Posts tagged with "Solar Decathlon":

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Pvilion scales up its lightweight flexible photovoltaic fabrics

The Techstyle Haus is an 800 square foot fabric house that uses 90% less energy thanks to a high performance double skin membrane with integrated PV.

Co-founded by Colin Touhey, Todd Dalland, and Robert Lerner, Pvilion is pioneering the design, engineering, fabrication, and installation of flexible solar solutions. For their 2014 Solar Decathlon project—a collaboration between RISD, Brown University, and University of Applied Sciences Erfurt (Germany)—Pvilion provided engineering consulting services on the structural design and membrane roof system. The project team questioned if a membrane roof house could be designed to meet strict passive house energy codes. The answer was a resounding yes—what came to be known as the Techstyle Haus is currently the only fabric structure that meets passive house standards, producing 50% more energy than it consumes. The house was originally constructed in Providence and then disassembled, placed in crates, and shipped to France for relatively easy re-assembly at Versailles. Currently, the Techstyle Haus resides at Domaine de Boisbuchet, the site of an annual art and design workshop, where it serves as a living laboratory and teaching tool as well as student housing. An in-depth video of the design can be viewed here. Colin Touhey, co-founder of Pvilion, said this project is a proof of concept for their flexible, scalable solar solutions. “Given the curvature of the form, the building produces more energy than flat or angled solar arrays.” Techstyle Haus was designed in concept to embrace a double skin tectonic. It’s PV modules are encapsulated in a thin sheet of plastic allowing for a lightweight assembly of shallow curves and folded surfaces. PV’s are typically very labor intensive as each 3’x5’ panel has to be individually wired. Touhey says by eliminating a significant amount of the “stuff” that goes into a traditional solar array can offer design flexibility along with cost savings: "the more that can be integrated into the off-site fabrication process, the cheaper and more effective the system will be. Also, we have found if you eliminate the frames from a PV, if you eliminate the glass from the PV, and if you laminate the PV into a light material, you can ship more of it in one container. All of these variables add up on a very large scale."
  • Facade Manufacturer St. Gobain (inner skin); Pvilion (outer skin)
  • Architects RISD/Brown/Ehrfurt
  • Facade Installer Birdair (primary facade); Pvilion (solar facade installer)
  • Facade Consultants Pvilion
  • Location Providence, RI / Versailles, France / Lessac, France
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System flexible fiberglass membrane with PV fabric on steel frame
  • Products Pvilion PV Fabric, Sheerfill II Architectural Membrane, with EverClean Photocatalytic Topcoat
Building Integrated Photovolatics (BIPV) have become an increasingly significant topic within the advanced building systems design and construction community. Rather than treating PV as an additive system requiring a separate metal support structure superimposed on a building’s roof, BIPV is an evolving practice of incorporating custom solar technology into the constructional logic of a structure. Often, BIPV projects see cost savings through the replacement of roofing tiles or other building elements with photovoltaic panels. The 2014 solar decathlon was held in Versailles, France, and included 20 prototype structures from 16 different countries. From these projects, 11 prominently utilized BIPV strategies. In addition to Pvilion’s flexible solar fabric, other approaches included cantilevered lightweight shading elements, solar-integrated glazing, a colorful lightweight PV roof, and numerous roof-mounted configurations. In a statistical analysis conducted by a team of researchers at Jaume I University (Castillo, Spain), and published by Advanced Building Skins GmbH, the Techstyle Haus was rated as one of the “most pleasurable BIPV solutions.” Robert Lerner, a co-founder of Pvilion, explains the value of lightweight solar fabric for large commercial applications: “we developed a way to put photovoltaic sheets as a secondary membrane onto a primary membrane. the primary roof skin will almost always be a costly, durable product. Consider a 50 year Teflon-coated glass fabric under very high pre-stress for long spans. Our lightweight membrane can be replaced in 20 years if necessary without affecting the roof below it." Half of Pvilion’s projects are facade-related while half are completely unrelated lightweight temporary and permanent structures—from outdoor clothing apparel to parking canopies and infrastructural projects. Touhey says their goal is to take the Techstyle Haus’ system—an interior skin, exterior membrane, insulation, PV, and wiring – and scale it up to a significantly larger context. Upcoming projects include the Artist for Humanity Headquarters in Boston—a renovation and expansion of and existing building into a structure 5 times as large as the original. Once complete, it will be the first net energy positive large commercial project on the East Coast. The building will feature a solar wrapper that doubly functions as a passive shading element integrated with flexible monocrystalline photovoltaic cells. Other applications include flexible installations on perforated aluminum and warped steel panels, both with free-form perimeters and curved surfaces. Lerner says this is where flexible solar technology shines, “This indicates the freedom of design that is possible while incorporating conventional facade materials."
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Department of Energy names Solar Decathlon teams, but mum about competition site

