Students at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken NJ are crowing about their October 18 win at the 2015 US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon – they won first place for their solar-powered house among 16 top collegiate teams competing for the prize. Even better than the prize: they came up with SURE, a house design and renewable energy systems intended to withstand “the realities of a changing, more extreme climate.” It’s a house for our time – with many coastal communities facing a future that includes erosion, rising seas, and more severe storms.
The Solar Decathlon has been around since 2002, and now includes Decathlon events in Europe and China – with another coming soon in Latin America. Teams selected as competitors spend two years planning, designing, engineering, specifying and building a solar-powered home that meets the criteria set out by the US Department of Energy. (See bottom of our story for links to the Decathlons in Europe, China and earlier US contests.)
Sure Like the SURE House
“The SURE (sustainable + resilient) HOUSE, a high-performance, solar-powered house that is armored against extreme weather and can provide emergency power in the aftermath of a storm—packaged as a comfortable, beautiful shore house.”
Here are a few features that we like:
- It has an indoor-outdoor feel — just like a beach house –that adds living space with decks that can be used in three seasons.
- It feature a lot of natural light in the interior that will save on energy
- It can function even when power from the grid is off thanks to its solar system
- It has a modern vibe with clean, contemporary materials.
Why the judges loved SURE house (text from our friends at Stevens):
- A storm-rugged PV system supplies power when in the grid is down without the use of batteries.
- Working with local topography such as dunes, the SURE HOUSE can be raised slightly to avoid periodic nuisance flooding and encapsulate vital building systems in a storm-resistant shell.
- Thick insulation and rigorous air-sealing mean the SURE HOUSE is less sensitive to outdoor temperature swings and remains clean, safe, healthy, and comfortable inside.
The 2015 Competition
The 7th U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Orange, California, featured 16 university/technical school teams from the US, Central America, Singapore, Germany, and Rome that built solar-powered homes to compete for the big prize. The teams and their houses were put through the paces (design, energy efficiency, household functions such as cooking and laundry) in 10 different contests. Here’s your portal to the 2015 Decathlon
How Teams Competed – The Lineup
For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, collegiate teams devote two years to designing and building energy-efficient houses powered by the sun. In the final competition, the teams and their houses go head to head in 10 contests to determine an overall winner.
The winning team produced a house that:
- Is affordable, attractive, and easy to live in
- Maintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions
- Supplies energy for cooking, cleaning, entertainment, and commuting
- Provides adequate hot water
- Produces as much or more energy than it consumes.
Here’s the team lineup: Cal Poly, Clemson, Crowder/Drury, Florida/Singapore, Mass/Central America, Missouri S&T, New York City Tech, Sacramento State, Stevens, Team NY Alfred, Team Orange County, Team Tennessee, Texas/Germany, University at Buffalo, UC Davis, West Virginia/Rome, Yale
See the 2015 Solar Village take shape in this time-lapse photo sequence
Read and Learn More
Green News Update has been following the Solar Decathlon since 2005. Here are some of our stories about the competition and the teams — and what everyone learned from this intense, inspiring project.
European Solar Decathlon 2014 in Versailles France Wrapup story
US Solar Decathlon 2013 Wrapup story
Solar Decathlon China 2013 Wrapup story
European Solar Decathlon 2012 (Photo gallery)
European Solar Decathlon Wrapup story (2012)