Team Israel at the Solar Decathlon 2013.Team Israel at the Solar Decathlon 2013. (Photo: Israel-SD2013.com)

This 'home of tomorrow' produces more than it consumes

Israeli students build groundbreaking house for the Solar Decathlon.

Between microwaves, heaters, blow dryers and lamps, it’s difficult to imagine a house that produces more energy than it consumes – but that’s exactly the type of home that a group of Israeli students built that earned them first place in the “energy balance” category in this year’s Solar Decathlon.

The Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition created for college students to design and build an attractive, affordable, energy-efficient, solar-powered house. In August, China’s Peking University welcomed 22 teams from schools across 13 countries to showcase their concepts. This year the event was co-sponsored by the Chinese National Energy Administration and the US Department of Energy, with additional support from private companies, many of which were Israeli.

Concept design of Team Israel's house at the Solar Decathlon 2013.Concept design of Team Israel's house. (Photo: Israel-SD2013.com)

The Israeli team, made up of 30 students from different architectural, engineering, design and environmental programs across four institutions, built a four-room kite-shaped house around an open patio, “to stress the connection between the indoor and the outdoor spaces…to increase our awareness of the environment,” the team leader said. The house was built out of locally produced materials that thrive on solar energy and reusable gray water. It was fortified with panels that use sunshine to produce electricity, along with high-transparency glass skylights that were developed by an Israeli start-up. Sensors throughout the house controlled the temperature and the home had an external skeleton that could be disassembled and reassembled with ease.

To demonstrate just how energy-efficient the homes were, the teams had to host a dinner party (including cooking and dishwashing), host a movie night and do laundry. The solar-powered systems in the Israeli team’s house enabled the home to produce enough electricity to run the appliances, and then some.

Interior of Team Israel's house at the Solar Decathlon 2013.Interior of Team Israel's house. (Photo: Israel-SD2013.com)

Overall, the Israeli team came in fourth place but they ranked first in the energy balance category for homes that produce more energy than they consume, and second place in both the hot water production category and the architecture category.

“With a quarter of the budget available to the other top contenders, Israel has for the first time shown that it is possible to build a home with a negative energy balance. We believe that this accomplishment can have a major impact on the cleantech world, and not just in Israel.”
Oded Chai, Administrative Director of Israel's Solar Decathlon Team
The Israeli team’s house, which proves that going green is economical, could be good news for the future of affordable housing.

“Being a student you want to do something big and feel like you can solve the world with your one little project,” Israeli team member, Neri Bloomfield said. “We think it’s important for people to realize we’re not just living for today – we’re living for 50, 100 years from now.”

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