In the dusty industrial parking lot of the Hutsot HaMifratz outlet mall in Haifa
sits a horizontal kite-shaped house that is anything but grubby and
Walking up a handicapped-accessible path, the visitor emerges on
a spacious patio as big as the house – decorated with a stone path and
furniture, as well as an herb garden irrigated by gray water, produced from
activities such as laundry, dishwashing and bathing. Inside the gray-trimmed
white concrete façade, the home is a four-room temperate oasis. It is adorned
with crisp bamboo furniture and, perhaps most important, is entirely energy
“It’s a blurring of the border between indoors and
outdoors,” said student Yasmeen Lala-Ferro, who was involved in its
The house is two years in the making. Approximately 30 students
came together from four academic institutions to compete in the Solar Decathlon
in China, an international competition that will take place in
Hailing from various architecture, engineering, design and
environmental tracks, the students come from Shenkar College of Engineering and
Design’s department of interior and built environment design, the College of
Management Academic Studies’s department of interior design, Tel Aviv
University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Neri Bloomfield
School of Design.
Leading the students are architects Dr. Joseph Cory, a
faculty member at Shenkar College and owner of Geotectura – Sustainable
Architecture, and Chen Shalita, owner of Alfa Sustainable Projects.
really proud of the cooperation among all the different institutions,”
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said at the Haifa launch ceremony
for the house on Thursday, pinpointing the rich exchange of ideas that has
occurred due to the multidisciplinary, multi-institutional presence.
Solar Decathlon China will take place at Peking University in Datong City from
August 1 through 31, and will be hosted by the Chinese National Energy
Administration and the US Department of Energy, with additional support from
Known as the “Olympics of Sustainable Architecture,”
the competition was first held in the US in 2002, occurring biennially in odd
years since 2005, with additional competitions in Europe in 2010 and 2012,
according to the team.
This year, the Solar Decathlon will challenge 20
student teams to design, build and operate solar-powered, net zero
energy-consuming houses that operate in an affordable and attractive manner, the
Israeli team explained. All in all, the team will have 14 days of construction
time, 10 days of competition and exhibition, an evaluation and awards ceremony,
and five days to disassemble their creation.
The project has been
sponsored by around two dozen companies, many of which are Israeli firms, whose
renewable energy technologies are integrated into the
Additionally, the project has received support from the
Environmental Protection Ministry and the Energy and Water Ministry.
hope that this project will allow for more Israeli technologies to be advanced
all over the world,” said Shlomo Wald, chief scientist of the Energy and Water
Ministry, at the launch ceremony.
On the grounds of the house after the
ceremony, Lala-Ferro gave The Jerusalem Post a tour of the project inside and
out. She began with the open-air patio, which provides a breathing, living space
for its residents to enjoy. One wall of the patio is lined with modular pouches
for growing herbs and vegetables, a contribution from the Israeli company
Invivo- Design which seeks to promote green living in urban
“Everyone [the corporate sponsors] was very responsive
because they wanted to be part of the goal of having an environmentally friendly
way of living,” said Lala-Ferro, who is an architecture student at the Neri
Bloomfield School of Design and Education.
Sliding glass doors lead into
a spacious, 70 square meter space that combines the kitchen and living
Chrome appliances give the home a modern feel while bamboo
furniture serves a dual purpose as functional and stylish. The home is composed
of “natural colors” – whites, grays, greens and wood, Lala-Ferro
“Our target audience is an older couple finished raising
children and needing a convenient, comfortable home,” she said.
all of the furniture throughout the house is multipurpose and involves a modular
approach, so that portions of the house can be reoriented in the future,
according to the team.
The bathroom is “minimal but still roomy,” as
Lala-Ferro described it, with a shower that only turns on when it reaches the
desired temperature and towel bars that double as heaters.
house, windows from the Pythagoras solar company let in light but not heat
radiation. Censors throughout the house monitor and control temperature and
humidity according to movement and daylight and were produced by the Schneider
On the slanted roof that faces into the courtyard sit an array
of standard photovoltaic panels and another set of TIGI solar-thermal panels
that functions to heat water.
A solar power maximization mechanism by
SolarEdge, as well as a smart-energy system by Schneider, manages the
electricity of the building and allows for optimal efficiency, two other
students, Veronica Zak and Alon Dotan explained to the Post.
Cold and hot
water pipes regulate the air conditioning system, while a Phase Changing
Material (PCM) system allows for the efficient cooling of water, Dotan
On the northern roof of the building, another sloped roof enables
a process called radiative night cooling – which induces a cooling
In the competition, the team will not only have to display their
house, but they will also have to host a dinner party – including cooking and
dishwashing – host a movie night and do laundry, in order to demonstrate the
energy and water efficiency of the structure during routine activities,
“Being a student you want to do something big and
feel like you can solve the world with your one little project,” she said. “We
think it’s important for people to realize we’re not just living for today –
we’re living for 50, 100 years from now.”