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University of Texas at Austin Solar Decathlon Team Wins BP Solar Design Competition

The University of Texas at Austin 2007 Solar Decathlon Team (UTSolarD) won first place in the BP Solar design contest, part of this year’s solar decathlon competition.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin 2007 Solar Decathlon Team (UTSolarD) won first place in the BP Solar design contest, part of this year’s solar decathlon competition. 

Seven universities submitted design plans that met four criteria addressing commercial, economic, technical and overall efficient design aspects.

“This is the second time BP Solar has held an independent design competition and this is the second time that UT Austin has won—and we applaud them,” said Mary Shields, BP Solar president for North America. “It’s amazing to see how all the schools responded with innovative solutions. It’s this type of creativity that is taking the industry to the next level, making solar a cost effective alternative for the mainstream homeowner.”

The Solar Decathlon is a biennial event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, BP Solar, the American Institute of Architects and Sprint. The Department of Energy selects 20 schools to compete in 10 contests. Teams are challenged to produce a design that will sustain everyday household functions, power a car and provide a comfortable and attractive place to live. Teams composed of engineering and architectural students from participating universities design, construct, transport and erect completely sustainable solar homes and display them on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Each entry is judged on 10 criteria, including style, innovation and efficiency.

The University of Texas at Austin Solar Decathlon Team (UTSolarD) is a research group of more than 30 students and faculty from Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape, Fine Arts, Advertising, Engineering and Business disciplines, directed through the School of Architecture and its Center for Sustainable Development.

“The students were thrilled to have won the award, and excited to use BP Solar technology in their prototype home for the 2007 Solar Decathlon,” said Samantha Randall, assistant professor and faculty adviser. “They’ve been working on a design that integrates dynamic living spaces with organic, intelligent systems—a high-performance home that will change the way people think about energy, and demonstrate ways to live life in better balance with the power of the sun.”

“The past Solar Decathlons have been very successful in creating greater awareness for the potential of solar energy and in advancing the science and technology of photovoltaics through the efforts of the participating universities,” said Shields. “We support the Department of Energy’s policy of advancing key scientific and education goals related to energy and renewable sources of power.”

The BP Solar Internal Design Competition was based on four criteria:

  1. How will you commercialize your innovation? What are the innovations which set your school apart from the rest?
    What is your plan to commercialize and market these innovations?
  2. How far can you push the envelope? How has your team advanced module mounting technology? What is your overall
    cost per Watt for the system racking? How do you keep your team safe on the rooftop?
  3. How close is your house to grid parity? What is the overall cost per kWh for your design? How does this compare
    with your local, loaded electric rates? How long is the return on investment for your system?
  4. How well can you take the heat? How does your design channel heat to maximize the solar electric performance? How
    does your house optimize airflow to minimize cooling loads?

The University of Texas at Austin team will receive free BP Solar modules for the house they will display at the 2007 Decathlon, to be held next fall on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

For more information contact: Amy Maverick Crossette, School of Architecture, 512-573-1078.