Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Judging the Solar Decathlon

Twenty university teams will open their all-solar home designs up to the public next October demonstrating some exciting possibilities for the next generation of housing - the zero-energy home.

The participants, contestants in the biennial Solar Decathlon, will also open their experimental prototypes up for judging.

Why is the US Department of Energy sponsoring this event?

In their words:

The Solar Decathlon brings attention to one of the biggest challenges we face—an ever-increasing need for energy. As an internationally recognized event, it offers powerful solutions—using energy more efficiently and using energy from renewable sources.

The Solar Decathlon has several goals:

  1. To educate the student participants—the "Decathletes"—about the benefits of energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building technologies. As the next generation of engineers, builders, and communicators, the Decathletes will be able to use this knowledge in their studies and their future careers.

  2. To raise awareness among the general public about renewable energy and energy efficiency, and how solar energy technologies can reduce energy usage.

  3. To help solar energy technologies enter the marketplace faster. This competition encourages the research and development of energy efficiency and energy production technologies.

  4. To foster collaboration among students from different academic disciplines—including engineering and architecture students, who rarely work together until they enter the workplace.

  5. To promote an integrated or "whole building design" approach to new construction. This approach differs from the traditional design/build process because the design team considers the interactions of all building components and systems to create a more comfortable building, save energy, and reduce environmental impact.

  6. To demonstrate to the public the potential of Zero Energy Homes, which produce as much energy from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, as they consume. Even though the home might be connected to a utility grid, it has net zero energy consumption from the utility provider.

The DOE website has a run-down on how the prototypes will be judged - ten categories, of course - and particulars on dates and location of the event.

And check back with the NAV blog every Wednesday for reports on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's entry - BeauSoleil - as they progress from design to construction. Scroll down for past Wednesday updates.

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