Zero Energy House


Proposed for the 2011 Solar Decathlon hosted in Washington, D.C. for the University of Tennessee, the Zero Energy House was a conceptual project with the purpose of developing a dwelling that was 100% sustainable in regard to not only energy production and conservation but also construction materials, waste management, water filtration and storage, etcetera. These active sustainability techniques were only a small portion of the final design once you combine passive systems, mobilization ability, and design concept situated around positive verse negative and push verse pull. These design intents are evident throughout the design.

In order to move this dwelling from its home and construction site in Knoxville, Tennessee to Washington, D.C., it had to be able to disassemble easily. This was achieved by separating the dwelling into three parts: the core, the living space, and the sleeping space. Through the need for these separations, a portion of the concept was derived. The other portion came from the need for pitched roofs allowing the applied solar voltaic panels to absorb as much energy as possible. 

With the onset of technology through the use of photovoltaic panels, this design features passive energy saving systems which enhance the performance of the active systems. The achievement of this was dependent on window placement and shading devices. By shading the south facing the glass fronted series of double entry doors in the living space, the design is able to minimize solar heat gain during the summer and maximize heat gain during the winter.  Also housed in the living space are north facing clerestory operable windows. When open, these windows create cross ventilation which further assists in cooling the dwelling when needed.

Other design features have a direct response to the purposed client who, in this case, is an artist. This inspired the need to design a space that is flexible for not only live/work as seen in the bedroom with its fold up bed with integrated fold down desk giving the option of an open work space for a variety of art types. This space also maximizes north light which has been proven as the optimum natural lighting for creating art among other tasks. All these elements combined makes for the prefect dwelling for an energy conscious and forward thinking artist.