobility of the units, next to the sustainable factor of course. Though, the units seems fairly small ergonomically speaking. Is there any data / research where you have based the minimum size of these units on? I'm thinking what the perfect size for such a unit would be to maximize its function in relation to the utilization of its living space, from an Interior Design viewpoint.

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Rick!

We just posted a floor plan for our 240 sq ft model. Please let us know what you think! This is intended for a single people of couples with out kids, If you needed more space we are also working on a 320 sq ft model. You also purchase a 120 sq ft room module and add it to your original. Please let us know what you think about the floor plan!

Photo of Rick van Duin
Team

Benjamin,

Thank you for your response. I think that your Floor Plan works well, though, these would be some of my suggestions as an Interior Designer to improve on your lay- out and functionality. I would remove the side tables besides the sofa and replace them for a single coffee table in front of the sofa instead. This way, if structurally possible, you can move the dividing center wall (and the sofa) down towards the exterior facade of the patio. This will create some more space in your storage / dining / kitchen area, and thus open up the space in that corner some more. It seems to me that, right now, your living room has a lot of space and that the other areas are very narrow and hard to maneuver through. Especially since these areas are going to be utilized for tasks and functionality a lot, it would be nice to see some more space there. The stove seems to have a dual cook- top, for me it would't be a problem to cook with only two pans, though most of the people prefer to have four cook- tops. It might be nice to integrate that as well. I can't read from your plan if your bathroom contains a toilet or not, but it might be nice to integrate one as well, just in case. I really like where you are heading with this amazing modular unit. It's something I've never seen before and am really excited about to see the final results realized. Great job!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Rick,

Thanks a lot for the feedback! I will bring these suggestions back to our designers and see what we can figure out.

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hello Eveyone.

I just posted a floor plan for 240 sq ft model. Please let us know what you think!

Also, here is a link to a Google doc with some questions we have about how we can implement these better. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1o7pGDD88lhslMVhE-FKEnPb7m5IMkrPq_Zkwbl1XD1E/edit?usp=sharing

Photo of Dave Zinsman
Team

Great stuff, Team Avava—let’s get your idea submission primed to draw max value from the OpenIDEO community!

Based on the “questions we have” that you posted, it looks like you’re getting ready to move from an early-stage to mid-stage project. You’ve figured out the tech and manufacturing, and you're now trying to dial in your marketing mix, specifically a better understanding of potential users and distribution channels?

A good way to help the OpenIDEO community better help you through the challenge is to do a “challenge reframe” in which you laser-focus the challenge based on:

a) The most mission-critical aspect of moving your project forward.
b) The premise that if you can resolve your project’s most mission-critical aspect, there will be clear achievement of the overarching renewable energy challenge.

An example of a challenge reframe for Avava:

How might Avava achieve a deeper understanding of their possible end users?

-Avava-Guided OpenIDEO Community Dialogue: ways to better discover, understand, connect with, and satisfy possible end users. These are four possible buckets where people can drop ideas. End user 1) discovery, 2)understanding, 3) connection, 4) satisfaction.
-Possible Intelligence Gained: who users are, where they are, what they want.
-Business Strategy Input: channel access, promotion options, sales force model, etc.

By doing a quick challenge reframe, the OpenIDEO Community can get a better idea of how to help Avava, so that you can get further, faster—looking forward to seeing the project grow!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Just noting that Benjamin has replied above if you're keen to continue this conversation :^)

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Thanks Meena!

Photo of Dave Zinsman
Team

Gotcha, thanks Meena!

Photo of Rob Erlichman
Team

What I like most about the AVAVA concept is that renewable energy is built in from the start. Every day at Sunlight Electric we deal with retro-fits of existing buildings or, in the best case, consultation on new construction to work solar into the picture and budget and what AVAVA’s doing it an entirely new paradigm. With the right kind of financing, owner/developers can amortize the modest initial investment and pay a finance payment instead of a utility bill, and spend less each month in the process. Good for the planet, good for the community, and good for the bottom line.

