This morning the University of Illinois took second place in the Solar Decathlon with its gorgeous solar powered Gable House. The unique farmhouse-inspired home made an excellent showing at this year’s competition and was surpassed only at the last moment by Team Germany. Weighing in at 897 points out of a total 1,000, the home took top honors in many of the individual categories and features a solar roof capable of generating four times the amount of energy it consumes.
The Gable House makes a strong architectural statement with its familiar gable roof profile, proving that advanced technologies could indeed be incorporated into a more traditional looking home. Designed to meet Passive House energy efficiency and environmental standards, this home utilizes many green building techniques and technologies to minimize energy use inside the home.
12-inch thick high-performance insulation was incorporated into the walls, roof and floor of the home, while a high-efficiency small air-volume HVAC system meets the needs of the small house. LED lights and smaller, super efficient appliances were also used throughout the interior, cutting down on energy use. The south-facing roof is completely covered in solar panels to create a 9.1 kW system capable of producing four times the energy the home needs.
The entire home is framed out of structural bamboo, which is 3/4″ in thickness and 10 times as strong as traditional wood framing. Thinner bamboo framing reduces thermal bridging, which helped the project achieve a high level of efficiency and insulation. The facade of the home is clad in 100 year old reclaimed barn wood from a grain elevator, and a sliding shade structure helps protect the south facing windows from heat gain while echoing the traditional charm of a barn structure.
Illinois’ Gable House will be on permanent display later this year near the University, and the team is currently working with a modular home builder to bring many of these innovative strategies to the average consumer.