Competition to build the greenest house heats up
The Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon is underway, with 20 teams of college and university students scrambling to design, build and manage the best solar-powered house. In their attempt the build the most aesthetically pleasing, energy efficient house, students have not only harnessed the power of light and heat from the sun to but have also taken advantage of cooling breezes and shading. By combining energy efficient techniques with the latest off-the-shelf technology, each team strives to build a green, but still comfortable, home.
While many designs are more traditional, the University of Arizona's Project Sage house boasts a water-filled Trombe wall that forms a solar thermal collector. A piece of glazing over the water captures the heat from sunlight. The water absorbs the heat during the day, warming the air between the glass and the wall, and at night, the heat cannot escape back through the glass. In the winter, the rising heat can be sent inside to warm the house, while in the summer it can be vented outside.
Cornel University also crafted a unique house. Their "Silo House" stands out with 3 interconnected rust-colored cylinders placed under floating solar panels. Inside the cylinders are three interconnecting cylindrical rooms situated around a square courtyard shaded by the photovoltaic (PV) panels above. Each silo serves a different function: kitchen, bedroom, and living room. Each room is 16 ft (4.9 m) in diameter, with about 130 ft2 (12.1 m2) of floor space.