Solar Decathlon Analysis

  • Precedents in Zero-Energy Design (cover)
  • Univ. of Maryland - drawings
  • Univ. of Maryland - diagrams
  • Univ. of Maryland - diagrams
  • Texas A&M - drawings
  • Texas A&M - diagrams
  • Texas A&M - diagrams
  • interactive matrix
Project Brief: Create a document that analyzes and compares the design and performance of the 2007 Solar Decathlon houses.
Team: Erin Connelly, Zhu Dan, Mark Dorsey, Dave Flemming, Dave O'Connell, Jordan Parrott, Carl Sterner, Kelley Romoser, Gregory Tallos, Robbie Zerhusen, and Michael Zaretsky (instructor).
Publication: Precedents in Zero-Energy Design: A Graphic Analysis of the 2007 Solar Decathlon Houses (Routledge, 2009).

An in-depth analysis of the twenty houses that competed in the 2007 Solar Decathlon.

The Solar Decathlon is an international competition in which twenty universities from around the world design and construct an 800 square foot self-sustaining house that is built off-site and then transported to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The twenty houses are judged in ten different competitions over the period of one week in early October. Despite strict guidelines, each team developed a unique response. The intent of this study was to assess and compare these twenty solutions to the same problem.

This analysis was completed for a graduate seminar at the University of Cincinnati under the instruction of Michael Zaretsky. Each of ten students diagramed and assessed two of the twenty houses, looking at both design and performance characteristics (including energy analysis). I was responsible for analyzing the houses built by the University of Maryland and Texas A&M University. Finally, the team developed hypotheses regarding the effects of various design decisions — for example, that there is a correlation between heat loss and the ranking in the Comfort Zone contest (true). As part of this investigation, I assembled a matrix of rankings, data, and diagrams that could be used to quickly generate and test hypotheses (see final image, above).

The resulting analysis was published (with modifications) in Precedents in Zero-Energy Design: A Graphic Analysis of the 2007 Solar Decathlon Houses (Routledge, 2009). The publication includes my analysis of the Maryland and Texas A&M houses.

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