The Solar Decathlon is a competition to design, build and operate the most effective and attractive house powered solely by the Sun. The solar houses at Crowder were built for the competition which takes place in Washington DC.
“To promote solar energy as a viable alternative, the U.S. Department of Energy along with several building product manufacturers and other groups sponsored the Solar Decathlon, an event that pitted J4 teams of architecture and engineering college students against each other to see which could design and build the most energy-efficient, aesthetically pleasing house powered entirely by solar energy. The students were charged with using existing products and materials, and the houses were limited to S00 square feet.”; - Stephani Miller
“We point out that our solar system costs about the same as a new SUV. That brings home the fact that you can choose to spend your money in ways that better the planet.”
In terms of electricity, the students used a trailer that Crowder students built for the 2002 Decathlon competition—which houses an on-board battery system run off a PV panel—to power their tools during assembly on the National Mall.
For their flooring, trim, and cabinetry, the students are used hardwood from the Pioneer Forest in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. Pioneer is the only forest in the state certified for responsible and renewable forest management by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Articles about the Solar House(s)
The students who participated in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon learned a lot about constructing energy-efficient homes. Here are 10 suggestions the university teams have for everyone involved with building houses.
* Use foam insulation instead of fiberglass. The expanded foam allows you to seal off all the gaps in the house.–University of Missouri-Rolla
* SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) are amazing because of their high R-values and super-tight construction. And they arrive waiting to be pieced together, so you save construction time and there is less waste.–University of Maryland
* Geothermal heat pumps are the most efficient way to heat and cool a house.–University of Virginia
* By using a radiant floor, a solar hot water system heats both the living space and the water for domestic consumption. The payback period is much quicker for solar hot water than for photovoltaics.–University of Maryland
* One of the easiest things is to place windows on the south side of the house. And by adding shades, you almost don’t need an HVAC system. –University of Missouri-Rolla
* It’s crazy how much people spend each year on incandescent lights. Use fluorescents.–University of Virginia
* Adding energy-efficient appliances makes your whole system more efficient.–Texas A&M University
* Choose your appliances and lighting wisely. Lighting and appliances are used on a daily basis, so the savings add up over the life span of the products.–University of Maryland
* Solar electric panels can be beautiful and can be incorporated into any home design.–Auburn University
* Solar panels are great, but without energy efficiency first, they’re not going to help.–Crowder College
SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY