Net-Zero Houses: Designing for the 2013 Solar Decathlon


  • Michele Chiuini
  • Walter Grondzik
  • Mark McGinley


Solar Decathlon, Solar houses, Net-zero houses, North American house


Residential buildings contribute a significant percentage of total energy consumption in developed countries and about eleven percent in the USA. Among U.S. governmental initiatives related to solar energy application to residential design, the Solar Decathlon competition, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, stands out as the most architecturally relevant.

Through the lens of a 2013 Solar Decathlon entry, this paper discusses the evolution of technologies and the changes in the architecture of the American single-family house when solar energy is used as a primary energy source. The design strategy of our 2013 Solar Decathlon team is to maximize the effectiveness of the PV array while keeping the costs low. The resulting net-zero houses will also be significantly more affordable than the typical Solar Decathlon house, which is a fundamental condition if these houses are to have an impact in the housing market.


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Internet reference: http :// The Energy Star program by the US. Environmental Protection Agency certifies new homes that meet strict energy efficiency guidelines. These homes are independently verified to be at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2009 Intemational Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and feature additional measures that deliver a total energy efficiency improvement of up to 30 percent compared to typical new homes and even more compared to most resale homes.

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http://www ?fuseaction=find_a product.

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2 (residential energy standard); 2012 International Energy Conservation Code

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(14 July, 2009)

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How to Cite

Chiuini, M., Grondzik, W. ., & McGinley, M. . (2012). Net-Zero Houses: Designing for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. ICONARCH International Congress of Architecture and Planning, (ICONARCH-1, Proceeding Book), 113–125. Retrieved from



Environmentalist Technologies and Architecture