Solar Decathlon (11)-SCI-Arc/Caltech’s CHIP (Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype) of 2011


Dear Readers,

If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much. We are at a critical juncture in human history when individual effort and participation in the transition into renewable energy age is desperately needed!  Your signature will be very meaningful in helping all earthlings!  For a summary of why we need to switch to power the earth with Wind-Water-Sunlight quickly, reasons are explained by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson at There are more than sixteen episodes of discussions on FIT (Feed-In-Tariff/CLEAN Program) available at Please feel free to read/listen to them (type in feed-in-tariff in the search box at right).

Now, let’s return to our report of Solar Decathlon of 2011.  The SCI-Arc Caltech’s CHIP (Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype) house is a net zero, solar powered home designed for LA area, that started with a platonic cube of 600 sq ft, but stretched/lengthened that gave it a N-S orientation. Then the nose of the South end descends to increase the roof’s sun exposure while in the North end of the building  lifts to create a car port beneath the building (as though the North side reaches for the sky while the South side descends toward the ground).  A unique feature of CHIP is its outsulation, such that its exterior insulation creates a continuous shell of insulation so to minimize thermal bridging through structural members and additional low cost coated skin, vinyl, wrapped around the building, providing a rainscreen that unifies the building into one form. Extending from South, East, and West faces of the building are ADA accessible ramps and terraces.  Upon entering the house, one meets the kitchen with optimal work space and appliances carefully chosen for their performance and energy use monitored by a smart meter (to optimize its energy efficiency and cost).  Another interesting feature of the CHIP house is its division of rooms based on level changes rather than compartmentalizing rooms by isolating spaces.  Furniture are made from recycled nontoxic material.   Solar array on the roof is the full generator for this project.  Now, let’s take a good look at this unique design that may change our future generations’ view of what a home should look like.—>

written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,



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