A solar house built by students at the University of Missouri-Rolla was the first structure to be certified for occupancy by officials of the Solar Decathlon, a competition that officially takes place Oct. 7-16 in Washington, D.C. A total of eighteen houses are being reconstructed on the National Mall for the event, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and other organizations and corporations.
The UMR house was recently shipped to Washington in two trucks for the competition. The UMR team, which started building its house on campus last January in anticipation of the Solar Decathlon, began reconstructing the dwelling on the National Mall in view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building at midnight on Sept. 29. The UMR students worked around the clock – one crew of students called themselves the “Night Crawlers” – to prepare the house for judging, which begins Friday, Oct. 7.
Teams from colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Spain have entered the 2005 competition. The houses in the Solar Decathlon are being judged in architecture, livability and comfort categories. The houses will also be ranked in power generation categories, including heating and cooling, lighting, and running appliances. Finally, each solar house must also be able to power an electric car.
While some of the houses in the Solar Decathlon’s “solar village” have a very modern look, the UMR house has a traditional design. It has 550 square feet of living space, which includes a living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and closets.
About 50 solar panels line the roof to capture energy as efficiently as possible. The panels heat water and produce electricity.
“The practical energy savings are significant,” says UMR’s project leader Joel Lamson, a graduate student in mechanical engineering from Orange, Calif.
Information about the Solar Decathlon teams and houses is posted at www.diynetwork.com/solar. Those interested may vote for their favorite house, as many times as they want, in the DIYnetwork.com Voters’ Choice Award contest.