At a recent panel discussion on smart homes held at Toronto's Workshop,
three of the four panelists had been on TreeHugger before: Janna Levitt,
Paul Dowsett and Ted Kesik. Both Ted and Paul showed this image of
what they considered to be a really smart house: a wigwam, as built
by the Algonquin and Chippewa. And it is surprisingly* really sophisticated:
- It has an inner structure lined with birchbark.
- It has six inches of swamp moss insulation.
- It has an outer frame covered in elm, cedar of basswood bark.
This is more sophisticated than about 99% of modern houses,
where the insulation is between the studs which act as a thermal
bridge. It is more like the staggered studs or double walls used
in Passive houses.
Then there is the heating system:
- It has piles of rocks with a clay cap for passive thermal
storage after the fire goes out, which acts as a radiant floor.
- It has a birch bark earth tube to provide combustion air
for the fire.
This again is more sophisticated than many heating systems that
don't have a provision for makeup air. It even has a fire suppression
system: a long cedar pole for swatting out sparks on the roof.
Levitt, Paul Dowsett, Ted Kesik, Larry Richards/CC BY 2.0
The panelists were supposed to be speaking about the modern
smart home, but ended up demonstrating that the native people in
the cold northern parts of North America were long ago building
a whole lot smarter that we do now, and without WiFi.
*commenter Philip Rutter says I should be ashamed for using
the word "surprisingly." He's right.