Sunny house resident

Evgeny Shirokov built a house of zero energy consumption in Belaruchi village within the distance of 20 kilometers from Minsk. It means that natural energy of wind and sun is used for water heating, warming and lighting
Evgeny Shirokov built a house of zero energy consumption in Belaruchi village within the distance of 20 kilometers from Minsk. It means that natural energy of wind and sun is used for water heating, warming and lighting.

Beard adds romantic features to the image of a scientist-ecologist Evgeny Shirokov. Probably, this is how travelers and adventurers looked like several hundred years ago. He looks cheerful and is ready to answer journalists’ questions patiently. Foreign correspondents visit him almost each day. “Today I have talked to the Swedes, yesterday to the Poles…”

“I had an idea to build an energy-independent house when I was a student and took part in development of space station environmental control and life support systems,” says Evgeny Shirokov. “It appeared again and again but I managed to bring it to life only now.”

To build an ecological house took three and a half months. The master celebrated the housewarming on New Year’s Eve on December 31. What does the residence of the scientist from Minsk look like?

The house looks strange... From afar Evgeny’s house reminds an improved version of an Indian wigwam or an nomad yurt. It is rather a big round building with straw walls. They are more than half a meter thick, made of rye straw and plastered with clay from inside. 60 cubic meters of straw were used for a frame. The scientist confirms that it is ultrareliable and able to withstand any storm. It is also safe: the walls are highly resistant to fire.

While straw walls awake interest, recollections of the foundation made of bottles awakes bewilderment and laughter. As a matter of fact, bottles fixed with a solution are damp-proof and very stable. What is important, they are cheap!

The roof is heat-insulated with the help of thatch from the nearest lake. There is a windmill on it with capacity of 400 watt, photovoltaic panels (300 watt) and sun panels with an area of 4 square meters. They collect energy necessary for the house activity. In case of cloudy or windless days there is an accumulation system and standby generator in the house.

There is just one room inside. Evgeny explains his choice.

“As warmth doesn’t penetrate through the walls, I have to spend 5–6 times less energy for heating.”

The majority of home decoration objects in the only room is made of wood (ecologically clean material!). Objects arrangement — the location of a stove, a kitchen and a bar counter — had been designed beforehand and is based on Feng Shui principles. The scientist has his own bathhouse. On the whole, there are all conveniences.

Idea to masses! Now, when the Belarusian scientist-inventor received recognition and its fame was spread over the CIS states, he still has what to do. It is planned to create a laboratory for calculation of the house energy demand. Moreover, Evgeny consults those who want to build an ecological novelty. Their number is increasing.

“Did you try to patent the house building technology?”

“Copyright for this technology expired in the end of the XIXth century. It was invented by American settlers. The first patent was issued in 1870 for a term of twenty years. It is very good. Now we may use this technology widely and freely.”

“It would be profitable to you!”

“I have 60 other patents, half of them were introduced... I am not an adherent of patenting this idea because we have to provide access to this technology to each person. It will help to solve the problem of climate change, to improve the ecological situation in Belarus and in the whole world.”

How much does the house cost? “A financial issue is always one of the most important. How much does such energetic independence cost?”
“The cost is lower by 40 per cent, than for a house made out of brick or panels. It amounts to 400–500 US Dollars per square meter depending on what house are you going to build.”

The scientist promotes his brainchild actively.

It turns out that there are such houses in Minsk. They are two-storeyed and fit for one family. The houses are energy-efficient, but not autonomous for communal services.

If we make a calculation, Evgeny’s house price is 35 thousand US Dollars. Of course, a person wishing to build a house independently will save even more. The scientist gives an example of a man who built a house with the area of 100 square meters for 2000 US Dollars. He dragged logs on his own, piled the walls... We cannot but agree that not each person is able to do it.
Let the sun exist forever. Who knows, perhaps, in twenty–thirty years ecological houses won’t be rare informational occasions for magazines. We can only look at the actions of enthusiasts in amazement wishing to change the world. Will we manage to do it?

Egor Martinovich
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