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Zero energy home uses 40,000 recycled plastic bottles for insulation


March 11, 2013

Architectural firm Traverso-Vighy and the Department of Physics at the University of Padua have teamed up to create an innovative zero-energy home

Architectural firm Traverso-Vighy and the Department of Physics at the University of Padua have teamed up to create an innovative zero-energy home

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Italian architectural firm Traverso-Vighy and the Department of Physics at the University of Padua have teamed up to create an innovative zero-energy home dubbed “Tvzeb.” Located in the woodlands a few kilometers from the historic center of Vicenza, the home combines the use of recycled materials, geothermal and solar energy generation, LED lighting and wall and roof insulation made from 40,000 recycled plastic bottles.

Following on from other projects developed by Traverso-Vighy, the home’s structure incorporates the use of CNC machined and handcrafted components. This allows the building to be disassembled at the end of its life cycle so its materials can be more easily separated and recycled.

The home features two joining structures that are made from untreated larch wood and a Corten steel shell. Both rest slightly above the ground, supported by two steel foundation beams running lengthways. The frame system has been carefully designed to be completely hidden and the chosen materials also blend into the surrounding landscape.

Tvzeb’s structural design aims to maximize the amount of natural sunlight entering the home during the winter months, while also shielding it from the sun during the warmer months. The south façade is characterized by a large quadratic sun porch, coupled with interior automated blinds. The interior lighting features the use of LED bars which are recessed into the floor, allowing the light to bounce off the aluminum panels on the interior walls.

The home also features an integrated photovoltaic system consisting of 16 solar panels that should produce enough energy to cover the annual electricity needs of the building. A geothermal heat pump and wood stove are utilized to heat the building during the winter, while reflective glass helps keep the heat out during the summer.

A double layer of 90 mm (3.5 inch) polyester fiber wadding insulates the perimeter walls and the roofing of the home. The polyester fiber was made from the recycling of approximately 40,000 plastic bottles and provides optimum thermal and acoustic insulation. The energy used to produce the material is also minimal when compared to mineral wool.

The research team from the University of Padua will monitor the "life" of the home, collect data on its energy efficiency and identify additional strategies to optimize its sustainability and the condition of the building.

Source: Tvzeb, Traverso-Vighy via Archilovers

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

re; Max Kennedy

Mineral wool is energy intensive to make.

The risk of fire is fairly slight and modern fire suppression is highly effective.


Energy use compared to mineral wool may be small however the author fails to note the main difference between the 2, flammability. Regardless of how treated PE will burn and off gas poisonous fumes in a fire as well as probably being treated with toxic materials to achieve fire resistance. Mineral wool, such as Roxul, is basically fire proof.

Max Kennedy

Could you imagine the smoke plume from this, it would look like a giant tire fire

Jay Finke

Its life cycle, from production, to use till finally the waste phase will be researched on its score on acidification, GWP, NREU and other environmental indicators compared to a conventonal reference home.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

Amazing use of waste plastic bottles to provide excellent sustainable insulation..

Jose Ospina
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