Solar Decathlon Highlight 5: THE WINNER! / by Alexander Dzurec

SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss

That's right folks - it's time for us to highlight the winning team: Team Swiss! 

This design was unlike any of the others, and was also one of our favorites. In fact, before we knew that they were to be the winners, they were on our list of teams to highlight, as their structure truly stood apart from all the others. 

SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss

Team Swiss' entry was designed less as a private home, and more for a community, and therefore is dubbed "Neighborhub". They created an environment that promotes collaboration, while implementing some of the most impressive sustainable ideas and technologies we had seen that day. Their ultimate goal was to "create a shared space that helps to build and sustain the community around it." 

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NeighborHub ultimately was interested in "renewable energy, water management, waste management, mobility, food, material choices, and biodiversity." Each space was designed to be multi-functional in order to be adaptable and  to meet the needs of the community "from a dining space for a community meal to a conference room for educational workshops to a bike-repair shop or local market." Team Swiss even included a menu for meals - as working together as a community and creating a new future was really their priority.

SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss
SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss

The building was raw, in that they used laminated veneer lumber, which is unstained and unpainted, seemingly inviting each member of the community to not have to worry about  damaging a finish when working on a project. This lumber was also used for much of the furniture, and it appeared, also the planter boxes (which housed some of the most radiant and lively greens we had seen all day). The gardens were hydroponic, and we were impressed to learn that they had also created a green roof that housed vegetation for food, and was also built to collect water. There were two vertical greenhouses inside, and one included an aquaponic system for breeding fish (which you could see and enjoy through viewing windows in the floor). 

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SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss
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One of our favorite features, was their "productive building envelope surface" which consisted of walls that have solar electric photo-voltaic panels and corresponding system. These walls of panels were quite beautiful inside the space, bringing in beautiful variations of light, but, also produces energy from the sun for water and space heating. They also had "dye-sensitized" solar cells to generate electricity. The Swiss team even built their own solar thermal panels for hot water and space heating. 

SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss
SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss
SolarDecathlon_TeamSwiss

There had a zero-water toilet, the only one we saw that day, that uses worms to treat and recycle waste. And, we absolutely loved their solar drying system! With sliding panels, you hang your clothes or dishrags, and vents and solar heat does the rest! 

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Congratulations Team Swiss and Neighborhub, for winning the 2017 Solar Decathlon! We loved your presentation, the flow through the house, and the entire building and concepts as well. Truly, well done.