Moving across the country can be a trying experience. Moving a house across country is even harder. A group of students at Missouri University of Science and Technology has spent the past two years building a solar-powered house and next week they will divide it into three parts and move it to California to compete in an international building competition.
The Missouri S&T Solar House team will showcase its latest house at the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Irvine, Calif. The team is expected to begin reassembling its house on Sept. 23 at Orange County Great Park. Judging takes place Oct. 3-13, with the house on display to the public during that time. After the competition, teams will disassemble the houses and transport them back to their respective schools. This is the fifth year the S&T team has competed in the solar decathlon.
Twenty universities, including Missouri S&T, were chosen for the competition. The S&T Solar House team is the only competitor from Missouri and one of only two competitors from the Midwest. Universities from Canada, the Czech Republic and Austria will also participate. This year, S&T’s team has approximately 60 members, though only 20 of them will travel to the competition.
Dubbed the Chameleon House for its ability to adapt to its environment, S&T’s solar house uses a home automation system, which serves as the “brains” of the house. It determines the optimum time to perform tasks such as opening the windows or running the dishwasher. The automation system combined with highly engineered photovoltaic and solar thermal systems allows for an advanced level of control over the house’s modular living space.
“For the Chameleon House, adaptability is the core concept,” says Heath Pickerill, director of the Missouri Local Technical Assistance Program in academic affairs at S&T and lead advisor to the solar house team. “The house really makes it easier for the resident to be green with minimal effort.”
The house will be judged by a panel of experts on 10 different categories during the competition. The categories range from simple comforts like hot water and working appliances to architecture and marketability. Each category is worth 100 points, with a total of 1,000 points available. The team with the highest cumulative score will win the competition.
This year’s team leader is Christopher Bowe, a senior in civil engineering from Rolla. Bowe recently replaced former leader Emily Vandivert, who graduated in May. Vandivert postponed the starting date with her new employer to travel with the team. In addition to Pickerill, other staff advisors include Bob Phelan, outreach manager in the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center at S&T, and Tony Arnold, assistant director for the office of sustainable energy and environmental engagement.
Faculty advisors include Dr. Stuart Baur, assistant chair of architectural engineering and associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, and Dr. Jonathan Kimball, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Ted Ruth, director of the design construction management team at S&T, and his staff assisted the solar house team with completing house construction on schedule.
To learn more about S&T’s Chameleon House, visit solarhouse.mst.edu. For more information about the upcoming competition, visit solardecathlon.gov.