BTW, depending on the technology used, we should be able to fit 3.75kW-5.0kW on the roof, which should generate 5,600 to 7,500 kWh in most climates.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congratulations on making it to the Renewable Energy Challenge Refinement list, Benjamin! We like your enthusiasm for prototyping and the systems nature of transitions – using standardization of renewables as a way of making the transition common sense. Your sincerity for the needs of your community comes through and we like your goals for the use of the product down the road.

Looking ahead to the next 12 days of Refinement our team – along with the 11th Hour Project and the advisory panel – has a few questions that may help move your idea forward. First, we’d like to know a little more about research you’ve done in the space. What similar models are out there and how is Avava unique? It would be awesome to talk to a few people in the space in the next week and seek feedback on your idea. We’d also like to know more about your bay area pilots. Are there any immediate next steps that we can help with during refinement?

We can’t wait to see this idea continue to develop. Check out more tips for Refinement on our blog: http://bit.ly/oi-refine and http://ideo.pn/rr-refinetips

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hello Open IDEO Folks,

The folks at Avava Systems are very proud that we made it to the refinement stage! We are going to dive in to the process over the next few days and try to answer your questions as concisely as we can. We will start with a list and comparison of the other products that are in our space. Then we will also do a write up on the pilots we have done and a few more that are in the works. Finally, we are going to provide a list of potential strategic partners that we think would really help us scale this idea and a few scenarios.

Thanks refinement tips! We look forward to visualizing further how this might really have an impact on our world.

Photo of Joanna Spoth
Team

Awesome, Benjamin – so excited to see these updates. You can upload documents in case that's easier for the pilots and so the text of your idea doesn't get super long.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great to see your video added here! We're also particularly interested in some hypothetical User Experience Maps representing a range of potential user groups. You can make your own using our handy template: http://ideo.pn/user-exp

Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Benjamin and Avava team!

I'd love to learn more about your sustainable homes! Do you guys by chance have a video walkthrough of a home or could you post some more details about what makes them high efficiency? I see that each house is different (so maybe your most sustainable?) and I saw that you mentioned high efficiency envelop and natural water treatment systems, do you guys also use things like solar glass, or any other renewables? Do you by chance know what your homes qualify as on the LEED scale?

For your questions above, you might want to create a GoogleDoc or a SurveyMonkey for OpenIDEOers to fill out. Also are the communities you want to work with going to be involved in the construction? I'm sure you guys have already seen this video but I will include it anyways, Habitat for Humanity, just built their most sustainable house ever... what are your thoughts on their design?

-http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/150120-passive-house-vin

I live in SF and I cannot wait to see your pilot houses pop up. Thank you for sharing about you incredible houses!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for your comment! We are working on creating some better pictures and videos of how are homes are built. If you would like to send me a message I can update you. Benjamin@AvavaSystems.com

We use Structurally Insulated Panels for the roof and Thermolite panels for the walls. These use hard foam instead of the fluffy stuff and they interlock together around the entire home (envelope). This is far superior to standard insulation which interrupted by framing every 16 inches. You can also specify different thicknesses for our panels to match you climate and budget.

We have not applied for a LEED rating yet. I am a LEED AP though, and I think our top of the line unit would get at least silver if not gold. We have different options for windows, doors and heating systems, so it would depend on the options you specify and also the place you choose to put it.

Thanks for the suggestion! I am going to get a Google Doc going asap. I think the concept of building a 'passive house' like the one shown in the video is excellent, thanks for sharing. The world be a different place if everyone built with his type of long-term forward thinking. Let's make it happen!

Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Benjamin,

This all sounds great! I look forward to continuing to see your updates and will fill out your Google Form as soon as you upload it. Loving your enthusiasm and hopefully this world will someday be a reality!

