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Solar Decathlon

September 28, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

at the moment i’m not indending to make this blog public, but rather keep it for myself.  however, i see that people keep visiting it, likely from the ‘newest post’ category on the wordpress dashboard.  so it might make sense to explain what exactly the Solar Decathlon is, since its pretty much the only thing i write about at this point in time.

the Solar Decathlon is an architecture and engineering competition sponsored by the Dept. of Energy and the Nat. Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  this is the second time the competitioni has occurred, the first time being 2002.  UT Austin was also a competitor in that inaugural round, but came in 8th overall.  i’ll explain why in a different post.  anyway, all contestants are charged w/ building a completely solar powered house, max 800 sqft, to be built and operated on the National Mall between the Capitol Bldg and Washington Monument for a period of 3 wks.  the purpose is to show the general public that solar power is a viable and affordable energy source that can be used to power a modern American lifestyle.  in reality, its not quite affordable yet, but prices continue to drop, and hopefully w/ the continued oil wars and hurricanes people will begin to understand that we have to change our lifestyles, or at least energy sources, a bit.

i came to UT architecture b/c it had the most detailed and dedicated Sustainable Design program of the top architecture schools, but also b/c it was a participant in the Solar Decathlon.  the Solar Decathlon participation was probably my tipping point, b/c i would probably have gone to Michigan had they been involved w/ the competition.  kind of funny that Michigan actually did end up becoming a contestant for the 2005 competition…

so i’ve spent essentially the last 2 yrs of my architectural education dedicated in some manor to the Solar Decathlon.  i believe that i’ve been on the 2005 UT team the longest, as i took part in research classes expressly for the purpose of the Solar Decathlon starting 2 summers ago.  the current team really solidified last february or march when courtney and lauren joined me to create the website and logo – the first required submission was a functioning website on april 15, 2004.  not only did we come up w/ a great logo, but we created a comprehensive educational site – way more than any other team.  that’s b/c the continued UT mission is education (2002 and 2005 made these key points of the teams’ mission).  our website contains more info about sustainable design and solar power than it does about the actual house we designed.

anyway, last summer was an intense design session, when we cranked out the SNAP House.  we worked about 24/7 that summe, pushing out designs, energy simulations, and material choices.  those continued through the fall, and finally construction documents were drawn up this past spring.  construction began in april 2005, and continued through this past sunday, at which point we were working 24/7 again.  along the way, we secured over $250,000 in material donations, as well as a nearly $50,000 donation from BP Solar (we won a competition amongst the 18 competing teams for the most architecturally integrated solar panels).  the house is beautiful, and we’re going to rock DC, starting tonight when our trucks roll onto the National Mall for assembly at 12:01am. 

Categories: UT SolarD
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