Bridget Borgobello: On the eve of the opening of the European Solar Decathlon, a team from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics is ready to present its innovative solar-powered prefab home, which produces twice the amount of energy than it consumes. The decathlon is an international competition among universities which promotes research in the development of energy-effective and light-structured residential buildings that only use solar energy. This year the prestigious competition is being hosted in Madrid, Spain and will see a selection of university entries from across Europe, including Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, The United Kingdom and Romania, and four more from China, Japan, Brazil and Egypt.
The Hungarian "Odooproject" team has created a modern home design that features an open central area, complete with a summer kitchen. This central zone creates a private terrace that allows its occupants to spend a large amount of their time in the open air, while also taking advantage of the sun’s energy. Drawing inspiration from traditional Hungarian folk architecture, the house features a darker outer shell, which forms a closed building that is suitable for its climatic conditions.
The prominent south-facing wall features a considerably large surface area that is entirely fitted with photovoltaic panels. During the summer months when the sun is high, solar energy is produced by the roof panels, while during the cooler months when the sun is lower, energy is produced by the south-facing wall. “Ultimately, owing to this system, the house generates twice as much energy in Hungarian conditions and three times as much in Madrid as the house itself spends,” the Odooproject team states. “This amount is able to serve two other house’s needs, or provide a 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) long travel distance – daily – for an electric car.”
By also incorporating a ceiling-integrated water cooling system, the home can maintain cool temperatures during the summer. This system cools the living area through the ceiling and is also able to channel out extra heat from the room. Because the house produces twice as much energy as it needs on a yearly scale, its heating can be addressed with only a slight electrical boost from the municipal grid during autumn and spring. However, for heating during the winter, the home relies entirely on grid-supplied electric energy.
The Hungarian team ultimately hopes that its Odooproject home is a viable and innovative prefabricated model that can be successfully sold within the marketplace. “It is our long time goal to penetrate the Hungarian market after participating at the contest with the help of supporters and sponsors,” says the team.