This Awesome Modular Home Will Run On Rainwater And Sunshine Alone

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In 2015, a team of students from the University of Texas-Austin participated in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition. Their collaborative effort was the NexusHaus, which is an affordable, net-zero energy, and water self-sufficient home.

NexusHaus has two 420 square-feet modules with living and dining rooms and an area for a kitchen as well as two bedrooms and a bath. The students designed NexusHaus as a prototype for Austin’s “Green Alley Flat Initiative”, which aims to develop affordable, sustainable housing in the underused alleyways of the city. The modular home will run solely on solar power and focuses on water efficiency.

NexusHaus has a combined total floor space of 74 square meters or 800 square feet. The proponents designed the home to be easily transportable by a truck. The prefabricated house is the main superstructure for photovoltaic technologies, rainwater collection, and food production.

The students created a prototype that was made entirely from sustainable materials. The project presented a solution to address the lack of affordable housing in Austin. The home used almost entirely renewable and reusable materials.

Solar power panels are mounted on the flat roof to generate electricity for lighting, air-conditioning, household appliances, and an electric car. The German-American team also developed an extra power production that will send electricity into the community electric grid.

The project combined a heat pump and an integrated thermal storage system to cool and heat the water. Large storage tanks will collect rainwater which can be used as drinking water with the help of a filter system. NexusHaus’ multipurpose tanks will direct the rainwater to the under-deck storage system. The house can also recycle greywater which refers to the water from showers, bathroom sinks and washing machines. The greywater will also be used for vegetables such as tomatoes and okra. NexusHaus was built using certified lumber originating from responsible and renewable logging practices. The team opted for wood which requires less embodied energy to manufacture. The home’s wood will sequester the carbon dioxide generated in the manufacturing of other materials contained in the house.

The group funded the construction of the house using the capital raised from a crowdfunding campaign which garnered just over $21,000. The house features the aesthetics of German design that is integrated into a structure intended for Austin. The use of wood in the cedar rain screen facade and the pine flooring are an homage to that combined aesthetics. Design decisions that are distinctly Texas are the large covered deck and the vernacular dogtrot layout.

The Solar Decathlon is the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial competition which challenges collegiate teams to develop solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient, and innovative. The NexusHaus earned fourth place overall in the 2015 competition.

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This Awesome Modular Home Will Run On Rainwater And Sunshine Alone
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