Yesterday, Maryland’s LEAFHouse took the lead. Today, the overall winner of the 2007 Solar Decathlon will be announced. Before we indulge you with who the judges think is this year’s most energy efficient, beauty on the block, let’s look at the home of 2002 and 2005 champions, University of Colorado at Boulder. Their design features an unconventional HVAC heating and cooling system that capitalizes on Colorado’s big swings in temp using a water pump and 2 tanks of water (1 for hot water and 1 for cold water). The state’s warm, sunny days heat the hot tank to meet the building’s heating needs at night and its shivery nights cool the cold tank to meet the building’s cooling needs during the day. Speaking of fluctuating highs and lows, we had the chance to snag a quick chat with the team’s construction manager, who remained cool and composed under the heat of the competition.
Toby Lewis, 25, University of Colorado at Boulder Grad Student
TH: What’s your background?
TL: I am completing my M.A. in Civil Engineering.
TH: How did you get involved in this project?
TL: I was roped in by my advisor!
TH: What does the role of construction manager constitute in a competition like this?
TL: Well, I oversaw the bidding process, I manage the schedule to make sure we are completing tasks on time and I delegate work.
TH: That’s quite a job! How does this compare to your regular civil engineering studies?
TL: It’s doesn’t! I have learned more in doing this than I have in my Master’s program. (She laughs.)
TH: What’s been the sweetest surprise during the lifespan of this competition?
TL: Finding out how easy it was to line up the 4 pieces of the house! Craning them up onto each other was way less of a challenge than I had anticipated.
TH: And what has been the most difficult part of the process?
TL: Everything! Learning how to build a house from scratch is hard enough on its own. Learning how to build a solar home and then having to modify it to fit last minute demands…Well, you can just imagine!