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Buildings Solar Decathlon

Published on October 30th, 2013 | by Amber Archangel

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Transforming Lives By Building Solar Decathlon Homes (Video)

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October 30th, 2013 by  

Originally published on 1Sun4All.

Lakiya Culley is a D.C. native and mother of three, reports the US Department of Energy. Lakiya wanted to be a homeowner, but with D.C.’s high cost of living, she wasn’t sure that was possible. Earlier this year, that dream became a reality thanks to volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. and students from Parsons The New School for Design, the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School, and Stevens Institute of Technology. In the following video, Lakiya talks about her Solar Decathlon 2011 solar-powered passive home — from its energy-saving features to how it is changing her family’s future and benefiting the environment. Lakiya helped build her home and other Habitat homes. By living in their energy efficient home, her life and the lives of her children are healthier and the money she saves on utility bills helps her send her kids to college. The following is from Energy.Gov:

Transforming a House into a Home

At universities all across the country, students are transforming the way we design and build homes — developing affordable housing solutions that save money by saving energy. From installing solar panels to using energy efficient devices, like washing machines and LED lights, a clean technology future means more comfort and savings at home. And this is having a profound impact on families.

Solar Decathlon

  Screenshot from the video

Lakiya’s story is just one example of how students are rising to the challenge of building solar-powered houses that are comfortable, energy efficient and affordable as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon while also changing the lives of families across the United States.

Through the Solar Decathlon, some of the nation’s best and brightest students are proving that owning ultra-efficient, solar-powered houses can be part of the middle class dream.

In 2011, the Affordability Contest was added to the competition to demonstrate that the Solar Decathlon houses aren’t just exhibits — many are within reach of American families. Teams embraced this task whole-heartedly. The Empowerhouse team — the students who helped build Lakiya’s home — came in first place with a cost estimate of less than $230,000, and overall the Solar Decathlon 2011 houses cost about 33 percent less than Solar Decathlon 2009 houses.

Solar Decathlon

Harvest Table at Team Capitol’s HARVEST HOME | I wrote an earlier story about HARVEST HOME and the team’s Harvest Table, click HERE for more information. | Photo credit: Michael Batori

This year, the teams’ houses have the potential to have an even larger impact on families. For example:

  • Team Capitol DC’s house will be donated to Wounded Warriors Homes, where it will become a home for a veteran returning from combat.
  • Stanford University will add an extra bedroom to their Start.Home to make it a home for the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve’s resident ranger and his family. At a cost of nearly $169,000 (and more than $65,000 less than other competition houses).
  • Norwich University’s house is designed to be affordable for Vermonters who earn 20 percent less than the state’s median income while helping them cut their skyrocketing energy bills. Now that the competition is over, the team plans to work with a Vermont homebuilder to make their design available locally.

The next U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon will take place June and July in Versailles, France. The Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 competition will be held adjacent to the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles, and will be attended by teams from sixteen different countries and four continents.

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About the Author

-- I am an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, and graphic designer, constant student of many studies and founder of 1Sun4All.com. Living with respect for the environment close at hand, the food chain, natural remedies for healing, the earth, people and animals is a life-long expression and commitment. As half of a home-building team, I helped design and build harmonious, sustainable and net-zero homes that incorporate clean air systems, passive and active solar energy as well as rainwater collection systems. Private aviation stirs a special appeal, I would love to fly in the solar airplane and install a wind turbine in my yard. I am a peace-loving, courageous soul, and I am passionate about contributing to the clean energy revolution.



  • Cobalt_Basement_Development

    Always good to see young people make such a positive impact.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Amber Archangel? Interesting name!

    The http://www.solardecathlon.gov/index.html site does not make it easy to see each of the teams solutions on the various criteria. :(

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