Brace yourself O.C.: It’s unclear if the battle of the Solar Decathlon will return to Irvine’s Orange County Great Park in 2017. This week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 16 participating teams who are gearing up for the task of designing and building a solar-powered house, but the feds have yet to announce the competition site. Hailing from colleges and universities across the United States and around the world—from Rolla, Missouri to Utrecht, Netherlands—the teams have nearly two years to develop an affordable and energy-efficient design strategy. According to the DOE, the Solar Decathlon teams compete in 10 contests that range from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance. Judges are looking for “[T]he team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.” In past years, teams had to cover some hefty research, design, construction, and shipping costs. But for one team the gamble will pay off. The winner takes home a whopping $2 million prize. (That’s a pretty huge PV array.) Homes will be showcased and on view to the public for free tours in mid-2017. The Solar Decathlon 2017 teams are:
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • HU University of Applied Science Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Northwestern University
  • Rice University
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Davis
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Washington State University
  • Washington University
  • West Virginia University
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The sun shines on SURE HOUSE as it triumphs in the Solar Decathlon

The Stevens Institute of Technology's SURE HOUSE has won the biennial United States Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon for 2015, beating out 13 other teams. Showcasing aesthetics, serious sustainability, and financial viability wrapped in a tiny and efficient solar house, the winning dwelling scored consistently well in all ten of the competition's categories. "SURE," a portmanteau for SUstainable and REsilient, features sustainability throughout the home's design. Using Hurricane Sandy as inspiration, the team from Stevens Institute of Technology incorporated resilient aspects into their design, allowing the building to open up during summer months and be sufficiently secured during the winter. The team expects the structure to be able to endure any coastal storms on the Jersey Shore. In terms of aesthetics, the dwelling would fit right into a book on '60s Modernist coastal flats, however, the technical side to the house tells a much different story. The roof is more than well equipped with solar paneling, making the house fully solar powered, generating 10,000 watts. Meanwhile the buildings envelope is constructed from a fiber-composite glued together over a foam core, protecting it from the elements and each layer is orientated in a perpendicular fashion to boost structural rigidity. Beachside shading devices that allow residents to enjoy the summer sun, can fold away, doubling up as storm shutters. SURE HOUSE uses 90 percent less energy than a regular dwelling. Such a feat is achieved thanks to advanced appliances like Daikin Skyair's zoned heat pump that can be used for heating, cooling, dehumidifying, and solar-electric hot water. A heat recovery and ventilation system from Zehnder Novus energy is also used, retaining building heat and preconditioning inflowing fresh air. As a nod to community, the house has been designed with an external USB charging station for community use during emergencies.  
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Here’s your first look at all 17 teams competing in the 2015 Solar Decathlon

