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May 18, 2011

CHIP House Takes Design to Different Heights in U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011

The team of students from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology, otherwise known as the SCI-Arc/Caltech Solar Decathlon team, have teamed up to take an interesting approach to the design of their Solar Decathlon home. Unlike the other houses the DOE Energy Blog has profiled, CHIP—which stands for "Compact House Infinite Possibilities"—looks nothing like a traditional home from the outside, but if all goes as planned, it will achieve ultra high efficiency energy use for its occupants.

In what can only be described as a truly "out of the box" approach to the design of the home (pun intended), the SCI-Arc/Caltech team has wrapped the polygonal home in a "skin" that acts as what the team refers to as "outsulation." This skin is a system of cellulose-filled batts fastened in layers to the outside surface of the roof (underneath the home's 235-watt photovoltaic panels) and exterior walls. This forms a shell, which is wrapped in airtight and water-resistant architectural grade polymer-coated vinyl. See the Energy Blog post.