It's getting close to Solar Decathlon time, when TreeHugger is filled with green architectural wonders from the twenty entries in this competition sponsored by the U.S Department of Energy to "design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered home."
First up is the University of Illinois, which is "meant to be a display to people that being comfortable and conserving energy aren't two different things, that we can build a house that requires only 10 percent of the energy a typical house today requires, build it with today's technologies and show that it saves money."
Its strategy "is to reduce the demand for energy through conservation. Thus the walls of the U of I team's solar house boast four times the insulation value of the current standard for home construction. The windows far exceed current standards, too. They are specially designed to let in light and provide a view, but they are relatively small, and oriented to decrease undesirable warming in the summer."
"The solar house generates electricity by means of commercially produced solar panels mounted above the roof. Over the lifetime of the panels, the cost for the electricity they provide will be about the same as if it were purchased from a utility."