Colleges across the United States and around the world are increasingly offering classes and degree programs that train individuals on  panel production, renewable energies, and innovative solar design. There is no doubt that competition among colleges, and even the students themselves, is increasing in this particular field. If there is any college that should be mentioned in connection with solar , it is . The Virginia Tech Center for Design Research has been heavily involved in solar design for nearly two decades. Despite rapidly changing solar technology, Virginia Tech has managed to stay on top of the shifts and develop solar homes that are not only stunning, but run solely on solar power. 

The History of  

After showcasing their solar home for the first time at the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Competition back in 2002, the Virginia Tech Center for Design Research quickly began investigating how to make their solar home even more efficient. Then, eight years later in 2010, Virginia Tech’s solar home model won the Solar Decathlon Europe Competition in Spain. 

Following their win in Spain, Virginia Tech solar innovators were inspired yet again to continue to improve their . Around this time, the name FutureHAUS was born and another revolutionary evolution of this solar home began. Now, FutureHAUS would not just be outfitted and run on 100% , but would also be constructed to include smart home technologsystems. 

 In November of 2018, FutureHAUS competed against 14 other international universities and won first place in the Solar Decathlon in the Middle East. In addition to their overall first place win, the team also claimed first place in architecture, first place for creative solutions, second place for interior design, second place for energy efficiency, third place in engineering and construction, and an additional third place prize for sustainability. According to members of the FutureHAUS team, focusing on interdisciplinary knowledge, as well as the unique experiences and expertise of their members, is what helped FutureHAUS to take off. 

Taking FutureHAUS to Times Square 

Most recently, FutureHAUS was featured at NYCxDesign, the New York City annual celebration of design. The solar home was constructed right in the middle of Times Square in a “Lego-like” fashion, allowing witnesses a glimpse into just how the FutureHAUS solar home is built. The FutureHAUS constructed in New York City is not considered a tiny home, but at 900-square-feet, it is considered a compact home. The room layout, combined with innovative space-saving features and other modern upgrades, make this solar home seem much more spacious than its 900-square-foot label. While on display in New York City, those passing by had the chance walk-through the solar home and experience a small taste as to what it might be like to live in one for themselves.  

What Can We Expect Next from FutureHAUS? 

Students and faculty at Virginia Tech that are involved in the collaborative efforts that comprise FutureHAUS hope that the solar home may one day change the home building industry entirely. With traditional homes, materials are shipped to the location and the residence is constructed on-site. With FutureHAUS, any mass-produced homes would be constructed off-site and shipped to the home’s new location instead. Researchers at Virginia Tech are looking to streamline this process by emulating procedures followed by Henry Ford’s infamous vehicle production line.  

Continuing to combine solar energy with security will be a top priority for the FutureHAUS team. The Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction stepped in to collaborate with FutureHAUS solar researchers and builders to further develop the technological components of the solar home. With the help of Virginia Tech’s Computer Science Department, automatic doors, touch screens, and even automatic water dispensers have been installed throughout the home. With how innovative FutureHAUS is, in addition to the hard work and collaborative efforts that have made its existence possible, the team hopes to further revolutionize the home solar industry and make clean living a possibility for everyone. If one thing is certain, we can expect to see more promising advancements from the FutureHAUS team very soon. 

Photo Credit: © Erik Thorsen, 2018  

Resources: 

https://www.curbed.com/2019/5/31/18634415/prefab-home-futurehaus-solar-decathlon-virginia-tech 

https://www.futurehaus.tech/history/ 

https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2018/11/eng-caus-futurehausresults.html 

 

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