The Decathlon of Zero-Energy Buildings

REGAU Solar Decathalon
01.29.2014

At the world-renowned collegiate competition for efficient and sustainable building, the Czech team proved that REHAU system solutions are at the top of the international rankings. The “AIR House” presented by the Czech Technical University, which relies, among other things, on subsurface heating and piping systems from REHAU, earned a spot on the podium at the Solar Decathlon 2013, the unofficial world championship of energy-efficient houses.

What Does the House of the Future Look Like?
College teams from around the world grappled with this question at the Solar Decathlon 2013 held in Irvine, California. The requirements are high: the aim was to design and build a net zero energy home with a balanced annual energy footprint and clearly defined dimensions. The prototypes were judged not only on their overall energy concept but, true to the name of the event, in ten different categories including architecture, engineering, comfort zone, affordability and market appeal.

After about two years of planning and organizational preparatory work, the student teams faced a formidable challenge: to build and furnish a house in just 10 days, the necessary logistics being an important part of the concept behind the competition. The results of the contest can be viewed both inside and out by visitors to an exhibition. The most important of these visitors are the members of the interdisciplinary panel of experts who thoroughly examine each prototype, measure the consumption values and, at the end of the exhibition week, choose a winner.

Efficient REHAU Technology Plays a Key Role
Sponsor support plays a key role in the implementation of the college teams' projects. With many years of experience in planning, development and implementation of future-oriented system solutions for the building industry, REHAU was able to provide expert assistance to the team from Czech Technical University in Prague. In addition to radiant cooling ceilings, the team also used REHAU drinking water and wastewater pipes.

The "AIR" Concept: Affordable, Innovative, Recyclable
The AIR House designed by the Czech Technical University team was specially developed for the 50+ generation who will retire soon and whose children have already left home. AIR stands for Affordable, Innovative and Recyclable.

The building is highly energy efficient and offers its residents maximum comfort. It is made almost entirely of wood, from the foundation to the insulation and façade to the furniture. A large outdoor area complements the interior for cooking, relaxing and storage.

From an environmental perspective, photovoltaic elements generate the necessary electric power while solar panels provide warm water. Wood fiber plates regulate humidity and provide sound and heat insulation. REHAU radiant chilled ceiling panels ensure a comfortable, pleasant room temperature. If necessary, an air conditioning system with an evaporator switches on to regulate the humidity and keep the air fresh. The wastewater system, also equipped with REHAU pipes, collects water from the shower and the sink (graywater), filters it and makes it available, for instance, for plant irrigation, thus greatly reducing water consumption.

Air House Impresses the Jury
The architecture of the AIR House so impressed the jury that it won the prestigious architecture contest of the Solar Decathlon with 98 out of the 100 possible points. In the engineering contest, the Czech team took second place, along with a solid third place finish in the overall standings with 945 points out of a possible 1000.

For more information on the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, visit http://www.solardecathlon.gov.

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