The solar powered house of the future?

Unveiling the Ecohouse

The Solar powered house team unveil the house at Ecobuild, London

The solar powered house team from Nottingham University unveil the house at Ecobuild

This gallery of images shows a prototype solar powered, zero carbon house designed by students at Nottingham University

What would a modern, super-efficient, solar powered family home of the future look like?

Anyone visiting Ecobuild, the world's biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment at Earl's Court in London this week had the chance to explore just such a house.

Known as the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E (Home Optimising the Use of Solar Energy), it was designed and built by students from the Department of the Built Environment at the University of Nottingham.

Built with a mass market in mind, the aim was to show how a small, eco-friendly 'starter' home could be produced - one with the ability to sit side by side with other houses as part of a terrace.

A prefab prototype

Early on in the design stage a prefabrication approach was chosen to enable an efficient and controlled construction process, as well as to make it easier to transport to its final destination.

The prototype home was packed up and loaded on to four flatbed lorries bound for London and unveiled at Ecobuild on Tuesday.

The Nottingham design meets the world's most stringent design codes - German Passivhaus Institute Design, UK Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 (Zero-carbon), Lifetime Homes-compliant and Secured By Design-compliant. This is the first time all these codes have been have been complied with in a house of this type.

Sunshine house

As well as a range of energy efficient measures, the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E makes use of two types of solar energy systems: solar thermal (for hot water) and solar electrical (for electricity).

What do you think? Comment here


The Nottingham H.O.U.S.E is Britain's entry in an international housebuilding competition - the first ever Solar Decathlon Europe 2010. The event, showcasing houses from 20 universities around the world, features the very latest in sustainable solar architecture.

The final stage of the competition takes places in Madrid between June 18 and June 27 when the full scale buildings have to be built and 'test-driven' by the students.

The house is designed to be used in many different climates. Its systems can be adapted so that the house can perform efficiently in the southern conditions of Europe (Madrid), and the North of Europe (Nottingham).

To find out more about the technical aspects of the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E go to:

Ecologist guide to greening your home
Greening your home can save you energy and money as well as making it healthier and lowering its carbon footprint
Forget eco-towns - real green house-building is already happening
Cambridge University's expansion plans could change the face of sustainable building in the UK. In 2012, construction begins on the greenest development of its size and scope in the UK
Installing a biogas digester
This gallery of images shows the simple, low-tech processes involved in turning organic wastes into a clean-burning, forest-preserving cooking fuel
PHOTO GALLERY: Homes for a changing climate
In an extract from his new book Homes for a Changing Climate, Will Anderson makes the case for building 21st century homes that can withstand the effects of climate change and help usher in a low-carbon revolution
Building houses with straw bales
A house built with straw could cost as little as £70,000 to build - and some are still standing after 140 years. Barbara Jones' fantastic book Building with Straw Bales reveals all you need to know

More from this author