Solar Decathlon Europe got all fired up when Germany's ECOLAR house scooped first place in the Engineering competition, placing it second overall in this year's contest! Judges recognized the team's thoughtful incorporation of several solar solutions, ecological and financial sensitivity, as well as their crafty emphasis on modularity. A flexible design that expands or shrinks to accommodate different users, ECOLAR also uses three different kinds of vertical and rooftop solar panels to generate energy. The team rounded out the remarkable project by insulating the compact home with one of the world's most renewable and sustainable materials: hemp!
ECOLAR’s basic construction, comprised of beams and columns, essentially stays the same but can be configured differently based on the homeowner’s preferences. In keeping with the mandates of genuine sustainability, the team stuck to sustainably-sourced wood for construction, and then incorporated hemp insulation in the floors, walls and ceiling to prevent thermal loss. Despite being outlawed in some countries, this really is one of the most sensible materials to use in construction today.
The vertical and rooftop solar panels are all different and can be either opaque or semi-transparent depending on where they are placed. In addition to generating energy – about 14,371 kWh each year in Germany – these panels also contribute to the home’s aesthetic appeal and passive design. All of the technical equipment is housed in a super cabinet behind the kitchen panel that slides in and out, providing plenty of space in which to conduct any necessary electrical or mechanical tune ups or repairs. Congratulations Team Ecolar… let the competition continue!