One of the most prestigious international solar competitions, the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., is about to get underway. The 19 participating teams from across the globe, among them are Purdue University of Indiana’s INhome, are shipping their homes to the West Potomac Park of the National Mall where they’ll be on display to the public from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2.
This marks Purdue University’s first entrance in the event, said Purdue INhome team spokesperson McKenna Regan.
“Our head professor, Bill Hutzel, went to the competition back in 2007 and thought that there needed to be a Purdue entry since Purdue is known for their strong presence in engineering. In 2009, a group of students went to the Solar Decathlon and decided to write the initial proposal to be a contender for the 2011 Solar Decathlon,” she said. “Our team members are very excited and honored to represent Purdue and Indiana for the first time in this elite competition.”
Home designs for the Solar Decathlon range from the extreme and futuristic, like the University of Hawaii’s Hale Pilihonua house (the team withdrew its application) to designs based on more traditional homes, like that of the INhome designed by the Purdue team.
“INhome, short for Indiana home, was designed to appeal to the broad residential market,” Regan said.
As such, it may hold additional appeal to the Decathlon’s Market Appeal contest.
“We wanted to show that you do not have to give up your current way of life to live sustainably. We wanted a house that would fit in a neighborhood here in the Midwest to show the residential consumers they do not have to give up modern comforts or amenities to live sustainably. To do this we designed a more traditional style of solar living,” Regan said.
As part of the preparation for the Decathlon, the home has already hosted events and scenarios, according to Regan.
“We hosted dinner parties, watched movies, watched laundry, everything you would do in your home. We were pleasantly surprised that the layout of the home and the systems in the house allowed us to easily perform these tasks,” she said.
The house has also already been disassembled—twice.
“Once the INhome is finally assembled in on the West Potomac Mall, it will have been built and been reassembled three times,” Regan said.
It was first built over the summer, but as part of the learning process, the team fully disassembled the house.
“This really shortened the rebuild process ‘learning curve.’ Many small details that would have otherwise been missed were caught and accounted for. A few examples would were not disconnecting all of the electrical wires, or learning the fastest and most effective way to cut apart our drywall.”
All that’s good because after the competition, the home will be moved to the greater Lafayette, Ind., region where a family will live in it. Even while the home will continue to participate in Purdue University research.
image courtesy of Purdue University