Solar Decathlon 2007

  • exterior view
  • repurposed cladding
  • bedroom
  • living space
  • railing detail
  • evacuated tubes - night
  • garden
  • evacuated tube array
  • parti diagram
  • floor plan
  • assembly diagram
  • assembly 1
  • assembly 2
  • assembly 3
  • assembly 4
  • solar village at dusk
Project Brief: Twenty universities design and build solar-powered houses and compete against once another on the National Mall.
Concept: University of Cincinnati's [re]form house features an open plan, modular design, and a striking array of evacuated tubes that meets all of its thermal energy needs.
Team: Cincinnati's team included numerous architecture, engineering, and design students. My role is described further below.
Awards: Cincinnati's house placed 15th overall, and tied for 1st place in the Energy Balance competition.

A modular net-zero energy solar house that seamlessly integrates technology and design.

The Solar Decathlon is a bi-annual competition created by the Department of Energy (DOE) in which twenty universities are selected to design and build an 800 square foot off-the-grid solar powered house. These houses are transported to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where they compete in ten competitions and are open to the public for the course of a week. The University of Cincinnati participated in the 2007 Solar Decathlon, creating a house whose entire thermal load (heating and cooling) was met by solar thermal technology. An interdisciplinary team of students, including architects, engineers, and industrial designers, designed and built the house over the span of two years.

My role on UC's team was four-fold and spanned three years: (1) I co-authored the initial proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy, which included a $100,000 grant; (2) I participated in the design and construction of the house; (3) I worked extensively on the exhibit design; and (4) I was part of the team that competed on the National Mall, including assembling the house, giving public tours, and hosting a dinner for another team.

The Solar Decathlon was a phenomenal experience. Not only does it draw the public's attention to the potential of renewable energy, but (perhaps more importantly), it gives design and engineering students the skills and abilities — including the critical ability to work collaboratively — necessary to build a more sustainable world.

For more on the concept and technical systems in the house, see the "exhibit design" project, here.

copyright © 2013 by carl s. sterner, unless otherwise noted. more...