Although Team Rhône-Alpes won the architecture prize at the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe with their modular Canopea house, the competition is far from over. Team Brasil is still in the running with their prefab Ekó House - a genuinely sustainable design that could cure their home country's dearth of affordable housing. Focusing less on high-tech and more on proudly Brazilian humanistic interventions, this group used sustainably-sourced natural materials and prefab methods that slash construction costs and times. Despite its emphasis on low-tech, this gorgeous solar-powered home produces a whopping 21.157 kWh per year - three times more energy than it consumes.
Team Brasil chose wood as the main construction materials for their solar-powered Ekó House since these are more readily available in their home country and because they help to raise awareness of the importance of using natural resources sustainably.Combined with glass wool insulation, prefabricated OSB panels can be erected in a matter of days and an embedded training program equips Brasil’s labor force with new skills. The sliding bamboo screen protects the house, which also boasts double glass doors and windows, from excess solar gain.
Ekó House has a rainwater collection system that is used for a variety of functions, as well as a modern dry compost toilet. Since sewage treatment facilities are not well run in Brasil, this team incorporated a waste system that also conserves precious water resources. Biological organisms are used to accelerate the waste decomposition process, and the resulting manure can be used as fertilizer for non-edible greenery. Outside a constructed wetland system provides even further waste management.
Since Brasil didn’t manage to complete their home on time for the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe, it is an especially proud moment for this team to represent their country in Madrid this year.