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2005 Solar Decathlon in Washington DC





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This 2005 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC drew large crowds. Eighteen schools designed and built houses that were able to generate all their energy from the sun. Since the houses were transported to DC, they were limited to 800 square feet of floor space. Here's some highlights.

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New York Institute of Technology (house #119) had the only fuel cell (unit on the left). It's made by Plug Power.



VA Tech has a gel insulating material inside the outer wall panels. The panels are made by GE. At night the panels can be lit internally by LEDs. (VA Tech won first place in the Architectural category.)




University Missouri-Rolla and Rolla Technical Institute (109) used Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) from ThermoCore. It's highly insulated; roof surfaces are R40.


UMR/RTI paid a lot of attention to using very efficient appliances. They used an Energy Star rated Kenmore refrigerator. They also used an Asko brand combined washer/dryer which uses only 217 kWh/yr and an Asko dishwasher which uses only 194 kWh/year. These are among the most efficient on the market and worth considering when you replace appliances.


 One of the really unique designs is a roof that heats water in pipes covered by Uni-Solar PV flexible laminate. Shown is a small example.


Notice the black solar laminate running in strips down the roof, instead of the more common rectangular solar panels.




Florida International University's house is meant to be a design that people can actually build. The team has been approached by companies to build their design. It uses an available steel frame system. While the competition limits the houses to 800 square feet, you could add more modules to make a larger house. The house withstood the tough hurricanes of this summer while being built in Florida, while nearby trees on campus suffered damage.


The Canadian Solar Decathlon and Colorado houses also may go into production.




Many of the houses were very normal inside and had a very comfortable feel. Since the houses were built at the various universities and had to be transported to Washington, they were limited to 800 square feet. Despite their small size, the students had obviously put a lot of thought into making them comfortable and practical.


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Oct. 2005





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