UMR students are trying to build the perfect solar house

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On August 29, 2007

Students at the University of Missouri-Rolla are getting pretty good at designing and building solar houses. This fall, the UMR Solar House Team will once again enter a house in the US. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a student design competition to be held in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12-20.

More than 100,000 visitors are expected to tour the homes, which will be exhibited on the National Mall. Judges will evaluate the houses in 10 categories. The competition is held approximately every-other year.

UMR previously entered houses in 2002 and 2005. The 2007 entry is being built on a foundation next to the older houses, which are currently occupied by student renters who are among the first tenants in UMR’s Solar Village.

UMR’s 2007 solar house features open spaces and a high-tech design. This is a close-up of house’s modern siding.

In late September, the 2007 house will be removed from its foundation, packed up, and shipped to Washington, where it will be reassembled. All of the houses entered in the Decathlon must be capable of using solar power to generate electricity for light, heat, air conditioning and hot water. Additionally, each of the houses should be able to charge a plug-in electric automobile.

Among the categories that the UMR house will be judged in are architecture, engineering, lighting, energy balance and comfort.

Wrapped for months in a reflective, waterproof cocoon, the new UMR house is now covered by modern gray panels made of completely recycled paper and non-petroleum-based resins. The manufacturer of the siding even uses resin phenols extracted from cashew nuts. While visually striking, this PaperStone Rainscreen siding is also strong enough to be impervious to hail. The siding is mounted several inches away from the walls to help shade the structure during warm months, and the air gaps help the house cool itself naturally.

A thicker version of the PaperStone product will be used inside the compact but comfortable house, serving as the kitchen counter and bathroom sink tops.

UMR is one of 20 collegiate teams selected to receive $100,000 from the DOE to support the construction of new houses for the 2007 Solar Decathlon. More than 30 UMR students have been working on the project for the past year.

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On August 29, 2007. Posted in News