Solar Roofpod
Team New York's Solar Roofpod, designed for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, responds to the fact that urban rooftops are largely under-used. Intended for existing mid-rise buildings, the house enables eco-conscious city dwellers to live lightly by producing solar power, cultivating roof gardens, and retaining and recycling storm water.

Design Philosophy
Solar Roofpod adopts a modular, yet customizable, approach to assembly. The one-story penthouse has variable cladding on the 64 poplar wood-framed "building blocks" of the envelope. These building blocks—glazed, opaque, louvered, or screened—can be custom-assembled based on the variables (such as solar orientation, predominant wind direction, preferred view, and interior layout) of each site.

In addition to having a symbiotic relationship with its host building, the Solar Roofpod features:
A modular dwelling unit design with components that can be arranged in multiple configurations
A rooftop-mounted solar trellis that protects the house from heat gain and is easy to upgrade with new photovoltaic technologies
A power and water use indicator to help residents monitor their daily consumption.

The Solar Roofpod features a number of sophisticated technologies. These include:
A micro-inverter for each solar panel to optimize system output
Solar thermal collectors that distribute the sun's heat through a radiant floor system
A thermal storage system that uses paraffin as the phase-change material to reduce the size of the tank by half
An energy management and control system designed to ensure comfort and regulate energy consumption.

Market Strategy
The Solar Roofpod is a "penthouse with a purpose," designed to respond to the market for economical new housing in cities. The target market is urbane, ethnically diverse, and progressive singles, couples, and young families. Other urban market segments that could find the Solar Roofpod lifestyle and its considerable utilities savings appealing are empty-nester cosmopolitans and immigrant families.

What's Next
There are two possible future scenarios for the prototype Solar Roofpod. The house may return to The City College campus in West Harlem for use as a visitor center and classroom for sustainability education. It could also become part of the school's planned environmental science center on Pier 26 in Tribeca along the Hudson River.


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Building Activity

  • Nadezhda Nikolova
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