(E)CO low-cost zero-energy solar structure promises sustainable homes at affordable rates

One of the things about technological breakthroughs and scientific innovations is that they take a long time to reach the consumer level and most often cutting-edge green technology is largely unaffordable and falls beyond the economic reach of most people. That is exactly why a group of 25 students at Vallès School of Architecture (ETSAV) have come up with the idea of ‘(e)co’ for the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe. This wonderful greenhouse not only is driven completely by solar power, but its unique design and amazing versatility ensures that energy-saving measures are in full flow inside its walls.

The basic structure contains an outer shell that will act both as protection for the inner structure and also harness solar power using photovoltaic panels. One can adjust and use a system of nets along with smart cross-ventilation that is inherently present in the design of the solar home to create both natural ventilation and insulation. This means both heating and cooling needs are managed by natural factors such as sunshine and wind and there is minimal demand on artificial temperature control units.

Inside the outer shell are three interconnected wooden modules that can be placed according to the needs of each home owner. This way one can create varied special arrangement and provide for ample space. Wooden flooring and the 20 photovoltaic panels along with natural ventilation and smart energy saving systems make (e)co a complete zero-energy home.

With zero carbon footprint the home also brings the added advantage of being relatively cheap as each of these will cost around €100,000. The most economically affordable model set to take center stage at the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe, one hopes that interested investors wills soon turn the green home into a reality.


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