Building a mobile solar house on UB's South Campus

Apr 14, 2014

A mobile, solar house GRoW house is being constructed on the University at Buffalo's South Campus.

UBs GRoW House. This photo shows the Garden Box room.
Credit Photo from UB's Architecture and Planning School.

A team from UB's Architecture and Planning School, Engineering and Applied Sciences School and the Management School is putting together a 1,400 square foot high-tech home for next year's National Solar Decathlon.

Team members will build the home, move it outside on the UB South Campus to determine how it does in the local climate, and then take it apart and ship it to Irvine, California for the competition.

Afterwards, it will come back here to a location which hasn't been decided.

“The house is going to be constructed out of new material we bought off the shelf and some material we can salvage. So we are looking at a variety of material right now, such as reclaimed wood," said Architecture Assistant Professor Martha Bohm.

Bohm said the final design will use the latest in high-tech windows, geothermal heat and recycled materials like wood.

"We're trying to give a new image to what we think of as low energy design and sustainable design. And, we're trying to suggest it doesn't mean making do with less. So, we creating in part of our project a very generous solar-powered element to the house. It's a big glassy greenhouse space, that's entirely conditioned, heated and cooled by the sun and by breezes blowing through it," said Bohm.

Bohm said the building will use solar panels for electricity and for hot water, elements intended to pay for themselves over perhaps 10-15-years.

The architect said geothermal is such a good technology, it's going in her own home.