City residents already have a much lower carbon footprint than suburbanites. Multiple RoofPods can make the cities we value perform even better.
Our modular Solar RoofPod is designed for flat rooftops of existing mid-rise residential or commercial buildings, enabling eco-conscious urban dwellers to live lightly, as stewards of a more resilient urban environment.
According to our estimates New York City alone could accommodate approximately 150,000 units. These units could generate a substantial amount of power, especially during heat wave periods (with ample sun). They can also perform as back-up systems during black-outs such as Superstorm Sandy. Furthermore, its rooftop siting prevents flooding.
Collectively, Solar RoofPods, green roofs, and rooftop PV arrays can form a new layer of resilient urban infrastructure, with multiple benefits, many specifically addressing the challenges laid out in PlaNYC 2030, New York City’s comprehensive sustainability plan.
THE URBAN ROOF
Rooftops around the globe are broadly underutilized and receive large amounts of exposure to sun, wind and water.
Our goal is to take advantage of this underutilized resource to directly benefit everyone, not just the people living in the RoofPods, but also those living in the host buildings beneath.
Many of us in Team New York came to the city as immigrants from all over the world; we see tremendous potential to enhance our diverse and vibrant global city – and other growing cities – through innovative design.
Our RoofPod is a prototype, for potential installation on hundreds of thousands of rooftops around the world.
This prototype is currently being tested through it installation on the Spitzer School of Architecture in Upper Manhattan, Harlem. Any results will be used to improve the performance of this conceptual approach for future RoofPod applications.
POPULATION- QUALITY OF LIFE
New York City is home to some of the densest urban neighborhoods, with buildings serving large numbers of people.
We designed our Solar RoofPod to be placed onto the flat roofs of buildings, believing that high-density, car-free living is crucial to energy efficiency. The RoofPod design adds new, live-work dwelling units to vibrant urban neighborhoods.
Each new unit added to already developed land equals one fewer newly-developed greenfield parcel in the exurbs.
New York City is still growing exponentially, with a large incoming population. The Solar RoofPod has the potential to house approximately 300,000 incoming residents. This approach would help to maximize New York City’s density and add local amenities, improve the economy and support the population of the urban environment.
A single RoofPod could generate 11.6 MwH per year from its solar panel power output alone.
This could translate to $2,500 in annual utilities savings (energy and water), while avoiding the generation of over 4,000 kg of CO2, compared to a conventional NYC apartment. As the chart shows, an urban RoofPod lifestyle would use less than half of the energy consumed by living in even the greenest suburban house.
The input of energy is split into electricity and heat production. The (more efficient) heat production is used for space heating, domestic hot water and an innovative space cooling system. Due to this system, the power grid loads would be reduced significantly.
All generated surplus will serve the host building, contributing to decentralized (more efficient) power production and adding resiliency to the system.
PHOTOVOLTAIC ARRAY: 40 PANELS (a 240 W), 49.7 m 2/535 ft2 (EFFECTIVE AREA) PEAK POWER: ~10 kWp
SOLAR THERMAL: 180 EVACUATED TUBES, 14.6 m2/157.3 ft2 (ABSORBER AREA) PEAK POWER: ~12 kWp (HOT WATER FOR HEATING, ADSORPTIVE COOLING, DOMESTIC HOT WATER)
MONITORING + CONTROL (“SMART HOUSE”) SYSTEM, CONTROLLING: a) ELECTRICAL LIGHTS, b) SHADES (DAYLIGHT), c) HVAC SYSTEM, d) APPLIANCES, e) IRRIGATION, f) NATURAL VENTILATION. (THE SYSTEM COULD ALSO CONTROL/IMPROVE THE HOST BUILDING’S OPERATION.)
COLOR-MORPH INDICATORS FOR POWER + WATER CONSUMPTION DISPLAY.
CUSTOMIZABLE HIGH-PERFORMANCE MODULAR ENVELOPE SYSTEM
We can extend our concept exponentially to an entire city, to every urban environment on the planet, and we believe the gains would be significant.
For example, we calculate that a single RoofPod could generate over $2,500 in annual utilities savings (energy and water), while avoiding the generation of over 4,000 kg of CO2, compared to a conventional NYC apartment.
In addition, the RoofPod could boost the local construction industry, one of the predominant economic sectors of the urban environments. It would refurbish the existing roof scapes and add ‘green’ building stock to the city.
Multiple configurations of modular construction allows for various iterations of the RoofPod to be adapted depending on its function.
The architectural design adopts a modular, yet customizable, approach to assembly. The RoofPod is not just designed as a home, but can be adapted for many uses throughout the city for various sizes.
For instance, the RoofPod can serve as a conference room, a daycare center, or any community space for a larger number of people.
Taking two blocks in a typical New York City neighborhood, most buildings were identified as suitable to support RoofPods.
Whole neighborhoods living in RoofPods can be motivated to live an eco-conscious lifestyle, committed to urban revitalization and sustainability. All the aspects of the RoofPod’s design accommodate the needs and desires of the residents, and provide them opportunities to productively “give back” and form bonds in their neighborhood for a more sustainable urban future.