Solar Decathlon Europe: Appalachian Team Assembles Home (VIDEOS)

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Originally published on 1Sun4All.

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, Team Réciprocité, which is formed by the alliance of Appalachian State University and Université d’Angers, began assembling the structure of their unique design, Maison Reciprocity, or Reciprocity House, on March 5. The next steps include testing the mechanical systems, disassembly, and then packing their energy-independent solar home into containers for the journey, via cargo ship, to Europe.

Appalachian’s Solar Decathlon Europe Team Assembles “Maison Reciprocity,” a Redefined Row House

solar decathlon europeScreenshot from Maison Reciprocity video

The idea for the “Maison Reciprocity” is a redefined row house, a multi-story structure, according to a recent news release from Team Réciprocité, where one level can be used for commercial purposes, one can be exclusively residential, and at the top there is a garden, a living green space.

The competition requires the home to be fully energy-independent, using only solar power and energy-efficient products and technologies. Some of the renewable and sustainable features of Maison Reciprocity include:

  • A green roof is installed beneath the roof’s photovoltaic array. When photovoltaic panels begin to overheat, they become less efficient. By placing the panels above the vegetation, the panels benefit from the evaporative cooling effect produced by the vegetation to help keep the panels at a stable temperature.
  • The mixed-use design is constructed using Binderholz Cross-laminated Timber, an engineered wood that insulates heat and can simultaneously carry heavy loads.
  • The doors and windows contain multiple super‐insulating cavities — without adding weight — that buffer against heat loss or heat gain.
  • Heat Mirror insulating glass helps to reduce energy costs by enabling “windows that insulate like walls” with center-of-glass thermal performance up to R20 (.05 U‐value), while also maintaining a quiet and comfortable internal environment and protecting the home’s furnishings from fading by blocking over 99.5% of harmful UV-rays.
  • The wall insulation system is a total of eight inches thick, it is constructed of polyisocayanurate (polyiso) and mineral wool, using the benefits of both products.
  • The “Living Brise-Soleil,” is a building skin that integrates affordable components that produce energy and provide shelter for Maison Reciprocity.

solar decathlon europeScreenshot from Maison Reciprocity video

The “Living Brise-Soleil” will shade the large amounts of glass on the front and back of the home to help keep the home comfortable and produce energy for the home through photovoltaic panels and solar thermal technologies.

Team Reciprocity speaks about how their row house design is market-ready, energy-independent, adaptable, affordable, and a community-centric residential housing solution. 

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 will be hosted in Versailles, France in June and July. The competition’s location is adjacent to the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles. Appalachian State is one of two teams from the United States participating in the competition, which challenges 20 student teams from 16 countries to design and build an energy-independent solar house.

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Amber Archangel

-- I am an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, graphic designer, and constant student of many studies. Living with respect for the environment close at hand, the food chain, natural remedies for healing the earth, people and animals is a life-long expression and commitment. As half of a home-building team, I helped design and build harmonious, sustainable and net-zero homes that incorporate clean air systems, passive and active solar energy as well as rainwater collection systems. Private aviation stirs a special appeal, I would love to fly in the solar airplane and install a wind turbine in my yard. I am a peace-loving, courageous soul, and I am passionate about contributing to the clean energy revolution. I formerly designed and managed a clean energy website,

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