Portugal’s Solar (Decathlon) House On The Move

Every year, student teams from all over Europe (and Egypt too) go head to head in the European edition of the Solar Decathlon. This year, one of the entries that caught our eye hails from the University of Porto in Portugal. Conceived of as a modular, flexible home that changes to suit the needs of the family it shelters, the Casa em Movimento (CEM) also tracks the movement of the sun across the sky. Call it a home that keeps track of life in real time.

In keeping with the design team’s desire to create an energy-independent home, the CEM is clad entirely in solar photovoltaic panels. As anyone who’s cased out solar knows, the kind of highly optimized solar tracking system that keeps this home’s lights, appliances, and electronics running isn’t exactly cheap. Which is why the designers beefed up the system up to not only power the home, but produce a surplus of energy that can be sold back into the grid. In this way, this spendy system was designed to pay its own way, via a feed-in tariff system.

Casa em Movimemto

image via Inhabitat

And hey, if we’re already producing a bumper crop of solar, why not use it to power the family car as well? The CEM will also charge the batteries of an electric car, adding to the home’s overall value.

Inhabitat reports that only naturally insulated materials such as cork and wood were used in the home’s interior, helping to guarantee the project’s overall energy efficiency. Permeable pavers and a reflecting pool outside of the home do their part to enhance the local ecosystem while controling storm water runoff.

One of the greenest features of the home, however, doesn’t fit the conventional green building profile, and that feature is the home’s adaptability. Its design and layout calls for the easy addition and subtraction of room modules as the family grows and then launches its kids from the nest; by using only as much space as the family actually requires, energy bills are kept to a minimum.

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.