The United States Department of Energy has named the 10 teams that will compete in the 2015 Solar Decathlon. The biennial program was launched in 2002 and "challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive." The teams are then judged on affordability, consumer ability, and overall design excellence. The Decathlon will be held October 8–18 in Irvine, California, but you can preview all of the teams' work right now. Clemson University From the team:
Designed for a family of four, Indigo Pine was envisioned as a family home from the start. Building on this foundation, the Clemson University team took the traditional concept of a Southern home and began redefining it in contemporary ways. This concept permeates the design and manifests in architectural details throughout. The structure is timber, but it is framed with a new technique. The roof is flat, but the ceilings are gabled. Like a traditional Southern house, the house will have a porch, but it will be an integrated part of the whole. While Indigo Pine will look unlike any house before, it will be as welcoming and familiar as any traditional South Carolina home.
Crowder College and Drury University From the team:
In envisioning its solution, the Crowder/Drury team focused on the Cole family, a fictional family of three that lost its home, car, small business, and sense of security in a tornado. The team strived to meet the family's needs through three key design objectives: quick, targeted response; facilitated recovery; and resilient layers of protection. The resulting design is shipped as two modules, with one module containing the service core and the other containing the private bedroom and study. These are joined onsite to form a functional refuge. Construction time and cost are decreased, and the Cole family is provided with a permanent core shelter. Later, the core can be expanded to form a more comfortable environment and adapt to the family's long-term needs. Through the use of disaster-resistant sustainable materials, the home will empower families to withstand the effects of severe weather and recover from natural disasters.
University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College From the team:
The team's goal is to synthesize clean lines and efficient spaces with new envelope strategies, energy-production systems, and fabrication methods. The result will be a prototype for an elegant and disciplined house that: 1. Expresses its construction in an honest and direct manner. 2. Basks in the Florida sun and harnesses the full extent of the available energy. 3. Is cast from modular uniformity while celebrating the potentials of variants. 4. Reflects the poetic delight of a bygone era but is updated and transformed through the technological prowess of our time.
Western New England University, Universidad Tecnologica de Panama, and Universidad Tecnologica Centroamericana From the team:
Designed to be affordable for a working family with one or two young children in New England, the EASI Living Home combines a traditional New England-style exterior with a modern interior. Featuring high ceilings and clerestory windows, the house offers a comfortable living environment with multifunctional space. Space-saving technologies—including fold-away beds, innovative storage solutions, and multi-purpose fixtures—and natural lighting create an open and spacious interior.
Missouri University of Science and Technology From the team:
The Missouri team envisions Nest Home as a solution for young families that want to live sustainably, yet comfortably, in a home that expands as the family grows. Nest Home's design includes sliding doors that allow private spaces to blend into a central gathering area or be secluded sanctuaries. Its structure of repurposed shipping containers is both sustainable and flexible. Additional containers can be added or subtracted to allow for changing family needs. Every aspect of the Nest Home is designed to bring the family closer while giving members the space they need to grow.
New York City College of Technology From the team:
New York City is exploring new models for post-disaster housing that meet the unique needs of a high-density urban environment. In this context, multifamily, multistory solutions that can placed in residents' own neighborhoods are preferred over traditional single-family trailers with larger footprints.New York City College of Technology is therefore exploring a stackable design to provide relief after catastrophic storms that can also be used for mobile and low-income housing in urban areas. DURA will consist of several prefabricated modules that can be packaged and shipped in standard-size shipping containers for quick response at low cost. The flexible modules can then be joined in standalone configurations or stacked for multifamily solutions.
California State University, Sacramento From the team:
Sacramento State's approach to building an affordable, ultra-efficient house involves simple but effective modifications to traditional architectural elements. The gabled roof will appeal to traditional tastes, and the offset levels and slopes will allow natural daylight and an open floor plan. An expansive deck will encourage outdoor living, and numerous planters will create a closer relationship with nature. Inside, two bedrooms provide the flexibility of having two sleeping rooms or a separate workspace. And a porch off the master bedroom is a private retreat for the homeowners.
Stevens Institute of Technology From the team:
For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, Stevens Institute of Technology will build SURE HOUSE, a sustainable, resilient house for coastal communities. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy killed 158 people, caused more than $65 billion in damage, and damaged or destroyed almost 350,000 homes in New Jersey alone. SURE HOUSE represents a new direction in coastal shore housing that will provide a safe, secure, comfortable, and architecturally innovative home for a family of four.
