Appalachian State is "People's Choice" in Global Solar Decathlon

Student-designed, student-made solar homestead competed in nation's capital

Appalachian State University won the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 People's
Choice Award for its Solar Homestead. This award gave the public the opportunity to vote for its favorite house. This year, 92,538 votes were cast.

The award was announced Saturday Oct. 1, 2011, at a Victory Reception in the solar village in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. – the last official event of Solar Decathlon 2011. The App. State team ranked 1st in hot water; 2nd in communications; 3rd in architecture; 6th in market appeal; and 6th in energy balance. A team from the University of Maryland took top honors at the Solar Decathlon, the competition for small, cost-effective solar-powered houses sponsored by the Department of Energy.

On Oct. 24, 2012 it was announced that Deltec Homes will make App State's solar homestead available in either kit form or, for customers in western North Carolina, as a finished building.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, is is the firs time a home designed by students for the U.S. Energy Department's Solar Decathlon is being marketed nationwide.

The Appalachian State University Solar Homestead competed alongside 19 other universities from around the world in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon. From Sept. 23 until Oct. 2, the National Mall in the nation's capital became a temporary solar home village featuring student projects from China, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium and other states and nations.

Students on Appalachian State University's Solar Homestead team worked day and night to complete their entry, which they designed and constructed themselves. All houses in the competition ran exclusively on solar power, and ASU's Solar Homestead includes solar panels that receive light from both the sun in the sky and reflected sunlight from below, increasing efficiency and performance by 30 percent.

The home consists of 984 feet of inside space and another 1,000 feet of porch and deck space. The solar panels act as a canopy and roof over the porch. The porch extends into a deck, which will include a 120-foot flex space that can be used as an office or guest room. The homes can't have more than 1,000 square feet of air-conditioned space, according to the competition rules. The Solar Homestead totals nearly 2,000 square feet, including the porch and deck space. “We read the rules and bent them,” said Ed Pavia, a grad student from Rochester, N.Y, and media coordinator for the team. “Our house is one of the biggest homes to ever be in the competition.”

ASU Chancelor


Chancellor Kenneth Peacock sends off the Solar Homestead team

Heather Kinsey, a spring graduate and lead electrical designer on the project, said she has learned more than she ever could have imagined designing and installing the Solar Homestead's system. “This project illustrates how architecturally amazing and mainstream renewable energy can be,” she said.

Richard King, director of the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Solar Decathlon, said that among the 40 project proposals the Department of Energy reviewed, ASU's project was in the top 20 picked. “We fell in love with [ASU's design] as soon as we saw it in the proposal stage,” King said.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenged collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

To donate to ASU's Solar Homestead project, please visit the project's Web site.

Read Gov. Bev Perdue's letter welcoming visitors to the Solar Homestead.

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