Gallery: City College of New York Students Unveil Sun-Powered Roof Pod ...

Image © Jill Fehrenbacher for Inhabitat
New York City has thousands of rooftops soaking up the sun's energy every day - why aren't we making better use of this infinitely renewable resource? City College of New York poses this question, and a practical solution to the problem, with their provocative new design for a sun-powered rooftop home called the Solar Roofpod designed specifically for NYC rooftops. This solar powered prefab home is designed to not only to provide a sweet rooftop abode for some lucky Gotham dweller, but also capture rainwater, excessive solar heat, and provide energy & infrastructure to power an entire building with electricity and hot water from the roof! The Solar Roofpod, was designed and built by over 100 CUNY architecture & engineering studentsfor the Solar Decathlon, a university solar house competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Roofpod will duke it out against 20 other student-built solar homes on the Washington Mall from Sept 23 to Oct 2, 2011 to see who will be crowned king of the solar homes. We were able to get a sneak peek of CUNY's Solar Roofpod before it was disassembled and shipped off to the Washington mall for its grand premier. Read more to see our photos!

With so much recent development, New York City’s rooftops remain one of the most underutilized pieces of real estate. As one Team New York member stated, “Our most abundant energy resource in the sun and our most underutilized urban space is our rooftops.” In fact, there are over 1.6 billion feet of roof space available! Additionally, rooftops provide the perfect resources for self-sufficiency: solar energy, wind, and rain water. The sun’s energy in New York City alone is over twice that needed to power the grid.

What distinguishes House 403 from other design finalists is that it is the only design that is specifically meant for high-density urban centers such as New York. The design incorporates lightweight, durable and renewable materials that utilize photovoltaic technologies. The entrance is constructed of a 9-foot NanaWall, the leader in glass walls for large openings, allowing plenty of light to flood the structure. An additional 9-foot opening to the back encourages dwellers to incorporate the outdoors, and perhaps gardening, into their daily routine.

As the roof pod unit is relatively small with 750 square feet of space, the interior layout also had to be carefully planned. The living space is organized around a centrally enclosed appliance area which is integrated by the cabinets and walls. Special innovations such as a colored light system near water faucets visually indicates water usage to help residents be conscious of their use of resources. Light is also an important factor with plenty of windows allowing the entrance of natural light. The Ornilux windows are coated with a unique UV pattern that is invisible to the human eye but detectable by birds. With over 700,000 bird deaths by windows per year in New York, this feature is especially important in an urban environment!

The team has come a long way since our initial coverage of the project in May 2011. The students were involved in all aspects of the two-year project, from initial concept design to the carpentry of the cabinets. The outcome of their labor is a final prototype that offers a sleek solution to some of the most pressing environmental and economic problems. It also addresses the challenges addressed by New York City’s 2030 sustainability agenda, PlaNYC. With any luck, more green roofs will soon be popping up in the city, changing the way we interact with a hugely underutilized resource and reducing our carbon footprint.

+CUNY Team New York +US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Images © Amanda Silvana Coen and Jill Fehrenbacher for Inhabitat

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