Twenty teams have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to compete in the 2007 Solar Decathlon, which takes place in Washington D.C. from October 12-20, 2007. As part of the competition, teams are challenged to design, build, and operate the most attractive, energy-efficient solar-powered home. Using only energy from the sun and with an eye towards modern design, teams meticulously choose the products and materials that go into their home. Interestingly, at least five teams, including MIT, UT-Austin, U. of Maryland, U. of Cincinnati, and Lawrence Technological University, are using the Warmboard Radiant Subfloor system. I’ve noticed the increasing use of Warmboard in several green projects, so I thought I would do a small post on the subject.
Once you see the cutaway pictured below, Warmboard makes a lot of sense. Warmboard is the SUBFLOOR with grooves cut into it. An aluminum surface is bonded to the subfloor, and PEX tubes are placed in the grooves over the aluminum layer. The heat from the PEX tubes spreads through the conductive aluminum layer, and this process creates an even distribution of heat throughout the floor. After installing the tubes, practically any floor can go on top: bamboo, tile, carpet, cork, FSC-certified wood, etc. Solar Decathlon teams like to use Warmboard because it offers the subfloor and the radiant paneling in one product.