Living Light: UT Solar Decathlon House

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Living Light: UT Solar Decathlon House
The University of Tennessee's Living Light, designed for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, incorporates the knowledge of Tennesseans past and present. Although the forms and spaces of Living Light were inspired by the cantilever barns of southern Appalachia, the systems in the dynamic façade and integrated roof array are scalable and tunable to a range of climates and applications.

Design Philosophy
Tennessee seeks to apply global technologies to local contexts. To find the most refined aesthetic expression of these technologies, the team integrated multiple complex systems into relatively few architectural elements. The Living Light design uses passive systems where appropriate and active systems where necessary. The team also used off-the-shelf technologies in innovative ways to meet the needs of today's homeowner.


Living Light's large, loft-like design includes features such as:
A dynamic double façade system made of alternating translucent and transparent panes and horizontal blinds
Sensors that automatically manage the electric lighting, which includes color-changing LED strip lights along the façade
A home automation system that can be programmed with preferred conditions for activities such as watching a movie or entertaining dinner guests.

Several technologies distinguish Living Light. These include:
A blind system, sandwiched between two panes of glass, that is programmed to provide year-round lighting and shading

An energy recovery ventilator that harvests air through the double façade system to supply the house with passively warmed or cooled fresh air Cylindrical modules in the 10.9-kW photovoltaic array that capture sunlight across a 360° surface.

Market Strategy
Living Light is designed to attract emerging young professionals with an average income of $100,000 working in the vibrant design, science, and technology industries of Nashville, Tennessee. For this clientele, technical systems are not hidden but embraced as aesthetic features in a contemporary design. A house that balances technology and modern design features with regional history and landscape will be of value to these residents.

What's Next
Living Light will tour Tennessee to demonstrate energy efficiency and other technologies to the public. Upon completion of the tour, the team and its collaborators will use the house as a laboratory for collecting data, analyzing energy efficiency, and testing new technologies. The knowledge gained from continued study of the house's performance will benefit the university, regional manufacturers, and research partners.


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