We are getting close to the beginning of the judging for the Solar Decathlon 2015. It will take place Oct. 8–18, 2015, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The Solar Decathlon competition houses will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily on eight days over two weekends:
Thursday, Oct. 8–Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015
Thursday, Oct. 15–Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.
The remaining dates, the Solar Decathlon village will be closed for competition activities.
Here is a little background on some of the teams:
Missouri S&T: Missouri University of Science and Technology
For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, Missouri University of Science and Technology is continuing a family tradition with Nest Home, a house designed for young families that want to raise their children in an educational and sustainable environment. The house is designed to accommodate up to two children and their parents, who can work from home at least part-time. Homeschooling and other educational activities are considered in the design as well.
The Missouri team envisions Nest Home as a solution for young families that want to live sustainably, yet comfortably, in a home that expands as the family grows. Nest Home’s design includes sliding doors that allow private spaces to blend into a central gathering area or be secluded sanctuaries. Its structure of repurposed shipping containers is both sustainable and flexible. Additional containers can be added or subtracted to allow for changing family needs. Every aspect of the Nest Home is designed to bring the family closer while giving members the space they need to grow.
Texas/Germany: The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Partnering across the world with Technische Universitaet Muenchen in Germany, the University of Texas at Austin returns to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2015 with a vision for its own backyard. The team’s ExW-Unit will address the energy-water nexus (ExW) through an accessory dwelling unit that can be placed in the literal backyard of a residential lot in Austin to operate as a unit of resource production.
Environmental and economic affordability are the goals of the team’s ExW-Unit concept. As a unit of production, the house will harness resources (such as solar energy, rainwater, and auxiliary water) that would otherwise be wasted and a burden on municipal infrastructure. Because lower-income families are more vulnerable to water and energy cost fluctuations, the ExW-Unit will increase occupants’ independence while contributing to their long-term economic, environmental, and social stability.
ExW-Unit is envisioned as a prototype for Austin’s Green Alley Flat Initiative, which proposes sustainable, green, affordable housing in the city’s underused alleyways. Thus, a key for success is modularity and flexibility of design. The tremendous variety of conditions in the backyards of Austin single-family properties—including trees, garages, fences, easements, and setbacks—means the ExW-Unit must be highly adaptable. Its two 420-ft2 modules (one housing living, dining, and kitchen areas and the other housing two bedrooms and a bath) can be placed in a number of configurations, reduced in scale, or sold individually to meet the needs of the site.