Solar house built with UW talent finishes fourth in international competition
WATERLOO REGION — An experimental solar house designed partly by University of Waterloo students placed fourth in an international competition that ended this weekend.
Team North – whose members are students from the University of Waterloo, Ryerson University in Toronto and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. — was among 20 teams entered in the Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C.
Team Germany won top honors for designing, building and operating the most attractive and efficient solar-powered home. The University of Illinois took second place and Team California, third.
“We are so impressed and so proud of our team and everyone who worked so hard during the last two years,” said Maun Demchenko, a University of Waterloo student working on her Master’s degree in architecture.
The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, challenged the university-led teams to compete in 10 contests, ranging from architecture, market viability, communications, lighting design and engineering. Technical elements were also measured, including how well the homes provided energy for space heating and cooling, hot water, home entertainment, appliances and net metering.
The competition is held every two years with teams showcasing their solar-powered homes on the Washington Mall.
The hope is that companies will eventually be able to one day create energy-efficient homes for people to live in.
“Demchenko said the competition shows “the entire world that you can so something. It can change the way we live.”
Because there were so many different models at the competition, she said there was something for everyone. If people didn’t like one model, they could look at another. Or, she said, they could find little things in each that they could incorporate into their own home.
“It gives people a lot of different options,” Demchenko said. “That was our goal and the goal of the competition.”
Team Germany’s winning Cube House was designed to produce a surplus of power even during three days of rain. They earned 908.29 points out of a possible 1,000. They also won the competition in 2007.
Team North’s 800-square-foot house, which is surrounded by a 3,500-square-foot cedar deck, scored 849.82 points.
The house has a flat roof supported by walls of glass and solar panels. It had one multifunctional room where everything folds away when it’s not needed.
Because of Canada’s cool winter climate, the team designed highly insulated, floor-to-ceiling windows and vertical photovoltaic panels on the south, east, and west sides to capture northern-latitude winter sun.
“It’s just an honour,” Demchenko said of their placement.
The team hopes to take their house to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics.
To learn more about the competition and the winners go to the decathlon website, U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon Home Page