Posts tagged with "Solar Decathlon":

Placeholder Alt Text

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.)
Placeholder Alt Text

SCI-Arc's CHIP House Takes A Bow In LA

After winning one of the top prizes at the Solar Decathlon competition, SCI-Arc and Caltech's CHIP House is returning to Los Angeles for a victory lap. The unique net zero structure—with quilted, vinyl-covered polyester insulation stretched around its angled exterior—will be open to the public at the California Science Center in LA's Exposition Park starting on Tuesday. It will stay there through the end of May. CHIP House took home first prize in the Decathlon's energy balance category. Its 45 solar panels generate three times more electricity than the home uses, powering, among other things, an Xbox Kinect system that has been turned into a master command center, allowing residents to control lights and appliances through hand gestures. The house took more than 100 students and $1 million to complete. Tours will be available weekdays from 10am to 1:30pm, and weekends from 10am to 4pm.
Placeholder Alt Text

University of Maryland Wins 2011 Solar Decathlon

On October 1st, the U.S. Department of Energy unveiled the winner of the 2011 Solar Decathlon at West Potomac Park in Washington D.C., bringing together innovative solar-powered prototype residences designed and built by international student teams from universities and colleges. This year's champion, the University of Maryland's WaterShed house, excelled in a variety of then ten metrics used to judge the houses including affordability, energy balance, hot water, and engineering. The WaterShed house included living features such as a waterfall providing humidity control, an edible green wall for year-round produce, and artificial-filtration wetlands. The University of Maryland also won the architecture contest outright. Appalachian State won the 2011 Solar Decathlon People's Choice Awards for their net-zero energy Solar Homestead. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu lauded this year’s designs as imaginative, practical, and inspiring. "The houses on display blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. These talented students are demonstrating to consumers the wide range of energy-saving solutions that are available today to save them money on their energy bills," he said. Purdue University's InHome, taking second prize, incorporated an air-to-air heat pump; Empowerhouse by Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology relied on a green roof and an energy recovery ventilation system while Middlebury College’s Self-Reliance house rethought the New England farmhouse through technology such as stack effect ventilation and triple-paned windows. New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington’s First Light home recycled sheep wool for insulation and included a clothes-drying cupboard and used solar-powered hot water.
Placeholder Alt Text

No Surprise! Solar Decathlon Empowerhouse Wins Affordability Prize

The affordability winner of this year’s Solar Decathalon in Washington D.C. is the one that is the most socially conscious, the one that already has a real-life site, and the one cheapest to build: Empowerhouse by a team from Parsons The New School for Design, Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Many other awards are to come including the overall Solar Decathlon winner but achieving lowest cost—Empowerhouse cost $229,890—was especially important this year as, in the past, the best of show has gone routinely to the always costly German entry whose previous winning entry carried a price tag of $600,000 which caused a bit of an uproar. Germany was not among the 19 student teams this year. Empowerhouse cost $229,890 to build with an assist from Habitat for Humanity and the DC Department of Housing. Lest the cards seemed stacked totally in their favor, they tied with Purdue University whose team is currently in first place as the overall winner with a compact and efficient production home aimed at the wannabe-enlightened average homeowner. “These 2011 teams have shown that solar houses can be affordable while still being innovative,” said Affordability Contest juror Matt Hansen in a press release. “[Empowerhouse] truly exemplified the can-do attitude. The house is based on the affordability needs of the team’s target market in an urban context: low initial costs, low maintenance costs, and low utility costs.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Voting open for the Solar Decathlon People's Choice Awards

Collegiate teams around the globe have been challenged by the U.S. Department of Energy  to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that aim at sustainability. The Solar Decathlon's winning team will be one that understands the importance of the Solar Decathlon competition by designing a home through the lens of affordability, design appeal and solar accumulation for energy efficiency. As the contestants set up their designs on West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., you can take a look at the innovative entries at the Solar Decathalon and cast your vote in the People's Choice Awards. Voting ends September 30th at 7pm EST and you can cast one vote per email address. As of this publishing, Team New York was in the lead, followed by Appalachian State and Team China. If you're near D.C., be sure to check out the houses in person through October 2.
Placeholder Alt Text

Solar Decathlon Booted From the National Mall?

