Image: Tovi Art Space Soho – 87 Mercer Street, NYC

The Task Energy Habitat

by Murray Tovi.

1975 The Task Energy Habitat. An energy and material conserving home of the future. First prototype saved 65% in energy and 85% in materials with no loss in comfort or dignity. Based on a ceiling suspended portable payload of HVAC, lighting and sound equipment “flown” to hover over area in current use in open multi-functional environment.

The world in this century or early in the next will likely run out of oil and natural gas. Natural gas is a key element in fuel cell technology.

Coal may still be abundant but with a world population exceeding 20 billion using coal as a primary resource to make electricity or to heat homes will make Earth’s air, in general, a lot worse than Mexico City’s air is now.

Restarting nuclear energy after expected decades of prohibition will create a catastrophe for generations to follow.

Solar, wind, geo-thermal, hydro-electric energy systems will become more sophisticated and energy efficient but still limited to certain geographic areas.

Separating hydrygen from oxygen in water by fusion is unlikely to be practical unless there is an unexpected breakthrough.

This unhappy scenario of a world that will be incredibly over-populated, without clean water or air with most of the trees likely gone as well. What energy there is still available will be strictly rationed by governments also strictly restricting births and civil liberties in order to have some semblance of order, to mention only a few likely dire consequences of our current behavior.

Not a place or time you would want to live in.

Between now and then great efforts will be made to conserve energy and Earth’s dwindling supply of raw materials.

In an effort to address this problem I invented a new type of human habitat for the future.

A dwelling that would not waste energy and one that would use far fewer raw materials.

And a home that would not compromise on comfort or dignity.

The catalyst for this future home was the 1973 oil embargo, a harbinger of things to come.

The Task Energy Environment
(A synopsis)

In 1975 I built the first task energy environment (U.S. Patent 29735 reissue) in a loft in the Soho section of New York City. It was an early test and a successful one.

In a 26,000 btu designated space the experimental system used 8500 btu equipment with an estimated energy saving of over 50% without any loss in comfort. Further saving over 80% in electrical wiring, conduits, heating pipes, ducts, electrical outlets, lamps and lighting fixtures and 25% in lumber and plasterboard, etc.

The task energy system is based on a super-efficient distribution of energy utilizing a ceiling hung positioning device that can position a payload of light, purified cool or hot air, sound, etc. anywhere overhead in a twenty to thirty foot diameter open multi-functional space on a horizontal plane eight to nine feet above the floor.

In this first experiment the payload was flown by electric fans on the positioning device stopping to float above the dining area, or the sleeping area, or the living area as needed (see drawings below).

The cumulative effect of diffusing energy in proximity to it’s intended users and within the space and not the peripheries where heat loss to the outside occurs and by closing the myriad Btu escape routes within our walls normally occupied by a variety of energy laden conduits accomplish substantial savings in energy, not affecting comfort, just eliminating what was before totally wasted energy.

Comfort and dignity were in fact maintained throughout the Soho space in all the seasons in a two year test.

The entire system included 8500 btu air-conditioning and heating equipment, in-line ductwork with a motorized vent for exhaust and fresh air, an electronic purifying system, a complex lighting array, the positioning device utlilizing electric fans for propulsion and with one connection to the ceiling, speakers, a console controlling functions and position of the payload and a high-fidelity components console playing through the payload’s speakers.

The entire cost including installation: $2500.00 (1975 dollars).

Not a happy situation for building contractors, but a happy one for future users saving up front in building costs, then saving on energy each day, saving on maintenance with fewer components to break down and also more accessible for repairs. And finally helping the planet as well.

Hopefully it will come soon, first to North America in the form of pre-fabricated single family dwellings at a fraction of the price of a conventional dwelling.

Featured below in Lighting Design and Application Magazine – The magazine of the illuminating engineering society


Futurist. Scientist. Artist.

The designs and inventions of Murray Tovi have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Glamour, House & Garden, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and The New York Times.