Recently, fourteen two-man teams of students represented their colleges in the 2015 US Solar Decathlon at Stevens University of Technology in New Jersey. The goal was to create the most efficient and cost-effective solar home. Although there was only one winner, each team demonstrated a really impressive understanding of solar technology in their designs. Here's an excerpt:
The Stevens Institute of Technology of Hoboken, New Jersey won the 2015 Solar Decathlonwith their storm-resilient SURE HOUSE this past weekend. One of the crowd favorites in this year's competition, the SURE HOUSE scored the highest in seven out of the 10 contests, which put the team in the lead with a final score of 950.685 points out of a possible 1,000. Along with more than a dozen U.S. and international teams, Team Stevens spent two years designing and planning the SURE House, and constructed it from the ground up in just nine days before the competition began on October 8.
After witnessing — and even personally experiencing — the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Stevens team based their concept of the SURE HOUSE on storm resilience that balances energy efficiency. Built with fiber-composite materials repurposed from the boad-building industry, perhaps the standout element of the house is the bi-folding storm shutters, which are wrapped with fiberglass and made of a composite foam core. The shutters were designed to provide shade for the home year-round and act as the "primary defensive barrier" to protect the home from debris and surging water during a storm. The home can also be slightly raised during periodic flooding.
Equipped with a storm-resilient PV system, the solar-energy house can power itself when the grid is down and without the use of batteries. The team states the house uses 90 percent less energy than the conventional solar-powered house.
'This project was about creating a real, livable residence for families in coastal communities who will be hardest hit by the effects of climate change,' stated Stevens student decathlete A.J. Elliott, who is also a graduate student in the school's Product Architecture and Engineering program. 'Our design provides a blueprint for the construction of homes that can endure extreme weather and epitomizes the principles of sustainable living.'
Although the Solar Decathlon has ended, it's just the beginning for the SURE HOUSE. According to the Stevens team, the house will be relocated to a Jersey Shore town, where it will become an outreach center and information resource for the local community.