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Solar Decathlon, Solar Decathlon 2013, SD2013, Irvine, California architecture competition, Solar Decathlon competition in Irvine, DoE, Department of Energy architecture competition, solar power, alternative energy, renewable energy, clean tech, green tech, Appalachian mountain home, laminated veneer lumber, green design, sustainable design, eco-design, green design, West Virginia University, PEAK House

A modern home kitted out with all of the latest technology, including a vast solar array that provides all of its power, the PEAK House nonetheless maintains the comforting ambience of a rustic cabin in the mountains. But it doesn’t need a bunch of air-conditioning to stay cool during hot and muggy summer months. Instead, angled roofs and a center fulcrum promote natural ventilation using the chimney effect. Vents at the fulcrum’s crown allow hot air to escape in summer, but in winter the system actually traps heat that is funneled through the greenhouse.

Like any mountain home, PEAK has to handle a beating, which is why this team opted to use Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) that resists warping, splitting or shrinking. Plus it looks good, adding to the project’s aesthetic appeal, while SIPs (Structurally Insulated Panels) provide the home’s main infrastructure. Composed of EPS foam placed in-between two pieces of Oriented Strand Board (OSB), SIPs prevent thermal loss, contributing to overall energy efficiency. The Department of Energy competition is less about winning than it is about daring to make the world a better place – and PEAK has definitely achieved that.

+ PEAK by West Virginia University

+ Inhabitat Solar Decathlon Coverage