Back in 2012, the northeastern part of the United States suffered through the cataclysm of Hurricane Sandy. Given the fact the area the “super hurricane” hit was not prepared for hurricanes of any category, the damage was tantamount. Millions of people lost their belongings, their homes, and sadly some lost their loved ones. However, one of the biggest surprises of an emergency nature happened to Hurricane Sandy victims who owned solar panels. When the power grid went down, they could not believe that their solar panels were not working. The cruel irony of the green technology they had was that it needed to be powered on the grid to work. This fallacy effectively defeats the purpose of solar panels in the first place.
As a result, a technology institute is taking the initiative in building a solar-powered house that is resistant to hurricanes as strong as Hurricane Sandy. This solar-powered house is known as the SURE HOUSE (the institute behind the project stylizes the name with full caps). Not only does the home meet the criteria on hurricanes mentioned earlier, but it has won the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015.
According to the official website of the SURE HOUSE, it has been created by the Stevens Institute of Technology. It is equipped with a nine kilowatt (kW), building-integrated solar power system that is able to operate independently from the power grid. This is a very important feature given the fact winds of strong hurricanes are able to knock out the power grid by taking out power lines. The home is so tightly insulated that it surpasses Passive House standards pertaining to efficiency. The appliances are low-energy. Finally, the special heat pump can utilize DC power from the photovoltaic panels in heat water. With all of the aforementioned incorporated, the SURE HOUSE uses about 90 percent less energy compared to conventional houses.
Yet, the most interesting feature about the SURE HOUSE is it was designed to be shared. It has the amazing capability to act like an emergency community base where people can charge gadgets to stay integrated with the social web. It is designed with the resiliency of a doomsday bunker but with the luxury of a simplistic bungalow. Not only that, it provides plenty of natural lighting along with plenty of private and open spaces.
The Stevens Institute of Technology made a winner considering it won the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, as reported by Inhabitat. They competed against 17 other teams in building a solar home of the future. They were judged in ten areas, including market appeal, affordability, architecture, and energy balance. Apparently the SURE HOUSE appealed to these ten areas more so than the houses made by the competition. As for runner-ups, the University of Buffalo, State University of New York took second place followed by the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo taking third.
As of now, the SURE HOUSE has been dismantled and moved to the East Coast. It is now a community education center teaching those interested all the benefits green technology has to offer especially in dire situations caused by freak natural disasters just like Hurricane Sandy.
[Image via Shutterstock]