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Solar Decathalon 2009

October 14, 2009

Last Sunday Keith & I took off on a totally spontaneous afternoon trip to the mall to see the student built solar powered houses on the mall.   The houses were built as part of a competition set by the Department of Energy.  20 student teams from the U.S., MinnesotaCanada, Germany and Spain competed.  The houses were pretty amazing.  The contest had different parts to the competition from powering everything in the house to how much energy is produced that can be sold back to the grid.  It was cool – we were totally glad we went.  Not only are we interested in solar energy for ourselves and wishing like crazy we could put a solar array up on our roof but we’re also interested in it as our church pursues being the host for an array for a unique co-op in University Park, MD.  We’re convinced it has to be more reasonably priced so that the average person can really afford arrays.  We also believe though that even though it’s expensive now we should all be pushing ourselves to put these arrays on our roofs.  The most wonderful part of the solar decathalon was the energy of the big crowd on the mall.  People were engaged.  It was totally exciting to me to see the energy and the push of the student teams to design homes that are functional and aesthetically pleasing.  We took a student led tour of the outside of the homes.  It was fabulous – I wish we could have gone in more of the houses.  It was very easy to imagine having one of these houses (just 800 square feet) as a second home nestled in the mountains or at the beach but I did find it hard to imagine being in one currently with all our “stuff”.   That’s another post though but a worthy one.  I could totally see us in the Minnesota house or the Alberta house!  Check out my link to see more pictures from the decathalon.

tubeThe other thing the solar decathalon had was the frame of a house where you could see between walls and learn all kinds of ways to increase the efficiency of things in your house.  Everything from insulation to electrical stuff to settings on water heaters to windows and these tubes that go on your roof and between rafter beams that can deliver daylight to rooms.  Oh I wish we could get a couple of these  right away.  What a fabulous idea to bring daylight to interior rooms.  We have a couple of bathrooms that would be wonderful to have these in! I just need to find that winning lottery ticket!

Oh I just remembered one other cool and interesting thing about almost all of the houses …they were set up to be controlled (ie. furnace, air conditioning etc) with an app that could be downloaded onto your iphone.

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