Solar Decathlon Blog
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012
For the SCU 2013 Solar Decathlon team, the challenge of building a solar house is testing more than just design and engineering skills. The U.S. Department of Energy’s competition is putting the students in many roles they have never explored.
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012
SCU is proud to be participating in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon for the third time, following 3rd Place finishes in both 2007 and 2009. Meet the new team here.
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009
Read an article for CNN by Preet Anand, SCU '10, about his experience with the Solar Decathlon.
Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
In a nail-biter of a finish, SCU+CCA Team California took 3rd Place in the 2009 Solar Decathlon! It all came down to performance in the engineering and net metering contests. The teams waited nervously as the engineering contest winners were announced. The second place team was commended for their "close collaboration between engineers and architects;" that's when we knew it was us and that we now had a good chance to place in the top three overall.
Richard King, Director of the Solar Decathlon, said they intentionally kept the net metering results a secret to build some drama--and they sure did! But when we heard that the 3rd place team overall had thought "outside the box," our hopes soared and our pulses raced until we heard "Team California" announced!
To come in 3rd Place in this international competition between "20 gems of different hues" is an amazing accomplishment for our students, our faculty, and our institution. With a great whoop, our team yelled out, "Dance party at Refract House!" It was a wonderful sight to see the team laughing and dancing in a joyful display of camaraderie and celebration!
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009
It is cold and rainy in D.C. – not ideal conditions for generating solar power! The team is a little downhearted this morning watching our lead slip as homes with more PV are adding up points at a faster pace under these cloudy conditions. Prof. Tim Hight reports, “Realistically, given the weather conditions, it will be very difficult to maintain our lead, but we will keep fighting. It will be tough to overcome Germany’s advantage in power.” (Germany’s house is covered in PV, so it is able to maximize its capability to capture energy.) But then Dr. Hight adds with a shrug, “Stranger things have happened!” Kadee Mardula, SCU ’11, notes, “Our position all along has been that sustainability and ‘green’ living doesn’t have to involve compromise or sacrifice, so we designed Refract House to be energy efficient, but also beautiful and very livable.” It’s true; walking past all the homes on the National Mall yesterday, the Dean of Engineering Godfrey Mungal and I were blown away with how stunning Refract House is—photos and videos don’t do it justice!
Yesterday, the team spent the day sharing their message with Representatives from Congress Mike Honda, Zoe Lofgren, and Sam Farr (Monterey), and Senators Boxer and Feinstein. While a few of the students and faculty members had a great meeting with Sen. Feinstein, the others rode in a little underground train traveling between the Senate Office Building and the Capitol for a photo with Sen. Boxer in the President’s Room. Years ago, this elegant room was used for signing treaties—it was a privilege to be afforded this rare visit. The team also enjoyed a tour of the Capitol. While waiting for the tour to begin, Preet Anand (SCU ’10) conducted a live radio interview via cell phone—our students are ready at any moment to spread the word! The Capitol tour included a short film about Congress, and I was struck by these words: “Answers in America come from not one voice, but many.” Isn’t that what the Solar Decathlon is all about? Our SCU students and faculty have joined their voices with those from California College of the Arts to form a partnership that has transformed both engineers and architects. As a team, they have joined their voices with those from 19 other colleges and universities gathered in Washington for this competition with the goal of changing how the world views and uses energy. Tomorrow, the final results will be announced and 20 teams will come away winners.
Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009
Yesterday, SCU+CCA Team California took first place in the Communications Contest and remained the overall leader in the Decathlon! Among other accolades, our team was commended for their ability to engage different audiences, for the excellent educational experience they provide, and for their strong (and easily navigable) website. Watch this fun video of the announcement - the team is visibly shocked when their name is called!
So, three contests down, seven to go and the excitement is building as we approach the end of the competition on Friday. Today, the houses are closed to the public as measurements for hot water, comfort zone, appliances, home entertainment and net metering are taken. This gives some of the students a chance to catch their breath, unwind a bit, and rest their voices - welcoming over 3,000 visitors to your home per day is taxing! It won't be too restful, though,as they will meet in the morning with pols on Capitol Hill, spreading the word about sustainability and clean energy.
Monday, Oct. 12, 2009
A nearly hysterical Allison Kopf (student project manager, SCU ’11) called this morning with the tremendous news that the SCU+CCA Team California Refract House had just taken FIRST PLACE IN ARCHITECTURE, and tied for third place in the Market Viability contest!!! Valiantly working to hold her emotions in check, she said, “There are smiles and tears all around!” Prof. Tim Hight, said (understatedly), “It’s pretty happy here.” The excitement built as the team learned the results for market viability and waited to hear the architecture standings. “They made the announcement for architecture and there were two teams tied for third place, then they announced second, and then Team California was named first place. It’s so exciting to see Team California listed in first place for the overall standings!” he said. Congratulations and a big thank you to our partner, California College of the Arts for their stunning design and architectural expertise! Watch video of Team California's architecture win and of our 3rd Place Market Viability announcement.
Now, it’s right back to work. “It’s a cool and cloudy day here in D.C., so we have some decisions to make on where to use our energy,” Hight continued. “Tim Sennott (SCU ’09) will be working the numbers to a fine point, trying to keep our house warm while maximizing efficiency and staying within the comfort zone under these weather conditions.”
Watch Allison Kopf's Opening Ceremonies Address on YouTube.
Monday, Oct. 12, 2009
SCU Provost Lucia Gilbert checked in from D.C., saying the opening ceremony yesterday was very moving and that Allison Kopf (SCU ’11) was "wonderful, of course,” as she addressed the throng of decathletes and visitors. Our “cool factor” went up significantly as Refract House was under heavy security by the Secret Service in preparation for Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s interview for CBS’ 60 Minutes in our living room.
Did you know that apart from being solar-powered and built of sustainable materials, Refract House is also a smarthome? Preet Anand (SCU ’10) explains it beautifully to CNN: “Everything in our house is monitored, from how much hot water is used when taking a shower to how much energy is generated by solar panels. This is tracked in real time, allowing the homeowners to educate themselves about the effects of their actions on resource consumption.” Our engineering students designed an iPhone application so circuits can easily be turned on and off to save energy. Smartphone, smarthome, smart students! Read the full article (including SCU’s own Chuck Barry’s awesome photographs!)
Don't forget to vote for your favorite Solar Decathlon team! Text "HOUSE31" to 99503. Do it today; voting ends SOON! Tell your friends, too!
Have you seen the virtual tour of Refract House? Check it out! Click on +EXPLORE
Keep track of the overall standings here.
Nice photos of Allison at the podium and the team with Secretary Chu.
Friday, Oct. 9, 2009
Working with a group of alums from the 2007 SCU Solar Decathlon Team, SCU engineering students have created a control system that blends different engineering systems in the home into one usable platform for Refract House. Users can easily adjust and monitor lighting, windows, shades, heating and cooling, water use, and entertainment using an application students developed for an iPhone. Read about it in NPR's All Tech Considered.
Friday, Oct. 9, 2009
SCU needs your help in winning the coveted Solar Decathlon People's Choice Award. This award gives you the opportunity to vote for the team house you like best (Team California's!).
Simply text "HOUSE31" to 99503. (One vote per cell phone allowed.) Do it today; voting ends SOON!