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Nobel Prize Recipient Tours Solar Decathlon Village

Originally published on 1Sun4All.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 houses are totally cool. They have a look of functional beauty, reports Solar Decathlon. And once inside, they’re even more cool. Visitors marvel at the innovative features and see smart controls at work. Indeed, these houses are both beautiful and fun to live in. The following is from the Solar Decathlon blog:

Cool Houses, Cool Energy, Cool Science

solar decathlon

Walter Kohn, right, recipient of The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1998, takes a guided tour of  Team Austria’s entry with student Philipp Klebert at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California on October 11, 2013. | Credit: Eric Grigorian | U.S. Department of Energy

The technology is cool, too. Teams are using solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight directly into electricity. No moving parts and no emissions. Way cool! Shades open and close automatically according to how strong the sun is. Phase-change materials heat or cool to complement passive design. Energy-saving LED lights use just a tiny bit of electricity.

solar decathlon

Deck on the Living Inspired by Sustainable Innovation (LISI) house entered by Team Austria in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. | Photo credit: Jason Flakes | U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

LISI generates more power than it uses over the course of a year. The house adapts to a range of climate zones and flexes to meet a variety of lifestyles.

Note: See our earlier article with videos about the Vienna Institute of Technology, LISI house.

solar decathlon

Walter Kohn, center, recipient of The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1998, takes a guided tour of Team Austria’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 entry with students Philipp Klebert, left, and Claus Andreas Schnetzer, right. | Photo credit: Eric Grigorian | U.S. Department of Energy.

Cool also means lower temperatures. The weather in October starts getting a little cooler. And we’d all like to make the climate a little cooler. What everyone is going to see at the Solar Decathlon are some really cool houses that are producing clean energy as well as using it in cool ways.

solar decathlon

Inside the house built by students from Team Austria of the Vienna Institute of Technology to compete in Solar Decathlon 2013 | Photo credit: Jason Flakes | U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Features of LISI

  • Renewable and eco-friendly construction and insulation materials made of timber are easily transported and provide indoor climate comfort and carbon-neutrality.
  • Changeable architectural elements create a variety of sensory conditions—closing to form a protective cocoon for occupants and opening to allow them to expand their space.
  • Two patios create a balance between interior and exterior and public and semi-public spaces.
  • The passive solar design, combined with an automated screen and awning system, provides shade to keep the living spaces cool and comfortable.
  • A patio herb garden draws water from a rainwater reservoir.
  • Generous storage, completely integrated into the walls, frees the primary indoor space from clutter.

What’s more, the students and faculty are learning something new as they design and build their competition houses. Starting with a clean sheet of paper, teams develop one-of-a-kind houses designed to win the competition—designed to be the best houses that have ever been designed.

solar decathlon

Interior view of the bathroom in the house built by students from Team Austria of the Vienna Institute of Technology to compete in Solar Decathlon 2013. | Photo credit: Jason Flakes | U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Technologies of LISI

  • Photovoltaic modules provide an annual surplus, which can be used to power electric bikes or vehicles.
  • A centralized utility room contains all the automated mechanical systems the house needs, including a photovoltaics monitor, ventilation, plumbing, and hot water supply.
  • Two high-efficiency, air-water heat pumps supply cold and hot water for space heating and cooling as well as for domestic hot water.
  • An energy-recovery ventilation unit acts as a heat and humidity exchanger between exhaust air and fresh intake air to keep the living spaces comfortable and healthy.
  • A multifunctional subfloor system regulates the indoor climate using water, air, and active cubic capacity.
  • A heat-recovering shower tray reduces the energy demand for hot water by almost one-third.
  • Through a tablet application, the automated house control hub, energy performance history, and live data can be accessed in an intuitive way.

The Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO are both taking place in Irvine, California through Sunday, October 13.

It’s FREE! Public hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily:

  • Saturday, October 12 – Sunday, October 13, 2013
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Written By

-- I am an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, graphic designer, and constant student of many studies. 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. I formerly designed and managed a clean energy website, 1Sun4All.com.

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