Kohler Co and Virginia tech are celebrating a major win at the 2018 Solar Decathlon, held for the first time in Dubai, UAE.
“FutureHAUS” is a unique solar home designed and built by Virginia Tech research university, with the support and technical input of Kohler Co in the US. Beating 27 other universities from 11 countries, the FutureHas Virginia Tech team had just two weeks to build its prototype FutureHAUS house, that runs exclusively on solar power, in a public expo area next to the Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park.
The goal of the competition was to create a high performing solar home – seen as the smart, sustainable housing of the future – able to function in the extreme climatic conditions of the Middle East. A key requirement was that it had to be able to be mass produced in similar communities around the world.
True Aging in Place
FutureHAUS makes it possible for a family to theoretically stay in the same house for life and have the home grow and change with them.
“We’re demonstrating how a house can automatically adapt to the needs of every individual who lives in it,” said Joseph Wheeler, lead of the FutureHAUS project, as well as a professor of architecture in the School of Architecture + Design and co-director of the Center for Design Research at Virginia Tech.
Kohler worked with Virginia Tech for two years advising on design and technical attributes that could achieve high functioning, smart solutions for both kitchen and bathroom.
The winning FutureHAUS, that enabled Virginia Tech to take home the $250,000 first prize, utilised factory-built cartridges to create living spaces that adapt to their inhabitants. Kohler provided technical advice and guidance on the water delivery system in the kitchen where metered amounts of water are delivered via voice control.
In the main bathroom the vanity top is 3D printed and utilises Kohler’s technological expertise to incorporate three sensors within the basin that employ the company’s Response touchless technology. Kohler has then coupled these sensors to three of its DTV digital showering systems.
What is the Solar Decathlon?
In it’s 16th year, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition, comprising 10 contests, that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy.
Virginia Tech was the only team from the US to compete in this year’s Solar Decathlon. The prototype houses were judged on 10 criteria: architecture, engineering and construction, energy management, comfort conditions, house functioning, sustainable transportation, sustainability, communications and innovation.
The Solar Decathlon supports Dubai’s stated goal to have the smallest carbon footprint of any global city by 2050.