We’ve been bringing you breaking coverage of this week’s Solar Decathlon in Washington DC throughout the week and one of the most interesting homes to emerge from the competition is the North House, a super sleek, high-tech solar powered home designed to generate more energy than it consumes – an especially impressive feat granted that the home was designed for the extreme climate of Northern Canada. Currently in 4th place at the Decathlon, Team Ontario/BC is exhibiting an incredibly impressive showing. With two days left of the competition, they still have a good chance to eek out some more points in the categories of Engineering, Lighting and the biggie, Net Metering, which could still put them in the lead.
Most of the competing teams at this year’s Solar Decathlon hail from more moderate climates, so Team Ontario/BC should garner considerable respect considering the climes they’ve designed for. Taking the cold weather into account, the North House has paid particular attention to tight insulation and a high-performance glazing system, which wraps the house and manages passive heating and cooling of the building by providing different configurations – from full shading to full sun.
The high-tech North House was built right next to the low-budget ZEROW House from Rice University that we covered last week, and the two designs couldn’t have been more contrasting. While the ZEROW house utilized passive design techniques and was designed to be as affordable as possible, the North House spared no expense in the high-tech automated systems for the home. As you can see in our photos, the entire exterior is clad in the most state-of-the-art ‘building-integrated-photovoltaic’ (BIPV) tiles.
Ceiling bed in the North house automatically folds up into the ceiling during the day to maximize living space
The interior furniture and finishing also feature a lot of interesting high-tech design choices, such as a space-saving bed that automatically lowers from the ceiling at night, and folds back up into the ceiling during the day to maximize the living room space.
The North house was designed to use customizable and interchangeable components, which will aid in the fabrication of the prefab home when it comes to market. They have also worked hard on their layered approach to envelope construction, designing, what they call, DReSS (Distributed Responsive System of Skins). DReSS consists of an inner layer of ‘thin’ skin information systems, responsive to touch; a middle layer that is a highly insulated glazing system that can maximize solar gain combined with a shading system for privacy; and finally an outer layer of thin-film photovoltaics.
The team designed the North House to offer “an attractive high performance home that sets a new standard for solar design in Canada’s northern climate.” The North House took 1st place in the category of Comfort Zone and 2nd place in Communications, which, combined with their other scores, means they not too far behind Team Illinois, Team Germany and current leader Team California. Keep it tuned to Inhabitat as we follow their progress this week and see who take the ultimate prize of the 2009 Solar Decathlon.