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The BLOOMhouse:Zero Net Energy Housing
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The 2007 University of Texas Solar Decathlon House is called the BLOOMhouse because it represents the “seed” of new ideas for zero net energy housing. The University of Texas student team developed a prefabricated 7.9 kW stand-alone solar-powered modular house that sits lightly on the land and forms the superstructure for photovoltaic technologies and a sustainable approach to the building envelope. The prefabricated house can be adapted to a specific site and modified for the needs of a different site within a different climatic zone, and client context. Recognizing that consumers look to Solar Decathlon entries for ideas of how to integrate renewable energy technologies into their own homes this house will serve as a working example to homeowners, homebuilders, and architects. The Solar Decathlon is an international initiative and University competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, designed to stimulate research, industry and education to advance renewable energy technologies, with a specific focus on building-integrated photovoltaics. Now entering its fourth cycle, the Decathlon provides a unique opportunity to envision, fabricate and test the possibilities of highly efficient modern dwellings. Our team of architecture and engineering faculty and students under the direction of Professor Michael Garrison, Professor Samantha Randall, Professor Atila Novoselac, and Lecturer Russell Krepart constructed a completely stand-alone solar-powered home that serves as a catalyst for change, leading the residential housing industry toward more sustainable practices while addressing the need for well designed, appropriately diverse, economically viable, and environmentally responsible housing. Through use of solar power and energy efficient design, this project offers homeowners the means to directly participate in the energy economy, moving from energy consumers to energy producers. The Solar Decathlon completion occurs every two years and is run by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which requires a portable structure of a fairly modest scale, with a dual prescription for both exhibition and inhabitation. The Program calls for the design to appeal to the normal modern American lifestyle of the general public -- the solar decathlon house is designed to support all the power needs of a typical household, including lighting, cooking, heating and cooling, and telecommunications. There should also be enough energy remaining to charge an electric vehicle for getting around. The competition requires the construction of the home "offsite". It should have a maximum dwelling footprint of 800 square feet, suitable for two people and mobile, so that it can be transported for a temporary exhibition "village," on the National Mall. The home has to be installed in four days, occupied and tested during the competition and then subsequently removed and shipped back to Austin. The University of Texas has participated in the competitions in 2002, 2005 and 2007.
Garrison, M.; Krepart, R.; Randall, S.; Novoselac, A. (2008). The BLOOMhouse:Zero Net Energy Housing. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from