A house that will be powered by the sun, wind, rain and waste, and which will also have edible walls is being constructed by a US university team.
The house, which is being built by a team of University of Maryland students, faculty and mentors, will be shown at the international U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 to be staged on the National Mall next year.
The biennial competition challenges students and faculty to design and build a house fully and creatively powered by the sun.
It's the fourth time a Terp team has made it to the finals. In 2007, Maryland's LEAFHouse entry led all U.S. designs and captured second in the competition.
"This year's conceptual design, WaterShed, begins where LEAFHouse left off," Amy Gardner, associate professor of architecture and principal investigator for Maryland's Solar Decathlon 2011 effort, said.
WaterShed, strives to create a mini-eco-system that efficiently captures and fully utilizes the energy of sun, wind and rain, as well as household 'wastes' that retain valuable energy and nutritional resources.
Two rectangular units capped by a butterfly roof, which is well suited to capturing and using sunlight and rainwater, form the house. The spacious and affordable house features:
1. A rooftop photovoltaic array.
2. An edible green wall and garden.
3. Innovative, smart technologies to control temperature, ventilation, humidity, and light.
4. Building and finish materials that are beautiful, sustainable, cost-effective and durable.
"Our goal for WaterShed is to produce an eco-system whose efficiency comes from the interconnectedness of building, site, and the people who inhabit them," Gardner said.
Nearly 300 students from architecture, engineering, environmental science and technology, landscape architecture and other disciplines will help bring WaterShed to life, in partnership with a multi-disciplinary faculty team.
"In the past, teams have put in long, long hours and their dedication, creativity and collaborative spirit have been keys to our success," Gardner pointed out.
"This year, the project will benefit from the UM tradition of an integrated, inter-generational team, with voices both fresh and seasoned, encompassing a depth and breadth of mentors and students from varied disciplines," she stated.
The Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient and attractive.
The competition's top prize will go to the team that best balances cost-effectiveness, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
The final entries will be publicly displayed and judged on the National Mall in October 2011.