The second place winner of this year’s Solar Decathlon is the University of Maryland’s Leaf House, which is, as the name would imply, green, naturally inspired, and modular to boot. When designing the zero energy home, the student team drew inspiration from the simple, yet vastly complex leaf. The abode boasts every sustainable system from the obvious high-tech solar panels to a liquid desiccant waterfall to control humidity, grey water recycling, green wall, and even a plug to charge an electric car.

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In concept, the Leaf House hoped to meet goals like creating an open and flexible space, connecting to the landscape, material responsibility and durability, and energy efficiency. The team addressed the need for transformability in today’s housing using a series of movable, translucent panels that transform a small house into a large space. The modular approach lends itself to both easily housing the green systems as well as constant flexibility of space.

The photovoltaic system which spans the entire sloped roof provides 100% of the electrical energy to the home and solar hot water tubes, and is all monitored by the adaptive control energy monitor system. The most innovative feature of the Maryland house may be the indoor waterfall—a liquid desiccant wall system that’s used to control humidity. As far as the team knows, such a system has never been used for a home. A grey water system also helps the recycling, filtering, and storage of water.

University of Maryland Placed fourth in 2002, and won the People’s Choice Award in 2005, and this year the gorgeous green home took second place in the Solar Decathlon Competition. CONGRATULATIONS UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND!

+ University of Maryland Solar Decathlon Team

+ Solar Decathlon Competition + Inhabitat’s photo coverage of the event