Team Austria Wins Solar Decathlon 2013

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Last week the judges of the 2013 Solar Decathlon announced this year’s winner. The award went to Team Austria’s LISI House, which was a clear leader all along, having already won the Communications, Market Appeal and Energy Balance competitions. With LISI house, Team Austria sought to create a home, which seamlessly combines indoor and outdoor living, and can be built anywhere, be it in the Alpine forests of Austria or the temperate regions of California.

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LISI is an acronym for Living Inspired by Sustainable Innovation, which the team achieved primarily through a modular timber construction. More specifically, over 90% of LISI is constructed of wood. This material was chosen since it is completely natural, while also being low-maintenance and easy to transport. To maximize sustainability, all parts of the trees, including bark and heartwood, were used in the construction. The home also features cellulose and wood fiber to provide the thermal insulation, while tree bark was used as interior wall paneling.

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The house has a flexible layout, which allows for full blending of indoor and outdoor spaces of the home. It is made up of three zones, namely the spacious interior living area with two adjacent patios, and a service core. A textile façade enveloped ramp leads into the main living area of the house, which is large enough to allow for a wide range of daily activities. The house is bordered by a north and south patio, which can both be accessed by sliding glass doors. The floor plan also consists of a compact dark service core where the bedroom, bathroom, and all technical equipment are located. The innovative, movable exterior curtain works to provide privacy as needed, and acts to avoid overheating on hot, summer days, which greatly reduces cooling loads.

LISI Home is also a plus energy house. All the required energy for household needs is obtained via the roof-mounted PV array. Indoor temperatures are maintained by an ERV unit that functions as a heat and humidity exchanger between used exhausted air and fresh intake air. Cold and hot water for space heating, cooling, as well as for domestic hot water needs, is supplied by two air-water heat pumps. This design also features a special shower tray that captures thermal energy from the daily drain water through a heat exchanger. In this way the net energy consumption for hygiene needs of the occupants is greatly reduced.

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The two outdoor patios also allow the inhabitants of LISI house to live in a closer contact with nature. The patios feature a vertical garden and multiple garden space where the occupants can grow their own herbs, vegetables and fruit. These plants also function to provide a natural air filtration system for the house.


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