Team Florida designed FLeX House to ship in one piece, keeping costs down and making construction easy. “We chose a simple rectangular form and used inexpensive finish materials like corrugated metal and wood siding,” says Stanley Russell, AIA, the team’s faculty adviser and assistant professor at the University of South Florida’s School of Architecture and Community Design. “We designed rolling rooms that can be closed into the main module for shipping and that were easily deployed at the site. And all components are panelized and modular.”

With a nod to central Florida’s humid climate and intense sun, the students created a hybrid open-closed house that incorporates passive cooling and heating during winter and efficient mechanical cooling during summer. An umbrella structure featuring stationary and operable wood louvers creates a parasol to shade the home, with open space in between the louvers allowing hot air to ventilate. Sliding glass panels also help with passive cooling.

FLeX House features a modest 5-kilowatt solar array, with 22 panels and a microinverter for every pair. An innovative liquid desiccant duct system connected to an energy-recovery ventilator dehumidifies incoming air. And recessed LED luminaires inside are connected to daylight and occupancy sensors, reducing energy usage.

FLeX House could start production immediately as a manufactured home, Russell says. The decathlon model is destined for the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where it will serve as a learning center for energy-efficient technologies.

Estimated cost: $334,186.35