University of Illinois' Re_home tackled disaster head on. Students aware of the problems of much current emergency housing, strove to design a safe, quick-to-install, 987-square-foot, two-bedroom home for those made homeless by disaster. Transported in two modules on a single truck, Re_home can be ready for occupancy in a day.
Re_home is affordable to operate, comfortable to live in and restorative of spirit. From the curb, Re_home looks anything but temporary and can indeed become permanent shelter. Students estimated construction cost of Re_home at $260,000. However, the Affordability judges rated construction costs at $291,812.68 -- eighth in terms of affordability.
Illinois is in tornado alley. The team noted in its brochure the increased tornado frequency and severity -- 2011 had chalked up 1,718 tornadoes between January and September Decathlon V. Public utilities often fail during calamity, so 30 photovoltaic panels (7.2 kW ) power the home. Six of these PV panels are bifacial and serve double duty, providing both electricity and serving as a canopy that shades the South side. The home ships with the roof PV in place. Installers tilt them to the best solar angle at the job site. Re_home was among the seven successful net-zero-home entrants.
Factory construction uses standard 2 x 4 framing. The floor and roof are spray foam super-insulated to R-60. White roofing cuts heat loading. Walls are similarly foam-filled to R-45. Windows are triple-pane, argon filled with low-E coating. Everything is tight, tight, tight; the heat-pump HVAC system includes energy recovery ventilation(ERV) to keep energy costs low but indoor air comfortable and healthy.
The two home module sections are staggered creating areas for porches on both the East and West sides. Recycled-steel canopies not only shade walls, windows and doors, slashing solar gain by 50 percent, but also make the home appear larger.
Built of local reclaimed decking, generous-sized decks and planter boxes encourage residents to plant and grow their own food. Grey water is collected and recycled to irrigate plants.
Inside is bright and light with punches of color. Things will remain nasty outside for a while but inside is cheerful. Floors are easy-to-clean Marmoleum in the main living area and comfortable cork in the bedroom. The kitchen and much of the storage is off-the-shelf from IKEA. Bright colors and lots of storage take away from the feeling disaster victims often have of camping out. Re_home had an open floor plan; its bathroom is also ADA compliant.
LED lighting is not only energy efficient but can be controlled from an ipad, if desired.
To see more coverage of Solar Decathlon 2011, click here.