Solar Decathlon Winner 2007
Just like the well-known Olympic decathlon, the Solar Decathlon consists of 10 contests. It challenges 20 college and university teams to compete on all of the ways in which we use energy in our daily lives—at work, at home, and at play.
The competing teams must design and build energy-efficient homes that are powered exclusively by the sun. The homes must be attractive and easy to live in. They must maintain a comfortable temperature, provide attractive and adequate lighting, power household appliances for cooking and cleaning, power home electronics, and provide hot water. These houses must also power an electric vehicle to meet household transportation needs.
The Solar Decathlon consists of three major phases:
- Building: This is where most of the work—and the learning—happens. In addition to designing houses that use innovative, high-tech elements in ingenious ways, students have to raise funds, communicate team activities, collect supplies, and work with contractors. Although the Solar Decathlon competition receives the most attention, it’s the hard work that students put in during the building phase that makes or breaks a team.
- Moving to the Solar Village: When it’s time for the Solar Decathlon, the teams transport their houses to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and rebuild them on site.
- Competing: During the competition itself, the teams receive points for their performance in 10 contests and open their homes to the public.
The 10 Solar Decathlon Contests are:
* Architecture—200 points
* Engineering—150 points
* Market Viability—150 points
* Communications—100 points
* Comfort Zone—100 points
* Appliances—100 points
* Hot Water—100 points
* Lighting—100 points
* Energy Balance—100 points
* Getting Around—100 points
The third-ever Solar Decathlon took place from October 12 – 20 2007 at Washington D.C.’s National Mall. The Solar Decathlon was established in 2002, with the purpose of educating a new generation of students about the possibilities of energy-efficient design and also as a vehicle for educating the public about renewable energy and energy efficient homes. Twenty US and international university teams took part in the competition.
The various universities spend two years developing their designs and ideas, and also undertake the fundraising and technical research needed to build an energy-efficient home. The houses are essentially pre-fab units, built off-site first and then transported to Washington D.C. and reassembled on-site at the Mall.
The winning team 2007 was the Technische Universität Darmstadt (TUD) from Germany. The home focused on the concept of passive energy and was designed essentially as a box with three layers- an outer layer of oak, louvered screens that generate electricity with photovoltaic energy, a middle layer consisting of energy efficient walls and windows, and an interior core that houses the kitchen, bathroom and the majority of the building systems. Besides the outer skin of screens that allow you as much or as little privacy and light as you wish. Furthermore, there are multi-functional spaces, and TUD’s innovative use of the floor which can be opened up to reveal a sleeping area.
Statement from the winning team 2007:
‘Team Germany´s winning project in 2007 has generated a high visibility for Solar Decathlon in Germany. This lead to a new promotion project for plus energy homes initialized by the German government on the basis of the 2007 project as well as to a widespread attendance from German teams in the Solar Decathlon Europe.
We are proud to be part of this movement and hope that we are able to contribute to the goal of environmentally sound building design in the future as well.’
Raised Floor Platform System
The Darmstadt House design is based on a platform system which allows for customization and quick assembly, all made in Germany using German technologies and materials like local German oak. The student team began with an automotive-inspired and uber-German concept: In the 1990’s Volkswagen created the platform system for cars, and the student designers wanted to use the same concept of prefabrication and platform design to design an applicable and flexible system. The home’s platform system consists of a space for the building technologies, large spaces, and strategically-arranged interiors for floor integration and flexibility.
The main structure of our house consists of three modules. The construction of each module, from bottom to top, is a platform, living area and roof. The platform is composed of a top layer and a bottom layer, between those two layers is room for technical installations, storage and integrated furniture. This platform system allows for innovative furniture and storage solutions which are embedded in the floor. Like something resembling a burrow — the bed, couches and all storage are folded into the floor, saving space in a unique and cozy way.
Passive + Active Solar Design
Instead of focusing on the production of massive amounts of energy, the home focuses on keeping cool with passive solar design, meaning it demands a minimum amount of energy to function normally. To achieve this, the building’s shell became a central design component- the outer layer consists of oak louvered frames which, same as the roof, are equipped with photovoltaic panels. This layer both generates electricity and also provides protection from the heat of the sun.
One of the most unique features of the Technische Universität Darmstadt’s home is their flat roof. While most homes at the Solar Decathlon utilize a pitched roof to maximize the efficiency of the photovoltaics, this home’s highly-insulated flat roof consists of multiple layers that yield insulation 10 times better in comparison to an equal thickness layer of polysterole insulation.
Solar Decathlon 2007 Final Results:
Second Place: University of Maryland
‘At the beginning of the week, people wondered if the Maryland team would have a home-field advantage because they are so close to Washington, D.C. As the week progressed, and Maryland won the Communications contest and was second in Architecture, Market Viability, and Lighting, it became clear that Maryland didn’t need any advantage. The Communications Jury praised their excellent Web site and house tour. The Architecture Jury said the house definitely belonged in the top tier. The Lighting and Market Viability juries also had high praise. They were one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Energy Balance contest.
Third Place: Santa Clara University
Thw team from Santa Clara wanted to build a sustainable solar house that is functional, elegant, and innovative—and they did just that. The Communications Jury lauded their friendly, enthusiastic house tour, which was informative, entertaining, and very much “on target” for public audiences. They were one of five teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Hot Water contest and one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Energy Balance contest. Their house almost didn’t make it to the Solar Decathlon, because their transport truck broke an axle and delayed them by three days.’
Read the complete press release about the winning project: www.energy.gov.