Solar Decathlon Houses Feature PV,
BIPV and Energy-Efficient Windows
September 22, 2011
By Sahely Mukerji, email@example.com
|Amy Howard, project manager of University
of Tennessee team, describes the features of Living Light.
|The Appalachian State University team cheers
in front of its Solar Homestead.
|The PV system of University of Calgary's "Turtle"
house operates 93 percent of its optimal efficiency.
|Florida International University's perFORM[D]ance
house uses floor-to-ceiling glass.
|Victoria University of Wellington First Light
House is 20 percent glass.
The U.S. Department of Energy's 5th Solar Decathlon opened today
at the West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C. This year's 8-acre solar
village includes 19 houses featuring innovative use of energy-efficient
glass and sustainable design. Solar decathletes from five countries
and four continents designed and constructed the novel structures.
All the houses feature photovoltaics (PV), says Richard King, director
of Solar Decathlon. Some houses feature solar thermal power, while
all are electric houses, he says.
The glass use in the following entries stood out:
- The University of Tennessee's 740-square-foot Living
Light zero energy house features 40 feet of glass along the north
and south faces, with 85 percent of its exterior envelope being
glass, says Amy Howard, project manager. "The north and south
walls are double-glass façades with the outer pane being
single pane, R-1 with a low-E coating, and the inner wall is two
layers of glass, two layers of Mylar with Argon fill," she
says. "That's where we have the insulating value." The
suspended film allows the entire wall system to be R-10, she says.
"The sun heats up the air in the south façade during
winter to supply pre-heated air to the house, and exhaust warm
air through the north to prevent heat loss," she says.
The university partnered with AGC Flat Glass North America of
Alpharetta, Ga., which supplied all the glass in the house, Howard
says. Kawneer Co. of Norcross, Ga., supplied the aluminum framing
The solar panels on the house come from Solyndra of Fremont, Calif.
"The flat orientation allows to extend the array as a shading
device," Howard says. Each solar panel produces 182 watts
per hours, and the whole array of 60 panels produces 10.9 kilowatts.
- University of Calgary's TRTL (Technological Residence,
Traditional Living) zero-energy house features a PV system that
operates 93 percent of its optimal efficiency, says Mikhael Horvath,
mechanical lead. The total array of 32 solar panels is from Conergy
of Germany produce 8.7 kW. The house, called "Turtle"
from TRTL, also features triple-glazed windows from Innotech Windows
and Doors of Abbotsford, B.C. The windows have an R5-plus rating,
two low-E coatings, warm-edge spacers, Argon fill and hybrid steel
framing, said Al Jaugelis, technical director of Innotech. "The
frames are made of UPVC [unplasticized PVC], and everything in
the frame is reinforced with steel that is bonded to the UPVC,"
he says. "They are very air-tight and have three weather
- The Appalachian State University's zero energy Solar
Homestead features a solar canopy that creates an outdoor living
space, says Chelsea Royall, a team member. "The bifacial
solar panels from Sanyo are integrated in the architecture, and
produce8.2 kw and 195 watts per panel," she says. The concentrating
solar skylight supplies all the hot water used in the home. All
the windows in the house are triple-glazed, R5, and supplied by
Kolbe of Wausau, Wis., except for the Trombe wall window. The
Trombe window stores heat during the day and releases during the
night, she says.
- Florida International University's perFORM[D]ance house
uses floor-to-ceiling glass for exterior walls and foldable doors
from NanaWall of Mill Valley, Calif., on three sides, says Deana
Sritalapat, a team member. "The south walls are relatively
solid because we didn't want it overheated," she says. "The
glass is impact-resistant and provides the maximum amount of natural
lighting while oriented north to provide a minimum level of heat
gain. The interior of the glass is protected by operable shades
and the exterior of the glass is protected by an operable louver
system." SunPower in San Jose, Calif., supplied the solar
panels on the house.
- New Zealand-based Victoria University of Wellington's
First Light house is 20 percent glass. "All the glass is
triple-glazed, Argon-filled and tempered," said Sophie Prebble,
a team member. Metro GlassTech of New Zealand supplied the glass.
- Tidewater Virginia team, comprising Old Dominion University
and Hampton University, built the Unit 6 Unplugged modular house
that features an outdoor porch with sliding glass walls. The porch
can be enclosed by closing the glass walls and works as a thermal
collector. The double-glazed windows in the south face and the
triple-glazed windows in the north face are supplied by Gayko
of Germany, and the solar panels are from Sanyo and Bosch.
The Solar Decathlon consists of 10
contests, and each contest is worth a maximum of 100 points,
for a competition total of 1,000 points. Click
here to see a list of the participating teams and their work.
here for more photos.
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