Imagine a house that generates all of its own energy, collects its own water and efficiently manages its waste system - an autonomous house. The technology for such self-sufficient homes, able to meet the pressing energy demands of the future, is available today, by using a combination of alternative energy sources such as geothermal energy, solar panels, wind turbines and hydropower.
A fully functional, working model of a self-sufficient home was showcased in the Oikos pavilion (meaning “house” in Greek) at Expo 2008 Zaragoza. Putting innovative solutions to the use of reduced energy and water consumption encapsulated the theme of the Expo – “Water and Sustainable Development.”
Oikos showcased the many possibilities of solar, water and wind, as clean and eco-friendly sources of utilities for collective use in the home. The pavilion included a room with a dome-shaped roof that provided information about the sun. A presentation of hydroelectric power involved an ancient mechanism - the Archimedes’ screw - and a wind pump that extracted water from a well to generate electricity.
The model building also boasted a self-sufficient system that could function in a myriad of different environments. Devoid of any furniture, the U-shaped display showed visitors how a home could ensure a good quality of life in an environmentally-friendly way by capturing, transforming and storing renewable energy for domestic use.
Visitors to Zaragoza’s Oikos pavilion were intrigued by the “tournesols” which spun to capture the sun’s rays, while the underexploited power of wind energy was explained in detail. Finally, “the possible house”, which combined sustainability, constant energy supply and climate resilience, was presented to visitors in a final display that demonstrated the possibility of a home without fossil fuels.
Almost a decade later, and as participants prepare their pavilions for Expo 2017 Astana – “Future Energy”, the Oikos’ innovative concept of self-sufficiency is becoming increasingly common, with “off the grid” and sustainable living growing in popularity. What was once in the realm of science fiction is now reality today, as self-sufficient homes are equipped with a combination of rainwater collectors, high-efficiency solar panels, low-noise wind turbines and energy storage equipment, to ensure homes remain autonomous in all weather conditions.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.