Architecture

NexusHaus Solar Decathlon entry aims for increased water efficiency

NexusHaus Solar Decathlon entr...
NexusHaus is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin and Germany's Technische Universität München
NexusHaus is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin and Germany's Technische Universität München
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As is the case with all Solar Decathlon entries, any required electricity will come via solar power, in this case from a roof-based array
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As is the case with all Solar Decathlon entries, any required electricity will come via solar power, in this case from a roof-based array
NexusHaus is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin and Germany's Technische Universität München
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NexusHaus is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin and Germany's Technische Universität München
The design of NexusHaus is still ongoing, and may well change by the time the Solar Decathlon competition kicks off on October 8
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The design of NexusHaus is still ongoing, and may well change by the time the Solar Decathlon competition kicks off on October 8
NexusHaus will also feature an integrated gray water system that recycles used household water for a very efficient irrigation system that feeds vegetables and assorted greenery
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NexusHaus will also feature an integrated gray water system that recycles used household water for a very efficient irrigation system that feeds vegetables and assorted greenery
NexusHaus currently comprises a couple of equally-proportioned connected modules, which combine to a total floorspace of roughly 74 sq m (800 sq ft)
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NexusHaus currently comprises a couple of equally-proportioned connected modules, which combine to a total floorspace of roughly 74 sq m (800 sq ft)
As is the case with all Solar Decathlon entries, any required electricity will come via solar power, in this case from a roof-based array
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As is the case with all Solar Decathlon entries, any required electricity will come via solar power, in this case from a roof-based array
NexusHaus is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin and Germany's Technische Universität München
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NexusHaus is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin and Germany's Technische Universität München
View gallery - 7 images

There are still over six months to go until the next US Solar Decathlon, but competitors are already hard at work building their prototype sustainable home entries. The first to come to our attention is NexusHaus, a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin and Munich's Technische Universität München that will run solely on solar power and focuses on water efficiency.

The design of NexusHaus is still ongoing, and may well change by the time the competition officially kicks off on October 8, in Irvine, California. That said, it currently comprises a couple of equally-proportioned connected modules, which combine to offer a total floorspace of roughly 74 sq m (800 sq ft). This is split between a reasonably-sized kitchen, and lounge area, in addition to a full-sized bathroom (with glass-walled shower), and two bedrooms. A small shaded outdoor area will also be available for use.

The primary construction material isn't finalized yet, but a team representative told us that it will likely be locally-sourced wood. The home is also designed to be easily transportable by truck and sports a small green wall.

As is the case with all Solar Decathlon entries, any required electricity will come via solar power, in this case from a roof-based array
As is the case with all Solar Decathlon entries, any required electricity will come via solar power, in this case from a roof-based array

As is the case with all Solar Decathlon entries, NexusHaus is solar powered, and will draw all its juice from a roof-based array. The array is still being developed, so no technical information is available on it yet, but competition rules mean that we can expect both the solar array and all amenities inside the home to be very efficient.

Reflecting the University of Texas at Austin's local climate, the big feature that the students focused on with NexusHaus is its planned water efficiency. A novel canopy performs as both a lightweight shade and rainwater catchment system. This funnels rainwater into gutters and then stores it underground for use within a radiant cooling system, which is usually best suited to arid climates. An air-conditioning system will also be installed.

NexusHaus will also feature an integrated gray water system that recycles used household water for a very efficient irrigation system that feeds vegetables and assorted greenery.

"Water that has been used in the bathroom sink, shower, and clothes washer will be captured and treated as gray water," explains the team. "Treated gray water can then be used in the high efficiency drip irrigation system, allowing for a sizable reduction in potable water use. "

All of this combines to what the NexusHaus team reckons could be water savings of up to 50 percent, compared to a regular house.

Work is now underway to turn NexusHaus into a viable prototype home, and we'll update on this, and other notable Solar Decathlon projects, in the coming months.

The video below offers a tour around the home.

Source: NexusHaus

Nexushaus Walkthrough - UT TUM Solar Decathlon 2015

View gallery - 7 images
5 comments
Bob Flint
Rain water collection is mentioned but difficult to see from the few renderings, and video. Also the flat solar panels less efficient than meeting or following the sun perpendicularly.
Zolartan
Nice design. I like the use of rainwater and hydroponics. Sadly they still use a conventional water toilet. A compost toilet would be the far more ecological choice and would provide quality compost and more rainwater for growing food.
Martin Hone
I assume the solar panels will require battery back-up to provide power overnight. Small house, limited space for the solar panels.
Rainwater catchment and using grey water to feed the plants is nothing new. In fact, there is no innovation here at all. My 8 yo regular suburban home has all that plus solar hot water !
Who are they kidding ??
owlbeyou
Lots of funky modern lines and textures, but the design leaves me wondering if people will actually live in such sterile looking homes.
BTW, air conditioning? The climate in Texas is ideal for an evaporative air-cooling system, and the issues mentioned above also need looking at. If they want to build a sustainable model home they better get cracking because saving water is not enough. And if there's a desire to grow food, a modest greenhouse section would do nicely.
The technology isn't new, and one hopes that the institutes will produce something more substantial before October, because as it is, it seems like all style and no substance.
1stworlder
@ owlbeyou- Evaporative cooling has been around since ancient Rome. I know people are trying to teach this ancient tech in Africa but has anyone ever managed to use it in a way that grants the same fine temperature control as air conditioning?