The new location of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon for 2013, the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA, was announced in January 2012, as well as the 20 new teams, UNC Charlotte being one of them. www.solardecathlon.gov
Also announced was the winning project in the Energy Balance division of the 2012 Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C. awarded to the CHIP house, “Compact, Hyper-Insulated Prototype Solar House”, designed and built by students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech). www.chip2011.com The purpose of the competition is for college students to “design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.”
To power the home and two electric cars, 45 solar panels are on top of the CHIP home. Hanwha SolarOne with North American headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA, was primary sponsor and provided the panels for CHIP. The house interfaces with Apple iPad apps and an Xbox Kinect system as its master command center that controls the shades and displays real time energy use of every watt of electricity the house is consuming. With the internet connection,
it receives weather forecasts to predict cloudy days and conserve its solar energy during peak sunny ones. Residents in the home can operate its lights and electronic devices and monitor energy systems by waving their arms and pointing. Lights go off and on as the 3-D cameras sense movement. The home uses solar tubes and light louvers for natural sunlight and energy-saving LEDs and CFLs at night.
A flexible airtight water-resistant quilted vinyl membrane of architectural grade polymer-coated vinyl over cellular insulation made from recycled denim wraps most of the exterior polygon and underneath 235W photovoltaic panels which, with the solar technology, creates its high R-values and a hopefully net-zero dwelling. Inside the 750 square feet, it features an open floor plan, space arranged around the daily activity natural flow of bed, groom, dress, eat, live, work in the morning,reversed at night, and defining living areas with platforms climbing upwards and inwards,
with the bedroom loated on the highest platform beside the window. Watch the video for a look at the interior and the furniture designed by the students. With the large windows at the bottom and top open, hot air will rise quickly through the house and a fan provides a complete air change in 20 minutes. The size of the house was designed to fit with California’s small lot ordinance, but it can be expanded by opening the large southern aperture so the living area can be extended to the exterior. After being toured for educational purposes, the CHIP house will be owned and occupied by a resident.
Cost estimate to build a house like it is $264,000. The project took a team of over 100 students two years and a million dollars to build. Until the end of May, 2012 free tours of the home are being held in downtown Los Angeles at the California Science Center weekdays 10 to 1:30 and weekends 10 to 4.
The attached video makes the point that children tend to draw the same box house with a pointed roof when they are asked to draw a house. If they saw the CHIP house on Paris Mountain, they would probably think aliens had landed. That may change in the future as their generation develops more energy efficient and less resource consuming ways of building. The local code enforcers might have an issue with permitting for the CHIP house exterior here in Greenville, but some of the ideas are worth investigating. To purchase solar tubes or learn more about using solar energy in your home and the local cost of the 45 panels used for the CHIP house, visit Sunstore Solar in Greer. www.sunstoresolar.com. Hubbell Lighting in Greenville makes LED’s and lighting control sensors www.hubbell.com/Products/LightingControlsSensors.aspx