Imagine that all of New York City’s rooftops are covered with photovoltaic panels. They could provide enough electricity to meet around 14% of the city’s needs, according to calculations by Tria Case, one of the City College of New York’s directors. Comprised of students from The City College of New York’s (CCNY) Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture and Grove School of Engineering, Team New York, who are competing for the first time this year in the Solar Decathlon, asserts that NYC’s roofscape is vastly underutilized, not only for its potential in collecting solar energy but also for its potential to provide prime living and outdoor space for its citizens. Their design for the Solar Roof Pod could prove a versatile and sustainable solution.

The Solar Roof Pod, made of lightweight yet durable materials, can be assembled on existing rooftops of mid-rise residential or commercial buildings. Its modular system is comprised of 64 “building blocks,” which can be transported to the roof via freight elevator, stairs, or crane. Team New York designed four different types of interchangeable blocks, allowing the occupant to customize his or her home. Solid blocks feature poplar wood cladding on the interior and exterior, and they are infilled with spray foam insulation. Other blocks contain photovoltaic panels, triangular prisms, or standard windows that capture the skyline view while incorporating bird-safe glass. Building blocks combine into 5’4″ X 8′ modules, which are supported by a steel dunnage system that evenly distributes the structure’s weight across the rooftop.

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