In the coming two weeks, the Department of Energy is hosting the Solar Decathlon competition in Orange County Great Park, California. Teams from all over the world, gather to show their creative solar-powered housing designs, which should be affordable, attractive, comfortable, and produce enough or more energy to power all household appliances, heating and hot water.
Solar Decathlon consists of 10 contests with different themes, which will be judged in order to evaluate the performance of the green houses, bringing points to the teams. The contests include architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort, hot water supply, appliances, entertainment and energy balance.
Out of the 20 teams that will compete against each other between the 3rd and 13th of October, the guys from Santa Clara University attracted our particular attention. Under the roof of the so-called “Radiant House”, the ambitious designers show how raw bamboo can be put into various uses from serving as a base material in structural walls to being incorporated into joist systems.
The team presents a way to make sustainable living affordable, comfortable and easily accessible. The roof is covered by solar panels, clerestory windows control the light and air circulation, and there is a charging station for electric vehicles.
In addition to this, radiant panels fitted in the ceilings control movement of hot or cool water, which acts as a heating or a cooling system. Under the solar panels on the roof, the team has incorporated a passive cooling system, which increases their efficiency.
The guys believe that the house is most suitable for retired couples, who are keen to maintain a sustainable lifestyle, which requires very little maintenance.
Other interesting projects include the international representation from the Czech Technical University team. Some of the most attractive features of their sustainable house include an air-conditioning unit with a direct evaporator, thermal insulation made of natural wood fiber, and an integrated natural garden.
The competition is definitely one not to be missed. Good luck to all, and let the best team win.