State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University From the team:
The team's design concept is based on modular construction with a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing core that includes a bathroom, mechanical room, and kitchen. Featuring an open floor plan, the house offers a great area for entertaining that is illuminated by natural light from large windows on the north wall and clerestory windows above exposed trusses. Though the floor area may be compact, the house offers living accommodations for four.
Cal Poly: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo From the team:
Cal Poly's interdisciplinary design and build team is stretching the school's 'learn by doing' philosophy by working through design iterations and full-scale testing together. The team sees the manufactured and prefabricated housing market as an untapped opportunity and architectural challenge. Its goal is to move beyond 'surface green' technologies (such as green materials and photovoltaics) to 'deep green' solutions that harmonize with design. Climatic-responsive design proposes buildings that perform in symbiosis with the climate instead of against it. The team therefore strives to design a house that can meet most if its heating, cooling, and lighting needs architecturally rather than mechanically by focusing on passive design principles, low-impact materials, user interaction, and high-efficiency support systems.
University of California, Irvine; Chapman University; Irvine Valley College; and Saddleback College From the team:
Casa Del Sol will mimic the California poppy, the state flower. Like the poppy, the house is drought-resistant and diurnal. Its passive solar features cause it to open up during the day, increasing the effective living area. At night, the house closes to maintain a comfortable temperature.This ultra-efficient house will embody innovation in energy and water management, home automation, and community interaction to adapt itself to its occupants' needs and use. In addition, the house will incorporate design and construction techniques that respond to a market lacking housing that is energy-efficient, affordable, and adaptable to the needs of a diverse and ever-changing demographic.
Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University From the team:
The team is creating Harmony House—a sustainable and efficient home for a lower-income family. With a traditional façade, wide front porch, open living space conducive to entertaining, and plentiful outdoor space, Harmony House is a modern interpretation of one of Tennessee's oldest architectural styles—the dogtrot house. The dogtrot house traditionally comprised two side-by-side log cabins connected by a center breezeway and covered by a shared roof. This breezeway, or "dogtrot," allowed breezes to flow through the home during hot summer months. Team Tennessee designed a modern version of the dogtrot using wide French doors in the center of the east and west walls that open onto porches to create a breezeway through the middle of the house.
The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen From the team:
Environmental and economic affordability are the goals of the team's ExW-Unit concept. As a unit of production, the house will harness resources (such as solar energy, rainwater, and auxiliary water) that would otherwise be wasted and a burden on municipal infrastructure. Because lower-income families are more vulnerable to water and energy cost fluctuations, the ExW-Unit will increase occupants' independence while contributing to their long-term economic, environmental, and social stability.
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York From the team:
In support of food production, GRoW House features a glass-enclosed solarium that provides ample light for plants during the growing season and passively heats the house in winter. The solarium can be continuously tuned to the appropriate conditions for growing and living. In the summer, operable cloth shades on the roof and southern façades shade and cool while vents or windows allow heat to escape. Design features on the east and west sides will protect the solarium from the low morning and evening sun.
University of California, Davis From the team:
The design of the M-Power dwelling combines public and private spaces in three linear zones. Two climate-controlled living spaces are separated by an unconditioned, enclosed deck. These three zones act as climate buffers that maximize passive cooling in summer and passive heating in winter. The units act as a system of active and passive techniques of energy efficiency. The house's passive components allow maximum user adjustability, while active components adjust energy to residents' needs and learn from their daily rhythms.
West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata From the team:
STILE is a simple and compact house covered by an elegant, Roman-inspired arch. The arch creates a covered passage that guides visitors inside, shades the house, and supports the solar energy arrays. A patio occurs naturally as a result of the arch's shading effect.
Yale University From the team:
In the architectural design of Y-House, the Yale team had one purpose in mind: to transform what has previously been considered an enclosed envelope into a public, social space that constantly adapts to its ever-changing social environment. As such, the spaces of Y-House accommodate multiple functions and introduce freedom of movement beyond the walls. A cantilevered roof provides a connection between the interior and exterior. A space may at one moment be a quiet reading area and the next an open entertainment space. Only necessary private spaces, such as the bathroom and sleeping spaces, are blocked off. By challenging traditional notions regarding the use of space, the team will fuse the concepts of perceived space and physical space to redefine the very idea of bigness.
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2014 European Solar Decathlon Announces Winners

