Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Feature: An Inside View from the Solar Homestead at the National Mall

What can ASU students teach the entire nation 
about how to reduce residential energy use?
Maybe how to design & build a solar-powered house that blends energy-efficiency, cost, and appearance that can perform in real world situations?
This is exactly what has been happening this week on the National Mall in Washington D.C. where 19 collegiate teams from 5 countries are competing in The Solar Decathlon. The competition is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy to promote student innovation for green building and renewable energy technologies.
Appalachian State University’s entry, The Solar Homestead, is the result of over 2 years of hard work by students, faculty, volunteers, and support from the entire high country and North Carolina community. ASU is currently in 8th place overall and Number 1 in the People’s Choice Award. The NCEEA talked to David Lee, Communications Manager for the Homestead, to get an insider’s view from the National Mall and find out what has been happening this week.

                The excitement began with Senator Kay Hagan as the first official tour of the Solar Homestead. The team was exhausted after an all-nighter to get the home done but very proud to be representing North Carolina. Response from the tours has been that it is an amazingly practical and beautiful home and that has been acknowledged by the People’s Choice Award.
                The Homestead has been performing great as a whole, even fighting the DC humidity. This week has been relentlessly cloudy and the team has had to make tough decisions about which points and contests to go after, focusing on efficiency. Dave stresses that in the competition setting it takes a lot of effort, across many different appliances and features, to become completely net-zero energy in a week. But over a longer time period, balancing energy use and production doesn’t relate to any loss of comfort or convenience for homeowners.
                 In the Home Entertainment Contest that includes hosting a dinner party & movie for their neighbors, the team had Illinois and Florida International University over for dinner. They cooked bruschetta with goat cheese, PLT’s, autumn squash soup shooters, Carolina dry rubbed pork, apple blueberry bars, and served Cheerwine bringing the Carolina pioneer spirit to DC.  For these delicious recipes, to follow the results, and to see who wins the 2011 Solar Decathlon visit the website at www.solardecathlon.gov.
 Photo courtesy of The Solar Homestead

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