Hydrogen, other energy systems enable Scottsdale home to be efficient and self-sustaining - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Hydrogen, other energy systems enable Scottsdale home to be efficient and self-sustaining

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Posted: Saturday, April 30, 2005 7:17 am | Updated: 8:32 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

April 30, 2005

Bryan and Yvette Beaulieu’s nearly completed north Scottsdale home is nestled artfully amid big boulders and cactuses at the foot of towering Troon Mountain.

It sports three stylish hexagonal sections connected by terraced walkways. Waterfalls splash into a winding pool below.

But the residence the couple and their two young sons will soon occupy is about much more than sleek architecture and striking desert scenery.

It’s the Beaulieus’ dream "living laboratory," as they call it, packed with a diverse array of power-generating, energy-conserving, environmental-control features that make it unusual.

Hydrogen power is the heart of a system that will enable the $2 million-plus home to be self-sustaining for its energy needs.

"It’s unfair to call it just a hydrogen house because that’s just one component," said Anthony Floyd, manager of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program, which promotes environmentally sensitive development.

The Beaulieus have accounted for nearly every element of energy-efficient design, he said.

"I know there’s nothing else exactly like it in the United States. I think there’s a similar one in Malaysia," Floyd said.

The 6,000-square-foot home includes:

• Photovoltaic panels that generate solar energy used to electrolyze water in fuel cells that produce hydrogen to heat or cool air and water, run generators and fuel hydrogen-powered vehicles.

• A "circulatory system,’’ as Bryan Beaulieu describes it, that uses hydrogen power to pump hot or cold water through pipes in walls, floors and roofs to heat or cool the home.

• Concrete roofs a foot thick, and topped by two feet of soil provide "geothermal mass," and help insulate the house.

• Devices that convert organic materials, such as food waste, paper and plant waste into methane and hydrogen gas.

• A hydrogen-powered filtering system that removes dust, pollen and other particles from indoor air.

• A venting system that pushes out hot air through adjustable window panels atop roofs.

Water from sinks and showers is filtered and reused to irrigate roof gardens. The home’s primary building materials are concrete, glass, stone and steel. Only a nontoxic clay paint is used. The site orientation of the home takes advantage of shade provided by massive boulders, and makes use of natural air flows for venting.

The system should be able to generate about three times the power required for an average home, said Bryan Beaulieu, an engineer who holds patents in structural design, lightweight building materials and water pollution control devices.

The Beaulieus are forming a company, Sustainable Engineering, to promote and expand development of their home’s technologies.

The project excites Roy McAlister, an instructor at the East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa and cofounder and president of the American Hydrogen Association.

McAlister mentored the Beaulieus in bringing their home concept to fruition.

"This house is going to make an impact," McAlister said."It’s value will be in showing that this technology is viable and superior, not just for saving energy and expenses."

The hydrogen association plans to help spread the word about the home by encouraging scientists, engineers, architects and builders to study its workings and organizing student tours.

See for yourself

What: The Beaulieus’ hydrogen-powered home will be one of the stops on a north East Valley Solar Home and Bike Tour in conjunction with Sun Festival Southwest.

When: 7 to 10 a.m. Sunday

Registration: Sign-up for the tour begins at 6 a.m. Sunday at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road.

Learn more: Bryan Beaulieu will talk about building his hydrogen-powered home at a Scottsdale Green Building lecture series presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Scottsdale Community Design Studio, 7506 E. Indian School Road. Information: (480) 312-4202.

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