Solar Decathlon: German Team Takes Top Prize In Engineering

We’ve been bringing you periodic updates from the various contests that make up the Solar Decathlon Europe competition this year. Earlier this week we brought you word that Canopea, by the team from Rhône-Alpes of France and  and Counter Entropy, by the team from RWTH Aachen University in Germany, had claimed the top two spots in the Architecture contest. Now we bring you the top two winners in the Engineering and Construction contest: ECOLAR, by the team from University of Applied Science Constance in Germany, and Odooproject, by the team from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary.

ECOLAR took top marks in the Engineering and Construction category via a smart, efficient design that makes use, notably, of hemp insulation. Though outlawed in a number of countries, fast-growing hemp is both abundant and cheap (especially as compared to, say, old denim), and here it helps to minimize thermal losses through the home’s floors, walls and ceiling. Another key feature of the home is the fact that it is constructed using six modules (four of which are interior and two form patios), and can be designed as small or large as the customer desires. That means that pretty much everything about this house can be customized, including its columns, walls, windows and even roof.

ECOLAR house

image via Team Ecolar

Inhabitat notes that this kind of design requires enormously precise construction — a factor, no doubt, in the home taking top marks in this portion of the overall competition. The judges praised the team’s thoughtful incorporation of modularity in their final remarks on the contest, as well as the team’s incorporation of several solar solutions (the home incorporates semi-transparent panels integrated into the building’s facade, as well as a rooftop array). Finally, the overall ecological and financial sensitivity of the project helped to put it over the top

Coming in with second place in this year’s Engineering and Construction contest of the Solar Decathlon Europe was Odooproject. This home, designed by the university team from Budapest, makes notable use of not just radiant, in-floor heat — a common feature of many green buildings these days — but a ceiling-integrated water cooling system. The semi-passive heating and cooling system works via convection, which causes hot air to rise, and cool air to descend, evenly distributing temperature-treated air throughout the home without the use of forced air mechanical ventilation. This system is part of the building’s core service system, consisting of an air-to-water heat pump closely connected to the ventilation system and to the photovoltaic power system.

Odooproject

image via Odooproject

Odooproject incorporates a central courtyard, perfect for summer lounging, as well as abundant daylighting via its courtyard-facing windows. As in ECOLAR, Odooproject makes use of both horizontally and vertically mounted solar panels. Collected rainwater is harvested from the home’s roof, stored in insulated tanks, and put to use in household washing, toilet flushing and irrigation.

The third place winner in this contest was the Andalucia team from Spain.

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.

    • aricparkar

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