U.S. Department of Energy - Solar Decathlon: Page 3 of 5

2013 Winning Solar Designs
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The Solar Decathlon 2013 teams
The Solar Decathlon 2013 teams join together before the start of the competition at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.
AIR House from the Czech Republic’s Czech Technical University
Large sliding glass doors bring ample natural light into the AIR House’s interior.
AIR House from the Czech Republic’s Czech Technical University
The AIR House’s simple geometric design helped earn its win in the architecture competition.
Students from Czech Republic’s Czech Technical University
Students from Czech Republic’s Czech Technical University celebrate their first-place win in the architecture category.
The Ecohabit house
The Ecohabit house, which featured a lush living wall of plants, came in second in the architecture competition.
UNLV’s DesertSol house
UNLV’s DesertSol house took first place for market appeal.
South-facing PV awning
The south-facing PV awning also helps shade the doors and windows from the summer sun.
Students from UNLV
Students from UNLV celebrate their victory in the market appeal category with their DesertSol house.
Team Capitol DC's Harvest Home
Team Capitol DC specified war veterans as the intended market for their Harvest Home— a habitat for “renewal and regeneration.”
The ECHO house
The ECHO house’s innovative use of an integrated mechanical system for space heating, cooling, and water heating helped it earn first place in the engineering contest.
Motorized shades function automatically
Computer-controlled motorized shades function automatically to control solar gain through the south-facing windows of the ECHO house.
Team Ontario
Team Ontario gathers to claim their first-place win in the engineering category.
UrbanEden students at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte
The precast concrete walls of UrbanEden, designed by students at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, contain capillary tubes plumbed to roof-mounted flat-plate heat exchangers to allow heat transfer for heating and cooling.
Walter Kohn
Walter Kohn, center, recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1998, takes a guided tour of Team Austria’s house with students Philipp Klebert, left, and Claus Andreas Schnetzer, right.
Raymond Neutra
Raymond Neutra, son of an Austrian–American modern architect, signs the guest book during a tour of the Team Austria house.
Jakob Doppler and Volker Loeser
Jakob Doppler, left, explains details of the Team Austria house to Volker Loeser.
Team Austria house
Visitors line up to tour the Team Austria house.
Norwich University wins in the affordability contest.
Coming in well under the allocated construction budget earned Norwich University its win in the affordability contest.
Richard Anderson and Robert Best
Affordability contest juror Richard Anderson, left, consults with Stanford University’s Robert Best during the affordability contest walk-through.
Stanford University stayed within the Decathlon’s budget criterion
Stanford University also stayed within the Decathlon’s budget criterion, earning the full 100 points for the affordability category.
The Kentucky/Indiana team’s home
The Kentucky/Indiana team’s home was also constructed for less than $250,000, capturing all of the available points in the affordability contest.
Santa Clara University’s house
Santa Clara University’s house won the comfort zone contest.
Earthen clay on the interior of the wall helps keep the bedroom cool
A coating of earthen clay on the interior of the wall behind the bed helps keep the bedroom cool by absorbing and releasing moisture based on indoor humidity levels.
An in-ceiling hydronic system embedded in the plasterboard
An in-ceiling hydronic system embedded in the plasterboard and barely visible in the home helps keep interior temperatures comfortable in the Santa Clara University team’s home.
Missouri University of Science and Technology’s house
Flat-plate solar collectors on the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s house helped it tie with six other teams for first place in the hot water contest.
Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology’s solar hot water system
Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology’s solar hot water system consists of evacuated tubes on an innovative mounting system.
Scott Kollwitz of the Kentucky/Indiana team
Scott Kollwitz of the Kentucky/Indiana team conducts a hot water draw.
The University of Calgary’s Team Alberta home
The University of Calgary’s Team Alberta home was another that used evacuated-tube collectors to meet its water-heating needs.
Stevens Institute of Technology shared first place in the appliances category
Stevens Institute of Technology shared first place in the appliances category with four other teams.
The University of Southern California shared first place in the appliances category
The University of Southern California shared first place in the appliances category using standard, off-the-shelf models.
Nick Jensen of Santa Clara University
Nick Jensen of Santa Clara University explains the strategic location of the washer and dryer to Solar Decathlon visitors.
Stanford University’s appliances
Stanford University’s appliances made the grade for first place.
Team Capitol DC hide the washer and dryer from view
Team Capitol DC used a sliding wall to hide the washer and dryer from view when not in use.
Ana Toledo of the Stevens Institute of Technology team
Ana Toledo of the Stevens Institute of Technology team prepares a meal for the home entertainment contest.
Team Ontario’s house
The sloped exostructure of Team Ontario’s house accommodates a flush-mounted PV array.
The houses were connected to the village grid for the remainder of the homes’ construction and for the competition.
Once teams passed the necessary inspections, their houses were connected to the village grid for the remainder of the homes’ construction and for the competition.
Team Austria’s Philipp Klebert,
Team Austria’s Philipp Klebert, center, celebrates with his teammates.
Team Austria captured first place in the 2013 Solar Decathlon.
Team Austria captured first place in the 2013 Solar Decathlon.
Team Austria’s unique curtained home
Team Austria’s unique curtained home captured first place in the 2013 Solar Decathlon.
Students from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte took home the Solar Decathlon People’s Choice award.
The Solar Decathlon 2013 teams
AIR House from the Czech Republic’s Czech Technical University
AIR House from the Czech Republic’s Czech Technical University
Students from Czech Republic’s Czech Technical University
The Ecohabit house
UNLV’s DesertSol house
South-facing PV awning
Students from UNLV
Team Capitol DC's Harvest Home
The ECHO house
Motorized shades function automatically
Team Ontario
UrbanEden students at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Walter Kohn
Raymond Neutra
Jakob Doppler and Volker Loeser
Team Austria house
Norwich University wins in the affordability contest.
Richard Anderson and Robert Best
Stanford University stayed within the Decathlon’s budget criterion
The Kentucky/Indiana team’s home
Santa Clara University’s house
Earthen clay on the interior of the wall helps keep the bedroom cool
An in-ceiling hydronic system embedded in the plasterboard
Missouri University of Science and Technology’s house
Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology’s solar hot water system
Scott Kollwitz of the Kentucky/Indiana team
The University of Calgary’s Team Alberta home
Stevens Institute of Technology shared first place in the appliances category
The University of Southern California shared first place in the appliances category
Nick Jensen of Santa Clara University
Stanford University’s appliances
Team Capitol DC hide the washer and dryer from view
Ana Toledo of the Stevens Institute of Technology team
Team Ontario’s house
The houses were connected to the village grid for the remainder of the homes’ construction and for the competition.
Team Austria’s Philipp Klebert,
Team Austria captured first place in the 2013 Solar Decathlon.
Team Austria’s unique curtained home
Students from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Affordability

