Students and researchers at Washington University have constructed an eco-house built mainly from concrete to demonstrate that the material can be used in sustainable ways.
Crete House is a solar-powered building constructed almost entirely from precast concrete. Water coils embedded in the concrete flooring and ceiling provide heating and cooling. Large gutters provide shade and allow water to run to a hydroponic garden that helps feed people living in the house.
The concrete flooring and walls incorporate steel connections that are designed to make the house earthquake proof. The house should also withstand hurricanes and storms like the recent Hurricane Harvey that has destroyed many homes in Texas.
Crete House has been built as part of the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon that challenges university teams to design and build energy efficient houses. After initial construction and testing, Crete House will be taken apart, then reassembled in Denver where it will be judged at the Solar Decathlon event in October 2017.
Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world, but is mainly used on large building projects. Many houses have concrete flooring but use bricks to construct the walls. The team that designed Crete House wanted to show that concrete is durable and has good thermal properties that could make it the ideal building material for residential buildings.
Dylan Weber Callahan, a spokesperson for the project, said he hoped that it would catalyse a more efficient use of concrete in future years.