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Solar Decathlon: A sneak peek at the houses

By: Matt Hickman on Sept. 9, 2011, 7:07 a.m.
University of Tennessee, Living Light

Photo: DOE

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University of Tennessee, Living Light

Unlike Team Belgium's E-Cube which hides all technical systems for a more streamlined effect, Living Light from the University of Tennessee unabashedly flaunts its energy-saving bells and whistles, embracing them as "aesthetic features in a contemporary design." Inspired by the cantilever barns of southern Appalachia, this net-zero energy residence seamlessly melds indoor and outdoor spaces through "a multi-layer glazing system that combines transparency and glare-reduction with privacy and thermal efficiency." Other eco-features of this beautiful, loft-like home include a full home automation system, an energy-recovery system, a mighty 10.9kW rooftop solar array, ductless mini-split air-to-air heat pumps, outdoor space for growing crops, and sensors that automatically adjust the electric lighting, including color-changing LED strips on the structure's façade. (By the way, the house is geared towards young, design-loving Knoxvillians with an average income of $100,000.)