Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy organized the 2015 edition of its Solar Decathlon, challenging 14 groups of students to design, build and operate solar-powered homes that are cost-effective, energy efficient AND attractive. ” The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency”. The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002 and occurs biennially with the 2015 edition being held here in California!
There are 10 Scopes of the Contest that are judged on which include:
- Architecture: ‘A jury of professional architects evaluates architectural elements, holistic design, and inspiration.’
- Market appeal: ‘ A jury of professionals from the homebuilding industry evaluates how well suited each house is for everyday living, if it can be made, and if its affordable for homebuyers in the market.’
- Engineering: ‘A jury of professional engineers evaluates each house for functionality, efficiency, innovation, and reliability.’
- Communications: ‘The Communications Contest awards points to teams based on their success in delivering clear and consistent messages and images that represent the vision, process, and results of each team’s project.’
- Affordability: ‘Encourages teams to design and build affordable houses that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems. A professional estimator will determine the construction cost of each house.’
- Comfort Zone: ‘During the competition, full points are awarded for maintaining narrow temperature and relative humidity ranges inside the houses.
- Hot Water: ‘Teams score points in this contest by successfully completing several daily hot water draws.’
- Appliances: ‘Points are earned for refrigerating and freezing food, washing and drying laundry, and running the dishwasher.’
- Home Entertainment: ‘Can it accommodate the pleasures of living, such as sharing meals with friends and family, watching television, or surfing the Web?’
- Energy Balance: ‘A team receives full points for producing at least as much energy as its house needs.’
The jury may have had a hard time picking a winner based on these scopes as the projects were all incredibly well thought and implemented. Congratulations to the winners and to the team of California Polytechnic State University, San Louis Obispo, which arrived in third position. Who said solar was ugly again?