A Watershed Moment
The winner of the 2011 Solar Decathlon offers an educated glimpse at tomorrow's environmentally sensitive, energy-smart homes.
Synopsis: Held every other year on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams from the United States and other countries to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy efficient, and attractive. In this article, members of the University of Maryland’s team describe their 2011 contest-winning house. They designed a net-zero-energy house powered by a photovoltaic array, supplied with hot water by an evacuated-tube solar-thermal system, and surrounded by a wetland that collects water from two inward-sloping roofs and filters gray water from inside. The 876-sq.-ft. house, which beat 18 other entries to take home the top prize, has a 13-in.-thick envelope with R-44 walls, an R-48 roof, and R-33 floors. A sidebar describes the contest’s 10 events: affordability, architecture, comfort zone, engineering, communications, appliances, home entertainment, hot water, energy balance, market appeal.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. Unfortunately, this beautiful body of water, whose drainage basin has origins in Washington D.C. and five states, is threatened by pollution from storm-water runoff, electricity generation, wastewater treatment, and agriculture.
Using this important yet troubled ecosystem for inspiration, our interdisciplinary team from the University of Maryland (2011.solarteam.org) designed an affordable, net-zero-energy home named WaterShed to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Our house beat 18 other entries from across the United States and five countries in the biennial event held on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
Our 876-sq.-ft. home is designed around two rectangular, shed roofed forms. One contains the kitchen and the dining and living spaces, and the other a combination bedroom and home office. These two independent house sections are connected by the bathroom, which creates a focal point of the design. Adding…