Students from the Stevens Institute of Technology recently won the 2015 Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon with its SURE HOUSE – a solar-powered home made with composites repurposed from boatbuilding materials designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and flooding.
In addition to fiber-composite materials, the SURE HOUSE design includes bi-folding storm shutters, which were made with a composite foam core and wrapped with fiberglass. Each layer was placed in a different direction to maximize the strength of the house and protect it against debris and water during heavy storms.
The entire bottom level of the house is completely waterproof and energy efficient. According to Gizmag, the designers claim the house expends 90 percent less energy than a regular home. They add the SURE HOUSE’s rooftop solar panels can produce around 10,000 watts of power while still being connected to the grid. The team has also built a public USB charging station outside the house that can be used during emergencies.
A new requirement of this year’s Solar Decathlon was that all homes be able to power a hybrid, non-electric vehicle. Circle BMW in New Jersey provided the Stevens Institute of Technology team with a BMW i3, a trendsetting vehicle with composite construction, than can go 90 miles after being powered by SURE HOUSE.
“This project was about creating a real, livable residence for families in coastal communities who will be hardest hit by the effects of climate change,” said A.J. Elliott, a graduate student in the Stevens Product Architecture and Engineering program and member of the SURE HOUSE team. “Our design provides a blueprint for the construction of homes that can endure extreme weather and epitomizes the principals of sustainable living.”