The 2014 European Solar Decathlon has come to an end, and the international student competition to design cutting edge solar houses has produced a winner: Team Rhome of Universitá Degli Studi di Roma TRE. Their house, called Rhome for denCity, received a mark of 840.63 out of 1,000 maximum points, edging out the runner-up proposals by a slim margin. Second place went to Philéas by France's Atlantic Challenge and third place to Prêt-à-Loger by TU Delft. Philéas received a score of 839.75 points, coming in only just short of the victors and first place winners Rhome for denCity. The first place Rhome for denCity house is designed as a top floor apartment in the prototype stage that is meant to be a part of a four-story housing project. The house efficiently uses solar panels to power the house whilst relying on natural ventilation to cool its inhabitants. Its design, albeit modest, is pleasant and the house itself could serve as an outline for future sustainable houses. The European Solar Decathlon also gave out six awards for the winners of certain categories such as architecture and engineering/construction. The Dutch team TU Delft took the award for sustainability and communications with their third place entry: Prêt-à-Loger. France’s Athletic Challenge also won in the category of energy efficiency with their second place entry, Philéas.

Video> AN Visits the Solar Decathlon 2013

For those of you who didn't get to the Solar Decathlon this year, never fear. AN was at the event, which for the first time was held on the west coast, at the Orange County Great Park. Impressive teams combined edgy design and futuristic sustainability, with, of course, an amazing work ethic. (What were you doing in college? We bet you didn't design and build a hi-tech house and build it in nine days on a former airplane runway.) Team Austria took home the top prize, but every home in the competition—from sleek metallic forms to heavy wood cabins—produced more energy than it used, and implemented handfuls of emerging technologies that you'll hopefully see in most homes in the next decade. AN took a visit to see the 19 homes in person. Take a look for yourself, and make sure to check out the next decathlon in two years.
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Public Votes University of North Carolina Solar Home as Decathlon Choice

This past weekend, a jury of architects, engineers, and market experts scored Team Austria’s home entry as the winner of the United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a student design competition aimed at educating and encouraging thought about the affordability and efficiency of solar homes. As AN reported, the Team Austria private residential design is environmentally sensitive and easily adaptable, chosen for its overall energy efficiency, attractiveness of design, cost, and comfortable living conditions. However, of the 19 designs by collegiate teams from the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, and Austria presented in Irvine, California, the public had a dissenting opinion about the Decathlon winner. The People’s Choice Award vote went to UrbanEden from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; this concrete and glass-based modern structure was the majority’s favorite home entry. UrbanEden is a four-room home designed for ease of indoor to outdoor flexibility. It is envisioned as existing within the urban city of Charlotte and has been designed with materials for noise reduction as well as energy efficiency. The structure is built of geopolymer cement concrete, which the team claims is “one of the first-known uses of a geopolymer mix in a building envelope.” Inside its walls are a series of tubes circulating cool water to remove heat inside the house without a compressor or refrigerant. The entire south wall is constructed of glass windows and leads to an exterior patio that can be covered, weather permitting, by a retractable photovoltaic panel roof. The patio has a vertical garden to provide greenery, privacy, and a potential food source. With these innovative technologies, the entry won third place in the Solar Decathlon Engineering Contest. However, in aesthetics, the home also makes an impression. Light-filled rooms and the easy accessibility to an outdoors terrace provide a balance of nature within an urban environment. With the beauty and comfort of its design, the DOE believes that UrbanEden earns its People’s Choice Award. Solar Decathlon comments: “UrbanEden is a house people can imagine themselves living in. A house that could easily become a home.” All Images Courtesy DOE Solar Decathlon.
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Solar Decathlon Goes So Cal

The U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon has officially moved west. The bi-annual event, in which college teams vie against each other to build top-tier solar powered homes, opened yesterday at the Orange County Great Park. After a decade in Washington D.C. the competition had overstayed its welcome on the National Mall, and was looking for a new place to get the word out about sustainability, said event founder Richard King. The Great Park beat out sites in 20 cities around the country. With its 11-acre space at the Great Park the event has significantly expanded. Not only does it include a "village" of houses from the 19 collegiate teams—including California schools SCI-Arc/Caltech, USC, UC Santa Clara, and Stanford— but it also contains an expo showing off sustainable solutions for homes, gardens, and even cars. Teams had only nine days to build their homes, so the environment was pretty tense (wouldn't it make a good reality show?). But now it's all done, and you can see the results if you're willing to trek to Irvine. The winners, according to the DOE, will "best blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency." They will be announced on October 12, so stay tuned.  
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Getting Real In The SCI-Arc Parking Lot: Pavilion Construction Heating Up

While you might not make a habit of visiting parking lots for the fun of it, if you haven't been to SCI-Arc's parking lot lately, you're missing out. Installations dot a big chunk of the concrete expanse, including Oyler Wu's billowing Storm Cloud installation, which was built for the school's recent graduation; the steel frame of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S's gigantic League of Shadows installation, which will be done by September, and the wooden frame of DALE, SCI-Arc and Caltech's entry for the Solar Decathalon, which is being held this year at the Orange County Great Park. DALE, which measures about 600 square feet, has now been outfitted with steel tracks so that it can open up on wheels and provide outdoor spaces, including a small yard and even a reflecting pool. The furniture inside the net-zero home will also move to create varied spatial arrangements and configurations. DALE will be completed by September, then it will be reassembled at the Great Park by October 3. Some staff and students have complained about the lack of parking at SCI-Arc right now, which is understandable. But we hope this will become a regular attraction. Maybe they'll build a parking structure and make the whole parking lot an architectural display space someday? 
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Double Vision: SCI-Arc and Caltech’s DALE Splits in Two For Solar Decathlon

