LUMENHAUS is a solar-powered home designed by Virginia Tech students that generates more power than it uses annually. It was one of only two American entries in the 2010 Solar Decathalon Europe competition in Madrid, and was on display in Millennium Park in Chicago up until last weekend. Totally kicking myself for missing this.
LUMENHAUS is designed to respond to changes in temperature and environment, which it does through sliding polycarbonate insulation panels filled with aerogel, creating strong insulation while allowing a soft natural light into the space. They move to create appropriate amounts of sun control, cross ventilation, lighting, and privacy. A stretched fabric ceiling provides enough light at night with dim flourescent and LED lighting, and no electric light is ever required when the sun is up. The roof collects rain water, which is then filtered and used for drinking and for the water plants. The entire system is monitored and controlled by an iPad and iPhone interface that allocates energy to different areas of the system at different times.