Affordable Solar- & Water-harvesting House, built by students
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 18th, 2011
Graphic by Leah Davies
WaterShed, the University of Maryland’s [winner of] the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011, is a solar-powered home comprised of systems that interact with each other and the environment. A home that harvests, recycles, and reuses water, WaterShed not only conserves but produces resources with the water it captures. Inspired by the rich, complex ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the home displays harmony between modernity, tradition, and simple building strategies, balancing time-trusted best practices and cutting-edge technological solutions to achieve high efficiency performance in an affordable manner. The home was built by a multi-disciplinary team of students over the course of two years.
About the Design:
WaterShed is a solar-powered home inspired and guided by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, interconnecting the house with its landscape, and leading its dwellers toward a more sustainable lifestyle. The house is formed by two rectangular modules capped by a split-butterfly roof that is well-suited to capturing and using sunlight and rainwater. The spacious and affordable house features:
- constructed wetlands, filtering storm water and grey water for reuse
- a green roof, retaining stormwater and minimizing the heat island effect
- an optimally sized photovoltaic array, harvesting enough energy from the sun to power WaterShed year-round
- edible landscapes, supporting community-based agriculture
- a liquid desiccant waterfall, providing high-efficiency humidity control in the form of an indoor water feature
- a solar thermal array, supplying enough energy to provide all domestic hot water, desiccant regeneration, and supplemental space heating
- engineering systems, working in harmony and each acting to increase the effectiveness of the others
- a time-tested structural system that is efficient, cost-effective, and durable.
About the Solar Decathlon:
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition challenging 20 student teams from universities around the world to design and build houses powered entirely by the sun. Over ten competition days, the teams compete in ten different events such as architecture, engineering, and affordability. The team with the highest overall score is the winner. Each day the winner of one of the ten contests is publicly announced, providing the opportunity for individual recognition among the decathlete teams. The winner of the 2011 competition will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. This year’s competition [was] on public display in the solar village at West Potomac Park, Washington, DC from September 23 – October 2. The house entries will be judged in subjective contests such as market appeal, communications, and home entertainment, and objective measured tests such as comfort zone, hot water, and energy balance. The houses are on public exhibition with the intent of educating visitors about environmental issues, emerging sustainable technologies, and energy-saving measures.