It is hard to imagine, but the dense, hard timber that you can crack your head against is nothing but transformed air. Trees draw carbon dioxide from the air, returns oxygen, and uses carbon to build the most incredible structure that mankind refers to as wood. It only utilizes water and a small amount of minerals from the earth for this purpose. It is a structure so complex that the inner surface of one cubic centimeter of wood consists of 150 to 200 square meters in surface area.
Not only is this excellent structure the best natural heat insulator, but it also accumulates and stores heat well. Dr. Thoma in earlier years had already built many of the world's most energy-efficient homes, but even more so, he wanted to prove that it was possible to create an absolutely energy self-sufficient home without an external source of energy such as photovoltaics. He accomplished this by using other ancient methods.
Therefore he erected a five-floor house in the Bernese Oberland in the Matterhorn area of the Alps, which retains such an optimized facade with an intelligent arrangement of glass elements that during the day the sun falls through large windows on the so-called “sun traps” in the form of black stone floors. They warm up and act as a short-lived heat accumulator, while the high natural heat insulation properties of the wooden walls act as long-lasting heat storage. The house does not have any heating or ventilation, and its air quality and temperature are constantly monitored as part of the research project. Its indoor temperature in winter has never dropped below 18° C.
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