This Eco-Home is Packed with Passive Technology That Conserves Energy

No matter how many small house designs you look at, each one is always a bit different, and the same can be said for this Solar Decathlon tiny house design. A team from Vermont’s Middlebury College designed and built this tiny house for the Solar Decathlon 2013. InSite, as this tiny house is known, is intended to meet the needs of young Vermont families. The team who designed this tiny house focused on energy conservation and passive technologies that won't require a lot of ongoing maintenance. They also used many reclaimed materials like barn wood which they were able to locally source which in turn helped out the local economy. The InSite home is 971 square feet and that doesn't include the mechanical room.

The main living space of this modern home has a large island that separates the kitchen from the lounging area, then there is also a dining area in the corner. The home's framework was created out of steel so some of the framing and ductwork were left exposed giving the space an industrial style look. The wood adds so much character and warmth to the space as well. The home also has two bedrooms which are nicely separated from the main living area and the bathroom is located near the bedrooms too for easy access.

The home was also built with the colder Vermont climate in mind. They added in more insulation and fewer windows making the walls 14 inches thick with cellulose insulation to keep the cold air out. With passive heating and cooling in mind, they intentionally sloped the roof north which protects the home from cold winds in the winter. The roof is a green roof that has sedum all over it creating a thermal envelope which will help to cool the home in the summertime. Putting the mechanical room in the centre of the home keeps all of the plumbing, duct and wiring shorter which saves money on installation and will also prevent heat loss from the hot water lines. It can also act as a cooling chimney, venting hot air out and will cool the house using natural convection.

If you love the idea of a sustainable home like this one, plans for the Solar Decathlon house is actually in the public domain which means you can download them from the Solar Decathlon website. Other passive housing techniques include the landscaping surrounding the home. This can include planting deciduous trees on the south side of the home to protect the home from the sun and provide shade in the summer. Then, when the trees shed their leaves in the fall, the sun will be able to provide passive heat to the home throughout the winter. Planting coniferous trees that won't lose their leaves at the north side of the home will provide a shield from the wind in the winter along with the slope of the roof for this eco-home. So it's even easy to add some of these techniques to practically any home.

More about this story can be found at: Solar Decathlon

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