The Solar House will be opening soon as a space for education workshops, tours, classes, and special events. The house is built to LEED Platinum standards and is designed to be a net-zero facility, meaning that total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. Located on FIU’s MMC campus, the home is equipped with an array of photovoltaic panels (PV) on the roof that powers the home’s functions such as air conditioning and supplying electricity to appliances and solar thermal tubes that supply heated water to the building.
Origins of the Solar House
The Solar House was designed by the 2011 FIU Solar Decathlon team. The team composed of architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and engineering faculty and students traveled to DC to compete at the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. The competition challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.
FIU’s Solar House, branded as the perFORM[D]ance House during competition, is an elegant hybrid of technology and design as it strives to achieve both livability and sustainability.
More information on the perFORM[D]ance House and team can be found at http://solardecathlon.fiu.edu and http://www.solardecathlon.gov/past/2011/team_florida_international.html.
Stay tuned for information about educational programming at the Solar House when it opens!
The design for the open steel framing, northern-facing glass, and exterior canopy takes advantage of cross-ventilation to cool interior spaces and relies on large overhangs to protect from intense sunlight during the day. These louvers act independently to shade the interior and the exterior deck on the perimeter of the house and act as hurricane protection when closed.
Pre-fabricated and insulated wall panels protect the home’s core and make up the majority of the southern facade. The southern facade gains the most heat during the day. The remaining exterior walls are floor-to-ceiling glass to provide the maximum amount of natural lighting while oriented north to provide a minimum level of heat gain. Foldable glass walls provide the maximum amount of natural lighting and open up completely to allow for natural breezes.
The house takes advantage of a central mechanical core to cut down on the need for extensive wiring and plumbing owing to the fact that every space is in direct contact with this core. Because of the core’s adjacency to all spaces in the house, a ductless air conditioning system was chosen as the more efficient option.
An array of photovoltaic panels (PV) on the roof of the perFORM[D]ance House collect energy from sunlight, which is then converted into A/C power that powers the home’s functions such as air conditioning, heating water, and supplying electricity to appliances. Since the roof of the house is flat, the PV panels are tilted to an angle that allows the panels to collect the maximum amount of energy from direct exposure to the sun’s rays.
The outdoor deck is made from an innovative blend of 95% recycled wood, reclaimed sawdust, and plastic film and made in sustainable factories. It is also very durable, low maintenance, and is mold, mildew, and termite resistant.
Promoting smaller living with the feel of a big house will decreases the amount of building materials used thus reducing our impact on the earth. If everyone in Miami made these changes, it would The house is equipped with water efficient appliances and fixtures which lessens the strain on our fresh water supply by 32%, thus combating salt water intrusion into the Biscayne Aquifer.
The open floor plan facilitates social interaction, natural ventilation and day lighting, which minimizes the need for electricity. The multi-functionality of the home eliminates the need for excess space.
The building materials of the house were selected based on their renewable, recyclable, and regenerative qualities. Carefully comparing and the initial cost of building materials to their lifetime cost and can lessen our impact on the environment. No harmful chemicals were used in the manufacturing of a majority of the building materials and local materials were used whenever possible. Choosing region specific building materials, stimulates local economies while reducing CO2 emissions associated with long distance shipping.
The House has embraced Universal Design standards to meet the needs of audiences of all abilities. For example, the cabinet and counter heights have been lowered, toe-kicks exist throughout the house, and the addition of ramps creates seamless transitions between levels. These design features are especially appropriate for handicapable and ageing populations