If we’re going to build for the future, it is the students learning today that will build it, and this year students decided to design their own future homes. Most interestingly, we get to see a vision from all groups that showed solar power is only a small part of the much broader design considerations that must be made.
The 2019 Solar Decathlon announced its ten Design Challenge winners, and the overall winner – Virginia Polytechnic Institution and State University (VT and VPI) – had only a few slides out (below) of 100 in its presentation (.pdf) focused on solar power.
The treeHAUS is a pre-fabricated home built to help the VT and VPI campus grow, while also integrating itself into – and minimizing its effect on – the local environment. The 12 unit / 30 bedroom site includes a 50 kWdc solar power system on the roofs, with which the group projects it will generate 60 MWh/yr of electricity – a 16.4% capacity factor.
Approximately 15% of the energy needs are projected to come from the solar power installation. The site also projects electricity and heat from collected food waste (below). The structure is outfitted with heat pumps and hardware that can run on either electricity or gas directly.
The site is dependent on getting roughly 2/3 of food waste from the main campus nearby.
The systems is designed to focus on making student life more efficient. For instance, there was significant acoustic analysis done. Those of us who lived in dorms can all attest to the various sounds – music, arguments, and so much more – that come from our nearby mates. The system also integrates block chain and machine learning to track individual energy usage, and fine tune the living system to the user’s actions.
Other winners of the 2019 Solar Decathlon included:
- SUBURBAN SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING DIVISION
- URBAN SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING DIVISION
- ATTACHED HOUSING DIVISION
- MIXED-USE MULTIFAMILY HOUSING DIVISION
- ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DIVISION
- OFFICE BUILDING DIVISION