Stanford University's Start.Home has won fifth place overall and tied for first place in affordability in the 2013 Solar Decathlon. Read the team’s description to learn more:
For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, Stanford University designed the Start.Home to provide energy efficiency at the push of a button to a new generation of environmentally conscious occupants. With modular architecture and advanced controls to optimize each component, the house aims to spark a revolution by lowering the entry barrier for an ultra-efficient house and making sustainability trendy, social, and affordable.
The Start.Home centers on the Core, a module that houses all of the primary mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems including the kitchen, bathroom, and utility room. The Core then offers interactive feedback through a display as well as a mobile application. By centralizing the points of energy usage in the home in a single location and offering immediate feedback the residents of the Start.Home are able to dynamically alter their consumption to meet self-set energy goals and understand their energy usage and trajectory over a period of time in an easy and simple setting. The Core serves as an architectural, mechanical, and symbolic heart of the home. The architectural cladding for the Core reflects this by using sleek metal siding to wrap the complex mechanical systems seamlessly into a single, easily visually identifiable package. The Core increases the visibility of energy consumption and provides opportunities to make sustainable living choices.
The architectural space around the core is designed to seamlessly integrate the Core into a familiar and comfortable home environment. The large open great room offers a spacious, well lit, and flexible space for the daily needs of residents. The high ceiling makes the room feel more spacious and open. The simple floor plan allows furniture to be arranged to dynamically adjust to changing needs of the residents. The tables can be rolled partially underneath the kitchen island to create a breakfast bar, shifted to the center of the room to create a dining table, moved into the studio to provide workspace, or onto the patio for outdoor use. The studio annex is partially partitioned, creating an architectural threshold to define a creative workspace for the residents, but it is left open to allow the room to be used as part of the larger great room. The bedroom is purposefully separated to provide a private retreat from the public space of the home.
Contemporary society faces numerous environmental challenges stemming from people living a modern lifestyle that emphasizes convenience over the possible invisible costs of a consumer culture. Much of this energy consumption is tied to the way we live in and occupy the built environment. The architectural goal of the Start.Home is to build both a sustainable environment and create sustainable practices in its residents by making sustainable living choices synonymous with convenience. By employing a series of passive systems, architectural signifiers, and active feedback opportunities, the Start.Home provides a built environment that can house the aspirations, creativity, and dreams of its residents in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible fashion.
The prefabricated public module includes a kitchen counter and appliances, bathroom and laundry room, and a mechanical room with integrated electrical and plumbing systems. Exterior redwood siding and interior Douglas fir hardwood floors were salvaged from old homes in the California Bay Area. A custom building energy management system with intuitive controls and a prominent interface gathers electricity and water use data and visualizes it to the occupants for motivation and goal setting. A great room for dinner parties or game nights can spill out to the expansive backyard patio through large glass sliding doors that blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. An edible backyard garden provides fruits and vegetables.
The Core mechanical room integrates the Start.Home power generation and controls into one centralized "engine" with modular additions to extend the control system to each living space. A modular framework supports future additions.
Structural insulated panels maintain a tight and insulated building envelope. A greywater system filters and reuses laundry water for exterior irrigation. A heat-recovery ventilator works with an efficient heating/cooling system, automated windows, phase-change materials, energy-efficient ceiling fans, and a tri-zone ductless mini-split system to provide year-round comfort and natural ventilation.
The windows in the house are a unique, high-tech windows from Andersen called the 100 Series that is made with re-claimed wood fiber (sawdust), and not only are they one of the most energy efficient windows available, but also one of the most economical. Green building is not usually inexpensive, but the 100 Series is. It also has SmartSun glass, which is a cool glass that lets sunshine in, but deflects unwanted solar heat and blocks 95 percent of UV rays, which saves on heating and cooling costs. Andersen also provided an A-Series folding patio door to the Start.Home, which also incorporates SmartSun glass.
Targeted to young Palo Alto couples, the Start.Home is designed for the new generation of innovators interested in an affordable, ultra-efficient house. With a prominent and intuitive home automation system, the house provides interactive guidance for occupants looking to be at the technical forefront of a sustainable movement.
After the Solar Decathlon, the Start.Home will be home to a family of three in the Stanford community. An additional bedroom will be added, and the house will be re-assembled on site at Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve to house the resident ranger and his family. The design team ultimately aims to bring the sustainable core to market to help homeowners nationwide integrate sustainability into their lives.
Derek Ouyang, senior at Stanford and project leader of Stanford's Start.Home, speaks on the global challenges of combining architecture, engineering, construction and human-centered design in this YouTube video:
Learn more about the Start.Home here on the team's official website.