Solar Decathlon Blog
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!
Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009
After two years of planning, designing, engineering, and building, our SCU+CCA Team California is ready to welcome the world through the doors of Refract House on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.! Student Project Manager Allison Kopf (SCU ’11) has the honor of joining Energy Secretary Steven Chu to address the crowd at the Opening Ceremonies. And, as if that were not enough, SCU and CCA students were thrilled to learn that CBS will be interviewing Secretary Chu for its news program 60 Minutes (which boasts more than 9 million viewers!) in OUR SOLAR HOUSE this morning! We will post the air date and more information soon. Our student team is making us proud—working around the clock on getting the house ready for competition and visitors, talking with media, and preparing for the blitz that is the Solar Decathlon. Watch Allison's speech on YouTube.
Sure to be a topic of buzz on the National Mall, one of the innovations being introduced in our 2009 entry is a carbon meter. Thanks to a grant from the California Energy Commission, Santa Clara University has been working with SolarTech (a PV industry consortium) to develop this concept. Over the past year, it has been developed and tested on SCU's campus on our 2007 Solar Decathlon entry, Ripple House. With great results being achieved, students were excited to install the meter on Refract House to measure carbon offsets at real-time rates. In the future, it is expected this type of monitoring will allow homeowners to be compensated for saving energy while contributing to the health of the planet, enabling a potential economy of carbon cap and trade.
Watch this fun video from The Washington Post showing our SCU and California flags waving, and our student, Preet Anand (SCU ’10) getting the last word! More on our team in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. A great photo of our team with Secretary Chu here: cnet news and an interview with NPR.
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009
Refract House is up and running on the grid! The PV panels are generating power, the controls and monitoring interface is up (read about this in Kadee's blog entry), landscaping is taking shape, and with all the big jobs done, the students are working excitedly to finish up the final touches to be ready for the public tomorrow. In addition to working against the clock to finish work on the house, team members are also responding to a constant flow of requests for interviews with the media--just an average day for a Solar Decathlete! Support and good wishes are rolling in as well from Santa Clara City Hall, the California Hydrogen Business Council, and Team California's many wonderful sponsors. We are pumped and ready to go! Read Richard King's Daily Journal.
Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009
Refract House made history yesterday as it was "the first Solar Decathlon house ever to be connected with a microgrid." Richard King, Solar Decathlon Director, writes all about it in his daily journal on the official Website for the Solar Decathlon. He also notes, "Inspection Officer Tom Meyers believes the work being done by the student teams is about 10 years ahead of what is used by today's architects, engineers, and contractors," and lists as an example SCU's own bamboo structural rafters and I-joists that feature an open-web design to ease construction. Similar to the bamboo I-beams developed for SCU's 2007 entry, these trestle-shaped beams have been altered to allow ducting, electrical wiring, and plumbing to run through while maintaining structural support for the roof. Read more.
Friday, Oct. 2, 2009
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009
Reassembly began at 12:01 a.m. today. Students have been working non-stop, and all three modules of the house are on the mall and together. So far, things are going well! Read the DOE account of move-in.