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This is the Missouri Team’s fifth Solar Decathlon competition. In fact, they are the only team worldwide to have been accepted into five of the six U.S. Department of Energy intercollegiate architecture and solar energy competition. Although still short of a win, their previous entries are in current use as solar student housing at the Missouri University Science and Technology Campus.

For their 2013 entry, the experienced team has molded and perfected their design based on feedback from previous designs, making them a very strong contender in this year’s competition with the fascinating Chameleon House, a modular design with an advanced automation system and highly engineered energy systems that allow for optimal energy control and savings. Addressing the multiple needs of various market and regional issues, the Chameleon House was designed to be adaptable to various environments while providing a comfortable and individualized home space.

The structure is clad in structurally insulated panels (SIP’s), and a photovoltaic array lines the roof and concrete floors provide thermal mass energy throughout the core space. The home’s main entry is a south-facing solarium designed to extend the interior living space into the surrounding outdoor environment. This area also provides passive light and shade for temperature control, reducing the home’s energy costs.


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Chameleon’s other passive energy features include overhangs, thermal mass, ventilation via operable windows and heat recovery. High mounted windows provide a natural lighting system that complements the artificial light suspended from the cloud ceiling. In addition to its natural and artificial light, the house is able to provide a healthy interior air quality regardless of external factors thanks to noise, dust and draft-free radiance systems that work with an air exchanger to distribute fresh air throughout.

For interior living space, the Chameleon House’s strongpoint is its ability to adapt to the spacing needs of residents, not only for one period of time, but throughout a lifetime. Moveable panelled walls, an innovative grid storage system and transformable and reconfigurable furniture allow for optimal levels of flexibility. Additionally, the minimalist feel from the use of subtle colors and modern finishes is intentional in order to leave a blank canvas for residents to be able to personalize their space.

For the energy systems, the Missouri Team is using new technologies to allow for maximum levels of control by occupants. In fact, the home was equipped with a predictive automated system built by the students themselves and allows residents to control the HVAC, windows, lights, shades and the entertainment system all at once. The program even uses weather forecasts to configure the house for maximum energy efficiency.

As officials make their final judging rounds this week, continue to watch Inhabitat’s live coverage to see which houses are the ones to watch!

+ Team Missouri Chameleon Home

+ Inhabitat Solar Decathlon Coverage

Photos © Mike Chino for Inhabitat