This net-zero FluxHome adapts to the weather

Posted by Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling

Ever been planning a party and wished that you could open up some extra space by eliminating a few unnecessary walls? Ever wished you could swivel your home to avoid the late afternoon heat that pours through South-facing windows?

You’re not alone. A project by students at USC seeks to create a flexible dwelling that helps homeowners save energy by adapting to current conditions.

The student-designed “fluxHome” seeks to serve as a model for affordable development and sustainable living. Using customized prefabricated components, the home can be assembled quickly, and modified according to an owner’s lifestyle and individual needs.

USC fluxHome

Image ©USC fluxHome

The fluxHome features a flexible, open plan strategy complete with a transformable wall and roof system that modulates sunlight, air, and privacy. The idea draws upon “regional precedents such as the craftsman bungalow and the courtyard or patio house, and merging them with new smart home technologies,” explains the student design team.

USC fluxHome

Image ©USC fluxHome

Among the most important of those technologies is solar panels. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, homes that don’t incorporate solar harvesting technologies fight a costly battle against Mother Earth. Rather than creating another sealed up box, baking in the sun, the USC team celebrated these conditions.

“Instead of a hermetic box on a suburban lot, the house is a thermally-responsive envelope that easily opens and closes according to the weather and time of day, modulating sunlight and air providing various degrees of shade and privacy.”

Some main features of the fluxHome:

  • A construction system consisting of lightweight prefabricated components and on-site kit-of-parts assembly;
  • A thermally-responsive PerfSkin envelope that regulates light and shade, modulates prevailing breezes and air flow, and provides privacy and security;
  • An intuitive user interface that monitors passive and active energy systems and can be controlled with an iPad or smart phone; and
  • A set of air and light chimneys that optimize and modulate available light, and work as a plenum for passive cooling and ventilation.

The home, which is currently under construction on the South Lawn behind Watt Hall at the University of Southern California, is the school’s entry into the 2013 DOE Solar Decathlon. In October, the house will be disassembled and transported to Orange County Great Park for final judging.

* Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling