By Dustin Stoll
During one of the environmental design classes at SIUC, we were to use the knowledge gained in the class to design a solar decathlon house. While the actual solar decathlon is held in Washington, D.C., for our assignment each student was appointed a city to design for. This was basically the only rule change from the actual solar decathlon. The rest of the rules can be found here: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/rules.html
My assigned city was Fort Worth, Texas. The climate in my Fort Worth is very hot in the summer time, and moderate in the winter time. This means that I would have to design a home that will need to be well ventilated and shaded in the summer months. The house would also benefit from some solar heating in the winter time. With the passive system that I used in the design of my house, I think that I was able to address the issues that this climate provides.
In the design of my solar decathlon house, I used a large amount of South facing glass with a small amount of north facing glass. The South facing glass is functional, so that the home owner has the ability to open the glass for ventilation purposes in the summer time. The North glass is high off the floor level and is also functional, so that it can be opened to help promote cross ventilation during the hot Fort Worth summer months. The house also has moderately high ceilings, to allow for the hot air to rise above the level of the house’s occupants, and provide for a more comfortable environment in the summer months.
The house has a large overhang on the south side. This overhang prevents the sun from penetrating the South glass during the summer months, but allows the sun to enter the home in the winter months. The floor is constructed of 6” concrete to allow for absorption of heat during winter days, and to release that heat at night. The roof is covered with solar panels to help to heat water and generate electricity to power the home.
With all of the above strategies incorporated in the design of my solar decathlon house, I am able to create a home that has the ability to stay off the grid, thus creating little impact on the earth.