The ECHO net-zero home is a solar-powered modular housing unit created to withstand Canada’s harsh climate. Trying to imagine how future homes could be built by improving past design, students from Queen's University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College teamed up to design a transportable prefab home for this year’s Solar Decathlon competition.
The house can generate as much power as it consumes over the course of a year, thanks to 30 photovoltaic modules mounted on its roof. The modules feature high quality mono-crystalline cells which can yield 260 Watts of power per 60-cell module. Each PV module is equipped with a microinverter which allows for per-module maximum energy harvest, which is particularly useful when dealing with harsh and long winters.
Besides using renewable energy sources to achieve an impressive level of sustainability, the house also features walls that use infused expanded polystyrene, which is manufactured without the use of harmful airborne pollutants. The air gap between the polystyrene and the exterior layer minimizes the risk of mold growth and premature timber decay. The house is planned to achieve an R-value (thermal resistance) of 55, which is over twice the insulating capacity of a conventional home.