Solar Decathlon (16)-Virginia’s Tidewater Design 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).

Virginia’s Tidewater Unit 6 design is constructed modularly (A: sun space, kitchen and all of the plumbing; B: bedroom; C: living room with a shading device over the southern-facing windows to control solar gain;D: sloped roof with a built-up perimeter and incorporates the solar panels and thermal collectors.) Its architecture is inspired by Arts and Crafts style homes found throughout the urban neighborhoods of Norfolk, VA. The exterior grade plywood functions as a rain screen, wood batten, and trim. A pergola is integrated into the utility core (which houses many of the mechanical systems) over the deck.  Upon entering the house, one finds the large operable window on the right converting the sun space into an exterior porch during warm seasons and a heat sink (floor, the thermal mass, collecting heat throughout the day and dispersing the heat into the house at night) during cold season. There are operable clear story windows above and open-shelving over the counter top in the kitchen.  Southern glazing is maximized with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room.  Minimized northern glazing limits heat loss in the bedroom.  The closet houses a concealed air handler. Some of the engineered systems integrated into the house are: solar panels linked to an inverter in the utility core, converting power for domestic use;the solar hot water system, in which water moves from the supply tank to the domestic water tank,  preheated by the thermal collectors and warmed by an on-demand heater if needed before use.  After use, water is pumped from a graywater dosing tank to irrigation beds (where it is pre-treated by exterior plants, before draining to the blackwater storage tank.).  Rainwater runoff is collected in a cistern at the rear of the house to be used for irrigation.

written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,



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