University of Tennessee Students Build a Zero Energy House

by , 10/13/10

University of Tennessee, ut Zero Energy House, zero energy, zero carbon, green architecture, eco architecture, sustainable design, green design

Students and faculty at the University of Tennessee Knoxville have created a zero energy house that not only teaches the students around campus about sustainable design, but also reaches a wider audience in the surrounding community. The site really comes alive on college game days, when the campus is not just populated with UT’s 20,000 student population but also by 100,000-plus residents from the state of Tennessee and surrounding areas. This is a great chance for both communities to experience the green design concept firsthand.


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  1. Brent Castro November 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

    The UT Zero Team implemented several specific design intents to test sustainable ideas. A “winter garden,” a sun space designed to capture the radiant heat from the sun combining with a large air space to separate the living area from the cold exterior.

    The winter garden helps to bring in heat during the winter and in the summer a series of polycarbonate sliding panels help to keep the harsh sun heat gain out during the warmer months.

    The double-back photovoltaic panels sit atop the roof with a reflective roof to capture the direct sunlight and the indirect reflected light from the roof. A wooden shading system extends passed the façade to shade the interior from the harsh summer sun.

    This was our prototype house that we used to learn about new and different sustainable systems. We then used our strengths and weaknesses from this projects and changed them for our 2011 entry into the Solar Decathlon.

    During the design development of our Living Light Solar Decathlon House, the team changed several ideas that were implimented during the UT Zero Energy House. The winter garden was collapsed into a foot and a half “double façade” system that collects the direct sunlight and circulates the outside air simultaneously. The photovoltaic system was combined with the wooden shading system to create space for more PV panels while still shading the interior from the summer sun. The individual photovoltaic panels were changed to a Solyndra system which can collect sunlight from a full 360 degrees.

    Please view both websites for more information |


  2. CP October 13, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I’m surprised that a glass-walled house can be zero-energy. What happens in the winter?

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