Gallery: Refract House: Students Design Sun-Powered Zero Energy Home

Santa Clara University's "Refract House"

California College of the Arts (CCA) and Santa Clara University recently assembled a team of over 100 students to design the Refract House, an ultra energy-efficient dwelling that promotes an “innovative and cost-effective strategy to climate-friendly building”. Taking up just 800 square feet, the Refract House is compact, energy efficient and green in just about every way imaginable, combining state of the art climate and energy monitoring technologies with solar-thermal and photovoltaic systems.

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  1. joenewideas June 7, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I love to promote the program in Africa

  2. Greenotter August 3, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    The houses in the Solar Decathlon are designed to be transportable, and cutting-edge efficient. Some teams spend over a million on the house. Santa Clara was a surprise 3rd place in the last contest. This new design is beautiful.

    I get excited about the contest every two years when it is held, and follow news of it on the web. It is excellent training for a new generation of green architects, as well as a showcase for some wonderful new designs and engineering ideas.

    While “market viability” is one of the ten categories in the contest, I too regret that they don’t have another competition, in addition to the Solar Decathlon, for producing a super efficient, low-cost house, that could be mass produced, and would be immediately marketable to lower and middle class people. It would become a kind of Model-T for 21st century small green homes. However, the technology and style that the students explore in the Solar Decathlon, probably will have a way of trickling down.

    That the houses are small and have only one bedroom is not really an issue, to me anyway. Anything they accomplish in a small house can be replicated in a larger one. Also, the tiny house movement has shown that a person can live in a 120 sq. ft. home and be happy, so 800 sq. ft. could be enough for a couple anyway, especially if the couple is concerned with conservation of materials and energy.

  3. Trog July 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I really dislike that the majority of cool looking student designed prefabs are only one bedroom. Having a second bedroom for a studio or for kids makes these sorts of designs have a lot longer “shelf life” in my opinion. Or at least they would appeal to a wider audience. Bravo on the zero energy design though.

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