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Photo of Solar Decathlon Director Richard King being interviewed by a videographer.

Solar Decathlon Blog - Solar Decathlon 2015

Below you will find Solar Decathlon news from the Solar Decathlon 2015 archive, sorted by date.

West Virginia/Rome Team Merges Classical and Southern STILE

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

By Ernie Tucker

The aroma of Italian cooking will waft from STILE, the West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, during the team’s dinner parties. Those meals will showcase the Italian influence on this partnership between West Virginian and Italian cultures.

“I feel bad for whoever has to pick which dish to serve,” laughs Sharrafti Kuzmar, a junior studying electrical engineering who was also on West Virginia University’s Solar Decathlon 2013 team. “When we went to Rome last summer, the food was so amazing.”

Photo of a group of people talking.

Sharrafti Kuzmar, center, shares a light moment with teammates and Solar Decathlon Director Richard King (left) while visiting the West Virginia/Rome team lot at the Orange County Great Park competition site on Friday, Jan. 9. (Credit: Amy Vaughn/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

STILE (the Italian spelling of “style”) stands for Sustainable Technologies Integrated in a Learning Experience and draws upon Appalachian roots and centuries-old Roman tradition. That, Kuzmar believes, makes the house unique.

The Solar Decathlon 2015 team has designed a compact house that will bring Roman culture to West Virginia. The house is covered by an elegant, classically inspired arch that runs north to south to support solar panels and create a natural patio that will provide passive cooling.

Computer-generated image of a modern-looking house.

STILE, the house being designed by the West Virginia/Rome team, blends Italian and West Virginian influences. (Courtesy of the West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata Solar Decathlon 2015 team)

To formulate project plans, the team has had to overcome obstacles—an effort that has helped unify the group. Something as simple as organizing team meetings requires careful coordination to bridge the six-hour time difference.

“We worked it out so that our meetings aren’t too late there or too early here,” says Kuzmar, a Morgantown, West Virginia, native.

To further team bonds, some members from West Virginia University traveled to Rome last summer to work directly on the project with their Italian teammates.

“That was a new experience for all of us,” Kuzmar says.

Photo of a group of young people.

Members of the Solar Decathlon 2015 West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata team gathered at the Orange County Great Park on Jan. 9 as part of activities associated with the Design Development Review Workshop. (Credit: Carol Laurie/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

In addition, two Roman decathletes are currently studying at West Virginia University. Stefania Rossi is one of them.

“It is a very interesting experience working with both universities,” Rossi says.

The double-engineering major says that forging the two visions into one unified project “has been a good challenge.” As a result, she believes the house is the best of both worlds—a hybrid of old and new.

While in Morgantown, the Italian decathletes can experience West Virginia’s more rustic style and the 19th-century influences that shaped the STILE project. They can also see PEAK, West Virginia University’s Solar Decathlon 2013 house, in its permanent home at the West Virginia Botanic Garden.

The experience of building PEAK, an acronym for “Preserving Energy with Appalachian Knowledge,” has helped smooth the current process.

“Last time, we had trouble with plumbing,” Kuzmar says. “Now, we have a better understanding of the competition, thanks to things that came up unexpectedly in 2013.”

In addition to house design, the two universities are collaborating closely on the logistics of transporting STILE. “We’re figuring out how to break the house down at the same time we’re putting it up,” Kuzmar says.

The team credits its mentors, including principal investigator Dimitris Korakakis and experts in Rome, with helping the students gain practical experience and problem-solving skills—skills that Kuzmar, Rossi, and others hope to use in future careers in green building and clean tech.

As they ready for the first assembly of the house this summer, the team is also looking ahead to other aspects of the competition. One Italian student, who happens to be writing a cookbook, is eager to plan the menus for the team’s competition dinner parties, part of the Home Life Contest.

Kuzmar, who has already declared her awe of Italian cuisine, says simply, “I love the Italians.” Those mutual bonds are what give this project its zesty international flavor.

Ernie Tucker is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon communications team.

 

 

Solar Decathlon 2015 Kicks Off With Irvine Workshop

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

By Carol Laurie

The countdown begins! On Jan. 9 and 10, some 250 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 students, faculty, and organizers gathered in Irvine, California, for a workshop that served as the backdrop for a weekend of comradery and intense information download.

Photo of a large group of cheering people in front of a balloon and holding a banner that reads, “U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.”

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 teams gather at the Orange County Great Park on Friday, Jan. 9, for an all-team photo. (Credit: Amy Vaughn/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

On Friday, Jan. 9, the teams walked the Orange County Great Park competition site, which was marked with chalk lines to indicate the Solar Decathlon village and each team’s lot. That evening, the Great Park Foundation hosted a dinner at which Irvine city council members welcomed the teams and each team presented a 3-minute introduction of its house design and philosophy.

“Mayor Choi and members of the city council got to hear firsthand from our decathletes and see images of their house designs,” said Solar Decathlon Director Richard King. “We are all excited for the competition to begin in October.”

