UMR students to rebuild ultra-modern solar house on National Mall

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On September 26, 2007

Students at the University of Missouri-Rolla are in the process of taking apart a solar house that they’ve spent most of the year building.

This week, the house is being shipped in three big trucks to the East Coast. In Washington, D.C., students on the UMR Solar House Team will have five days to rebuild the house on the National Mall in anticipation of the Solar Decathlon, an international student design competition to be held Oct. 12-20.

The competition is held approximately every-other-year. In 2005, UMR entered a Midwestern-style solar home inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. That home, which placed fifth in overall architectural design, was virtually indistinguishable from a regular house. Even the solar panels on the roof blended in naturally. This year, though, UMR is taking an ultra-modern solar house to Washington.

“It’s a modern organic home defined by sleek lines and open spaces,” says Dr. Stuart Baur, an associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering.

According to Baur, who serves at the UMR team’s advisor, the new house utilizes plenty of environmentally friendly materials.

Gray panels made of completely recycled paper and non-petroleum-based resins – including phenols extracted from cashew nuts – are used for siding. While visually striking, this PaperStone Rainscreen siding is also strong enough to be impervious to hail and should last more than 50 years.

A thicker version of the PaperStone product serves as the kitchen counter and bathroom sink tops. The house’s hardwood floors are made partly from the eucalyptus plant.

Energy from the solar panels on the roof of the new house is converted from DC to AC power, which is used for the lighting, cooling and heating. The lighting and the house’s sound system are run on fully-automated sensors. Solar power is also used to run all of the energy-efficient appliances and to charge a small electric car.

UMR is one of 20 collegiate teams selected to receive $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to support the construction of new houses for the 2007 Solar Decathlon. Representatives from Ameren UE recently visited Rolla and became the latest contributors to the project with a $22,600 donation.

More than 100,000 visitors are expected to tour the Solar Decathlon homes in Washington. Judges will evaluate the 2007 houses in 10 categories. Among the categories are architecture, engineering, lighting, energy balance and comfort.

More than 30 UMR students have been working on the project for the past year. Six of them will be in Washington for the duration of the Solar Decathlon: Travis Brenneke, a sophomore in electrical engineering from Wentzville, Mo.; Jacob Colbert, a junior in electrical engineering and civil engineering from Frankford, Mo.; Samantha Markus, a junior in engineering management from Fenton, Mo.; Michael Pyles, a sophomore in environmental engineering from Kansas City, Mo.; Adam Smith, a sophomore in history from Buffalo, Minn.; and Lucas Sudkamp, a junior in architectural engineering from St. Louis.

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On September 26, 2007. Posted in News