Solar Decathlon ’13 Team Kicks Off Spring Construction

Middlebury’s Solar Decathlon ’13 team gave students, faculty, staff, and the community a first look at their solar-powered home this week, and MiddMag was there for the fun.

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  1. I’m very proud that my Alma Mater has moved past book-learning to real life learning. Leading the way to green living is a very hopeful direction for college students to take. May the housing and construction industries learn from your experiments and make low-cost sustainable housing available to all.

  2. The David Stone Tree House Fund is available to fund student led projects like this.

  3. I am thrilled that this design competition is being engaged by Middlebury students. I watched the video and wish to remark on the design. I’ll make some assumptions: the PV array is aimed south and that it is designed for the northern part of North America…such as Vermont. If those are correct, I wonder about the apparent absence of planning for summer passive cooling which solar designs such as our home just 12 miles west of Middlebury in Bridport have been using: shading the south facing windows. I also note that the PV array is not on the roof of the house (the house’s footprint environmental impact is unavoidable if we’re to have places to live out in the country…and

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    I hope we always can have that opportunity) but on the land in front of the house…as is ours in Bridport. There may be some problems with this worth studying. The health of the plants in the planters in the shadow of the array may offer some good food for thought on the environmental impact of such shadows. The array will keep rain from the planters and the lack of sun will starve them of energy…and they won’t be absorbing as much CO2 as they could. But the PVs are there to avoid CO2 emissions…right? That’s assuming that the array is on-grid and that there is no electrical energy storage in the house. It’s hard to avoid that environmental impact, especially if the roof is covered in plants…so there’s no better place to put the PVs. That’s another assumption and assumptions are dangerous…”makes and ass of u and me.” Teaser: imagine what R-35 glazing would do for our home designs. I am planning to make a bedroom/office at my home that has a glass roof so I can watch a snowstorm or thunderstorm from there. I love storms. But thermal performance is important in such imaginative/outlandish ideas as mine. Our home in Bridport has a lot of glass, especially in the south walls (shaded, of course, from summer intrusion into the house) and we recognize that those windows (at R-3.8) are essentially thermal holes in the walls of the house. And speaking of thermal aspects. The array is going to get hot (just go and touch the top surface of one…and the bottom…to learn a little more about these devices) and that heat will warm the air over the array which will be blown into the house if there is a southern breeze–the most common wind direction is southerly in the summer– and tend to warm the house.
    Our house is available for touring/inspection to Middlebury students such as those designing the solar competition house. Please feel free to come and see what works in the design we are (still) working on and what does not work. The house and our work on it can be a resource for you. And, I’ve problems there I need to solve, so, you folks can be a resource for me.
    Best,

    Paul Kenyon

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We hope to create a lively discussion on MiddMag.com and invite you to add your voice. Please keep comments civil and relevant to the news item at hand. MiddMag.com may remove comments that do not follow these guidelines.

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