Extreme weather calls for extreme architecture. In drought-ravaged California, students at the University of California, Davis, were inspired to use trees killed by the state’s water shortage to build Our H2Ouse, a home designed to use 50 percent less potable water than the average American abode.
Currently on display at the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial Solar Decathlon competition—which, this year, awards entrants based on drought resilience, education, and inclusiveness. Just like this “modern farmhouse” decathlon entry from Missouri University of Science and Technology , the home is also completely solar powered, producing as much energy as it consumes and achieving net-zero status.
All of the wood used to build Our H2Ouse was salvaged from forests killed in the drought. Removing the dead trees helps to prevent and mitigate forest fires.
The home’s water-saving measures include an elaborate greywater system with a state-of-the-art sanitization system, and LED displays at every faucet enabling residents to monitor and control their water use. If you take too long in the shower at Our H2Ouse, its LEDs will turn from blue to red.
This emphasis on providing information and monitoring was a concerted effort to influence human behavior around water use—a tricky element that can undermine potential water savings.