A Net Zero Solar Homestead, Inspired By The Solar Decathlon

Perhaps you’ve followed EarthTechling’s coverage of the various Solar Decathlon competitions that regularly  take over our world here in the Green Building department. If so, there’s a good chance you’ve dreamed of living the good green life in one of those solar-powered homes designed by various university teams in the US and abroad. Now, here’s your chance to live the dream.

Appalachian State University’s Solar Homestead placed 12th overall at the 2011 US Solar Decathlon, but took the coveted People’s Choice Award. Now Asheville, N.C.-based green builder Deltec Homes is counting on that popular enthusiasm to drive sales of its upsized, slightly tweaked version of that net zero home.
Solar Homestead, Solar Decathlon

image via Deltec Homes

The original Solar Homestead was a 833-square-foot residence geared towards the modern homesteader looking to embrace the pioneering spirit of early mountain settlers. Deltec’s Solar Homestead draws upon those same aesthetics while offering a little more room, with 1032 square feet of living space in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom arrangement. It is commercially available in western North Carolina as full-shell turn-key project featuring walls constructed to Passive House standards for maximum efficiency.
Other highly efficient features of the new Solar Homestead includes triple-pane windows, high levels on insulation and — a key feature for a home of this type, built around a super-tight building envelope — a fresh air exchanger. Deltec includes a solar thermal hot water heating kit, full energy modeling and climate-specific high efficiency heating and cooling system design with every home.
Two of the features that distinguished the original Solar Homestead from its competitors back in the 2011 competition were its outbuilding modules (OMs) — the “Flex OM” (135 square feet) that can be used as a third bedroom, office, or studio, along with smaller “Storage OMs” — and a solar (or non-solar) canopy which extends over the home’s large, friendly porch.
Solar Homestead, floor plan

image via Deltec Homes

Should you choose the solar option (which is, after all, the point of this being a Solar Decathlon house), your canopy will feature translucent, bi-facial solar panels for “a breathtaking outdoor living space” that conveniently also provides the juice needed to keep the lights on at home. The solar canopy can be configured to allow you to install solar panels now, or can be configured as a solid tongue and groove finish to be cut out to add solar later, as your budget allows.
Deltec served as a primary sponsor of the original Solar Homestead, so it makes sense that the builder would find a way to build on that investment with a commercially available version of the student-designed home. But lest you think the new Solar Homestead is all about the builder, consider the fact that sales of the home will now pay royalties to help support the ASU Department of Technology and Environmental Design’s “next large-scale, sustainable design-build project and other research and creative activities at the university,” according to Deltec’s blog.

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.