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Winner Green Germany

Team Germany Takes DOE’S 2009 Solar Decathlon

home_washingtondc_aussen_529x0The team from Germany, Technische Universität Darmstadt has won the U.S. Energy Department’s Solar Decathlon for the second competition in a row, the previous competition was in 2007. In second place was Team Illinois, and third place went to Team California, whom promptly declared it party time and cranked up the California-themed music on their house’s entertainment center, as judges and spectators had one last look at the homes.

Twenty universities began constructing solar-powered homes October 1 on the National Mall, between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. The competition was judged in 10 categories including aesthetics, solar power generation, consumption of energy, and ability to maintain a “comfort zone” between hot and cold for the home’s inhabitants.

Team Germany’s submission is a large, dark rectangular cube covered in solar panels and trimmed in wood. The judges said Team Germany’s strongest advantage was the amount of energy their house put back into the power grid. Named the surPLUShome it is based on a single room concept. The reinforcement of the wood frame is guaranteed by OSB-plates (oriented strand board). To reach a minimal structure of basement and ceiling they also used elements of block construction. The floor consists of main beams that stretch in longitudinal direction. The box-section ceiling stretches over 10 meters (32.8 ft.) without any necessity of additional columns in the interior space. Extensive prefabrication by large panels allows a fast assembly of the construction.

The interior design is characterized by a multi-functional body as its central element. This body contains primary functions like the kitchen, stairs and the bath. A boiler integrated into the heat pump system allows the system to provide domestic hot water as well as heating and cooling. Described by the team as an aesthetic solar design, the house has a bed and other furniture and appliances that fold away or serve multiple purposes.

Designed to maximize photovoltaic (PV) production the surface of this two-story cube is covered with solar cells, an 11.1-kW PV system made of 40 single-crystal silicon panels on the roof and about 250 thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) panels on the sides that are expected to produce an incredible 200% of the energy needed by the house. The CIGS component is slightly less efficient than the silicon but will perform better in cloudy weather and indeed the system appeared to have adequate power from the home’s solar panels, despite the overcast, drizzly weather on the National Mall.

The facade’s automated louver-covered windows to block unwanted solar heat and the highly insulating, custom vacuum insulation structural panels plus phase-change material in the drywall of both walls (paraffin) and ceiling (salt hydrate) to maintain comfortable temperatures. The facade offers a highly effective shading and lightning control system plus it also features constructive moisture protection and technical exhaust ventilation.

The sleeping area is arranged at the lower level in the south east of the surPLUShome. Like other zones in the house it is characterized by its flexible usability. When it is not in use the bed is placed in the inter space of the elevated ground of the living area. If the occupant wants to use the bedroom, he can choose between pulling out a single or a full-size bed. The two steps, which are shifted with the bed, are as well storage boxes for bed clothing.

Two large doors allow entrance to the bathroom, which is one part of the multi-functional body. When the doors are closed, they hide the toilet area from the rest of the house and open the way from the entrance of the house to the bedroom area. And even if they are open, they separate both, the entrance area and the bedroom area from the bathroom.

The on grade shower basin fits exactly to the wooden flooring and a rain shower is integrated into the ceiling. The window of the bathroom which is integrated into the shower area directly is a special feature. When the bathroom is used, flexible and adjustable louvers protect anybody against views from outside.

The workplace uses the same zone in the house as the bed and is placed at the southern wall. The window in the eastern wall lightens the space. The user can pull up a desk from the wall which also contains storage for papers and pencils on two shelves above the desk. They feature as well integrated sockets and switches for equipment.

29_homesurhomelighting_bild_01The use of daylight in the building is affected by every window at any time serving the whole building. It enables the occupant to adjust the lighting and to configure many design aspects individually according to his or her specific needs and requirements. It uses its large windows with two different shading technologies to do so. A jalousie (a window, shade, or door formed of overlapping, horizontal slats, or louvers), shading system integrated in the glazing allows steering light and gives an easy access to the surrounding. A louver-based system with integrated photovoltaic generates power and allows marginal constrained views.

The functional artificial lighting consist of high power LED strips with a warm-white color of light integrated in the acoustic ceiling to provide a general lighting in the whole room if needed. Only 16 – 8 Watt strips are needed to generate a luminance of 800-900 lumen. The light strips are impressed in the pattern of the ceiling and are unobtrusive, if they are not in use. High Power LED spot lights serve the different requirements in the sleeping, cooking and bath area.

LED lighting panels integrated in the surface of the multifunctional body glow in any color wanted by the user. The RGB light enable different atmospheres and moods for various occasions. The technology is as well part of the night lighting concept, which tries to transport the multifunctional usability of the surPLUShome to the exterior.

