PJHM Field Trip: Solar Decathlon

Where else can you hear about chairs made of bark, wood bris soleil’s, algae bioreactors and solar water pipes, all while waiting in line for only 2 minutes? No, it’s not burning man… It’s the 2013 Solar Decathlon, taking place here in our backyard, in Irvine, Ca.

The Solar Decathlon, now in its 11th year, made its first stop in Irvine, California, and PJHM took few hours to soak it all in. In case you weren’t able to check it out for yourself, here are some things we encountered. Enjoy!

Austria represented with a beautiful open plan home. A simple rectilinear floor plan opens completely on opposite sides to provide plentiful natural ventilation. The entire perimeter was sheathed with curtain, and created some amazing light quality.

SCI-Arc and Cal Tech’s team had everything moving. No, seriously, EVERYthing moved. From the walls, to the shading devices to the home itself, perched precariously atop sliding rails, this home could adapt to multiple configurations with a gentle push. Think ‘house as robot’.

Team Capital DC had a very impressive design, with mechanized shading devices and permeable hardscape, although probably the most impressive aspect is the students have decided to donate their house to Wounded Warrior Project, an organization providing aid, programs, housing and awareness for our nations wounded veterans. Awesome!

Not the most efficient, but with a clean and direct design approach was Team Arizona State & University of New Mexico. A double skin rainscreen and overhead trellis shade structure provided a well-insulated envelope, not to mention some beautiful interior natural light.

“The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.” ‘Source: www.solardecathlon.gov

Currently Stanford is leading the pack with the most efficient home; we’ll see who takes the prize by the end of this weekend!