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Computer-generated image of the Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Madrid 2007 Solar Decathlon house.

The Madrid team is aiming for a highly efficient house. The lack of openings on the west side eliminates overexposure to the afternoon sun.

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Solar Decathlon 2007

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Designing Casa Solar for American Consumers

The 26-member team from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is not the largest one competing in the Solar Decathlon, but it may be the most diverse. Most of its members are from Spain, but there are also graduate students from Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

"The points of view from so many countries brought out the best in everyone and inspired everyone to work harder," says Maria Perez, architecture student.

"Our objectives are to demonstrate innovation in energy efficiency that is applicable to single- and multi-family homes, develop a prototype for commercial manufacturing, and advance the social conscience on sustainability and the environment," says Professor Sergio Vega.

To achieve these goals, they used light construction materials and manufactured-building techniques. The house incorporates water-saving technology and solid-state lighting. Electrochromic windows (which darken or lighten to either block or let in the sun's rays), a double envelope, and phase-change gels in the foundation help regulate the temperature. The home's south side can be opened directly to an ample outdoor deck that has seating and vegetation.

The team's social-awareness campaign included an exhibition of a prototype of their house at the SIMA 2007 Property Fair where they received about 4,000 visitors. At an official ceremony coinciding with the España Solar Exhibition, Spain's President, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and two ministers were honored guests.

Madrid's house is an ongoing project. After the Decathlon, the students will continue to refine the systems to improve the technologies further and aim for even greater efficiency.

For the Solar Decathlon, the team feels confident that they have blended energy efficiency, functionality, and aesthetics in a way that will appeal to the average American consumer, which for them is a very important goal.

"We built on the lessons learned from the last Solar Decathlon and shifted the design concept from Mediterranean to one that will appeal to the average American," says Eva Gomez, interior design student.

Team Contact

José Manuel Paéz Borrallo