Old Man Winter is no match for the GRoW home, an ultra-efficient solar house that uses sustainable technologies to provide year-round vegetation and comfortable living even in the harshest Buffalo winter. Designed by University at Buffalo students, the Growlarium—part greenhouse, part solarium—runs on solar and thermal energy to achieve near total self-sufficiency. The dynamic GRoW home adapts to the seasons using passive design that works with the natural environment.
Designed and built for the 2015 Solar Decathlon, the GRoW Home was inspired by the growth of solar in New York State and by SolarCity’s decision to build a 1.2 million-square-foot solar factory, one of the largest in the Western hemisphere, in Buffalo. According to the team’s design philosophy, the GRoW home considers four key themes: to “nurture active stewardship, think functional flexibility, live with nature, and recognize energy hierarchy.” The house is wrapped in a tight thermal envelope, structural insulated panels, as well as high-performance sliding glass doors and windows to reduce heating loads in winter.
Topped by a folded roof with photovoltaic panels and a solar water heating system, the house is organized on a grid layout and divided into three modules: a 770-square-foot T-shaped living space with a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bedroom; a 320-square-foot extended living space and winter greenhouse; and a 1,440-square-foot shaded exterior deck with raised planting beds. The 7-kW 24-Silevo-panel photovoltaic system produces 9MWh per year—nearly twice as much energy as residents will need. Energy-efficient fixtures connected to a smart home monitoring system and a four-zone variable-air-volume air-to-air mechanical system help to further reduce overall energy use.
Images via Justina