HU students participating in sustainable house challenge in the US

A new group of students are studying how to improve our climate friendly house even further – so their house can outshine the competition during Solar Decathlon 2020 in Washington DC.

The students’ home has been built with recycled materials , uses a heat pump for heating and cooling and takes clever advantage of precipitation by collecting the rainwater. In addition, the building’s different systems rely on smart technology to communicate and interact. This maximises the home’s sustainability as a living environment, without compromising quality of life.

The house has a modular design, meaning it can be made bigger or smaller by adding or removing different elements. If a new child is born, for example, the residents can expand their home by attaching extra panels. And when less space is required, the surplus panels can be sold on to another family that need them for their own expansion.

The interdisciplinary project involves students in the fields of technology, economics and communications. Student Amber Patterson: “What I love most is working with so many people. I study communication, but you meet people from totally different studies. If I don't know something, they fill me in. It gives me a broader view.”

The new team is currently studying how to raise the home’s level of sustainability even further. The students are looking into the possibilities offered by insulation made from vegetable waste, for instance, the use of salt water batteries, or a leasing concept in which materials are leased rather than purchased. But they also want to make the house comfortable for older generations – by installing a fall detection system in the floors, for example, which alerts the community if an inhabitant falls in his or her home.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an international competition that comprises ten contests between student teams from all over the world. The organisers challenge the students to design and build innovative and sustainable buildings powered by renewable energy . The winning team is the one that develops the most effective blend of design, smart energy technology, innovation and market potential. The teams’ entries are judged on ten aspects: energy performance , engineering, financial feasibility & affordability, resilience, architecture, operations, market potential, comfort & environmental quality, innovation and presentation.

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