U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun

Solar Decathlon 2011

Team Florida: The University of South Florida, Florida State University, The University of Central Florida, and The University of Florida

FLeX House

Team Florida's U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 entry, FLeX House, is a prefabricated prototype that combines the wisdom of Florida residential design with modern technology. The house opens up to take advantage of passive cooling during mild months and closes down to take advantage of the highly efficient mechanical systems during months of temperature extremes. This hybrid open-and-closed building type is conducive to a healthy indoor/outdoor Florida lifestyle.

Design Philosophy

FLeX House is designed as a sustainable house that can adapt easily to different site situations and plan configurations. The house can be shipped on one truck and quickly deployed at the building site. A variety of space-conserving design strategies gives residents of FLeX House an affordable, functional, and comfortable living environment in an unconventionally small footprint.


Features that distinguish FLeX House include:

  • A shading structure with cypress louvers that shield the roof and walls from the hot Florida sun

  • A wall along the north side that opens to enable passive cooling

  • A landscape that provides food, modifies the microclimate, reduces solar heat gain, and prevents storm water runoff

  • Exterior walls with corrugated metal siding, chosen for its reflectivity, durability, and economy.


FLeX House is designed to take advantage of Florida's mild climate as much as possible. To supplement passive strategies, the following technologies contribute to the house's performance:

  • A zoned mini-split system that heats and cools the house in conjunction with a heat pump and solar thermal panels

  • A liquid desiccant duct system that connects to an energy recovery ventilator to dehumidify incoming air

  • A 22-panel photovoltaic array rated at 5 kW with one micro-inverter for every pair of panels

  • Systems control and diagnostic software that monitors more than 35 channels of data.

Market Strategy

The FLeX House base module is designed for a young couple or a couple with a small child living in Central Florida on a moderate income. As the family grows, new modules can be added to the base to expand the living space.


Stanley Russell
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Ave., HMS301
Tampa, FL. 33620
Phone: 813-974-1989

Collage of four photos. In the top left, three people stand around a sign that reads: "Kemper Lab. Off-Grid Zero Emission Building. 1035 Atomic Way." In the top right is a group of people dressed in Florida Gators t-shirts. In the bottom right, two people stand next to a sign that reads: "Florida Solar Energy Center. A Research Institute of the University of Central Florida." In the bottom left is a group of people in green shirts standing in front of a sign that reads: "University of South Florida." In the middle is a banner that says Team Florida. Enlarge image

The members of Team Florida (courtesy of Team Florida).

Illustration of FLeX House on a beach. In the background are palm trees and sea gulls. Enlarge image

A computer-generated rendering of Team Florida's FLeX House (courtesy of Team Florida).

A video walkthrough of Team Florida's Solar Decathlon house.

Neither the United States, nor the Department of Energy, nor the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC, nor any of their contractors, subcontractors, or their employees make any warranty, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness for any purpose of any technical resources or data attached or otherwise presented here as reference material.