Apparently, even with the government’s shades drawn, the sun still rises.
“Despite the government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 competition will continue as planned.”
So read an Oct. 1 press release from the event, which took place Oct. 3-13 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. As the DOE explained, “the Solar Decathlon is funded by a mix of last year's federal funding and at least 30 private-sector sponsors. Student teams from across the country and around the world have worked for two years to design and build their solar-powered, energy-efficient houses and have been working on-site for the past week to prepare for this highly-anticipated event. Federal employee participation is limited to personnel necessary to allow the show to proceed.”
And proceed it did, with 20 teams representing 29 universities and colleges from 14 states and three foreign countries. The event challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses 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 20 teams worked their way through the following 10 competitions:
Market Appeal Contest
Comfort Zone Contest
Hot Water Contest
Home Entertainment Contest
Energy Balance Contest
On Friday, after six of 10 competitions that comprise the biennial decathlon, Stanford University had inched ahead of the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Team Ontario, with judging still to come in the categories of architecture, engineering, communications and energy balance.
That was when European ingenuity (and the packaging of same) came to the fore: Team Austria, from the Vienna University of Technology, took home the gold medal yesterday, followed by UNLV in second and the Czech Republic in third. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte took home the people's choice award, while category winners included Team Ontario for Engineering. Team Austria grabbed first place in Communications, Hot Water and Energy Balance.
In the category of affordability three teams tied for first place by earning the full 100 points for achieving a target construction cost of $250,000 or less. The winners are: Vermont’s Norwich University ($168,385), Stanford University ($234,092), and Kentucky/Indiana from University of Louisville, Ball State University, and University of Kentucky ($248,423).
Team Ontario from Queen’s University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College took second place ($257,584), and Middlebury College (another Vermont entry) won third ($263,083).
In the Market Appeal Contest, the University of Nevada Las Vegas took home first place for its house, DesertSol, which is designed as a luxurious desert vacation retreat for a middle-aged, middle-to-upper-income, active couple.
“The Market Appeal jurors loved the design of this house. The look, the feel, the energy blew us away,” said Susan Aiello, founder and president of Interior Design Solutions and U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 Market Appeal juror. “Of all the houses we saw, we thought that DesertSol best met the needs and desires of its target market. I’d buy it!”
The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; the competition has since occurred biennially in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. This year’s is the first held outside Washington, D.C.
Since its launch 11 years ago, the event has involved 112 collegiate teams and, says the DOE, “affected the lives of nearly 17,000 collegiate participants.”
It’s also expanded to currently include 65 participating teams and nearly 10,000 students in three competitions around the world, including Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 and Solar Decathlon China 2013.
Here are the teams who competed last week in sunny Southern California. The links take you to in-depth explorations of each team’s designs, concepts and practices:
Arizona State University and The University of New Mexico
Czech Republic: Czech Technical University
Kentucky/Indiana: University of Louisville, Ball State University and University of Kentucky
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Santa Clara University
Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology
Team Alberta: University of Calgary
Team Austria: Vienna University of Technology
Team Capitol DC: The Catholic University of America, George Washington University, and American University
Team Ontario: Queen's University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College
Team Texas: The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College
Tidewater Virginia: Hampton University and Old Dominion University
University of Nevada Las Vegas
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of Southern California
West Virginia University.
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 uses a small power grid, or microgrid, to distribute energy safely and reliably among the competition houses and to the utility grid. By the end of the competition, the houses collectively had produced 6,208 kilowatt-hours (kWh) since the competition began on Oct. 3, and the village had used only 4,159 kWh.