A Solar Decathlon Entry Also Saves Water

There has been some controversy concerning the location of this year’s Solar Decathlon competition, but the contest/educational event is back on the National Mall in the nation’s capital, and twenty finalist teams have been picked to display their innovative, solar-powered homes at the final competition.

Among the teams that made the final cut in this international competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, is the University of Maryland, which recently unveiled Watershed, its qualifying entry this year.  Like all Solar Decathlon homes, Watershed runs exclusively on solar power–unlike most other homes, this one was designed to make the most of water and in so doing, protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Watershed design

image via University of Maryland

Notable features include a constructed wetlands that filter storm water and greywater (non-sewage used household water), a green roof to retain rainwater and promote efficient cooling, edible landscaping, and an indoor waterfall (with liquid desiccant) that provides high-efficiency humidity control.

Solar Decathlon2

image via University of Maryland

“This will be a lot more than a great house – think of it as a mini-ecosystem,” said WaterShed’s principal investigator, University of Maryland Associate Professor of Architecture Amy Gardner, in a statement. She goes on to note that it has been said that the planet will run out of water before it runs out of oil, and that Watershed helps to link these twin concerns in ways that make sense environmentally, economically, and aesthetically.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.