Evelyn Lee

Natural Fusion: Penn State's Solar Decathlon House

by , 09/24/09

Penn State, Natural Fusion, Solar Decathlon, Green Building, Sustainable Building

A team of students from Penn State recently unveiled their Natural Fusion residence, which has been selected as one of 20 ultra-efficient homes set to make an appearance at this year’s Solar Decathlon. The elegant structure is wrapped in living walls and utilizes a host of energy-efficient features including a green roof lined with photovoltaic panels and large windows that bathe the interiors in daylight.

Penn State, Natural Fusion, Solar Decathlon, Green Building, Sustainable Building

Making the Solar Decathlon shortlist is no small undertaking, but it isn’t the first time the Penn State team has been selected – their first attempt in 2007 earned them 4th place honors. Fully embodying it’s namesake, the Natural Fusion house blurs the lines between inside and outside, nature and structure.

Living walls are present throughout the house’s exterior and interior, where a leafy green divider provides a fresh backdrop for the kitchen and bathroom. A green roof system provides natural cover while also generating electricity through a system of Green Roof Integrated PhotoVoltaics (GRIPVs). On the ground level, Natural Fusion has two landscaped gardens – a sense garden for meditative purposes and a bio-intensive vegetable garden ripe for growing fresh vegetables and herbs.

Floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outdoors in and provide the interior spaces with plenty of natural daylight and ventilation. Throughout the home’s interior the finishes have been carefully chosen to help capture and move the light through the spaces due to their reflective surfaces.

With little more than a week left until the opening ceremony of this year’s Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC, we wish each of the 20 teams the best of luck.

+ Natural Fusion

+ Solar Decathlon

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2 Comments

  1. David Shoemaker September 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I think the design ideas shown are great and I do appreciate the forward thinking used in the design. I did not see however rainwater capture and use on the down spouts from the roof. I would encourage the designer to also include this feature if it is not present already. With the addition of drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting you could add native plants and flowers to beautify the area around the buildings.

  2. Solartown September 24, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    This is awesome! Anything that garners interest in solar technology and makes it a more viable option is okay by me! Hopefully, more people will see these houses and get excited about the possibilities of solar technology.

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