Santa Clara University


What Goes Into a "Green" House?

In fashioning its entry into the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, SCU’s team scrupulously considered every detail of their design—from the beautiful bamboo beams overhead to the eco-friendly stuffing in the sofa cushions. As Yasemin Kimyacioglu, mechanical engineering student and member of the interior design team, said, “Though SCU’s entry is not judged on the 'green-ness' of the furnishings used, it was important to the team’s outreach mission to present a cohesive product that raises awareness of some of the options available to consumers, so they can adopt eco-friendly decision-making when outfitting their homes.” Here are some of the features included:

  • Patent-pending bamboo I-beams, developed by the SCU Solar Decathlon Civil Engineering Team. Strong and uniquely sustainable, bamboo quickly replenishes itself.
  • Modularized electrical system: Photovoltaic panels, electrical inverters, and batteries form a versatile system, allowing the homeowner to operate on or off the power grid.
  • Absorption chilling technology: Solar-heated water drives a thermodynamic conversion generating chilled water to cool the house.
  • Nana Wall: This beautiful glass wall maximizes natural light while minimizing heat loss.
  • Controls system: A controls system algorithm and myriad sensors monitor and adjust temperature, lighting, humidity, etc.
  • Siding: Fiber cement siding with advanced thermal insulating properties is used on the west and south faces of the home, where sunlight predominates. On the north and east walls, a durable surface made of paper from certified managed forests is employed.
  • Insulation: Recycled blue jeans!
  • Interior finishes: Hickory kitchen cabinets from certified forests and reclaimed oak furniture create a warm, casual environment, while recycled glass and ceramic tiles, and recycled-Coke-bottle glass accents beautifully finish the kitchen and bathroom. Paints and upholstery materials trim indoor air pollution through reduction of volatile organic compounds.

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