Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) November 05, 2009 -- Chosen from around the world, university teams are flat out constructing sustainable houses in the solar village, for an entry into this yearâs U.S. Department of Energyâs Solar Decathlon Competition.
Twenty teams were voted to go to the National Mall, Washington, D.C. to compete against each other in designing, building and operating the most attractive and best solar-powered, energy-efficient house.
The houses are judged on points ranging from architecture, lighting design to comfort zone. The public are invited to visit and see the most powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency and the best in home design.
The competition consists of three major phases. Designing and constructing the house, using innovative, high-tech elements in ingenious ways. The students have to raise the funds and work with the contractors. This phase is where the team is either made or broken.
The teams then transport their solar homes to the National Mall in Washington and have to rebuild them on site, then the homes are then opened for public inspection.
The Solar Decathlon is designed to be a learning curve for the students in green building technologies. It also raises the public awareness of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Decathlon assists energy technologies to reach the marketplace faster through the research and development required for the competition.
The Decathlon also impresses both engineering and architecture students to form a working relationship, as they promote an integrated 'whole building design' to the project.
The ultimate ambition is to produce a zero-energy house for the home owner. Cornell University team of 150 members, is entering the competition for the third time. Their solo house is a 'modular structure' with three interconnecting cylindrical rooms'. Each room measuring 16 feet in diameter, with about 130 square feet of space.
This silo house is expected to generate more energy than it uses, or at least be a net-zero energy building. Construction costs are expected to be between $450,000 - $600,000.
Germany took home the prize in 2007. The German team is very small with only 24 members, many from the Technische Universitat Darmstadt (architecture students). Their two-storey cube shaped house, completely covered by solar panels, is expected to generate 200% of the energy required by the house. Construction costs around $650,000-$850,000.
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