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.
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.