Over the past two weeks, the 2007 Solar Decathlon challenged twenty university-led teams from the U.S. and as far away as Puerto Rico, Spain, Germany, and Canada to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered home. Students competed in ten areas, ranging from architecture, livability, and comfort, to how well the homes provided energy for space heating and cooling, hot water, lighting, and appliances. Technische Universität Darmstadt earned 888.45 points out of a possible 1,200 to win the competition, followed by University of Maryland with 872.45 points and Santa Clara University with 860.80 points.
While congratulating the teams at the Closing Awards Ceremony today, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced over $44 million to support the commercialization and promotion of advanced solar and other clean energy technologies.
“I want to congratulate this year’s Solar Decathlon champion Technische Universität Darmstadt and the 19 other teams for their innovative designs and application of solar technologies. The Solar Decathlon is a great demonstration of the ways in which technology, science and design can be blended in the production of net-zero-energy homes,” Secretary Bodman said. “Promoting the early commercialization of solar and other energy efficient technologies will help secure America’s clean energy future.”
Four Building America contractor teams including the Building Science Corporation; IBACOS; Consortium of Advanced Residential Buildings; and Building Industry Research Alliance; these teams, consortium of academic and building industry leaders, will receive up to $40 million over the next five years (FY2008-FY2012, subject to annual appropriations) to develop net-zero-energy homes. These homes will be highly energy efficient – using 70 percent less energy than homes built to current building codes – and will incorporate solar or other onsite renewable systems to provide the balance of their energy needs. This funding is part of the Building America program, a private/public partnership sponsored by DOE that conducts systems research to improve overall housing performance, increase housing durability and comfort, reduce energy use, and increase energy security for America’s homeowners.
Secretary Bodman also announced two regional building technology application centers at The University of Central Florida and Washington State University that will serve 17 states. DOE awarded $4.1 million, subject to negotiation and annual appropriation, to accelerate the adoption of new and developing energy-efficient technologies by the market. These centers will deliver information and training on commercially available energy saving technologies, processes, and tools that have been developed by DOE and provide a regional resource for market transformation by providing technology and best practices needed to produce marketable, energy-efficient buildings.
Like the homes and technologies promoted by Building America, the Solar Decathlon’s homes are net-zero-energy, yield zero carbon, and include the latest high-tech solutions and money-saving benefits to consumers, without sacrificing comfort, convenience, and aesthetics. Each house must also produce enough “extra” energy to power an electric vehicle. Many of the solar power and building technologies showcased on the National Mall are currently available for purchase and use. Teams have worked for more than two years designing, building, and testing their homes – the Solar Decathlon is the culmination of that work.
The Solar Decathlon complements President Bush’s Solar America Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity by 2015. The U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring this year’s Solar Decathlon, along with its National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the American Institute of Architects; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers; the National Association of Homebuilders; the U.S. Green Building Council; and private-sector sponsors BP and Sprint.
The ten contests that make up the Solar Decathlon measure many aspects of a home’s performance and appearance. A perfect total score for all ten contests in the Solar Decathlon is 1,200 points. Of the ten contests, Communications, as well as Lighting, Comfort Zone, Appliances, Hot Water, Energy Balance, and Getting Around are each worth up to 100 points. The Architecture contest is worth up to 200 points, followed by Engineering and Market Viability, which are each worth up to 150 points and are scored subjectively. Performance was measured and points were awarded daily throughout the competition.