The two bedroom Solar Decathlon entry from Middlebury College is a revolution in family living. Named 'Self-Reliance', the home features a stunning green wall that raises plants and veggies for food, all while filtering the air. Based on the design of a traditional New England farmhouse, Self-Reliance is an affordable and environmentally responsible home for a modern family of four.
The home has a traditional gabled roof – a common architectural feature in New England – allowing Self-Reliance to blend in with any neighborhood in the region. Flanking each side of the roof, at an optimal angle towards the sun, is a 7.2 kW photovoltaic array that provides energy for the home. Made of 30 panels, it can produce 7,930 kWh per year. The home’s triple-pane windows prevent solar heat gain, while providing net heat gain throughout the year.
Skylights filter in daylight while also assisting in stack effect ventilation, pushing cool air toward the living area and sucking out hot air. Inside the kitchen, a living wall grows fresh produce for the family, while keeping the room cool and oxygenated naturally. Outdoor planters also grow vegetables, giving the family the satisfaction of raising their own food year round. An air-to-air heat exchanger operates through aluminum ducts, circulating fresh air while also providing the green wall with condensed moisture.
The gabled roof naturally angles snow and rain, feeding the outdoor plans while protecting the photovoltaic panels on the roof. The durable home also features energy-monitoring software so occupants can educate themselves on their energy usage, while maintaining it.
Self-Reliance is built for a small family, designed to foster community and family gathering with efficient use of space.