Five Solar Decathlon Homes Offering Livable Floor Plans, Cool Design

Seen at night, the Appalachian State Solar Homestead featured one of the strongest designs in the competition.

The Solar Homestead consists of six outbuilding modules that connect to form the Great Porch.

The Homestead’s appealing interior is light-filled and airy.

The bathroom features corrugated metal walls.

The Homestead’s outdoor living space is protected by an 8.2-kilowatt trellis of bifacial solar cells. Bark siding covers one of the Flex-Outbuilding Modules.

The students designed WaterShed with a strategy that balanced tradition and technology. Inspired by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, the home is a model of how the built environment can help preserve watersheds by managing stormwater on site.

A large window in the bathroom offers a view to the outdoors, while an on-site wetland helps filter and recycle greywater from the shower, clothes washer, and dishwasher.

The home also features a green roof that slows rainwater runoff to the landscape and improves the house's energy efficiency.

Team Massachusetts’ 4D Home integrates efficient technology and passive strategies without compromising simplicity.

The home’s living room features a movable storage wall and exposed framing.

The open kitchen is surprisingly spacious and bright.

The exposed framing can also be seen in the hallway.

Middlebury College’s Self-Reliance incorporates the best features of the New England farmhouse into a design for the 21st century. The gable roof helps shed snow and rain.

Self-Reliance uses natural finishes and paints, such as linseed oil from the flax plant, natural hard waxes, and paint made from eggshells.

Using the Vermont vernacular, the students distilled the architecture of the New England farmhouse into a pure gable form. The interior features exposed beams.

Empowerhouse by a team consisting of students from Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology will be expanded into a Habitat for Humanity duplex.

The home will consume up to 90% less energy for heating and cooling than a typical home thanks to a high-performance shell and a highly efficient energy-recovery ventilation system that keeps the interior stable.

The home’s triple-glazed windows will help reduce heat loss and heat gain.

A straightforward kitchen helped the home tie for first place in the affordability section of the competition.

Team Florida struggled in the overall competition, but its house was cleverly designed. The FLeX House is a prefabricated prototype that opens up to take advantage of passive cooling during mild months and closes down to take advantage of the highly efficient mechanical systems during months of temperature extremes.

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