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SCU and CCA students celebrate their 3rd Place finish in the 2009 Solar Decathlon
Two years and an estimated 67,000 student hours spent designing, engineering, and building an 800 sq. ft. solar-powered home culminated in October with a Third Place finish for our team in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon! Accepting the award, student project manager Allison Kopf ’11 said, “We proved to the world today that you don’t have to compromise comfort, style, and convenience to live in a green home.”

For this competition between 20 teams from colleges and universities around the world, Santa Clara University partnered with California College of the Arts to create Refract House which was designed to celebrate California’s love for sunlight and outdoor living while maximizing energy efficiency and sustainable living. Refract House incorporates a number of cutting-edge technologies and building strategies. Open-web bamboo beams which allow ducting, electrical wiring and plumbing to run through while providing structural support for the roof and fully-integrated photovoltaic racking system, were designed to be used as the roof joists. A carbon meter measuring carbon offsets at real-time rates was developed in partnership with SolarTech, thanks to a grant from the California Energy Commission. Student engineers also created a user-friendly control system for energy and water consumption that can be implemented from anywhere in the world via an iPhone. A greywater treatment system, reclaimed water storage pond, and smart irrigation management also contributed to the award-winning home.

Team member Preet Anand ’10 said working on the undergraduate-led Solar Decathlon team was “an amazing experience and great education, from technical engineering to project management... It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given so much responsibility and to have fans that not only believe in your project, but believe in you as people. The students who come out of this project will be future pioneers and leaders in green innovation and policy. The Department of Energy, our sponsors, and our universities, did something amazing in supporting this competition: they made an investment in the future.”

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