The 19 solar-powered homes of the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe competition — representing the hard work and green smarts of university teams from all over the world — have been on display in Madrid since the 13th of this month. We brought you posts about Spain’s (e)co house, Portugal’s Casa em Movimento and the UK’s Heliomet Sunbloc. Over the next few days we’ll be bringing you coverage of the winners of the Architecture segment of the competition, which closed on September 20, starting with the third-place winner, the super-efficient MED in Italy house from the Rome University team.
Inhabitat reports that the name of the house is a bit of a play on words, referencing both the fact that it was made in Italy and the fact that it draws inspiration from Italy’s Mediterranean climate and architecture. Wood was used as the main construction material, with its energy performance enhanced by assembly in layers. This allows for cavities to be filled heavy materials with good thermal mass, minimizing the leakage of temperatures from inside out, and outside in.
It’s a basic condition of all Solar Decathlon entries that a home generate as much energy as it requires on site. But MED in Italy features a rooftop solar power array rated at roughly twice that, or 9.33 kilowatt hours per year. Additionally, tubes full of thermal sand convert some of that excess energy into heat, which is then used to warm the house overnight.
Drawing from the Mediterrean architectural tradition, MED in Italy features a central courtyard. This courtyard acts as a buffer zone between the outside world and the interior of the house, but also performs another green function, as that lovely deck where you might sit sipping Prosecco with friends helps to disguise the tanks storing the home’s harvested rainwater beneath. This stored rain is meant to be used for landscape irrigation, creating an inviting green surrounding landscape (and further cooling temperatures indoors).