Photo of a man standing behind a podium addressing people seated around tables.

Solar Decathlon Director Richard King addresses an audience of Solar Decathlon 2015 decathletes, faculty, city council members, and organizers at a welcome dinner hosted by the Great Park Foundation on Friday, Jan. 9. (Credit: Amy Vaughn/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

The all-day Design Development Review workshop on Saturday, Jan. 10, immersed teams in the details of this challenging collegiate competition to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses. Solar Decathlon organizers held 15 unique sessions—on topics ranging from house designs to cost estimates to communications, media relations, and sponsorships—with each team.

“This intense, all-day workshop helps teams get their heads around what it will take to compete in the Solar Decathlon,” said Joe Simon, competition manager. “With 9 months to go until the start of contests in Irvine, teams must finish planning and start executing their designs.”

The 17 teams participating in Solar Decathlon 2015 include seven teams that have participated in past U.S. competitions. Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon has involved 130 collegiate teams and nearly 20,000 decathletes.

Carol Laurie is the communications manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

 

 

 

Solar Decathlon Director Encourages Individual Action in TEDxOrangeCoast Talk

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

By Carol Laurie

You can make a difference. That was the message of Solar Decathlon Director Richard King in his Sept. 19 TEDxOrangeCoast talk about the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Titled “Energy To Live By,” King’s 11-minute talk at the TEDxOrangeCoast Annual Conference in Aliso Viejo, California, introduced the audience to the Solar Decathlon and the powerful impact this award-winning competition has on participating students and visitors.

Throughout his talk, King stressed how important each individual is to reducing the world’s energy use.

“As individuals, we are responsible for 100% of the energy we use in our daily lives. Did it ever occur to you that, as individuals collectively responsible for half of the world’s energy, you have a lot of power?” he says. “I’m not talking about energy or brain power. I am talking about the kind of power that can change the world. Think about that the next time you flip a switch.”

Photo of a man wearing a Solar Decathlon baseball cap.

Solar Decathlon Director Richard King spoke about the benefits of the Solar Decathlon and the power of individuals in reducing world energy use at the TEDxOrangeCoast Annual Conference in September. (Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Representatives from the City of Irvine, California, nominated King for consideration by the TEDxOrangeCoast organizers.

“Being invited to give a TED talk is very special, and I was honored by the City of Irvine’s nomination,” King says. “It’s also a very exhilarating experience. All of the speakers during this conference were outstanding, having done something significant in their lives.”

King also invited the audience to visit Solar Decathlon 2015, which will be held at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, Oct. 8 through 18.

See King’s talk to learn more.  And if you like it, pass it on!

Carol Laurie is the communications manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Solar Decathlon Organizers Adjust 2015 Competition Lineup

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

By Amy Vaughn

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Director Richard King today announced that Stanford University has withdrawn from the Solar Decathlon 2015 competition.

In Stanford University’s notification letter, the school administration said: “The team and the university remain enthusiastically committed to the program’s goals. Faculty and students will continue to take part in a wide array of research, teaching, and outreach activities to advance alternative energy technologies and systems.”

Stanford University previously competed in Solar Decathlon 2013, where it placed fifth overall with its Start.Home entry.

“Stanford was a strong competitor in our last competition,” said King. “While we’re disappointed we won’t see its students compete in 2015, we know the school and students will continue our tradition of educating others about the opportunities presented by renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

The updated Solar Decathlon 2015 team lineup includes:

  • California Polytechnic State University
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • Clemson University
  • Crowder College and Drury University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • New York City College of Technology
  • State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
  • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine; Saddleback College; Chapman University; and Irvine Valley College
  • Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University
  • West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata
  • Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana
  • Yale University.

Amy Vaughn is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon communications team.

Solar Decathlon 2015 Team Websites Provide New Insight

Thursday, September 18, 2014

By Carol Laurie

If you’re ready for another glimpse into what the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 teams are up to, check out our updated 2015 team pages. They now include links to the teams’ own websites!

As part of the Communications Contest, teams create websites to share information about their projects and their progress. Over the next year, the teams will continue to expand their websites and social media presence. At the start of the competition in October 2015, Communications Contest jurors will evaluate the websites for effectiveness, ease of use, compliance with U.S. government standards, and other attributes.

Photo of a woman standing in front of signage and talking to a group of people who are holding clipboards.

Gwen Cook of Middlebury College gives Communications Contest jurors a house tour during Solar Decathlon 2013. The Communications Contest challenges teams to educate others about their houses, their experiences, and their projects. (Credit: Eric Grigorian/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

In addition to team electronic communications, the Communications Contest jurors review public exhibit materials and presentation, an audiovisual presentation, and overall communications strategy. They award points for quality, creativity, delivery, and innovation.

Stay tuned for more from the Solar Decathlon teams. In January 2015, we’ll post computer-animated walkthroughs and renderings of the team houses. In the meantime, learn all about the current plans and design concepts on the team websites.

Carol Laurie is the communications manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.