The start point of the EFdeN project is the international solar houses and integrated technologies competition, Solar Decathlon. In 2012,Romania competed for the first time in the Solar Decathlon Europe in Madrid, with the PRISPA house. This was the first Romanian house to participate in the European solar houses competition, with a traditional architecture inspired building that integrated energy efficient systems, photo voltaic panels and other passive energy saving strategies. Part of the PRISPA team, held on to the knowledge and experience gained during the design and building process of the house, and decided to carry on with another new project, the EFdeN prototype. The multidisciplinary team, made of students from architecture, civil engineering, communication and management, designed, built, and transported a house - first in Bucharest, then by 9 trucks to the site of the competition, in Versailles, where it was rebuilt in just 10 days. Returned in the country, the house was unpacked and the rebuilding process started on the former football field inside the court yard of the Faculty of Installation Engineering.
The EFdeN project, through the example of the built prototype and other adjacent programs and future objectives, aims to raise awareness on the way houses are built today in Romania, and focuses on promoting a sustainable way of life, using energy from renewable sources to raise the comfort in living. In the same time, it tackles the problem of urban densification, bringing the resident closer to the nature, by integrating in the house, as a focal point, a bio-climatic greenhouse, that promotes the concept of urban farming in the city.
In the context of the Solar Decathlon competition, it was highly imperative that the design of the house to be based on innovation, new and creative ways of approaching traditional materials, as well as implementing strategies, equipment and efficient technologies, provided the collaborators that trusted in the concept, over 130 of them, that supported the project, mainly in building materials and equipment.
What stands out in the EFdeN prototype is the steadfast step towards innovation in energy efficiency: the integration of a productive bio climatic greenhouse, the exclusive use of energy from renewable sources provided by the photovoltaic panels, and the innovative solutions and technologies integrated throughout the house.
Dedicated to the “urban farming” concept, the greenhouse component is the central architectural element of the house being both a source of light on the inside and a communities generator on the outside, and at the same time being one of the most powerful passive strategies integrated in the house, providing fresh and filtered air to the ventilation system.
One of the most innovative solutions used is the Phase Changing Materials in the interior walls panels. This is a composite gypsum board material that integrates paraffin particles which change their state from solid to liquid, allowing the stabilization of the interior temperature. Another innovative material used is the Thermal Mass Concrete, poured with a special aggregate, barytine, that preserves the heat accumulated during the day. Also, the house is completely automated, the user being able to control it by mobile app, thanks to the BMS system.
After competing in the Solar Decathlon, the EFdeN house was disassembled, packed back into trucks and transported to Bucharest. Waiting for permits to rebuild it, all the components of the house were left outside, in the bad weather for several months. This caused damage to most of the materials, such as OSB panels and the mineral wool, that needed replacing.
Furthermore, an extensive amount of care was taken into selecting all the materials, taking into account their impact on the environment, whether they are made of recycled materials or themselves are recyclable.
The building of the house ended in October 2015, when it opened as EFdeN 4C, the Research Center for Comfort Conditions, in order to assess the technologies and strategies implemented, to learn how to raise the quality of the living space and raise awareness of the sustainability needed in building houses. Since the beginning of the year, it is opened for public visiting each week, everyone who comes inside expressing their wish to live in such a house. This is soon to be possible, as there is already in plan an industrialization strategy, based on the modular prototype, that will have different sized apartments, all of them having the green house as the common element.