Inspiration: Solar Decathlon 2009

Yesterday kicked off the 4th Solar Decathlon. We look forward to seeing what creative and forward thinking designs the students come up with not only because they look cool, but also because they can actually be built and are full of realistic green building and living concepts…

The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar powered house.

Our favorite houses so far (in no particular order):
Cornell University: It’s no secret we’re fans of silos-turned-houses.
Penn State: Love the living wall kitchen backsplash – genius way to grow herbs and spices.
Team Germany: The entire façade is clad in PV panels, which looks cool, but we’d like to know how efficient it really is.
Rice University: With the lowest proposed construction cost, this house is a great example that affordability and energy efficiency can be achieved.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: The emphasis on blending traditional, Midwest vernacular is a refreshing approach to green building design.
Team Spain: The one house we’d really need to see to believe – it uses an inverted pyramid on the roof to track the sun and rotate the solar panel array.

Trends at the Solar Decathalon:
Photovoltaic panels (as usual)
Evacuated tube solar hot water collectors
Greywater systems
• Whole house energy monitoring and management (cool iPhone apps too!)
• Emphasis on local and/or reclaimed materials

The students began setting up earlier this month and the houses will be on display until October 18. The teams are scored and are eligible to win in 10 subcategories and the overall winner will be announced Friday, October 16th. For more information visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon website here.

(Images: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon and Flickr member Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon licensed for use under Creative Commons)

Related:
Lumenhaus: Green Home Inspired by Mies
Curio House: Boston's Entry in the Solar Decathlon
Montreal's Solar Decathlon House at the Biosphere
Look: A Modern House and a 1930's Bungalow, Combined!
Solar Decathlon: Darmstadt, Germany

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