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ODU/HU Student Team Chosen to Compete in Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon

A team of students from Old Dominion University and Hampton University has been selected as one of 20 finalists from around the world to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon in fall 2011.

The ODU and HU students - along with teams from such schools as Ohio State University, Purdue University, Tongji University in Shanghai, China, and Ghent University in Ghent, Belgium - will compete to design, build and operate the most affordable, attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

The houses will be erected along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for two weeks in fall 2011.

"Both ODU engineering and Hampton University architecture students worked very hard to be selected to compete in this, one of the most rigorous Solar Decathlon competitions since it was first held in 2002," said Mujde Erten-Unal, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director of the Sustainable Development Institute.

Other faculty involved in the competition include co-PIs Jaewan Yoon associate professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Stella Bondi, assistant professor in Engineering Technology.

The ODU student project leader is John Whitelaw, a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering.

"What an honor for these students from Old Dominion University and Hampton University," said Oktay Baysal, Dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

"This is an opportunity to demonstrate our students' knowledge and creativity in environmental engineering concepts on a very visible stage."

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said: "These students are tomorrow's leaders in helping develop a clean energy economy. Their innovative projects will help raise public awareness about energy efficiency, help save consumers money and reduce carbon pollution."

The ODU/HU proposed project is called Unit 6 Unplugged. It's an effort toward developing buildings with net-zero energy use for tight urban quarters, something that will help ensure the efficiency of cities in the future.

Described as a market-competitive, affordable urban housing solution, Unit 6 Unplugged is part of a six-unit, multifamily infill building for a central city site. Its key features include:

  • A deep, shaded balcony for three-season comfort that incorporates operable windows and thermal mass so it can convert to a sunspace for use in cold weather;
  • A circulation core that contains mechanical systems such as a water heater and storage tank, and a combined heat and power system that distributes water and power to the house; and
  • Commercially available photovoltaic and thermal products mounted on the roof and within the core.

Applications for the 2011 competition were evaluated by a panel of engineers, scientists and experts from DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Teams selected for the Solar Decathlon had to meet specific criteria to demonstrate their viability, including their ability to design and build an innovative, entirely solar-powered house, to raise additional funds, to support the project through a well-integrated curriculum, and to assemble a team necessary to carry the project through to completion.

In addition, a panel of professionals from the American Institute of Architects, National Association of Home Builders, U.S. Green Building Council, building industry media, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers evaluated conceptual designs from prospective teams.

The results of their evaluations, combined with scores based on the four criteria listed above, determined the 2011 Solar Decathlon teams.

This article was posted on: April 19, 2010

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