the Approach

“If we can build a house to prove design technologies worthy of the Solar Decathlon, why not build one focused on improving the lives of the people here in New England?”
–ΔT90 Design Team

Science, Craft, Design. The Delta T-90 Team logo.Science, Design and Craft are the foundation of the Delta T-90 house.  Our design intent is to focus on developing an affordable, energy efficient, solar powered dwelling that really performs in Vermont’s variable climate. The Delta T-90 House accommodates for the change in temperature of 90 degrees that Vermont can experience through a year, while maintaining a comfortable interior temperature of 70 degrees. Understanding the science of heat transfer aided students in constructing a building envelope that slows the transmission of heat energy even on the coldest days. Understanding active and passive systems enabled the team to design a home that harvests solar energy throughout the year.

Although we acknowledge the constraints of transporting a 1000 square foot home across the country, we also recognize that our design is focused on solving a truly local problem; affordable housing in a cold climate that largely depends on petroleum products for heat.  The Delta T-90 House is not designed around cross-country travel – it’s designed to be built locally, and stay within 100 miles.  Thus, we used the concept of modular manufacturing to create a house that maintains an increased floor-to-ceiling height and significantly reduces foundation cost.  An appreciation for craft led the team to discover the bounty of Vermont-specific natural resources that could be used to satisfy construction demands.

To really solve the issue of affordable solar powered housing, we require a diverse team. We are students from Architecture, Engineering Management, Civil and Electrical Engineering, as well as Business and Marketing.  Collaboration is the key that has allowed us to address the challenges of designing and building a super high performance affordable home.

While this competition is about real estate, its focus on affordability also speaks to realistic estate. An overwhelming number of Vermonters cannot afford a house that meets the target construction costs of the 2011 Decathlon’s Affordability Contest, regardless of energy costs. Consequently, the Delta T-90 House is designed at the $195,000 base level to make it affordable to a household earning 20% to 30% less than Vermont’s median income level.