Gallery: PHOTOS: Ohio State University’s Solar Decathlon enCORE House D...

photo © Jill Fehrenbacher for Inhabitat
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.

Think the enCORE house deserves to win? Give it your vote here!

+ Ohio State University enCORE House

+ Inhabitat’s Coverage of the 2011 Solar Decathlon


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  1. Diane Pham September 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    love the simple form of the structure. great job!

  2. Jasmin Malik Chua September 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm


  3. lazyreader September 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    3.7 to 3.1 that seems rather irrelevant. Yes the size of the average home has increased since then still, the rationale is the people that buy them. Which tend to be families with children to raise. And the idea that they’ll abandon them when the children grow up is nonsense, the idea that the baby boomers now retiring or soon to are now empty nesters that will fail to sail they’re suburban homes and move into condos is just ridiculous. Most of that data is conjectured from planning professors from the University of Utah that published these statements. The article claims the United States will have 22 million “surplus” single-family homes by 2025 because so many Americans will prefer to live in multifamily housing after they’ve retired or their kids grow up. A recent survey of baby boomers tossed this theory out the window. Articles written by Time and Atlantic monthly described suburbs are going to turn into the next generation slums. But the survey found that 65 percent of baby boomers plan to stay in their current homes. Of the remaining 35 percent, only 4 percent say they want to move to a downtown condominium and just 3 percent say they want to live in a suburban condo. By comparison, 14 percent say they hope to move to a resort community which is largely single family homes. The suburbs are not dying, but planners are doing their best to kill them. Suburbs aren’t bad but their are some badly designed suburbs so they justify the argument that all suburbs are bad. Even though the size of the average home in America has grown by an additional 1000+ square feet since the 1940’s but not all of it is necessarily outward growth. Another thing is that more suburban homes have been renovated; converting the otherwise grimy basements, attics and cellars to additional spaces such as rec rooms and downstairs bars, playrooms and Man-Caves or additional bedrooms that owners may rent out. Markets easily can adapt to build smaller homes with sufficient space to suit peoples needs. “Build” magazine sponsored along with industry partners to build their annual house of the future. Referred to as the “Home for the new Economy” it’s only 1,740 sq ft in size (not even a basement I don’t think if it had one that’s an additional 800+ square feet). It’s an impressive home aesthetically and in terms of performance and build quality and markets will adapt to construct homes such as that.

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