The U.S. Department of Energy, sponsor of the prestigious Solar Decathlon — devised to encourage ideas for a more cost-effective, energy-efficient solar house— has announced mid way through this year's student design competition that they will be abandoning post on the National Mall, where the previous four events have been held since 2002. 20 teams totaling more than 1,000 students have been developing their site-specific entries for over a year, and the news comes as a huge disappointment, and inconvenience. Some have threatened to drop out. Others are working to reverse the decision before a new site is named. The DOE said in a release that it's working with the National Parks Service to protect the mall, where prototype green houses were to be designed and built by university students. From the Solar Decathlon:
In support of the historic effort underway to protect, improve, and restore the National Mall, the Department of Energy, in conjunction with the National Park Service, has decided to seek a new site for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011.
And much to the chagrin of students, who have already substantially designed their buildings,the DOE hasn't yet named an alternative site. Students will soon be finalizing construction documents and building their houses for a fall exhibition, wherever that might be. One distraught student has created a petition to President Obama to reinstate the National Mall as this year's venue and over three thousand signatures have already been collected:
With only eight months remaining until the competition, we will face an insurmountable challenge to alter the designs, already in advanced stages, for installation in an as-yet unknown location. In addition, the considerable effort made to source materials and equipment for our solar-powered homes from local manufacturers and, in some cases, to engage the D.C. community in the afterlife of the structures may be for naught.
There's also a Facebook page dedicated to keeping the Decathlon on the Mall, including email addresses for Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "We've been working on this project for over a year and a half," Reed Finlay, Project Manager of SCI-Arc and Caltech's entry, told AN's Sam Lubell. Their project, CHIP 2011, which includes a snug wrapping of vinyl over cellulose insulation, canted rooftop PV panels, and a sloping cantilever (previously) meant to highlight a view of the Washington Monument,  has involved  60 students and over $100,000 in donations. "The Mall gives exposure and credibility to what we're doing... They don't know who they're messing with," he added. "I think they'll be surprised with the backlash."
Placeholder Alt Text

Hangar Selected for Intrepid

December 7, 2010, a day that will live in memory, as opposed to infamy, for winners from New York Institute of Technology’s (NYIT) Student Design Competition held at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Students were charged with creating a sustainable airplane hangar on the deck of the floating museum for under $1 million. Chosen among the six finalists, Team Alphabet Soup walked away with the $3,000 prize by incorporating renewable energy into the design and developing a educational environment for museum visitors. After several years of participating in the Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the school decided to take that interdisciplinary model on the road, or river, as the case may be. The Intrepid currently maintains and restores their collection of 30 aircrafts inside a white plastic tent on deck. A former NYIT alumnus who works for the museum lobbied for the school’s participation in a redesign. As an extracurricular activity, the contest supplemented student coursework with the faculty acting as coaches. “The students got a taste of what a real jury looks like. That was real pragmatic,” said Associate Dean Frank Mruk of a stone-faced jury made up of museum and school officials. “The judges were the real world experience,” agreed the winning team leader Luke Ferland. “But we were up for it. They were really engaged with the structure.” The winning concept riffs on the ship’s history with five descending tiers of the structure representing the five kamikaze attacks that the ship sustained during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The hangar rises toward the superstructure of the ship leaving a 28-foot gap between itself and the command control tower. Catwalks and deck side windows furnish visitors with a glimpse of the restoration process.  A multipurpose interior space allows for rental income and provides an enviable perch from which to view Fourth of July fireworks. The matte gray structure provides 130% renewable energy through wind turbines and solar panels. “We’re kind of using the ship as a grid,” said Ferland. “We gave the ship the ability to siphon off the extra energy.” The winning design will become the basis for senior level design classes in engineering, computing sciences and architecture. Ultimately, students will finalized the design with Ted Moudis Associates, sponsors of the competition. Mruk said he expects the museum to start building the new hanger by late next year. He added that the ultimate reward for students remains in the effort. Participant Colin Joyce agreed: “I haven’t slept in five days. No joke.”
Placeholder Alt Text

California Photovoltaism

A band of students from SCI-Arc and Caltech have been selected to compete in the DOE's Solar Decathlon, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 2011. The team will go head to head with 20 other student groups from all over the world—including Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zeland—to determine once and for all, or at least for the next two years, who can build the most livable and sustainable sun-powered residence of 500 square feet or less. SCI-ARC/Caltech will spend the next year and a half completing design and construction on their entry, which, at least in its conceptual stage, they have dubbed CH:IP/Compact House: Increasing Possibility. An exhibition of the proposal is now on display at SCI-Arc, and will be shown at Caltech on Earth Day, April 22. The team will also have a booth at the ArtBuild Expo on May 7-8 in Santa Monica. Go, see, and you may have a chance to meet AN intern Elizabeth Neigert, who is a member of the team from SCI-Arc.
Placeholder Alt Text

