By Andrew Starc

20 April 2010 The surPLUShome is what results when you mix German efficiency with ecologically sustainable design. Designed and built by a team of students from the University of Dalmstadt, the house was part of Team Germany’s entry in the Solar Decathlon 2009, an international competition for universities hosted by the US Department of Energy.

Featuring a shiny black glass exterior, the impressive facade provides a design that doesn’t compromise on aesthetics. Inside the house, innovative technical and electrical systems are perfectly integrated and, on balance, the building produces about twice as much energy as it uses.

Taking around one and a half years to build, the house is located in Washington D.C, where the Solar Decathlon, involving universities from around the world, took place. The house gained points with its fine balance of energy saving, energy efficiency and solar energy production.

University of Dalmstadt architecture student Sardika Meyer says the project integrates energy efficiency with design.

“We showed how energy and solar aspects can be brought into harmony with high architectural and aesthetic requirements,” she said.

The house has also attracted praise from the president of the German Sustainable Building Council, Werner Sobek, who says that its balance of aesthetics and sustainable attributes could make the surPLUShome a milestone in energy-efficient construction. Sorbek believes that ecohouses have hitherto been a commercial flop partly because aesthetically, they are depressively austere. The key, he says, is to make ecology “breathtakingly attractive and exciting,” something that the surPLUShouse has achieved.

To read more about the surPLUShome, visit

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