- The ICON House, University of Minnesota’s first entry in the invitation-only Solar Decathlon competition, is an 800-square-foot, energy-efficient solar home.
- Designed and constructed by UMN students, the home features Uponor Quik Trak® and Wirsbo hePEX™ for the radiant system, as well as Uponor AquaPEX® and ProPEX® fittings for the plumbing system.
- Taking energy conservation and environmental concerns into consideration, the home features a grid-tied design, with the goal of producing more electricity than it consumes.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Energy invites various universities from around the world to compete in the Solar Decathlon competition held in Washington, D.C. For the University of Minnesota (UMN), this was their first invitation to participate in the prestigious event, and they were determined to create a sustainable, energy-efficient home featuring cutting-edge products.
“Uponor is considered by many in the mechanical field to offer the best products on the market,” says Ross Hoeffner, project manager, Mechanical Construction, ICON House. “In my opinion, the [ProPEX] expansion system is the most user-friendly on the market while maintaining quality and strength required for a project of this scope.”
The goal of the ICON home was to design a grid-tied solar house that produces more electricity than it consumes. Given that Minneapolis winters are brutally cold, with the sun only 54 degrees above the horizon, a solar home posed quite a challenge — because for a solar array to properly function, both photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal panels must be aimed directly at the sun. Additionally, the home had to function properly in both Minnesota as well as Washington, D.C., adding to the design challenges.
To meet efficient plumbing design requirements, the students incorporated an Uponor Logic layout for the plumbing system, which requires fewer feet of tubing and less connections compared to a traditional rigid system.
In the end, the students were able to solve each challenge along the way to produce a home that features a blend of traditional design balanced with innovative function and technology.
“We believe that merging new technology with familiar imagery is a vital symbolic step in the transition from traditional building methods to an energy-efficient future,” says Hoeffner.
Uponor radiant heating and cooling systems incorporate seamlessly with solar-powered energy for the ultimate energy-efficient comfort
Fast hot water delivery
Reduces waster waste
Favorable Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
Single-level, wood-frame and rainscreen construction
800 square feet
1,000 feet of Wirsbo hePEX for radiant
200 feet of Uponor AquaPEX for plumbing
Quik Trak panels with a five-zone manifold system
ProPEX engineered plastic (EP) fittings and multiport tees