The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that ‘Team Germany’ from the Technische Universität Darmstadt has won the 2009 Solar Decathlon with their project surPLUShome. This is the second time in a row that a team from TU Darmstadt wins this international contest after already snatching the title in Solar Decathlon’s last edition in 2007.
After 9 days and 10 contests, Team Germany reached the highest overall scores, closely followed by Team Illinois and Team California (previously on Bustler). Dubbed “the big, black monolith,” surPLUShome is almost entirely covered with photovoltaic panels that managed to generate 19 kilowatts during one day of test runs—more than twice as much as some other Solar Decathlon contestants.
The Solar Decathlon—a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house—was hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy for three weeks this October. The contest is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.
Here’s some more info from TU Darmstadt’s Team Germany about surPLUShome:
The Solar Decathlon design of the Darmstadt University of Technology is aimed to demonstrate innovative sustainable design and to make it an object of discussion. Our architectural vision offers an alternate lifestyle which introduces the concept of energy efficiency and sustainability as a substantial element of everyday life.
Single room concept
The interior concept consisting of a single room provides maximum space and flexibility. For different atmospheres and grades of privacy the east side floor (bedroom) has been lowered while an open gallery above offers additional space for cocooning and leisure.
The “multifunctional body” in the northern part of the building integrates several basic and everyday functions: kitchen, bathroom, stairs, storage space and building services. It is the center piece of our design and plays an important role in defining different atmospheres and zones.
The functions are stored away into cupboards and cavities – consequently the main room is open and flexible to provide adequate space for different activities.
We defined different zones and atmospheres within our single room concept. Varying elevation changes on ground level and the gallery enables a distinction of spacious public and cozy personal room qualities. The integrative design of furnishings such as the bed which can be stored away beneath the flooring are essential to preserve the room qualities.
The choice of interior materials supports the overall idea of a light and airy feeling. Light colors on the walls contrasts to a structured wooden flooring. The functional body attains its solitaire character by the glossy acrylic glass surface.
Windows are placed to support the different functions and ambiences of the room and allow different views from and into the in- and outside.
Within the past process of Solar Decathlon, Team Germany has always intended to design new solutions for the integration of photovoltaic cells into the building surface.
The construction of the façade is based on the traditional principle of shingles, which is commonly practiced with slate or wooden plates. We picked up this technique and transferred the principle onto a new appearance and modern materials such as glass PV-modules and acrylic glass.
We achieved a façade-system which is in accordance to all different requirements of building façades. Besides the architectural claims, it also features constructive moisture proof and technical exhaust ventilation.
Furthermore the façade offers effective shading and lighting control system all in one. In order to generate an energy gaining façade that functions in all orientations we used thin-film CIS cells which are characterized by the ability to function with diffuse solar radiation.
Examples of sustainable design integration
A sustainable development doesn’t only take place on the visual design level, there is more to it than what meets the eye. The challenge is to integrate functions, design and innovative technologies into one coherent concept. Some examples are:
For the reduction of the energy demand, the building shell consists of highly insulated and airtight components, Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIP). A vacuum insulation panel with a breadth of 5 cm has the equivalent insulation properties of 25 cm of common insulation materials. As a result the extra 20 cm were added to our interior space. Additionally the complete building can is reduced to a surface area of approximately 2 m².
Wood is a renewable resource with positive life cycle assessment. To reduce the ecological impact of the building, we decided for a wooden primary construction. As strong but light material it offers high material efficiency. Furthermore it has high heat storage properties. Therefore we increased the use of local wood (spruce for construction and ceiling, oak for flooring and frames).
To point out the positive impact of such a way of planning, we use the certification method of the German sustainable building Council (DGNB) and we will try to show a pre-certificate on the National Mall in Washington D.C.