This October, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon—a biennial competition encouraging schools from around the country to create affordable, solar powered, Net Zero houses—will be held outside of Washington D.C. The new location, in the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, gives SCI-Arc and Caltech a distinct home field advantage. The team of 16 SCI-Arc and 20 Caltech students is creating a fascinating structure, called DALE, which stands for Dynamic Augmented Living Environment (their last entry was called CHIP.. get it?) that could only be possible in the moderate Southern California climate. The 600-square-foot home splits in half and rolls apart on rails at the push of a button, creating a large central courtyard. Photovoltaic panels project from the rooflines to provide shade for the courtyard and the home’s steel and lumber frame is wrapped in a tight vinyl covering. Keeping up with the net zero efficiency demands of the competition, the house will utilize solar thermal heating and energy star rated appliances in addition to the rooftop solar panels, but its small size is one of the greenest things about it. “It would be great to show people we don’t need to live in enormous McMansions in Southern California,” said team member Paige Chambers. The project is being funded by several sources, including the Department of Energy. A mockup is being built in the SCI-Arc parking lot and should be finished by August. The decathlon, which includes 20 teams, will take place from October 3-13.
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CCNY’s Architecture School To Add Solar-Powered House On Its Roof

Beginning this summer, City College of New York's Spitzer School of Architecture will welcome home its 2011 entry to the U.S. Solar Decathlon, a biennial student competition to design ultra-sustainable homes sponsored by the Department of Energy. The solar-panel-topped house, dubbed the Solar Roofpod, will be perched atop the architecture school and flanked by rooftop gardens and even a windmill. The house will be used as a meeting space and teaching device to show the benefits of environmentally-friendly design and materials. Solar Roofpod was designed as a prototype structure that could easily attach to the roofs of buildings in high-density neighborhoods in cities like New York. A team of more than 100 students at the Spitzer School of Architecture and the Grove School of Engineering along with Architecture Professor Christian Volkmann designed and built the structure that was eventually displayed on the National Mall. The Solar Roofpod is expected to be fully reassembled in its new home in time for the fall semester.
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Go West, Solar Decathalon: DOE Selects New SoCal Venue for 2013

We've known since early last year that the Solar Decathlon, the biennial event showcasing the best in energy producing, student-designed houses, was no longer welcome on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. due to concerns over wear and tear on the "nation's front yard." The 2011 Decathlon, won by the University of Maryland, was pushed to a far corner of the Mall between the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River midway through the design process, causing outcry from student teams who were finalizing their house designs. Officials later announced that future Decathlons might leave D.C. entirely, and today, Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu confirmed that it will be moving about as far away from the Mall as possible—to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California between Los Angeles and San Diego. Orange County Great Park, comprised of 1,360 acres of recreational area designed by landscape architect Ken Smith and built on a former air field, has been taking shape over the past several years, with a new 7.5-acre Palm Court and 18.5-acre North Lawn already complete. We still found it curious, however, that the Department of Energy noted the site's "ample visitor parking" and direct freeway access considering arriving by car might be the least sustainable way to access the exhibition. The Department of Energy said the decision to move the Solar Decathlon site was based in part on extending the audience of the fall exhibition of houses. The Great Park also incorporates environmental concerns into its design, including undulating bioswales filled with native plants that help to store and filter water runoff. The $65.5 million first phase is expected to be complete this year after a series of athletic fields are finished. AN's West Coast Editor Sam Lubell visited the park last October to check in on its progress and noted the strengths and weaknesses of reclaiming a disused airfield. Future phases of the park could take another 15 to 20 years to complete. While the new location might lack the prestige of the grand allée leading from the U.S. Capitol building, the California site will make the sustainability showcase more accessible to a new audience on the west coast, and it seems safe to bet that the student teams (listed below) should have no problem juicing up their solar cells in sunny SoCal. The following teams have been selected from around the world to compete in Solar Decathlon 2013: · Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico (Tempe, Ariz., and Albuquerque, N.M.) · Czech Technical University (Prague, Czech Republic) · Hampton University and Old Dominion University (Hampton and Norfolk, Va.) · Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.) · Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Mo.) · Norwich University (Northfield, Vt.) · Queens University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College (Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, Calif.) · Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology (Los Angeles, Calif.) · Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.) · Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, N.J.) · The Catholic University of America, George Washington University, and American University (Washington, DC) · The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) · The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College (El Paso, Texas) · University of Calgary (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) · University of Louisville, Ball State University, and University of Kentucky (Louisville, Ky.; Muncie, Ind.; and Lexington, Ky.) · University of Nevada Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nev.) · University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.) · Vienna University of Technology (Vienna, Austria) · West Virginia University (Morgantown, W. Va.)