The 2011 Solar Decathlon hosted by the Department of Energy ended last weekend in Washington, DC. The event featured 19 solar-powered homes designed and built by students and faculty from universities across the country and abroad. In addition to home energy performance, competing entries were also judged across 10 categories measuring affordability, livability, and marketability.
To achieve a perfect score for affordability, a house had to cost less than $250,000. Only two teams- Parsons NS Stevens and Team Belgium- achieved this goal. Thirteen other teams, including the top three entrants (University of MD, Purdue, and New Zealand’s Victoria University), constructed homes with an estimated cost of under $350,000. To put that in perspective, the average sales price of a new home in the United States in 2011 is approximately $265,000, according to the US Census Bureau (though these are indeed modular homes).
The Maryland WaterShed project scored atop the list for energy balance, hot water systems, and architectural design. The Terrapins’ contest winner included a solar PV array, solar thermal system, energy-efficient appliances and structure, and a buttefly-wing cooling roof that captures and harvests rainwater. With its energy production, efficient design, and natural resource conversation, the WaterShed home could provide its own energy needs year-round.