lumenHAUS on Broadway

If you can't make it to the Hafele showroom tonight for the presentation on lumenHAUS—Virginia Tech's entry to the 2009 DOE Solar Decathlon—don't worry about it. AN was in Times Square last night to get the inside skinny on the solar-powered wonder house. In a quest to reconcile contemporary goals of sustainability with modern architecture, the VT team went beyond solar arrays. They began by studying the Farnsworth House and looking for ways to increase its insulation while maintaining its connection to its surroundings. That inquiry led to the design of a steel-framed glass box outfitted with two layers of sliding panels. The inner panel is made up of two layers of polyethylene filled with expanded silica gel—a highly insulating material that is lighter than air and translucent. The outer panel is a stainless steel sun and severe weather screen outfitted with perforations to allow some light through. Together with the glass wall these layers deliver an awesome insulation value of R24. LumenHAUS is outfitted with sensors that will adjust the panels to optimize energy usage in the house. At any time, of course, residents can override the system not only from a central control panel and manual switches, but also remotely through an iphone application. The house opens to two decks, one on the north and one on the south, increasing the potential living area during clement weather. Inside, the tiny 600-square-foot layout was planned with space conservation in mind. Various items of furniture move and transform to serve a variety of functions: A high shelf pulls away to reveal the kitchen counter while itself becoming a side table for the dining area. The bedroom's closets slide aside to reveal the TV and close off that portion of the home for privacy. The lumenHAUS is intended to be a prefabricated living system and modular, so that you can add other pieces on and stack them in a variety of configurations. The house also becomes its own transportation device. Diagonal steel members can be added to the frame making the building a truss, then a wheel assembly pins to a steel member at the rear of the house, and at the front a similar attachment is made to interface with a big rig. Within a matter of minutes the house can be outfitted to move. When it arrives at it site it is lowered onto eight concrete piers, making a minimal impact upon the earth.
Placeholder Alt Text

The Sun In Times Square

If you didn't have a chance to make it down to D.C. for the 2009 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, now is your chance to make up for it. Starting today and running through Sunday, Virginia Tech's entry will be on display in Times Square. Known as lumenHAUS, the 800-square-foot single family home is replete with high tech features such as an iPhone interface, smart controls that automatically adjust climate systems, and of course solar power. If any of this peaks your interest, professors from the Virginia Tech School of Art + Design will be giving a presentation tomorrow night from 6:00 to 7:30 at the Hafele showroom, 25 East 26th St.
Placeholder Alt Text

Decathletes, Start Your Solar Panels

Yesterday was press day at the 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. The student teams were still scrambling to finish up their installations when Team Archpaper arrived on the scene, but we still managed to talk our way into a hand full of the 20 solar houses that will go head-to-head in open competition. As in past years, the students will be go about the work of every day living—doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking—and will be judged based upon the energy efficiency, as well as architecture, engineering, comfort, and marketability of their houses. While each of the entries evoked aspects of their respective regions, they fell to either side of a line that ran between off-the-shelf affordability and high-tech über-design. Rice University's Zerow House shot for bottom-budget affordability. The school has teamed with Project Row Houses, a non-profit that fixes up shotgun shacks in Houston, Texas' 3rd Ward. The Zerow House will wind up there after the decathlon, where it will become the home of a low-income family. The team used off-the-shelf furniture from Ikea and The Container Store and all of the construction materials were selected to be widely available and easy to install by contractors. The house offered a great deal of privacy on the interior as most of the envelope is solid corrugated iron, but a light well let in plenty of daylight. A 4.2 KW solar array on the roof was paired with a solar hot water array. Cornell University's Silo House went further than any entry in subverting the elongated box aesthetic. Three distinct circular volumes of CorTen corrugated steel (the silos) wrap a deck that maximizes livable space. This entry went took opposite rout of Rice's, as almost every aspect of the project, from the dish rack to the floating bed, was custom designed. The solar array, which shaded the house on a tube steel structure, is capable of generating 8 KW, more electricity that the house is expected to use. 2007 winners Team Germany (Technishe Universität Darmstadt) turned in what will probably be judged the most technically advanced project, which comes as no huge surprise. The team combined standard polycrystaline solar arrays on the roof with building-integrated thin film solar panels that make up the exterior walls. This glassy black box is interspersed by panels treated with acrylics to add a bit of color. All of the windows were either outfitted with integrated shading systems or exterior louvers. Inside, the house is a single voluminous room with a lofted sleeping area that covers the bathroom. Team California (Santa Clara University, California College of the Arts) brings the outside in by breaking its volume into three boxes that wrap a central courtyard. In addition to the solar array, the roof captures rainwater, which feeds a garden and a pond. The decathlon also features entries from Iowa State University, Penn State University, Virginia Tech, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Team Boston (Boston Architecture College, Tufts University), Team Ontario/BC (University of Waterloo, Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University), The Ohio State University, The University of Arizona, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Minnesota, University of Kentucky, Team Missouri (Missouri University of Science & Technology, University of Missouri), and Team Alberta (University of Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic, Alberta College of Art + Design, Mount Royal College).