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Our team has adopted the groHome concept, as invented by team leader Pliny Fisk. Our entry to the Solar Decathlon is equally a competitive entry, an educational endeavor, and a "real world" business plan. We are inventing a system for building homes rather than a prototype or custom home.

North Facade

The groHome building system is a sophisticated, high-tech approach to home building that draws upon the best ideas from across the engineering and business spectrums. It is a modularized, dimensionally coordinated, open source kit of parts that is attuned to green building principles to achieve high levels of carbon balancing. It incorporates best practices supply chain management to achieve economies of scale unprecedented in the home building industry. A groHome is designed to anticipate changing needs of the building owner and allow for upgrades, replacements, and enhancements. The overall goal is to optimize not only the total cost of ownership but the total cost of life style.

Beyond the individual home, the system expands to include a groCommunity. The cost of shelter is only part of the total cost of a life style. Transportation costs take a big bite out of person's wallet. Food costs are also significant. Efficient community planning can reduce transportation costs, reduce waste disposal, conserve water resources, and even produce food at a local level. Homes and neighborhoods can be designed for health and reduce the costs of medical care and insurance. The understanding of how all of these factors impact the cost of a life style is crucial to finding a way for us to live sustainably even as supplies of resources dwindle and demands upon resources increase.

The basic structural frame of the groHome uses high performance, light weight, industrialized elements that can be carried to a site and set up with a small crew and minimal tools. Pedestal footings elevate the house above the ground to cause minimal damage to the earth. Onto the frame, the builder can add prefabricated groWalls, groFloors, and groRoofs that provide all of the services and feature of the home. Because they are coordinated dimensionally, a component can be replaced or altered as the owner obtains more money or requires different features.

Initial cost of ownership can be minimized. Because mortgage payments are reduced the owner saves money through lower interest charges.

Solar generators such as photovoltaic arrays or hot-water arrays, are incorporated into groWalls and groRoofs to provide the energy needs appropriate to the life style and solar resource availability. High efficiency appliances and advanced lighting systems reduce energy demands as much as possible, and can easily be replaced when an upgrade becomes available. Community power generation strategies couple several houses together to reach a greater balance of load and resource. Protocols wherever possible are based on national or international standards or procedures. Much like the open source movement in computer software development, national and international committees will establish the interfaces among components that are manufactured by a wide variety of companies.

Building System Protocols

Structure: The building functions structurally as a stiffened frame so that walls are removable leaving the structure as a separate operating unit.

Skin: The skin or infill is disentangled form the structure and the utilities.

Growth: Structural frames function in a manner that they are additive one to the other.

Access: Structural member configurations allow utilities to be changed and therefore are not embedded within the structure or the shell.

Health: Materials are long lasting and non toxic in their various life cycle phases.

Flexibility: The building system provides flexibility in how auxiliary systems are mounted (ie. Overhangs, light shelves, solar thermal, solar electrical, landscape elements).

Materials: Flexibility in material use (steel, wood, aluminum nominal dimension types) according to regional market dynamics.

Impact: The building is structurally stable relative to wind and subsidence using appropriate foundation types to fit hurricane conditions yet maintains only a light impact upon the soil beneath it.

DIY: Prepackaged or do it yourself modular sub components that contain fully integrated subsystems for energy, water food, sleeping dining and other functions.

Energy System Protocols

Orientation: Appropriate orientation to wind and sun specified according to region and site.

Be Passive: Appropriate passive solar design as to solar gain aperture, shading and breeze openings are specified according to region.

Climate Matters: Appropriate overhangs for the climate and region being considered.

Light: Appropriate light shelf system protocols for angles reflectivity.

Insulation: Appropriate insulation sizing (nontoxic in production and use).

Windows: Appropriate energy conserving fenestration according the National Fenestration Council (and nontoxic in production and use).

Air-tight: Appropriate sealing procedures according to pressure test (nontoxic in production and use).

Thermal: Thermal storage for heat and cool is modeled according to region.

Solar: System sizing (solar electrical, solar thermal, hybrid) use regional design procedures that correlate to utility type and region.

Transport: Hybrid transportation that is chargeable and or can use fuel depending on use and time of year.

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