The 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe has encouraged the competition's 20 participating teams to incorporate high-tech solutions into their solar-powered houses, but that hasn't stopped the team from Brazil from leaning heavily on their home country's traditions as well. Their Ekó House is a solar-powered modular home that takes inspiration from the Tupi-Guarani people, who look to the sun as the most important regulator of life. Using smart automated systems that maximize energy efficiency, comfort and security, the only team from the southern hemisphere to participate in 2012 European Solar Decathlon has also revived their people's custom of communing in large shared spaces that open to the beautiful outdoors.
Constructed out of pre-stressed wood panels, the Ekó House from Brazil has a modular veranda system that not only respects the Brazilian tradition of having both private and open spaces, but also mitigates excess solar gain. Energy is derived from rooftop solar panels and all of the mechanical, hydraulic and HVAC systems are contained in a mechanical closet. Team Brazil has sought at every step to highlight the importance of creating a natural, breathable space that respects the surrounding environment.
This strategy extends beyond the low impact structure to include the home’s water and waste management system. On-site constructed wetlands treat the home’s grey water, which is limited since there is a waterless, compositing toilet, and the kitchen design optimizes waste management and recycling as much as possible. The team has dismantled the house and are in Madrid, waiting for the judges to gauge their enormous progress.