The home is constructed of fiber cement and wood-clad windows. Since the passive windows and walls are built to collect, store, and distribute solar heat in the winter and reject it in the summer without mechanical or electric devices, most of its energy comes from the two solar units in the form of asymmetrical trellises offset from the roof. The first solar array is comprised of 28 photovoltaic panels. Additional hybrid solar thermal panels sit behind the first set and are used to heat the house and hot water system. The trellises also break up the exterior of the home, creating panoramic shaded porches or seating areas.
Inside the home, there are two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and small workspace all set in an open circular plan. Two of the walls are in fact movable partitions, adapting to the various entertaining or privacy needs of the inhabiting family. A fold down work table is fixed to the wall behind the kitchen and is naturally lit by a skylight. All of the home’s furniture and artwork are designed and fabricated by the students.
Each home appliance is EnergyStar rated, including the various LED lights and even a Whirlpool refrigerator that uses less than $42 of electricity a year. Team Massachusetts hopes a family will purchase the 4D home after the competition, so they may measure their energy use and savings.