The 2005 team marked the second time that students from Missouri S&T and the Rolla Technical Institute collaborated on a U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon entry. This prairie-style home represents the culmination of three years of designing, planning, and construction by the solar house team members. The team took many aesthetic ideas from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. This includes the use of horizontal banding throughout the inside and outside, built-in furniture and the use of windows to bring nature into the home.
The home consists of one bathroom, one bedroom, a kitchen, dining nook, and living room all enveloped in under 800 square feet as required by the competition.
This home is a place anyone could live comfortably in. When designing it, the Missouri S&T Solar House Team sought to combine form and function into an aesthetically appealing package. The ultimate goal was to build a home that anyone could visit and enjoy without making any sacrifices in comfort or quality of life.
The underlying concept behind this home is the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is an ancient mathematical relationship that defines many aspects of nature from the petals of flowers to the arcs of seashells. The ratio, known as Phi, is 1.618. This is also the ratio of the distance from your shoulder to your fingertips to the distance from your elbow to your fingertips, as well as many other joints in your body. Famous architects and artists including many Ancient Greeks, Leonardo DaVinci, and Frank Lloyd Wright have all relied on the Golden Ratio to make their work more visually appealing. It registers with humans at a subconscious level and makes us feel more comfortable. In this home, the Golden Ratio was used to define the relationships between the dimensions of the house and sizes of the rooms.
Passive Solar Design
Passive design techniques can be seen in the orientation and the shape of the home as well as the positioning of the windows. The house is elongated along the East-to-West axis with a majority of the windows positioned on the south side. This allows the home to easily be flooded with natural light and contributes to passive heating and cooling. The overhangs are specifically designed to block unwanted light and heat during the summer when the sun is higher in the sky and allow that heat and light to enter the home during the winter when the sun is lower.
The walls of this house are constructed from Structurally Insulated Panels. SIP walls are composed of two pieces of plywood with a polyurethane core. SIP buildings cut energy costs by forming a more airtight structure with a higher insulation value than typical stud walls with polyurethane insulation.
The roof of the house features the STEP system, short for Solar/Thermal Electrical Panel. This system combines the solar electric panels and hot water systems into one. This raises the efficiency of the overall roof system to 40% and provides a more aesthetically pleasing system which is integrated into the roof.
The home is heated by water using a radiant floor system. Heat is efficiently distributed throughout the house using hot water pipes running beneath the floor.
Energy Saving Techniques
Whether a house is solar-powered or not, the cost of energy is will only increase as time goes on. Therefore, the energy this home produces is used in as efficient a manner as possible. Smart, energy-efficient appliances such as the induction cooktop, energy-star rated refrigerator, and convection oven are utilized to achieve this goal.
This dual-flush toilet helps conserve water as well when compared to a conventional toilet. This feature saves an average household 2000 gallons of water per year. The energy star rated washer/dryer combination saves space and uses less power to do both tasks.
Low energy Compact fluorescent, halogen, and LED rope lights are used throughout the home to easily save energy on lighting costs.
To ease the transportation process to Washington DC, this house was divided into 4 sections. These sections and their roofs were separated and transported before being reassembled on the national mall for competition. The home was assembled without the use of a crane using a system of jacks and rails known as the Binkley system.
The home placed first in Energy Balance, one of only three teams to successfully collect more energy from the sun than was expended. The team also placed fifth in Architecture and took home the DIY TV award for the best kitchen. The 2005 solar house now stands as a part of the Solar Village on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus in Rolla, Missouri, and has been called home to many proud residents.