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Solar Decathlon Blog - Competition

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

Mojave Bloom: A Therapeutic Home for Post-Traumatic Healing

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Architects are really good at a lot of things, but one quality in particular stands out to Eric Weber, an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). He believes that once architects understand the nature of a challenge, they excel at developing thoughtful responses to it. Maybe that is why Weber’s Design + Build students chose to create a home that supports veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for their U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2020 Build Challenge entry, Mojave Bloom.

Team Las Vegas includes four veterans, one service member’s spouse, and Weber himself who is a Desert Storm­ veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Furthermore, Las Vegas is home to many former service members due to its proximity to Nellis Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center. The mission of finding solutions for the challenges that returning soldiers face not only hit close to home, but really resonated with the team.

UNLV students collage

The UNLV students on Team Las Vegas developed the Mojave Bloom concept as a
sustainable salute to military veterans.

(more…)

Zach Berzolla is #SDLivingtheDream:
Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Effective Building Design

Monday, December 14, 2020

For this edition of #SDLivingtheDream we learn about Zach Berzolla, a 2018 Middlebury College team alumnus. He shares with us the work he is doing at MIT, along with key concepts that he has learned for successful building design, from Solar Decathlon. How about that for a doer designer!

…………………  

Name: Zach Berzolla

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury College

 Current organization / employer: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sustainable Design Lab

Current role: Research Assistant/ SMBT Student

How did participation in the Solar Decathlon affect the trajectory of your career?

I knew I was interested in zero energy buildings, but the Solar Decathlon cemented for me that I wanted to make this field my career. Furthermore,  as I started working with the multidisciplinary team I assembled for the Race to Zero, I realized the importance of an integrated design process. This was one of the reasons I ended up at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab for my master’s; the lab is multi-disciplinary and focused on tools and analyses that architects, engineers, and policy-makers can all understand.

 Describe a work outcome, building project or other achievement you are most proud of and how (if) it relates to your experience with Solar Decathlon.

At MIT, I have been working with other members of my lab to make urban building energy modeling tools accessible to every city so that they can make physics-backed decisions on how to meet their emissions reduction goals. Through Solar Decathlon trainings and collaborations, I learned the applied building physics that underlie every building upgrade strategy we propose to meet these emissions reduction goals.

Zach at VERMOD Homes, a project that he sought out, which was inspired by his Solar Decathlon work. He documented improvements to the factory process for their zero-energy manufactured homes.

Brett Horin is #SDLivingtheDream:
Seeing the Impacts in the Real World

Monday, November 16, 2020

This month in our #SDLivingtheDream series, you’ll meet Brett Horin, who competed with Illinois Tech in the 2018 Design Challenge and who has gone on to work in energy modeling in the architecture industry, fueled by his experience in the Solar Decathlon.

…………………  

Name: Brett Horin

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018

University team: Illinois Institute of Technology

Current organization / employer: Lamar Johnson Collaborative/Clayco

Current role: Energy Modeler

(more…)

Mentoring 101: How to Teach College Students What Textbooks Can’t

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Most colleges don’t offer a course that can teach you how to navigate the real world. Sure, classroom learning provides students with a solid technical foundation in their chosen areas of study, but essential professional skills like negotiation, compromise, and flexibility aren’t covered in most textbooks. For the answers to life’s most challenging questions, you need a mentor.

If there were degrees in Real Life Experience, a group of more than 30 students from Weber State University would earn top honors. These students managed to design and build a six-bedroom, 2,450 square foot home that is powered entirely by the sun and can go off grid for three days—or longer—as part of their Solar Decathlon 2020 senior project.

Jeremy Farner, an associate professor of building design and construction at Weber State University, served as the team’s faculty advisor on the project. Now that he has successfully advised two Solar Decathlon Design Challenge competitions and Weber State’s most recent Build Challenge, there is no doubt he has what it takes to mentor the next generation of green building professionals.

Several students from the WSU build team

Jeremy Farner, fourth from right, stands with students on the Solar Decathlon 2020 Build project team representing the Building Design & Construction, Interior Design, and Construction Management programs in February 2020. Photo by Weber State University

(more…)

Sean Copeland is #SDLivingtheDream:
Revolutionizing Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Through Design!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Meet 2017-2018 Design Challenge alumnus Sean Copeland. From Penn State to Solar Decathlon, this two-time SD veteran has always worked with a passion for building design and environmental preservation. With his current position at Arup, he is able to intersect the two through working on carbon-free building construction in Massachusetts. Learn more about how Sean puts his skills to the test toward the green-building industry.

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Name: Sean Copeland

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2017 and 2018

University team: Penn State University (2017 — Full Circle, 2018 — Ripple)

Current organization / employer: Arup

Current role: Graduate Sustainability Consultant

(more…)

Department of Energy Announces Postponement of Solar Decathlon 2020 Summer Events and Webinar on May 27

Friday, May 22, 2020

The grand winner trophies

Gain a once-in-a-lifetime experience by applying for the next Solar Decathlon Design Challenge and Build Challenge. Photo by Vern Slocum/NREL.

