September 2013

Innovation finds a home in Santa Clara University’s Radiant House

SANTA CLARA, Calif.,  Sept. 4, 2013-- Five miles from home, and you start to worry: Did I leave the bathroom light on? Did I forget to close the patio window? Such uneasiness might result in a hasty U-turn but there’s no need for that, says a group of Santa Clara University students, because peace of mind is only a smartphone away.

A team of SCU engineering students is designing a mobile application that – among other tricks – allows a homeowner to remotely shut off lights and close windows. It’s tied to an intuitive control system receiving input from sensors located throughout a house that relies solely on the sun for all of its energy. Radiant House is SCU’s newest entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, an international competition for 20 selected college teams. This year, participants from Arizona to Austria will face the challenge of designing, building and operating the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered house.

After spending two years creating their buildings, the students will disassemble them and truck them to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., where they’ll be reassembled, displayed and judged from Oct. 3 through Oct. 13.

This is the third time that teams from SCU have competed in the Solar Decathlon. In both previous years, their house entries received impressive third-place awards, besting larger technical colleges and top-ranked universities from around the world.

“In 2007 the team focus was on engineering, in 2009, it was on design; this year, we’re shooting for the best of both worlds,” explained Jake Gallau, the student project manager for Radiant House. “Our solar house will be about 20 percent bigger than the last one and will be built for about two-thirds of the cost.” The frugal $340,000 construction budget will garner high marks from decathlon judges, who assign points in 10 competitive categories.

Beyond affordability, Radiant House has other attributes that set it apart from its predecessors, according to Gallau. He cited a number of advanced technological features throughout the structure, right up to the rooftop.

“In designing this year’s house, we made a conscious decision to innovate,” he explained. “We looked at technology that we liked and tried to find ways to improve it to meet our needs. We didn’t want to just use existing bells and whistles; our goal was to build a modern home that people would actually want to live in.”

Video on Radiant House Design:

Radiant House Fine Points
●    964-square-foot house featuring an open, modern design for sustainable California lifestyle
●    Debut of new SunPlanter solar panel racking system that reduces cost and materials by integrating the roof structure into the solar panel racking system.
●    Bamboo infrastructure pioneered by SCU engineering that could mean a more sustainable future for construction.
●    Native, drought-resistant landscaping surrounding the house
●    Sustainably sourced furnishings and unique, repurposed fixtures
●    House’s entire center module can be opened to the outside by pressing a button, increasing living and entertainment space
●    User-friendly control system with simple, large icons provides feedback on home energy use and suggestions for saving energy
●    Design also includes an electric vehicle charging station– in which a new, all-electric Nissan Leaf will be parked during the competition
●    SCU team promotes solar energy education in dozens of elementary school classrooms by using Google+ Hangout to show youngsters how Radiant House is taking shape
Contact: Marika E. Krause I SCU Media Relations I I 408-829-4836

Sustainability, Technology
Silicon Valley Engineering,sustainable energy,solar,Solar Decathlon,Solar Decathlon 2013,solar panels,SiliconValley,Radiant House