Missouri S&T: Missouri University of Science and Technology
Team website: SILO
For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 student team from Missouri University of Science and Technology, the bar is high—their work builds on a legacy of six past Solar Decathlon competitions. With SILO, short for Smart Innovative Living Oasis, Missouri S&T has designed a sustainable solar-powered house uniquely their own. Designed for today’s empty nesters, SILO blends traditional farmhouse architecture, smart home technology, and renewable energy storage to create a net-zero energy oasis.
The project’s name illuminates Missouri S&T’s design philosophy. S is for Smart, as in a house that lets occupants control all of its systems using voice commands. I is for Innovative, as in a student-designed system that monitors the house’s interior environment. L is for Living, and speaks to farmhouse-inspired lifestyle that encourages gathering and sharing food. And O stands for Oasis, a serene space filled with natural light, fresh air, and greenery—a place where empty-nesters can relax, rejuvenate, and congratulate themselves on a job well done.
SILO’s greywater system shows Missouri S&T’s design philosophy in action. Building on a system that was featured in The Nest Home, Missouri S&T’s Solar Decathlon 2015 entry, this system uses an architecturally pleasing water wall to aerate used water from sinks and showers—an approach that prevents algae growth and extends the time the water can be used. Treated water is used to irrigate non-edible landscaping, including plants growing on a movable green wall. This wall serves as thermal barrier and can be used to create a “serenity space” on the east side of the house.
Features and Technologies
- This farmhouse-style home emphasizes quality of life with an open floor plan, abundant daylighting, fresh air, greenery, and places to gather.
- A clay plaster (researched by a Missouri S&T professor) made in part with recycled materials serves as a wall-paint alternative for its air cleaning and humidity regulating benefits.
- A greywater system utilizes an architecturally pleasing water wall to aerate used water from sinks and showers.
- Treated greywater irrigates non-edible landscaping and a movable green wall.
- Home automation systems optimize energy efficiency and ensure the seamless integration of devices, as a combination of physical and wireless networks track, automate and maintain lighting, windows, fans, HVAC, and battery storage.
- A residential energy storage system that uses an 8.5 kW solar array in tandem with six storage batteries with internal microinverters. It can be monitored and controlled via a smart device.
- Custom-made furniture and a curved metal art piece give the home a distinctive style.
SILO is targeted toward empty nesters in their late 40s to early 50s who are interested in embracing a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle. With embedded systems that save energy and water, and a smart home system that allows hands-free control over just about every system in the home, SILO seeks to make this transition painless. SILO is designed specifically for Colorado, with large openings that allow occupants to fully appreciate the state’s natural beauty. The roof is structured to support heavy rains and snow loads, and the solar panels are oriented to best take advantage of the sun angle at this latitude. The home’s flexible floor plan and simple, clean aesthetic supports a lifestyle for middle-aged people whose children have left home and who want to focus on socializing and life’s simple pleasures.
After the competition, SILO will return to Missouri to be part of an eco-village made up of Missouri S&T’s six previous Solar Decathlon entries.
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