The Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMASS Lowell) partnered for Solar Decathlon 2011. MassArt remains the nation’s only public college of art and design. UMass Lowell offers the only solar energy engineering program in the northeast region of the United States. Students from MassArt and UMASS Lowell worked on the team’s Solar Decathlon entry, 4D Home, for over two years.
Concerned about the negative consequences of non-renewable energy sources for the built environment, our team approached this issue holistically when designing 4D Home. As demonstrated in our home, successful, affordable strategies for sourcing renewable energy for buildings can be achieved when the baseline energy consumption is minimized with passive design.
Our team values:
- Innovation through simplicity rather than complexity
- Longevity of materials and systems
- Working in an integrated collaborative design process
- Using singular technologies for multiple functions
- Generating context driven design solutions
About 4D Home:
4D Home is a prototype for an affordable net zero home that adapts to a family’s changing needs over time and that focuses on the efficiency of the envelope. Our model home is 945 square feet and designed for a family of three. The simple gable form is inspired by New England architecture. Designed to Passive House standards, the super insulated envelope and passive solar heat gain keep it comfortable throughout the yeat. Take a virtual tour of the home.
The design of Team Massachusetts’ 4D Home shows how dynamic interior spaces can make compact living viable for a small family. Since the temporary and long term spatial needs of a family change over time, the home’s two-bedroom layout can be easily reconfigured by sliding two central partition walls (with internal storage), expanding the living and dining rooms and allowing the home to accommodate large gatherings for special events or convert to a one-bedroom with a home office.
The 6.7 kW SunPower solar array is offset from the roof on a trellis, forming a covered entry way and providing seasonal shading. This configuration helps to cool the panels through an increased airflow beneath the array, increasing the panels’ operating efficiency. SunPower’s highly efficient mono-crystalline silicon cells allow the 4D Home to attain net zero with a gable roof. While gable roofs are more suited for the heavy snows of New England, one of the roof slopes is oriented towards the north, leaving only the south-facing side of the roof viable for a solar array. With 28 SunPower E19/240 solar panels, we were able to maximize our energy output, despite our house's limited roof area.
Recognized with 9th place (out of 19) in the overall competition, we are proud to have earned fourth place in the Affordability and Market Appeal categories and second place in Energy Balance.
4D Home was recently sold to a family in Maine. We are thrilled that the house will be used as it was originally intended, as a home for a real New England family.
Check It Out:
Team members Spencer Culhane and Julianne Rhoads gave an inspiring presentation about the project at this year’s TEDxBoston event. Hear from the students live at TEDxBoston.
Explore our website to learn more about 4D home.
Photography: Julie Chen/Team Massachusetts