Did you know that today’s average American household has changed from 3.7 people living in a 1000 square foot home in 1940 to 3.1 people inhabiting a 2300+ square foot home 2010? Ohio State University set out to counteract those rather appalling statistics with their 2011 Solar Decathlon entry, the enCORE House, and from the current standings (they're in 2nd place!), they've succeeded in their goal. These elegant minimalist prefab home features solar panels, highly efficient building systems, and a flexible floor plan fit for a family of three - all within a deceptively breezy and spacious 900 ft. space. Click through our photo gallery to check out all of our exclusive pics of this well-thought out family home!
The name “enCORE” refers to their house’s central core, which is what the foundation that the other components are layered around. Because all of the mechanical systems of the home are condensed into this central location, the other areas are left free for usable space. The areas have been divvied up to maximize functionality, and the 900 square foot home features 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a deck, an office and even a den. These flexible rooms surround the home’s mechanical core and are set up in a way that maximizes natural light and ventilation.
Ohio State’s enCORE home already has a small footprint, but its powerful solar-panel clad roof also greatly reduces the amount of electricity it needs to suck from the power grid. The array, which actually looks quite aesthetically pleasing on top of the home, consists of 108 angled thin-film First Solar panels and a flat plate collector. With an output of 8 kW, the array is actually on the lower end of the spectrum compared to some of the other homes we’ve written up already, but we do have to give them credit for being manufactured locally in Toledo, Ohio.
In addition to the impressive solar array, the house also uses both passive and active strategies like stack ventilation and a heat pump water heater to lower its energy and resource usage even further. The house has low-U value windows that are placed strategically amidst the prefab polycarbonate wall system in order to draw sunlight into the home, cutting down on the need for artificial lighting – something that will save a family living in the enCORE home more money even after they purchase it. The enCORE‘s roof is also sloped to collect rainwater, which can then be used to water plants or for plumbing.