There have been heat waves all across the globe this summer. While some people complain about this heat, there are college students taking advantage of the sun and building solar net-zero homes that can maximize solar energy. These students are proudly called “solar decathletes,” student participants from 20 different teams and 13 different countries who design and build houses that combine architectural appeal and solar techniques. The Solar Decathlon competition has been held every two years since 2002, including competitions in the US and Europe. This year, the Solar Decathlon is taking place in Datong, China, the first time the competition is being held in Asia. I am so proud to be one of the solar decathletes on team BEMANY (Belgium, Massachusetts, and New York) through my college, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
Our house, Solatrium, has a simple architectural style with a central atrium and floor-to-ceiling windows around the house. Green technology is utilized throughout the house, including floor tiles that contain phase-changing materials (PCMs) to help adjust the indoor temperature, walls of 90mm composite fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) panels with an R-value of 12, double-pane glazing windows, and the 42 photovoltaic panels which can generate 12 kW under desirable weather conditions. The construction phase of the competition ran from July 17 to August 1. Since we used the FRP panels, we were one of the first teams to pass the inspection for exhibition. The public exhibition ran from Aug. 2 through Aug. 13, including five jury sessions and student juried events.
I have been involved with the competition since May 2012, the end of my sophomore year at WPI. This process has developed from schematic design, to construction documentation, to trial construction in Worcester, to finally shipping three containers across the Pacific Ocean and reassembling the house again for the competition in China. The project has been going for more than a year and it has been an incredible experience. I am one of the first students who ever enrolled at the architectural engineering program at WPI, and I have developed most of my related skills in architectural engineering along with the development of Solatrium. It is exciting to see myself grow with such a huge project. I can say that Solar Decathlon has taught me more about building construction than any of my classes.
I started interning at Cannon Design four months ago as a mechanical engineer. I assisted the mechanical engineering group at the Boston office with the Novartis Research Complex and the CJ Only One Building projects. I utilized what I learned about thermo comfort and load calculation at Cannon Design and implemented it in the comfort zone sensors in our house. The sensors present us with temperature and humidity data every hour. More importantly, the single firm, multi-office (SFMO) culture of Cannon Design inspires me to collaborate and work with my team in a time-efficient manner. The Only One Biomedical building project was designed in the US and is being constructed in Asia, which is the same as Solatrium. The team has to overcome problems such as different measuring systems, a new culture, language, and inclement weather. In addition, the BIM skill set that I have learned from Cannon Design will be helpful if WPI decides to enter Solar Decathlon 2015.
The result of Solar Decathlon China is cheerful for everyone who has contributed to the competition. The first day of the public exhibition hosted 24,000 visitors. Our team ranked 8th out of the 20 teams competing. We also scored first place in the sub-catalogs of “Energy Balance” and “Hot Water Supply.” A local solar energy company in China-Jiangsu Sunrain Solar Energy Co., Ltd. , purchased our house so now it’s staying there to help them with their solar energy application research. I hope the solar dream in sustainable design can inspire individuals and nations throughout future competitions.
Nina - 24 Feb 2014
How many speakers total were installed?
max - 02 Feb 2014
*faceplam* ugh... i hate it when arrogant New Yorkers go on and on about ho...
Sergey Alexeev - 01 Feb 2014
The task of modern architecture, just like thousands of years ago, remains ...
Aven - 06 Jan 2014
Woo, looking great, but I think the second view, it's not good to see a dar...
Syed Khundmir - 30 Dec 2013
Looks like a cool place to work for and develop as an engineer. The interns...