Solar Decathlon

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The Solar Decathlon is a project of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other sponsors in which 19 collegiate teams are charged with the design, construction, and operation of a completely solar-powered home. The purpose of the competition is to promote solar energy as a viable, healthy, and cost effective alternative to traditional energy. The competition primarily focuses on solar photovoltaic (PV) energy production, although the ten contests of the decathlon also explore such issues as thermal comfort, livability, and system efficiency...Designers, architects, landscape architects, and engineers from the University of Texas, who brought this contest to our attention, are among tha savvy, excited challengers. By building a beautiful, livable house and integrating the PV panels into the design, "instead of slapping them on the roof as an afterthought", the group says they hope to "show that solar power is not a fringe market, but a viable energy source." A noble cause indeed!

Thus begins their prefab SNAP (Super Nifty Action Package) house; construction begins this month. All parts of the house will be easy to ship, since the team will design/build in Austin, then ship SNAP to Washington, D.C. for the contest, which will be judged in 12 months.

In addition to the funky and efficient bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, etc., the Battery SNAP is another "room" that contains the batteries necessary to store all of the energy generated with the solar panels. The Battery SNAP will also house the batteries to charge the electric car, a requirement of the Solar Decathlon. Additionally, SNAP will be topped off with a green roof, a feature we love. Thanks to Kenny Grosssman of the UT team for the tip! ::UT SolarD [by MO]