Just about every collegiate team at the Solar Decathlon architecture competition took inspiration from their own region to design their prefabricated solar-powered homes last year. This is particularly true of the team from West Virginia University, which infused their PEAK House with a rustic sensibility reminiscent of Appalachian mountain communities. They also relied on local knowledge to keep their house nice and cool without relying too much on mechanical assistance. Hit the jump to learn how PEAK keeps its energy consumption to a minimum.
A modern home kitted out with all of the latest technology, including a vast solar array that provides all of its power, the PEAK House nonetheless maintains the comforting ambience of a rustic cabin in the mountains. But it doesn’t need a bunch of air-conditioning to stay cool during hot and muggy summer months. Instead, angled roofs and a center fulcrum promote natural ventilation using the chimney effect. Vents at the fulcrum’s crown allow hot air to escape in summer, but in winter the system actually traps heat that is funneled through the greenhouse.
Like any mountain home, PEAK has to handle a beating, which is why this team opted to use Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) that resists warping, splitting or shrinking. Plus it looks good, adding to the project’s aesthetic appeal, while SIPs (Structurally Insulated Panels) provide the home’s main infrastructure. Composed of EPS foam placed in-between two pieces of Oriented Strand Board (OSB), SIPs prevent thermal loss, contributing to overall energy efficiency. The Department of Energy competition is less about winning than it is about daring to make the world a better place – and PEAK has definitely achieved that.