One of four teams that are representing California in the 2013 Solar Decathlon, Team USC (from the University of Southern California) will be submitting its fluxHome, a net zero prototype, as an entry in the competition to be held in October 2013 in Irvine, California.

fluxHome reimagines the suburban tract home in an energy efficient and affordable combination of smart home technologies with readily available and customizable components that can serve as a single family residence for up to four people or be adapted to other lifestyle scenarios.


Tailored to the southern California climate that averages up to 300 days of sunshine annually with moderate temperatures, fluxHome incorporates both active and passive energy systems to achieve net zero energy use. A thermally responsive aperture system includes retractable skylights that may be opened or closed depending on weather conditions. Sliding and folding screens and doors help to regulate sunlight and airflow and create “free zone” spaces that can be opened up for a sense of community and openness. The envelope system features a rainscreen façade with an air gap to reduce heat gain and increase R-values. Window “hoods” provide shade and reduce the load on the cooling system.

A heat pump package combines the functionality of cooling and heating by utilizing a high-efficiency fan coil with an ECM (electronically commutated motor), a heat pump with a low-friction, high-efficiency scroll compressor that eliminates the need for refrigerants, and roof-mounted solar collectors that supplement the heating of water.

Energy loads of LED lighting are minimized through the use of light shelves and are regulated by the smart home automation system, which also helps homeowners to control temperature, energy usage, and humidity levels. Sensors detect empty spaces so that the system can power off non-essential devices.

Replacing the typical irrigated lawns, functional green spaces merge the indoors with the outdoors in the shape of living green walls and vertical gardens that improve air quality and reduce water usage by way of a drip irrigation system.