When most people think of an energy-efficient home, they think of the pieces. The low flow toilet, the compact fluorescent light bulbs, and of course the ever-popular recycling initiatives. It’s the small, individual things that make a house efficient, right?
That’s how Bridgett and I planned out our coverage of Maryland’s Watershed home in the 2011 Solar Decathlon. Of course they would have to use solar panels to heat the house (duh, this is why the competition is basically the “solar olympics”). Bridgett focused on how the team used the sun to create energy.
And along with solar, Maryland had a unique approach to using water to be more efficient.
The house features low flow utilities in the kitchen and bathroom:
The house also has 2 liquid desiccant waterfalls for high-efficiency humidity control:
Bridgett and I were thrilled! What an angle. These two little items would work separately to make this house the most efficient in the competition… or so we thought.
Yes, we were right about Maryland being the most efficient in the competition (they took 1st place in the Solar Decathlon!). Yet, it was because solar and water worked together.
Here are a few ways solar and water were integrated to take Maryland to the final victory and 100 full points in the energy balance competition.
- Split-butterfly roof one side covered with solar panels, the other with a green roof. The solar panels gathered sun to heat the house, while the green roof monitored cooling effects and collected rainwater.
- Constructed wetlands that filter stormwater and grey water (household water with limited contaminants).
- Solar thermal array fulfills all domestic hot water needs
- The garden acts as “edible landscapes” that need both sun and water to grow