One of the goals for the Solar Decathlon is to design and build houses that are innovative, yet affordable to some individuals who want to build a small custom home. The target construction costs were set at $250,000. A metric of cost-per-square-foot was not used, as it’s the final dollar amount that determines if a homeowner would purchase the house. In addition, larger houses tend to have a lower cost per square foot, given the wall-to-floor ratio. The final cost estimates include all building materials, including Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant items and fire-suppression systems—things that may not be routinely found in the consumer marketplace. The cost also includes estimated costs of hiring a contractor to build the house as documented; transportation of the house; and any unique foundation system. The teams were required to declare the target construction cost and those costs were verified by a professional cost estimator. If the information to complete a thorough estimate was missing, the estimators were to err on the high side of construction costs to accommodate for uncertainty.

Only three teams earned the available 100 points by not exceeding the $250,000 goal: Norwich University ($168,385), Stanford University ($234,092), and Kentucky/Indiana ($248,423). Norwich University made affordability a primary design component by targeting clients who earn 20% less than a Vermonter’s median income. Norwich University took the approach of reducing costs from the very beginning stages through the home’s final construction, minimizing skin-surface-to-floor-area ratio; using wood as the sole material for the superstructure; and choosing readily available cellulose and mineral wool batts for insulation. The team also prioritized conservation and efficiency so that the resulting PV and solar thermal systems could be as small (and inexpensive) as possible.

On the opposite end of affordability was the University of North Carolina, Charlotte home, which came in at $350,686. Some of the increased costs for their home may be attributed to the unique building materials and complex PV racking and control system.

Comfort Zone

The comfort zone contest measures the temperature and humidity values during specified time periods during both the day and nighttime hours. Houses received full points by maintaining indoor temperatures between 71°F and 76°F, and relative humidity below 60%.

Comfort zone winner Santa Clara University used a hydronic system embedded in the plasterboard of the ceiling for heating and cooling. To obtain adequate air changes and dehumidification, a low-flow ducting system was built into the wood subfloor. One interior wall, coated with a natural earthen clay plaster, helps regulate humidity by absorbing excess moisture in the house. It can also be misted with water to help cool the interior. A whole-house control system provides real-time energy performance data while simultaneously controlling the heating and cooling system, lights, sliding doors, windows, and blinds, to maintain indoor comfort.

Hot Water

To receive full points in this contest, the house needed to provide 15 gallons of water heated to 110°F (average temperature) in no more than 10 minutes. Several times over the course of the event, event judges drew hot water from each of the houses. These draws were designed to simulate typical clothes washing, dishwashing, and bathing at various times of the day, with no more than three draws in a 24-hour period.

Six teams tied for first place in this category, earning the maximum number of points. Teams took multiple approaches for their hot water needs, although most integrated solar water heating systems. Some teams chose to use heat pumps and heat recovery units to heat their domestic water. For their water heating, Team Austria tapped into the two high-efficiency air-to-water heat pumps that also provide space heating and cooling. They also included a heat-recovery system for the shower to reduce water-heating energy use for that task. For teams that incorporated solar thermal systems, typical strategies were to use two or three 4-by-8-foot flat-plate collectors.

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