After winning the 2007 US Solar Decathlon, and placing second in the world, the University of Maryland team is well poised for this year’s intercollegiate competition. Their solar-powered house, called WaterShed, is inspired by the complex, sprawling Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The team has gone to great lengths to incorporate many features into the home that ensure a healthy hydrological system. These include a butterfly roof that funnels water into a catchment system, a green roof that provides insulation and absorbs stormwater runoff, a green wall, and a vegetable garden. There’s more after the break – read on for a closer look!

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Like the Florida FLeX house we featured yesterday, the WaterShed house will include a desiccant waterfall that sucks humidity out of the air. (The MD team first pioneered this groundbreaking water feature with their 2007 LEAFHouse). The home will also be well-lit thanks to passive design, nice and warm in the winter because of its orientation, and naturally ventilated. This energy efficiency will take the pressure off the building’s PV solar array. Maryland is hot and muggy in the summer, but also experiences long periods of gray cloud cover.

A composting system will be an integrated piece of outdoor “furniture” that will work to create fertilizer for the edible garden off of the kitchen deck, according to Veronika Zhitineva, and the property will be surrounded by tall grasses that are indigenous to the area. Not only do these link the home with its physical context, but they also promote the healthy functioning of the local ecology. This is a stunning design that doesn’t rely as heavily on technology as it does on nature-derived design strategies.

+ WaterShed, University of Maryland