Andrew Michler

Team Purdue's Solar Decathlon House Blends Traditional Architecture With Net Zero Performance

by , 09/18/11

Green Building, Indiana green building, Indiana zero energy house, INhome, LEED platinum, net-zero house, Purdue solar, Purdue solar Decathlon house, Purdue University zero energy home, US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Team Purdue’s entry in the 2011 Solar decathlon is decidedly Midwestern in its approach – it’s a traditional-looking home that won’t necessarily stick out in a crowd – however it’s efficient enough to actually feed local utilities rather than relying on them. The INhome is designed with cost in mind, utilizing off-the-shelf materials and equipment to achieve a low energy footprint that is easily fulfilled by the generous solar electric array on the roof. While the sedated design is aiming at making sustainable building available for the mainstream market, the team did incorporate some unique features — most notably an interior green wall – or biowall – to filter the air.

Green Building, Indiana green building, Indiana zero energy house, INhome, LEED platinum, net-zero house, Purdue solar, Purdue solar Decathlon house, Purdue University zero energy home, US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Since it uses conventional stick framing and sip panels, the home is not as easy to transport as many of the other teams – but this allowed for simpler construction and the look the team was after. The team was able to tuck a two bedroom house into less than 1,000 square feet and give residents full control of the air and light via a central interface. The house feels bigger than it is thanks to the cathedral roof and clerestory windows, which also open to provide natural ventilation. A generous covered porch creates a people-friendly front.

Like all tight homes, the mechanical system relies on an energy recovery ventilator, or ERV, for fresh air – but the team added a unique twist by inserting a small green wall with a circulation fan that leads to the duct work. While it may not be the most effective filter system, it adds a nice green feature to the interior, literally.

A great off-the-shelf product that we hope to see more of is the air heat pump hot water heater, which squeezes BTUs out of the ambient indoor air to heat domestic water and help cool the home in the summer. Hooked up to the substantial 9 kW solar array, the home is able to produce more power than it needs while blending right into the neighborhood — which of course is the point.

+ Purdue University INhome

+ Solar Decathlon Coverage on Inhabitat

 

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3 Comments

  1. zeropassiv September 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I like the house also because it appears to be immediately livable.
    I am not so sure about ducting the BioWall to the ERV. Breathing through growing medium is not the best idea. Perhaps an unducted BioWall would be better.

    The garage is a great feature. But the only separation between the garage and the living space is a simple door without any other measures to minimize car fumes from entering the living space. In an airtight home, this should be addressed.

    I don’t think they did anything to mitigate the thermal bridging that exists in a SIPs home. All they need to do is add a couple of inches of EPS outsulation on the outter skin of the SIPs. Really not a difficult or expensive thing to do.

  2. lazyreader September 19, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I like this house because it appears over all no different than an ordinary affordable house one may build anywhere. It’s the planter boxes outside I dislike, there to dark on a house with a bright paint scheme. Of course the boxes are there to hide the legs and underground of an elevated house. Traditionally they used a trellis with flowering vines or roses growing through it.

  3. toltc September 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Great house, love the concept. Only problem is that you have chosen Syngonium in your green wall. It is poisonous to children and animals. A lot of indoor air purifying plants are. Perhaps a glass louvred wall with a metre high base panel?

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