Despite still not knowing where this year's Solar Decathlon will actually take place, the Southern California SCIArc and Cal-Tech team are pressing on with work on their super energy efficient solar home. Their entry, CH:IP/Compact House: Increasing Possibility, has a minimal footprint with a roof coated in photovoltaics and is designed to fit on a number of urban lots. The SoCal teams also took inspiration from astronauts' suits and plan to coat the entire home in an insulated puffed material. A test model is currently under construction on a parking lot at SCIArc.
While the basic concept of the home remains intact from their first design incarnation, CH:IP has evolved into a more sophisticated net zero project. The home is designed for residents who live in the Washington D.C. area and will use approximately 21 kWh/day, mostly consumed by air conditioning and appliances. To counteract the energy usage, the roof is completely coated in photovoltaics. The roof angle was adjusted in order to maximize the amount of sunlight taken in by the modules.
This last month or so, the team has been constructing their first full-scale model of the home to test out their theories as well as their construction skills. One of the critical elements of their design has been to test out different insulation methods in order to achieve their space-like high performance thermal envelope. Taking inspiration from an astronaut’s suit, insulation is covered and tufted by a white plastic or vinyl covering. A recent test was performed to determine how bags of blown cellulose compared to recycled denim batt insulation. Test results have not yet been released – although we would be very interested to hear which is better.
Solar Decathlon has still not announced the new location for the competition in September. Even though the location change is quite disappointing, the SoCal team is still pressing onward with their original design specs expecting the competition to take place somewhere in the DC area.
Images ©SCIArc CH:IP