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® postponed its 2020 Solar Decathlon Build Challenge from June 2020 to April 16-18, 2021. The event, originally scheduled to be part of the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, will move from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, where it will coincide with the Solar Decathlon 2021 Design Challenge competition. The 2022 Build Challenge will take place in 2023. (more…)

Amanda Kirkeby is #SDLivingTheDream:
From Solar Decathlon student team to event organizing team

Monday, May 18, 2020

Our #SDLivingTheDream series continues with a recent alum from the Design Challenge who actually went on to work behind the scenes with the event’s staff, including posting to our social media channels for last month’s completely virtual event.

Amanda Kirkeby working in the lab at NREL on Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) research, an alternative method of power distribution in buildings.

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Name: Amanda Kirkeby

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury Zero Energy School Team (Middlebury College)

Current organization / employer: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Current role: Post-graduate intern with the Applied Engineering group (more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Rodrigo Castro:
The Use of Energy Performance as a Design Input

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A headshot of Rodrigo Castro

We’re continuing our special series to highlight alumni of both the Build Challenge and the Design Challenge of Solar Decathlon, and how their experiences with the event have shaped their careers and lives. This time on #SDLivingTheDream, it’s Rodrigo Castro.

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Name: Rodrigo Castro, PhD

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2011

University team: Team Florida (University of Florida)

Current organization / employer: Bionova Ltd.

Current role: Senior LCA Expert

 

(more…)

Design Challenge Weekend Will Be a Completely Virtual Event

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Due to the recent health concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Design Challenge Weekend (April 17–19) will be transitioned to a completely virtual event with a similar schedule. There will be no in-person activities at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory or the adjacent Denver West Marriott hotel.

The revised agenda for the virtual Design Challenge Weekend and an addendum to the Competition Rules outlining changes due to the virtual nature of the event have been posted.

(more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Teresa Hamm Modley:
Designing, Building and Beyond

Monday, March 9, 2020

We’re continuing our series, #SDLivingTheDream, highlighting alumni of both the Build Challenge and Design Challenge and how their time in the competition 

has shaped their careers and their lives. This month, it’s an alum of *both* Challenges.

…………………

Name: Teresa Hamm Modley

Year participated in Solar Decathlon:

  1. 2011 Solar Decathlon (as a team partner for the Empowerhouse, I worked for Habitat for Humanity of DC)
  2. 2017-2018 Race to Zero, Elementary School Division (more…)

U.S. Department of Energy Signs Memorandum of Understanding with India for Solar Decathlon India Competition in 2021

Thursday, March 5, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide collaboration and support to India in the establishment of Solar Decathlon India in 2021.

“India is joining an international family of Solar Decathlons that is preparing students all over the world to design and build homes integrated with advanced energy technologies while ensuring affordability and comfort,” said Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Following President Trump and Secretary Brouillette’s visit to India, we are excited to continue collaborating with India on science and technologies that foster innovation through the power of competition.”

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is a longstanding collegiate competition that challenges students to design and build high-performance, energy-efficient homes powered by renewable energy. Solar Decathlon India joins five other international competitions in Europe, China, Colombia, the United Arab Emirates, and Africa.

The MOU, signed today by Assistant Secretary of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Daniel R Simmons, and the Executive Director of the India U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), Dr. Nandini Kannan, allows DOE to collaborate with IUSSTF and its partners on the framework for the 2021 competition.

As part of the competition, university teams compete in 10 contests ranging from architecture and engineering to resilience and market potential.  The winners are those teams that best blend architectural and engineering excellence with innovation in how their building interacts with the world around it. To date, more than 40,000 students have participated in U.S. and international Solar Decathlon editions. The competition is a vehicle for workforce development, clean energy outreach, and technology demonstration.

The next U.S. Solar Decathlon will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. from June 24 through July 5, 2020 as a part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For more information, visit www.solardecathlon.com.

Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Finalist Teams Announced; Countdown Begins

Monday, March 2, 2020

Six weeks and counting! This year’s finalist teams for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Design Challenge are vying to be one of two Grand Winners during the Design Challenge Weekend, April 17-19, 2020, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

Students from 48 teams representing 36 collegiate institutions have taken a big step in advancing their education and careers by being selected as members of finalist teams.

(more…)

Local Issues, Global Impacts: Confessions of a Globe-Trotting Juror

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

I have a confession to make. My name is Stacy Hunt, and I’m a serial juror for the international editions of Solar Decathlon. It’s okay, the addiction is self-limiting and mostly benign. 🙂

That said, I’m in pretty deep at this point. In 2019, I had the opportunity to be a juror at all three international competitions: July in Budapest, Hungary for Solar Decathlon Europe, September in Marrakech, Morocco, for Solar Decathlon Africa, and most recently in Cali, Colombia for Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean.

(more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Bennett Doherty:
Solar Decathlon Introduced Me to This Field

Monday, February 10, 2020

We’re continuing our series, #SDLivingTheDream, highlighting alumni of both the Build Challenge and Design Challenge and how their time in the competition has shaped their careers and their lives.

…………………

Name: Bennett Doherty

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury College

Current organization / employer: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Current role: Research Engineer in the Commercial Buildings Group

(more…)

Check Out What’s New with Solar Decathlon!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Want to create buildings that help address the most pressing needs of our time? Love the thrill of competing with top students across the country and around the world? If so, the U.S Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is for you!

(more…)

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