As cars get redesigned, it's probably also time to redesign the garage. Students in Green Mountain College's Renewable Energy and Ecological Design program have created this solar garage, which acts like a mini-power station for charging electric cars, and has a greenhouse for growing food on the side.
Based in Vermont, the students took on a challenge of electric vehicles that's specific to cold climates: if it's the middle of winter and it's freezing, it's harder to charge a battery. So this garage uses passive solar heating techniques to keep the inside at the optimal temperature. The garage also has solar panels on the roof to generate power for the car—and depending on how often someone drives or how much power they use otherwise, maybe a little electricity to sell back to the grid.
The giant fiberglass wall that helps keep the garage warm also helps grow plants. The college has a working farm (where students learn to do everything from how to drive oxen to how to make apple cider), and the garage-based greenhouse will be used to grow seedlings before they're transplanted to the farm fields. It's easy to imagine a homeowner gardening in a space like this, too. A bonus: all the sunlight from the passive solar wall also means that this is a much more pleasant place to hang out than the typical garage.
As more and more people decide to live without cars, garages might eventually become a bit more rare. This is a garage that people might actually want, versus a strictly utilitarian space.
Image courtesy of Communications at Green Mountain College