Page N2.1 . 23 October 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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    Solar Houses Shine

    by Kim A. O'Connell

    In a dramatic demonstration of design with solar energy, 14 North American universities recently competed in a Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. The students were tasked with designing and building solar-powered houses that would blend aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy efficiency. The overarching goal of the competition was to illustrate the benefits of solar energy for a wide audience.

    After transporting the houses and assembling them on the National Mall, on axis between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, the teams competed in ten simultaneous contests. A panel of judges assessed the houses on the basis of design, thermal comfort, lighting, refrigeration, hot water heating, and other elements. Each team, usually comprising architecture and engineering students, also created and maintained a Web site, conducted house tours, and developed explanatory print materials. In the end, the University of Colorado at Boulder emerged as the overall winner.

    The architectural competition, evaluating "Design and Livability," carried twice as much weight as each of the other nine contests. The top three winners in this event were the University of Virginia, the University of Puerto Rico, and the University of Texas at Austin.   >>>



    ArchWeek Image

    The top-ranking house in the Solar Decathalon was built by students from the University of Colorado.
    Photo: Warren Gretz/ NREL

    ArchWeek Image

    A demonstration wall in the University of Colorado house is of a concrete block substitute made from fly ash, wood chips, and sawdust.
    Photo: Warren Gretz/ NREL


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