Solar House Opens for Campus Use

enCORE house on campusThe enCORE house, a student-designed and -built solar house entered in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, has been rebuilt on campus for research, education, outreach purposes.

More than 100 people from the university and the community attended an open house Oct. 22 at enCORE, which is located at 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, at Chadwick Lake northwest of the Nationwide/Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Building. The furnished, two-bedroom house is undergoing final preparations to be fully functional. It can accommodate meetings and class visits.

enCORE was Ohio State’s second entry in the Decathlon. In this 2011 event, Ohio State placed fifth among 19 teams competing from around the world. The team won a first-place award in the Comfort Zone Contest, tied for first place in the Hot Water Contest, and took home a third-place finish in the Energy Balance Contest. (The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002 and since 2005 has been held biennially in Washington, D.C. Ohio State’s first entry, in 2009, placed 10th out of 20 competitors.)

The house presents a family-friendly solution for residential needs while addressing the world's growing energy problems. enCORE features living spaces arranged around a central core that contains the house's mechanical and plumbing systems. The flexible, interconnected design gives this 930-square-foot, solar-powered house the same functionality and livability of projects much larger in size and budget.

Passive performance features of the house include:

  • State-of-the-art triple-glazed windows that minimize heat loss while maximizing solar gain
  • A super-insulated exterior envelope with double the insulation value of conventional homes
  • Natural lighting throughout the house based on activity areas.

Technological solutions include:

  • A flat-plate solar thermal collector in combination with a heat pump water heater to further improve energy efficiency
  • A unique solar thermal hot air system to maximize occupant comfort and minimize energy consumption
  • An 8-kW photovoltaic array for net-zero performance
  • A plant-based greywater bioremediation system
  • A simple control interface that controls lighting, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems with an intuitive and informative touch-screen display.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. In addition to educating students and the public about the money-saving opportunities and environmental benefits presented by clean-energy products and design solutions, the competition demonstrates to the public the comfort and affordability of homes that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems available today.

To find out how you can take advantage of research, educational or outreach opportunities via enCORE, contact the Office of Energy and Environment at energy.environment@osu.edu or (614) 247-4762.