design and calculation of the structure, building the E-cube and participation in the Solar Decathlon competition in Washington D.C., 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a program that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. A team from the University of Ghent designed the E-cube and were selected to participate in the Solar Decathlon 2011. The ECube is an affordable, do-it-yourself building kit for a solar-powered house that is pre-engineered, factory-built, and easily assembled without special skills.

To meet the do-it-yourself approach the structure must be designed as a preassembled kit that can easily be put together on site without special skills or tools. Therefore a standard pallet racking system was chosen as load bearing structure. This system contains relative lightweight coldformed steel beams and columns which are equipped with simple connectors so the structure can easily be put together.

The facade and roof consist of ligth weight sandwich panels which provide lateral stability and provides a insulated shell that meets the passive house standards.

The E-cube’s floor is made of insulated wooded box elements placed on a frame of steel beams. Scissor jacks support the frame, this allows leveling of the frame on any site.

Photos courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy