Lessons for Builders at 2015 Solar Decathlon

Featured image: UC Davis team’s entry in the 2015 Solar Decathlon. Photo courtesy of solardecathlon.gov.

The Solar Decathlon, hosted by the United States Department of Energy, is an annual competition for students in engineering and architecture to design and build houses that are solar-powered, energy-efficient, affordable, and beautifully designed. Teams from various colleges and universities come up with innovative solutions for the future of housing, many of which can be implemented by the builders of today.

EcoBuilding Pulse has just published a video featuring several teams with ideas that could really be used by builders.

The team from the Univeristy of California, Davis, used a “night sky radiant cooling system” which sprays chilled water on the house’s radiant slabs, eliminating the need for an air conditioning system in hot climates like California. This saves up to 50% in household energy consumption.

Aggie Sol, the house designed by the UC Davis team. Photo courtesy of solardecathlon.gov.


The team from the Stevens Institute of Technology, impacted by 2012 Superstorm Sandy, endeavored to build a house that is flood-proof using standard building materials for the house and for “storm plugs” which are protective panels that bolt into the windows and shutters that fold down to cover the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors to the patio.

Elevation view of the entry by Stevens Institute of Technology, called the SURE House. Photo courtesy of solardecathlon.gov.


Clemson University‘s team streamlined the construction process of their home by designing 3D-printed, prefabricated parts which can be easily assembled, with all the cutouts for utilities already there, saving the need for numerous skilled laborers to perform specialized tasks on a construction site.

An example of the pre-fabricated utility system in Clemson University’s entry, called Indigo Pine. Photo courtesy of solardecathlon.gov


Watch the video at the EcoBuilding Pulse website, or read more about the Solar Decathlon at their website.