As the Solar Decathlon 2013 wraps up this week, the race is looking closer than ever. According to current scores, Team Santa Clara's Radiant House is in the lead, but all of this year's solar prefabs could still pull forward. Team Norwich distinguishes itself its affordable and energy-efficient Delta T-90 home, which provides an inviting, warm environment for residents living in harsh climates. Read on to see our photos of Team Norwich's incredible solar home and find out the latest from our team reporting live from the Solar Decathlon!
The Delta T-90 design is all about providing a sustainable dwelling that provides maximum interior comfort for residents despite extreme temperatures on the exterior, and all at an affordable cost. At the beginning of the creative process, Team Norwich was ever mindful of the housing crisis that many cities are currently facing. Accordingly, the Delta T-90 construction scheme was first and foremost guided by Charles and Ray Eames’ motto, which is to build “the best, for the most, for the least.”
The science behind the resilient Delta T-90 design stems from a three-fold objective based on affordability, comfort and energy conservation. The temperatures in Vermont tend to drop radically in the winter months, causing stress to residents and a strain on city-provided energy sources. Therefore, these students focused on a “notion of understated elegance and universally valued architectural maneuvers” to design a home that could guarantee comfortable temperatures inside (70°F) while harsh Vermont winter temps dropped as low as -20°F on the exterior.
To achieve a highly insulated home that sees minimal casual energy loss, the Delta T-90 envelope is a veritable fortress. On the outside, the modular, 991 square foot, two-bedroom house pays homage to the historic Vermont farm house in its practicality and simplicity, but comes installed with a sustainable power punch to meet optimal energy efficiency.
For energy harvesting, the roof is topped with a flat photovoltaic array, which was intentionally sized to accommodate the heavy snow fall that hits Vermont roughly 120 days every year. For materials, the team looked to use locally-sourced materials such as hemlock from Norwich University’s own Paine Mountain and Northern White Cedar from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The skeleton of the house was built using an inline advanced framing technique that provides a sturdy, insulated structure, which uses a 3/4″ air gap for moisture evaporation.
Triple pane windows are used throughout for their ability to meet Passive House standards, and – at a total R-value of 11.36 – the Delta T-90 windows were specifically chosen for their ability to minimize energy loss. And it’s not just the materials that went into the window selection, but the placement as well. The 70 square foot window on the southern end of the living area is strategically placed for maximum solar gain during wintertime. It also serves as the home’s main focal point and by letting in direct and ambient light, providing residents with a connection to the surrounding landscape, no matter what the temperatures are on the exterior.
Additionally, the Norwich team was of the opinion that many Vermont residents would not be able to afford the maximum price tag alloted to Solar Decathlon entries, who are regulated to a $250,000 construction estimate. Therefore, at a $195,000 base level cost, the Delta T-90 is one of the most affordable houses in the competition this year. However, the design is not only far below maximum price tag set by SD guidelines, but the low price makes its affordable for a typical household making 20% to 30% less than Vermont’s average income level.
Inhabitat’s coverage of Solar Decathlon continues this week so make sure to check back to see the winning team of Solar Decathlon 2013!
Photos © Mike Chino for Inhabitat