22_homesurhomeconstructionnewtechnologies_bild_02~1_255x0The structure of the surPLUShome is made of a timber frame construction. It is easy to handle, has a low ecological footprint and allows lightweight construction. It constitutes the foundation for an ecologically sound building design. To increase the ecological quality local types of wood like oak, spruce or white fir were used.

The roof of the surPLUShome is designed as a fifth facade. It shall combine maximum utility with high design quality. Besides sheltering the house from rain-water and high temperatures at the moisture protection, the function of the roof is to provide power. Using 40 high efficient Photovoltaic modules from Sun Power (SPR 300), the roof provides an installed capacity of 12kWpeak..

The construction of the facade is based on the traditional principle of shingles. The team utilized this technique and transferred the principle to new appearance of modern material like glass-glass photovoltaic modules and acrylic glass. In order to generate the facade, which performs in all orientations the surPLUShome is designed with thin-film modules. Out of all photovoltaics, this technology has the best responding behavior to indirect solar radiation. The angle of the cells towards the sun is optimized by this construction as the overlap of modules causes tilting. Supported by the company Würth Solar an their innovative thin-film photovoltaic modules made this optimized facade-system possible. This company as well offered sizing the modules smaller than usual, which allowed us to integrate the scale of housing combined with photovoltaic technology in a new way.

In respect to accessibility the team designed the deck to be on even level with all window and door openings. The elevation changes are connected by both stairways and ramps which comply with the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) accessibility guidelines.

Don’t you just love watching ….. as the green future unfolds!

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17 Responses to “Winner Green Germany”

  1. corrin Says:

    I absolutely love that house and would move in in a heartbeat.

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Corrin … Me Too! it certainly has many benefits!

    Hi Barbara … They really did a good job and congrats are in order!

  3. Barbara Rae Says:

    This is awesome. Love the house!! Way to go Germany!!

  4. Cady Says:

    The museum my husband works at has a solar house on display that was built by Georgia Tech students. It’s really neat, and it amazes me how bright they are without any lights on.
    .-= Cady´s last blog ..Coincidence =-.

  5. Linda Says:

    Hi Cady … That is really cool. I am amazed at how these minds think to get all of the natural light possible inside a home.

    Hi Brad … Well, any reasonable port in the storm, my friend! Ready or not you are going green!

  6. Brad Says:

    Hey Linda!

    As you know, wind and solar have always sounded to me like reasonable (and free) sources of energy. Of course, I’d be in it for the $aving$ rather than the so-called carbon reduction.

    Nice work on the post! 🙂
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..It Is Good That We Should Harmonize! =-.

  7. A. @ A Changing Life Says:

    It’s really interesting to read this, and exciting to think how much progress is being made in capturing solar energy. I do wonder though, about how much of this is going to filter into real life. How much is going to be adaptable for existing housing, because that’s the way it will have to develop. We can’t all have brand new houses, and I can’t see too many families with babies wanting to live in a house like that.
    .-= A. @ A Changing Life´s last blog ..PhotoHunt: tied =-.

  8. Linda Says:

    Hi A … There are so many great things coming out, it leaves you with that wonderful freedom of choice! Plus these projects make for wonderful prototypes so that everyone can expand on it or use it as a template to build their own! You really do not need a new house, you can retro-fit your existing home with these ideas as time and pocket book allows. 🙂

  9. rudiahmadn Says:

    It’s was nice article.. ceep writting my friend’s..
    .-= rudiahmadn´s last blog ..Adgitize =-.

  10. Linda Says:

    Hi rudiahmadn … Thank you! Come back again!

    Hi Maureen … The competition is fierce and frenzied but has exposure as well.

  11. Maureen Says:

    That looks really cool. This story sounds familiar…I may have seen something about it on a tv special.

  12. Barbara Rae Says:

    Just stopping in from CE, to say “Hi!” Oh, and how is that new job going?

  13. Linda Says:

    Hi Barbara … Hi Ya! I am hangin in there as it is going to get real busy real quick…

  14. Micah Says:

    This is a great post.. Very informative… I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your every post that’s why I think I’d come here more often. Keep it up! By the way, you can also drop by my blogs. They’re about Vegetable Gardening and Composting. I’m sure you’d find my blogs helpful too.

  15. Linda Says:

    Hi Micah… I have and keep coming back! 🙂

  16. Karen Vaughn Says:

    Totally LOVE this House! Awesome!

  17. Linda Says:

    Hi Karen … glad you like it! come back again!

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