The Solar Decathlon Europe was held earlier this summer from June 18-27 in Madrid, Spain. The Solar Decathlon Europe was a competition to design and construct a home that produced at least as much energy as it used via solar technology. In June, 17 research universities from 7 countries representing North America, Europe and Asia entered the Solar Decathlon Europe competition.
Solar Decathlon Europe was a joint venture between Spain’s Ministry of Housing and the U.S. government. Previously, the Solar Decathlon competitions have been held in the United States, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. In these competitions, universities from all over the world have been invited to join the competition. The first decathlon was held in 2002. The second competition was held in 2005. The third was held in 2007 and the most recent decathlon was held in October 2009. All of these competitions have been held on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
There are four main objectives to the decathlon. The first is to educate the public about renewable energy. The second is to raise awareness of students in architecture and engineering studies to the value of renewable energy in their projects. The next objective is to encourage the use of renewable technologies and bring them to the marketplace. Lastly, the objective is to show the public and members of the architecture and engineering fields that renewable energy technologies used in their work can be energy efficient and cost effective.
Each entry in the competition was judged in 10 categories which included Architecture, Communication and Social Awareness, Industrialization and Market Viability, Construction and Engineering, Solar Systems and Hot Water, Comfort Conditions, Appliances and Functioning, Innovation and Sustainability. The first place overall prize in this year’s Solar Decathlon Europe went to ‘Lumenhaus’, the entry from Virginia Tech. The winning entry was 800 sq. ft. in size. Lumenhaus competed in the U.S. Solar Decathlon last year but finished well out of first place. Since then, the students and faculty refined and improved their house for the European competition. Lumenhaus took its inspiration from Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. The house’s north and south walls are constructed completely from glass. This design generates the most exposure to natural light. The home’s operating systems are connected to and can be controlled by an iPhone application. Also, the design of the home is modular to allow individual units to be connected to each other or stacked on top of each other to create a larger home.
Congratulations to the team from Virginia Tech for their first place finish! Faculty, grad students and undergraduate students all contributed to the design and construction representing the College of Architecture and Urban Design, the College of Engineering, the Pamplin College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Services.
Is this or a similar house the house of the future? What ideas do you believe architects, contractors, builders and future homeowners should consider when building or purchasing new homes? Is sustainability the new paradigm going forward?
View the videos below to see Lumenhaus, the house of the future!