For their debut at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 Solar Decathlon, the University at Buffalo goes beyond the competition parameters with custom furniture.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s annual Solar Decathlon calls on collegiate teams to design and build cost-effective, energy-efficient homes blending consumer appeal and optimal energy production. University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, rose to the challenge with their GRoW Home—a 1,100 sf space focusing on self-sufficiency and versatility. Within UB's large Solar Decathlon team of more than 200, 17 students led by assistant professor of architecture Nicholas Rajkovich sought to really push the envelope (literally) with custom furniture. “We thought it would be really interesting if we built some unique furniture that had the potential to improve the overall performance of the house,” explains Rajkovich. From a solar clothes dryer to rolling tables for heat-trapping plants in the the Growlarium, an intermediary greenhouse space, the UB team did just that. Offset internal heat gains in tandem with the solar panel canopy give the GRoW Home a run for its electricity bill. As the competition wrapped on October 18, the UB team came in a very close second place.