The NexusHaus is a collaboration between students at the Munich Technical University and the University of Texas – Austin intended for the 2015 Solar Decathlon to be held in Irvine, California this October. It is currently being built and undergoing testing at the UTA campus.
According to the Solar Decathlon website:
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
The judges will be looking to see if the each design submitted for the competition
- Is affordable, attractive, and easy to live in
Maintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions
Supplies energy to household appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertainment
Provides adequate hot water
Produces as much or more energy than it consumes.
The NexusHaus is being constructed according to the “cradle to cradle” design principles first set forth by German chemist Michael Braungart and U.S. architect William McDonough in their 2002 book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. That book has become a primer on how to build using materials that, at the end of their useful life, can either be broken down biologically or used as the building blocks for new products.
The students elected to build the house almost entirely of renewable and reusable materials that are pollutant and toxin free. For instance, the exterior of the home is made of renewable raw wood. A solar panel installation on the roof will provide enough electricity for lighting, air conditioning, household appliances, and recharging an electric car. The home is intended to be a “plus house”, which means it will generate more electricity than it uses. Any excess will be fed back into the grid.
A heat pump handles heating and cooling chores and also provides domestic hot water. Rainwater is collected in large storage tanks and can be used as drinking water with the help of a filter system. Gray water is used for the washing machine, sink, and shower, while an aquaponic system helps irrigate the food plants.