By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now
The US Department of Energyâ€™s 2009 Solar Decathlon showcased the best in solar-powered home design as conceived by colleges students. Over 20 teams from across North America and Europe competed in this yearâ€™s competition.
Team Germany came in first place overall with a score of 908.297 out of 1,000. Team Germany also won the last competition in 2007. The teamâ€™s philosophy of “pushing the envelope with as many new technologies as possible” took them straight to the top.
Out of the ten categories, Team Germany’s “SurPLUShome” won Net Metering and scored very highly in the other categories. The team’s two-story home has furniture and appliances that either fold away or can be transformed into something else to serve additional purposes. There are photovoltaic panels on the roof and all sides of the home, even the north side, to produce 200% of the energy required for the house.
The type of solar panels used are less efficient than some, but collect power even on cloudy or rainy days. The aggressive covering of the home with the panels led to the excess energy produced. The panels collected power even on rainy days.
Construction costs for Team Germanyâ€™s home was estimated from $650,000-$850,000.
See a video about the house on You Tube.
The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbanaâ€™s Gable Home came in second with their home that produces up to four times the energy needed. The team focused on performance but “also achieved elegant simplicity in design,” according to the judges.
This home uses 90% less energy than typical construction. Laminated bamboo was
used in construction, which is stronger than wood and more rapidly renewable. This homeâ€™s construction costs are significantly lower with a range of $250,000-$450,000.
Team California, made up of Santa Clara University and the California College of the Arts, finished in third place with its Refract House. This homeâ€™s temperature and lighting can be controlled from anywhere with a simple iPhone application. The judges gave it first place for Architecture and Communications and raved about its aesthetics.
“Beautiful in every respect, Refract House broke out of the box and masterfully executed the melding of interior and exterior spaces,” they reported.
To conserve space, the team equipped the house with built-in furniture. Team Californiaâ€™s construction costs were $450,000-$650,000.
Congratulations to all the Solar Decathlon participants for their efforts to make the future greener.
For details about other winners, see the Solar Decathlon website.
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