Sunday, October 9, 2011

Solar Decathlon 2011

Steve here: Two weeks ago I paid a visit to the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC. with some old friends from studio. You may be asking yourself, "what, pray tell, is the Solar Decathlon?"

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an international competition that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production.

A general view of the festivities:

It took about 6.5 hours to meander through the 20 competing houses, and we discovered a boatload of sustainability tips and tricks along the way. Team New Zealand, for instance, utilized their country's abundant sheep population to increase thermal performance:   

Nearly every house had air-tight wall systems to combat heat loss. Team Tennessee had an envelope 18" thick, packed with condensed newspaper insulation. Its R-value was a whopping 73: 
Exciting R-Values aside, we had a great time at Solar Decathlon and experienced some very interesting architecture (always a plus). 

Team Belgium designed a low-maintenance, no-frills assembly for disaster relief: 
Southern California went Space-Age... 
And Maryland took a cozy, compartmentalized approach (they won the competition):
Solar Decathlon is an annual event so if you're interested, check it out next year! 

More photos: 

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