AUSTIN, Texas—Organized by the U.S. Department of Energy in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Solar Decathlon competition challenges university teams to design and build an 800-square-foot, solar-powered house to compete with 17 other entries in 10 events evaluating the ingenuity, energy efficiency and architecture of the house.
The faculty and students of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin are supervising the university’s SolarD Team of about 40 undergraduate and graduate students from the schools of Architecture and Law and the colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts.
SNAP House model created by the UT SolarD team. The house is under construction at 2006 Leona Street in Austin, near the UT softball field.
The solar-powered residence is currently under construction as part of a School of Architecture studio class on university property at 2600 Leona Street and involves the latest technologies for energy efficiency and sustainable building materials. The building relies on a prefabrication building method, where prefabricated modules conveniently fit on semi-trucks and snap together on site. In early fall, the house will be shipped to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where it will be reassembled and placed on display from Oct. 7-16.
The purpose of the Solar Decathlon competition is to promote solar energy as a viable, healthy and cost-effective alternative to traditional energy. The competition focuses most visibly on solar photovoltaic (PV) energy production, although the 10 contests of the decathlon also explore such issues as thermal comfort, livability and system efficiency.
The SNAP House was designed with prefabrication technology in mind. It breaks conveniently into four semi-truck dimensioned modules with utilities grouped into these units. A system of rails and boat rollers is used to construct the house to allow the house to literally slide and snap together. The resting place for the house after the competition is still undecided, but the UT SolarD Team hopes the house will come back to Austin and serve the community as an educational show house for green building.
The UT SolarD Team’s goal is to empower the public to change from energy-consumers into energy-producers through the creation of a solar-powered house that is affordable and healthy for both homeowners and the environment. The team will also demonstrate that a beautifully designed house, made of resource-efficient materials and systems, is equally essential and desirable.
The UT SolarD Team is raising all the funds for the project and depending on material donations to complete the house. To become a sponsor or for more information about the project, visit the UT SolarD Web site.
For more information contact: Rachel Carson, Solar Decathlon Team, 512-217-5253, or Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.