SunBloc is the UK’s only entry in the 2012 Solar Decathlon competition – an energy-efficient home designed by London Metropolitan University students – and it needs support from the sustainable building industry.

To develop solutions for the global issue of sustainable building, the Solar Decathlon Competition was created in Washington 2009 by the US Department of Energy. It is a competition between universities from all over the world, which had a European version added to the bill in 2010, taking place in Madrid.

Entrants are required to design and build a self-sufficient house, powered only by solar energy, and equipped with the latest technology that permits maximum energy efficiency. The houses are open to the general public, built on a plot known as the Solar Village, where they are judged on various environmental criteria. Participants are also required to organise a number of campaigns and events, in order to help raise awareness and educate the general public on sustainability and energy efficiency in our everyday lives.

Solar Decathlon Europe is organised by the secretary of state for housing and urban development at the Spanish ministry of public works, with the collaboration of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and the support of the US Department of Energy.

Team HelioMet
Out of all the universities that applied to enter Solar Decathlon Europe 2012, London Metropolitan University’s team HelioMet is one of only 20 whose application has been successful and is the only UK entry. This means HelioMet has now proceeded to the main competition, and will be building its proposed house in Madrid in 2012. So far, the design team has been working closely with consultants such as Adams Kara Taylor, Gardner & Theobald and BDSP Partnership.

Using the latest techniques in digital design and manufacturing, the HelioMet team has devised an energy-efficient home, known as SunBloc, to demonstrate the technology available in today’s market and to offer a new and stylish way of sustainable living. The beautifully curved design has been specifically configured to work with its surrounding environment (in Madrid) to reduce its energy consumption radically.

The shape of SunBloc creates a completely flexible living space, with all the service elements of the house located in its core. This means that the house is not restricted to just one size or specific layout. It can be configured to the owner’s comforts and practical requirements.

The skin of the house is dependent on its size and the external environmental requirements of its specific location. Photovoltaic panels are integrated into the skin to enable SunBloc to capture sunlight and power the house. These panels are orientated using precise solar data and parametric techniques, to optimise its energy generation.

A louvre system sweeps round the house, widening as it goes, to expose the interior to natural light and heat in the winter, and protecting it from the harsh summer sun. To optimise the house’s efficiency, it has also been configured to the environment’s wind conditions and the location of the sun. This system provides temperate air and softly diffused light throughout the day.

If your organisation wants to get involved with the SunBloc project, please visit www.heliomet.org and follow @sunbloc2012 on Twitter.