Solar Decathlon 2011: Team New Jersey, ENJOY House

[Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing coverage of Solar Decathlon entries leading up to the event’s kick off on Sept. 23.]

Students from Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology form Team New Jersey at the 2011 Solar Decathlon, and they are bringing with them the ENJOY House, which features sustainable technology combined with traditional concrete design. The house features passive strategies, solar power technology, and modern architectural concepts. Because it’s composed of insulated, pre-cast concrete panels, it requires far less maintenance than a traditional stick-frame house, and because of the insulation and the passive elements, heating and cooling costs and energy consumption are considerably reduced. The 960-ft2 house was created for a couple planning retirement to the Jersey shore, and because of the specific needs of retirees, the house is completely ADA-accessible, with features that allow the safe and comfortable living for people of various ages and levels of mobility.

ENJOY House is specifically designed for New Jersey’s coastal climate. It features an inverted-hip roof; imagine a pyramid shape, but upside down. This shape allows for optimal solar power production as well as rainwater collection. Though not in place for the competition, a gray water recycling system can easily be installed, where rainwater is used to flush toilets and water plants in the yard, all of which are native, local species. All the surfaces–the roof, floor and walls–are concrete, as are several of the interior structures like closets, shelving and kitchen countertops, which increases their durability, and feature openings to let in daylight and fresh air.

Image via Team New Jersey

ENJOY House’s technologies include evacuated solar thermal tubing that heat water for domestic use, as well as the radiant floor heating system. The fiberglass-framed windows are highly efficient and durable. The PV array on the roof can produce electricity, and the air in the house is kept cool and fresh by way of energy recovery ventilators and dehumidifiers.

Image via Team New Jersey

The final placement of ENOJY House is yet to be determined. Several New Jersey nonprofit organizations have expressed interest in obtaining it, as have some private builders. Hopefully, ENJOY House will have a new home itself after the Decathlon.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.