As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's international biennial Solar Decathlon competition for creation of practical applications of off-grid solar electrical power projects, a 2011 team of architecture and engineering senior students and supervising faculty from the City College of New York entered their “Solar Roofpods” concept. The team created a 1000-sq.-ft. one-story prototypical modular residence, which can be erected penthouse-style on any mid-rise building in New York, or in virtually any city worldwide. Rooftops of commercial and institutional mid-rise buildings in any city are largely underutilized, yet offer immediate potential for supporting affordable, sustainable living spaces because of their direct year-round access to solar or wind power, and rainwater collection.
This Solar Roofpod residence consumes zero energy and actually generates excess solar energy, which can be stored or redistributed to other tenants. Solar Roofpods are more affordable than their alternatives, they're expandable/contractible and one or more can be erected on a given roof. An integral part of the Roofpod design is the use of low energy, low-maintenance solar LED lighting systems. The City College team is using a system from JESCO Lighting Group, headquartered in New York City, to light the roofpod it's planning to build on the roof of the four-story City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture building, which is planned for completion in April.