Originally published on 1Sun4All.
The team from New York City College of Technology (City Tech) started with a concept to provide a uniquely New York solution to emergency housing after catastrophic storms for its US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 competition house.
Its DURA Home—an acronym for Diverse, Urban, Resilient, and Adaptable—is designed to be brought into damaged neighborhoods as flexible modules that can function in standalone configurations, or be combined for multifamily solutions in high-density urban environments. DURA is stackable, and can be packaged and shipped in standard-size shipping containers for quick response at low cost.
Ernie Tucker for the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon communications team introduces the team and explains the design philosophy further.
“A lot of our work has been inspired by our location,” says decathlete Evgenia Gorovaya, a sophomore studying environmental planning and math. “The qualities of diversity and being urban go hand-in-hand because City Tech is one of the most diverse colleges in the United States. And a lot of different mindsets went into developing our design.”
As a result of all the varied cultural input, she says, “We made it so that in an urban setting, this house could fit almost anyone.”
And just as the Stevens Institute of Technology drew upon 2012’s Hurricane Sandy to shape its 2015 Solar Decathlon project, so, too, did the DURA team.
“DURA was our response to that,” says Gorovaya, who experienced the storm’s aftereffects with her family in coastal Brooklyn.
The slender, 24-ft. by 50-ft. house is suitable for single family living on a small city lot. However, the wood-frame structure is also stackable and can be configured as a four-unit complex. The facade has an integrated vertical solar array, and strategic window openings are part of its tight building envelope. DURA also includes a smart mechanical system that harvests waste heat for net-zero living.
“We maximize the usage of space,” Gorovaya says.
The group is assembling DURA in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in preparation for the competition this fall in Irvine, California. All of this is a novel learning experience for the 60 or so undergraduates on the team because this is City Tech’s first entry into the Solar Decathlon. The team does, however, have the benefit of a faculty advisor who worked on another school’s entry for a past Solar Decathlon.
The team hopes that after the Solar Decathlon they can donate the accessible structure to a disabled veteran. And perhaps it will find a permanent address in the Red Hook neighborhood, southeast of Manhattan, adding one more piece to the complex mosaic that is New York City.
Video Credit: NY City Tech Computer-Animated Walkthrough – Solar Decathlon 2015 | Image Credit: Members of the New York City College of Technology team gather at the Orange County Great Park on January 9 via Carol Laurie/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.