With roughly 100 people moving there on a daily basis, Austin is battling to keep pace with rising demand for natural resources like energy and water. But don't worry, the solar-powered NexusHaus has got the city covered. A 784 sf prototypical modular home for the Austin Community Design & Development Center's (ACDDC) Alley Flat Initiative, which aims to make use of neglected secondary lots throughout the city, the carbon-neutral home features a state-of-the-art solar system with each panel embedded with its own inverter to convert direct current to alternating current. This makes the central inverter redundant, and allows each panel to operate independently. Comprised of two modular parts, the smart home also conserves water in a big way and grows its own food with an "all-food residential landscape." Entered into the 2015 Solar Decathlon competition by the Technische Universitaet Muenchen in Germany and The University of Texas at Austin, NexusHaus is bound to be among this year's winners.
Comprised of two rectangular modules measuring 14 by 28 feet – one for daytime functions and one for night – NexusHaus employs a variety of both active and passive measures to ensure the two bedroom home is not only highly livable, but also exceptionally energy efficient. Connected by a 12-foot breezeway, the two modules can be operated separately, which helps to reduce energy consumption. A dog-trot porch and central covered canopy extend the interior living space while rain screens and canopies help to support a rainwater harvesting system and an edible landscape.
The main material used to construct the home, certified green wood with a low embodied carbon footprint, gives it a warm and inviting aesthetic while also sequestering carbon. This, combined with the 7kW photovoltaic array installed on the roof, contributes to its carbon neutrality. In addition to the innovative inverters, which help to minimize the effect of partially-shaded panels, this solar array dramatically reduces installation costs with a lighter frame that has fewer penetration points. This also cuts down energy waste.
Thoroughly bathed in natural light, super compact, breezy and carefully designed to maximize views without excess solar gain, the NexusHaus will be Austin Green Building certified, and the team intends to apply for LEED Platinum certification. Stay tuned as we continue our coverage of the international collegiate Solar Decathlon competition, which consistently delivers the most cutting-edge advances in sustainable design, solar solutions, and thoughtful engineering.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat; renderings via NexusHaus