Westwood's Infrastructure

Heat and hot water systems: Radiant floor heat is an elegant way to help Westwood achieve energy efficiency and healthy homes, and to address our concern for long-term upkeep as well as initial cost. The scale of 24 dwellings clustered on one campus rationalizes use of a central, or district, heat system rather than 24 separate systems. Because water is the medium for the radiant heat, a central water system as well naturally follows; thus Westwood's 24 dwellings share one water meter and residents save by not having 24 separate monthly meter charges. By choosing a district heat and water system, Westwood eliminated the need for space in each dwelling for a furnace, hot water heater, and floor ducts for hot air transmission; instead each dwelling has a small utility closet on its porch, and the common house has one mechanical room for production and distribution of heat and hot water via underground conduit. The central system also makes possible one large solar collector on the south-facing common house roof for free solar energy to all the houses. This frees up each house from solar orientation to siting according to a variety of other design criteria including social clustering, definition of common spaces between buildings, preservation of trees, and views.

Energy efficiency in design [Just enough, just in time]: An early and high-priority design criterion from early Westwood members was resource conservation, notably energy and water. That criterion became a goal in the design and construction of all the buildings (insulation, low air leakage, daylighting, low electrical loads, energy-conserving light fixtures and appliances, radiant heating, use of solar energy and natural gas). It is also a goal in the operation of the buildings; user decisions and practices determine how well we achieve this goal.

Shelter Technology, the contractor who designed and built the central systems for radiant floor heat, hot water and communications, introduced to Westwood the concept of "just enough, just in time" as its approach to energy efficiency. This means that all the systems and components that make up the systems are geared to provide what is needed as the demand arises, with minimal waste. This principle applies to heat, hot water, electricity and even to fresh air intake which is carefully kept to what we need to be comfortable without unnecessary or accidental air leakage.

Irrigation: In addition to the systems in the Westwood buildings, energy conservation was a factor in the design of an irrigation system. There are several cisterns located underground, which collect the water from storm drains located in the parking lot as well as in strategic places across the campus. These cisterns hook up to pumps which can be used for irrigation.

Communications: Westwood also has high-bandwidth telecommunications lines in every dwelling.


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