Solar Decathlon's Team New York discovers NYC's most underutilized real estate

The phrase “underutilized real estate in New York City” may strike many as an oxymoron: isn’t every square inch of the city covered in asphalt, concrete, buildings or park space? If you’re equating “real estate” with “land,” you’re right, but like early 20th-century developers that saw opportunities to build upward, Solar Decathlon 2011′s Team New York thought creatively about the notion of available space in the Big Apple. While land’s at a premium, the students from the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture and the Grove School of Engineering realized that many of the city’s buildings have flat rooftops – and those rooftops represent 1.6 billion square feet ripe for sustainable development.

With this discovery in hand, the students went about designing the Solar Roofpod, a “penthouse with a purpose.” Designed for “mid-rise buildings” of 4-10 stories, the home concept incorporates active and passive solar design, solar thermal heating and rainwater collection. The Roofpod not only takes advantage of rooftop locations, but works symbiotically with the building below: excess energy is fed to the lower structure and the “penthouse” provides additional insulation. Finally, the Roofpod is modular, so it can conform to different roof configurations. You can see the entire concept in the walk-through video above.

Team New York’s entry is one of twenty from schools around the world. The Decathlon begins on September 23rd, with the home prototypes displayed on the National Mall through October 2nd. Entries will be judged not only on energy generation and efficiency, but also “affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence.”

Plan to attend the Solar Decathlon? Want to put in a plug for another team’s entry? Let us know what you think in the comments.

via DNAinfo