Posts Tagged ‘Solar Decathalon’

Team Germany wins DOE’s Solar Decathalon

October 25, 2009

Team Germany won DOE’s solar decatholon again, largely on the shoulders of the points it scored for generated surplus energy.  Right behind in second place was the University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana (oskee wow wow, my alma mater) with a more more traditional looking home.  The simple and elegant U of I design showed that home can look like what we’re all used to–not something out of the Jetsons–and still be incredibly energy-efficient and even net energy producers.  You can build homes that ooze comfort just like Grandma’s home but that can be heated, cooled, and power for next to nothing.

Actually, this is no surprise on the new construction side.  We’ve been able to do that for years.  It’s generally more difficult to get to net-zero in existing homes.  But there is a lot that can be done to make existing homes much more comfortable and use less than half the energy they’re using now.  It ain’t rocket science–but it is building science, and you’ve got to choose wisely to get there.

Thanks,
Mike

Secretary Chu touts efficiency at solar event

October 13, 2009

Although he was at the solar decathalon in part to promote solar technology, Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu also made a point about making buildings–including homes–more energy efficient.  According to CNET,  

[Secretary Chu] said that in nearly all the many homes he has lived in, making the houses more energy efficient “became a little hobby of mine.” Chu and his wife used to ask to see the energy bills of the previous homeowners and made a game of trying to reduce the bills by 50 percent. Most of the changes are simple and cost hundreds, not thousands of dollars, he said.

“I started doing this long before I knew about climate change. And I have to confess the only reason I was doing that is because I’m fundamentally cheap,” he joked.

Some changes are simple and cheap.  Others more require professional assistance.  But done right, they not only save energy, but make your home more comfortable and safer, too.  How about if DOE signed on to aggressively promote the Thousand Home Challenge to encourage deep energy-efficiency in existing homes to show the country what the possiblities are?

Thanks,
Mike

Solar Decathalon Set-up

October 7, 2009

I’m in DC this week.  Yesterday, while walking across the National Mall between meetings at DOE and EPA, I saw some of the set up for the homes competing in DOE’s Solar Decathalon.  While these are small demonstration projects, they offer a chance to showcase effective technology and for teams to try out new approaches.  One thing that was interesting is that a lot of the projects use technologies and practices identical to or similar to what GreenHomes uses in existing homes today.  I think what it comes down to is that good approaches make sense whether you’re talking new construction, or retofitting existing homes.  While you can visit the Solar Decathlon site for more images as set up is completed, here are a few early peaks.

Cornell's entry

Cornell's entry

I note they use a Renewaire ERV

I note this team used a Renewaire ERV

The DOE educational display

The DOE educational display

A flurry of construction by the teams

A flurry of construction by the teams

Thanks,
Mike


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