Silicon Valley is a hotbed of technological innovation, and a group of students from Stanford University are tapping that creative energy by creating the Start.Home, a solar-powered prefab home. Using all the amazing tech resources, brilliant faculty and entrepreneur capital at their disposal, the student group is trying to reimagine how homes are built. Start.Home is based around a central prefabricated utility core that manages the home's energy, water, lighting, media and other systems. Homes can then be customized around that core to achieve a high level of sustainability and efficiency. The student team is also designing a custom web application to manage and track the home's performance and even creating customized fixtures that help empower the homeowner to live more sustainably. Currently under construction, the Stanford team will debut their home at the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition this fall in Southern California.
This is the first time Stanford University has competed in the Solar Decathlon competition and is one of 20 teams who will test their smart home design in Irvine, California this fall. Their goal isn’t to win the competition, but to come up with an idea that can actually change the industry and spark a change. Likely, members of the team also expect to graduate from school with a spinoff startup company based upon their project.
Start.Home’s design is based on the typical climate of Palo Alto and features all your standard passive solar design concepts, photovoltaics, green products and a tight thermal envelope. But the look of it isn’t what is important, it’s how it functions and how their strategy can be applied to the real world. The team doesn’t want dictate what homes look like or how they are lived it, but they do want to control how they perform. Start.Home is unique from other entries in that the architecture is not the spotlight of the home. The design is centered around a prefabricated utility core that contains all the necessary systems any home would need. Think of it as the brain, heart and muscle of a net-zero home.
Stanford isn’t known for its architecture; it is known for apps, technology and the incorporation of all things Internet related. The team is developing its own web-based whole home management application to control and track energy and water use, which is tied to their central prefabricated core. They’re also designing custom light fixtures and controls that give the home user a better sense of what their impact is. The goal is to give people the tools live more sustainability and empower them to learn, improve and share their experiences. After the competition, the home will head back to the Bay Area and be installed at Jasper Ridge to become the home of the local ranger and his family.
To learn more about Start.Home, watch this great Ted Talk by Derek Ouyang, the project manager of the Solar Decathlon team.
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Images © Stanford University Solar Decathlon Team