Photo of Marine Barbaroux
Team

Hi Benjamin, this sounds like a cool product. I can see how it could spread out for general public as well as use in extreme cases (for instance, someone building a room/studio in their garden) and as such, your project really helps to raise the awareness / use of renewable energy. I'm looking forward to see it progressing!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Marine,

Thanks for your comment! Part of Avava's vision is to see our products used for affordable housing on a local level as well as an international one. In many urban areas, our back yards are the only areas we have left for new housing without doing a lot of destruction. We are very excited about offering people a complete off-grid (solar or wind powered) housing solution!

Photo of Oriol Segarra
Team

Avava Team! This is wonderful, I love to see that this is not just an idea but is really happening, and will love to hear more from your initiative. Did you built already any prototype?

Some ideas/questions towards technologies arise to me:

a) By now you only submitted solar energy as a renewable energy technology. In that case will you install batteries to store the energy?

b) If you would install wind turbines you could then use IceEnergy systems to generate ice at night and be able to cool the house during the day for free: http://www.ice-energy.com/technology/

c) Here a really interesting article about storage solutions: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_juice/2015/01/battery_and_storage_infrastructure_is_the_next_growth_area_for_energy_here.html

d) If the house could generate enough plastic waste (PP, PS, PE) you could use pyrolosis technology to convert the waste in oil and run a little diesel engine to light the house at night. The neeeded quantitites are quite large, but maybe we could transform this people's home in recycling sites from the other parts of the community!

Check this machine out (1kg plastic gets into 1l oil): http://www.greenworldsystems.nl/index.php?menu=157

I've seen this machine working, and it´s really good.

Trying to answer your questions:

1) I think this concept is perfect for developing countries where infrastructures are not as mature as in USA/Europe, and they don't need to be. So maybe a solution where each house will have their own production and consumption, but all the community could be connected sharing energy with a smart grid system will be a great solution.

2) I AM! So passionate, my professional experience is short. But I've been passionate about RE since I began studying engineering. I could try to help you in the RE thing if you are interested. I'm working and living in Netherlands by now, so you can reach me online.

3) Home, good question. For me having a kitchen where to cook + fridge, a table with two chairs, a bed, and a little toilette is enough to call it home. But thinking on a bunch of these houses together creating community in developing countries I can imagine the modules as personal spaces and then the kitchen and toilettes maybe shared in a central space, since they are modular the kitchen and toilettes could be also a bunch of modules together next to each other.

Till here my inputs, really like to see this happening, I mean it. Keep on going.

I am working with Natalie and some other peers on an idea here in OpenIdeo, your company could be a potential user/benefactor of our platform. Check it out here: https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/green-angels-1

Cheers!

Photo of Benjamin Kimmich
Team

Hi Oriol, thanks so much for your concise list of questions. I love it!

Yes, we have built a prototype. We actually tested in the California Desert. It was amazing how well the SIP Panel roof and foam core wall panels worked. We would love to test it in a cold environment next. Maybe this competition canhelp us get there!

As to your other questions, here we go....

a) Yes, our standard solar kit includes battery storage. We also plan to have add-on's for additional capacity for both generation and storage for climates that would warrant it. We have also thought about linking the units so there could be shared storage.

b) We are also very open to options for wind power. We have not selected a system that would work with our units on an individual basis yet, but maybe you have some suggestions. The IceEnergy system looks very cool. Thanks for sharing! If we could use it for energy storage, that would be amazing.

c) We don't have a lot of plastic waste, but I would insist that what ever waste we do generate be recycled. Thanks for the link on that machine. When we get to full scale production, we will certainly look more closely at those.

I can totally tell that you are passionate and that is fantastic! I would love to continue the conversation and see if there is a way we can work together. I believe one of the best ways to face today's challenges is to think differently and design boldly. Let's do a skype call sometime. Email me at Benjamin@AvavaSystems.com and let me know when is a good time to call.

Btw, I was in Netherlands a few weeks ago. You have a very forward thinking society there. I really enjoyed your country.