Solar Decathlon 2011
Self-Reliance, Middlebury College's U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 entry, is a two-bedroom, ultra-efficient, 990-ft2 house designed for a family of four. It features a green wall for growing plants, open family living space, and healthy building materials. Its traditional gable, or peaked roof, is a familiar form that holds a 7.2-kW photovoltaic array.
By incorporating the best features of the New England farmhouse into a novel design for the 21st century, Middlebury College offers an environmentally responsible house that can compete in the current market. Modern technologies such as energy-monitoring software, high R-value insulation, and triple-paned windows make the traditional form more energy-efficient. In addition, the team considered upfront and lifecycle costs and chose durable, natural materials that have minimal embodied energy and environmental impact.
Self-Reliance is simple, durable, and family-friendly. It reflects New England values and responds to the Northeastern climate. Self-Reliance includes:
A gable roof that sheds snow and rain.
A green wall in the kitchen and outdoor planters that provide space for growing fresh produce year-round.
A kitchen counter peninsula that encourages a communal cooking experience.
Self-Reliance provides a solution to sustainable living through technologies such as:
A solar array of 30 panels that can produce 7,930 kWh annually
An air-to-air heat exchanger that circulates air through a network of aluminum ducts and feeds the green wall with condensed moisture
Triple-paned windows with cork-insulated frames that have an R-value of 7 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.53, which allows them to provide net heat gain over the course of a year
Stack effect ventilation, which pulls in cooler air toward the ground and vents out warmer air from the skylights.
Designed for a New England family of four, Self-Reliance offers a comfortable space that fosters community. The adjacent kitchen, dining, and living spaces are designed to encourage the family to make dinner, do homework, and play a game together. The efficient use of space reduces the demand for energy and materials.
Solar Decathlon Team
Middlebury, VT 05753