As the European Solar Decathlon heats up in Madrid, the Napevomo House is turning heads for its very unique tack on design. The team, composed mainly of students from Arts et Métiers Paris Tech, has combined two powerful technologies into a single system that heats the house and provides electricity at the same time. That would explain the unusual parabolic mirror sprouting from the top of the building, as if it were the Jetsons’ vacation home. The green roof and wall system brings the design back down to earth, and the overall effort results in a very comfortable home that produces all of its own power and requires zero outside energy.
The very unique technology atop the Napovomo House is actually what is referred to as a “micro-combined cycle heat and power” unit — or CHP. The mirror reflects the sun’s intense rays onto solar electric cells, which are cooled by water running though the back of the panels. This improves the efficiency of the Gallium Arsenide solar cells, making them upwards of 20% efficient. The hot water then is used to heat the water used throughout the home. If heat is not needed then under-floor cells containing Paraffin wax store the energy through the process of phase change — this energy can later be used to keep the home warm, or conversely, cool the home in the summer.
The interior features a rich mix of low-impact materials ranging from clay tile and cellulose fiber insulation to a unique pine board made of green — or wet — lumber. The home also uses the tried and true trick of passive heating and natural daylighting. A HRV keeps the air fresh in such a tightly-built structure, since in the Cheyenne language Napevomo means “Do you feel well?”