By Joel Scanlon
A team of students from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTech (UPC) will construct a low cost house by drawing inspiration from a greenhouse. The project called (e)co is part of the team's participation in the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe.
The low cost house will be powered by solar energy and will work on the principles of zero economic footprint and zero ecological footprint. Construction of the house is likely to commence by the end of February.
The eco house measures 150 m2 and uses lesser resources, lesser energy and involves lesser cost due to the unique combination of the components used for the house. The building comprises of an outer shell resembling that of a hermit crab. This outer shell serves as the greenhouse by providing shade and a flexible biodegradable interior. The outer skin which is made of cellular polycarbonate will be fixed on a galvanised steel framework. The green house effect that is achieved during the winter can be stopped during the summer by the net system which has been designed to provide shading to the roof. The outer walls of the house and the roof can also be opened for cross ventilation.
There are three flexible wooden modules measuring 15 m2 each which are thermally isolated from each other and can be cooled or heated separately. The attic of the house has been designed in such a manner that it can be used as an extra space. The house has 20 photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, three solar thermal collectors for hot water and rainwater and greywater reusing system. A total of 21 projects have been entered for the competition out of which four are from Spain.