Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon
The team's Solar Energy Efficient Dwelling, or SEED [pod], is meant to grow and adapt based on local conditions — much like a plant would. It features plenty of desert-specific innovations, including a bimetal window shade that automatically squeezes shut when desert temperatures rise (pictured). The southern wall consists of two glass windows and a cascading water wall made of recycled plastic. In the desert, outdoor temperatures drop dramatically at night; the water can transfer heat throughout the house if it gets cold, and can keep things cool during the day.
"We really used the house as a research vehicle. It is a scaffolding for research, especially in the southwest's arid climate," said Christopher Domin, a team member.
But not everywhere gets as much sun as the Arizona desert. With regionalization in mind, the team designed a hinge that can adjust their house's southern wall and roof assembly to capture sunlight at the best angle.