House That Uses 'Zero Energy' Is Super Cute Too

Inspiring 62

Energy-Saving HomeA prototype for a new type of zero-energy-consuming house is on display in Los Angeles, and of course it’s very impressive. But you know what I love about it? It’s poofy!

Blah blah blah zero footprint, yadda yadda solar energy. Did I mention it’s poofy?

They also modified an X-Box Kinect so that all you have to do is wave at lights to turn them on and off. It’s like the clapper, but silent.

It’s an award-winning design from students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and it’s actually an amazing design that I wish I could implement today. Here, let me show you around.

This adorable new house is called CHIP, which stands for Compact, Hyper-Insulated Prototype. Since our homes use almost 25 percent of the energy in the U.S., the students were looking for ways that home design could use less energy.

The shape of the house maximizes the amount of space they can devote to solar panels, which is why you lose the peaked roof – a house-shape designed to keep snow from building up, brought to America with European settlers. Who needs a peaked roof in the desert? Nobody, that’s who. A little slant keeps the rain moving downward, and solar panels get all the room they need.

But why the house-cozy? That’s insulation. Putting it on the outside is faster, more effective, and adorable. Plus, it’s vinyl, so it's waterproof -- and think of the colors!

Meanwhile, the inside of the home has more square footage – since the inside of the walls can be exposed – and there are more nooks and crannies for built-in shelves. The water system maximizes rain and gray-water use.

CHIP has its downsides, of course. The interior doesn’t have separate rooms, because an open-air space makes it easier to cool naturally. Such an arrangement would make for quite a bit of awkwardness for families and house guests, so they’d better figure that little glitch out toot sweet.

And then? I’m first in line for the poofy house. In pink!

How do you like the poofy house?


Images courtesy of Darius Siwek for Chip2011.com , used with permission.

going green, inspirations, newsworthy

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the4m... the4mutts

Oh the possibilities! I LOVE it!

Crank... Crankywitch

Great way to recycle those old pee-stained mattresses.

Saphi... SaphiraJFire

it looks like an inside out mental hospital padded cell!


I want the kinect thingy though haha

TeganB TeganB

I like this, especially the inside. And the outside is cool, too, but when I think of vinyl, I immediately think "cancer-causing." I personally am more of a fan of using natural and reusable materials, but hey. My other concern (or rather bitter northern resident comment) is that while this is an awesome design for an environment where it is warm and sunny the majority of the time, it would not work very well for a place like Michigan or Vermont. I know that the whole purpose was to design for Southern California anyway, but darn it, that environment gets ALL the cool efficient stuff. Thirdly, I would like to see if they could somehow adapt the design for multi-family (or more specifically, student housing) use. You touched on this in your piece, but the size of the inside and lack of rooms really isn't built for a large family or for house guests, but would work really great for couples, college students, single people, maybe a family with one child.  All in all, though I like the design. It's innovative and sleek. But adaptive reuse of an already existing building is still usually more environmentally friendly. :) 

GlowW... GlowWorm889

I think it's definitely cool, but I don't like the looks of it.

jessi... jessicasmom1

haha who would have guessed

prplecat prplecat

It's cute, but I shudder to think what the winds in N. Texas would do to the poor little thing!  After the vinyl tore off, the whole house would be found somewhere in Arkansas.

AngiDas AngiDas

I like that people are starting to think outside the box when it comes to building homes. Housing will have to change as the enivorment keeps changing and our population keeps growing. 

hotic... hoticedcoffee

It does look like a padded cell...which I could really use most days, right around 4 PM.  Cute!

soranea soranea

Umm, neat concept, but have these guys never heard of an earthship?   http://earthship.com/   Completely self-sufficient housing, built with recyclable materials, using only solar and wind energy, and catching and recyclying rain water in a 4 stage filtration system in the house.

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