reACT advances a design built on developing homes as kits of interactive and disentangled systems and parts that can be efficiently manufactured, transported, assembled and disassembled. The kit of parts is conceived as an effective new high performing combination of ingredients able to be arranged or configured into diverse and clearly differentiated building sizes and forms. Assembly, standardization, and flexibility of components, along with an intrinsic disentanglement (to better “future proof” home building) of systems and their interdependence are among the strategies the Team Maryland has employed to increase build-ability, reduce construction and transportation costs, while facilitating changes and/or upgrades over time.
After the competition, the team plans to partner with innovative housing industry leaders to produce housing based on the competition prototype for both broader American community applications and for tribal communities in particular.
Ease of construction
Developed as a prototype for sustainable housing, reACT is a “kit-of-parts” modular and panel constructed home featuring smart systems that anticipate needs, educate users, help harness and convert excess or waste (solar, water, heat and nutrients) into useful resources for ongoing domestic use.
Featuring 993 ft2 inside, plus 214 ft2 of mediated outdoor living space, the student team invites you to think of reACT as a living organism, with each component performing vital functions. Systems that capture and process waste water and energy allow the home to operate with greater self-sufficiency because it is sensitive to weather, able to store resources, and respond to changing circumstances via a developed Smart House system. It thereby seeks to live in greater harmony and balance with human needs and nature. The mechanical spine and mechanical systems allow easy access for future utility upgrade and the disentangled design allows for recombination, growth and adaptation so homeowners can maintain their residence’s footprint to what is needed at various points in a family’s dynamic life
Design impact on the U.S. residential energy efficiency and renewable energy industries
● Position reACT as an industry model, embracing principles of the Living Building Challenge, Responsible Industry and Net Zero Waste by exemplifying non-toxic, ecologically restorative, transparent, and socially equitable architecture
● Prove reACT’s adaptability to a diverse range of climates, communities, construction technologies and ecological environments, as well as to other cultural and logistical variables such as building material supply chains
● Conserve resources via both active and passive heating/cooling, green mold-resistant wall prototypes, drip-irrigation, rainwater-catchment and greywater filtration systems
● Enable efficient local manufacture, transport and assembly alongside flexible configuration, building sizes and forms via disentangled systems design. By designing systems that can be easily separated, maintained and replaced as they wear out, maintenance costs can be decreased.
● Offer families building expansion/contraction options with easily upgradeable advanced technical infrastructure and features into their evolving homes (e.g. by adding multiple modules, PV arrays, SmartHouse control systems, composting toilets, dual-barrel composting, grey-water irrigation, and rain-catchment systems)
● Automate reACT’s performance via detailed, physically based model data-driven by open source weather forecast feeds developed by Team Maryland student engineers
● Developing an open source computer model that includes first-principles description of solar irradiance, house PV array power output, nominal house energy-related loads, and thermal modeling of reACT and its HVAC system
● Transferring intellectual property to a like-minded housing industry partner, ready to bring to market reACT’s prototypical DNA and flexible configurations
Sustainability features that increase its marketability
Appliances, Materials, energy efficiency, water conservation
Energy Star, An interactive “Solar Attic Chambers” houses and dries clothes as well as drying (preserving) and even low-temperature baking of some food through the innovative repurposing available building components, in entirely new ways. Hotwater Heater, refrigerator, dish washer, stove top, microwave, washing machine.
Sustainably sourced, The home incorporates diverse native materials with significance to the diverse indigenous landscapes and Biome’s of America. More importantly, the life cycle of each material has been considered with the intent of optimizing resources by limiting waste. Building materials and equipment are largely recycled and sustainably sourced to abide by the Seventh Generation principle.
It is well documented that reducing stress and eating non-processed organic foods increases health and well-being. According to the Living Community Challenge, creating environments that optimize physical and psychological health and well being is essential.
● Elements such as engaging with nature is important for reducing stress.
● Architectural daylighting and access to unfiltered sunlight increase mood and have benefits such as raising vitamin D levels.
● Growing one’s own food organically produces more nutritious meals with less exposure to the heavy metals in fertilizers and pesticides used in commercial farming operations.
● Herbs and berries, especially important in the traditional Native American diet, have also been identified as sources of various phytochemicals, many of which possess important antioxidants.
Honoring cultural heritage in the arts, cuisine, and sports is another way of grounding the individual in a place (Living Community Challenge, 2017).
● The median list price per square foot in Denver is $347, which is higher than the Denver Metro average of $241. https://www.zillow.com/denver-co/home-values/
● reACT is nearly 1000sf so the median market listing price would range from $241,000 to $347,000.
● Wife: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016, the median salary for RDNs in Colorado is $59,800. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291031.htm#st
● Husband: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016, the median salary for Agricultural Managers in Colorado is $58,220. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119013.htm#st
● Based upon median salary projections, together they earn $118,020.
● Qualify for an FHA loan for a house costing maximum $450,000
● reACT at $241/sq ft, would list for $241,000
● with a minimum 3.5% down payment or $8,500
● loan amount $232,500 for 30 years @ 4% interest = $1400/month mortgage payment
● reACT at $347/sq ft, would list for $347,000
● with a minimum 3.5% down payment or $12,145
● loan amount $334,855 for 30 years @ 4% interest = $2017/month mortgage payment
General contractor’s ability to estimate and build
reACT has an ambitious goal of accelerating the transformation of the residential construction industry. Team Maryland seeks an industrial leader to leverage the research and development investments it has made in its Solar Decathlon entry, and by bringing to the negotiation table a ready and interested market. This interest is not in the single or literal Decathlon home to be featured in the 2017 competition, but in its prototypical “DNA” and flexible configurations. By working with industry leaders and by developing market “off-takers,” Team Maryland intends to generate greater industry investment and willingness to collaborate, in exchange for contractually sharing in the fruits of a substantial market segment. reACT is positioned to accelerate the housing industry’s embrace of the Living Building Challenge goals of Red List avoidance, Responsible Industry and Net Zero Waste. These goals are intended to reinforce the emerging healthy materials economy that is non-toxic, ecologically restorative, transparent, and socially equitable. Furthermore, reACT will serve as a seminal and flexible prototype for housing that is more readily adaptable to a diverse range of clients, communities, construction technologies, site geomorphologies, and ecological environments.
The central strategy to ignite a paradigm shift is the choice of reACT target market of Native American communities. Recognizing the extreme housing needs in many Native communities—along with the vulnerability of reservation land to climate change and the challenges of living as a Native American in an urban setting-- reACT uses sustainability and regenerative design principles to promote quality of life and culture. reACT achieves this by focusing on techniques and technologies that make homes more energy efficient, healthy, and in harmony with Native American culture. reACT will embrace emerging sustainable building practices that promise to transform and support tribal housing projects, while also providing the two-thirds of Native Americans living in urban centers with housing options that support a more harmonious, balanced and sustainable interactions with the natural world.
By providing access to technical assistance and control of their own financing, tribes can achieve green, culturally appropriate housing even after years of being marginalized, while also setting a standard for the broader American community to follow and emulate. Tribal leaders are increasingly seeking sustainable housing and renewable energy power systems that utilize sustainability best practices and renewable energy technology in order to provide their communities with cultural renewal, self-sufficiency, economic opportunity, and sustainable returns on investment that compliment tribal culture. reACT is dedicated to mindfully support tribal embrace of sustainability and self-determination. Team Maryland is seeking to influence the manufacturing partner to develop production plants in close proximity to tribal lands, to contribute to expanding training and economic opportunities for members of the tribal community.