Originally published on 1Sun4All.
The Solar Decathlon 2015 team, West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata, has designed a house that merges Italian and Appalachian design concepts with innovative energy techniques. STILE is a simple and compact house covered by an elegant, classically inspired arch that runs north to south to support solar panels and create a natural shaded patio that will provide passive cooling.
You may remember West Virginia University’s Net-Zero Log Cabin from the 2013 competition. An interesting note is that the state of West Virginia has a history and an economy interwoven with the coal industry and solar-powered homes may not be as popular in the Mountain State as in other states.
This is the first spotlight on a competing team in Solar Decathlon 2015 and comes from Ernie Tucker, a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon communications team.
STILE (the Italian spelling of “style”) stands for Sustainable Technologies Integrated in a Learning Experience and draws upon Appalachian roots and centuries-old Roman tradition.
The aroma of Italian cooking will waft from STILE, the West Virginia/Rome entry in Solar Decathlon 2015, during the team’s dinner parties. Those meals will showcase the Italian influence on this partnership between West Virginian and Italian cultures.
To formulate project plans, the team has had to overcome obstacles—an effort that has helped unify the group. Something as simple as organizing team meetings requires careful coordination to bridge the six-hour time difference.
To further team bonds, some members from West Virginia University traveled to Rome last summer to work directly on the project with their Italian teammates. In addition, two Roman decathletes are currently studying at West Virginia University.
While in Morgantown, the Italian decathletes can experience West Virginia’s more rustic style and the 19th-century influences that shaped the STILE project. They can also see PEAK, West Virginia University’s Solar Decathlon 2013 house, in its permanent home at the West Virginia Botanic Garden.
The experience of building PEAK, an acronym for “Preserving Energy with Appalachian Knowledge,” has helped smooth the current process.
Last time, we had trouble with plumbing. Now, we have a better understanding of the competition, thanks to things that came up unexpectedly in 2013. –Sharrafti Kuzmar, a junior studying electrical engineering who was also on West Virginia University’s Solar Decathlon 2013 team.
In addition to house design, the two universities are collaborating closely on the logistics of transporting STILE. As they ready for the first assembly of the house this summer, the team is also looking ahead to other aspects of the competition. One Italian student, who happens to be writing a cookbook, is eager to plan the menus for the team’s competition dinner parties, part of the Home Life Contest.
Thinking about attending Solar Decathlon? This year’s competition is scheduled to take place at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California from October 8 through October 18.
The Solar Decathlon competition houses will be open to visitors — free of charge — from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily on eight days over two weekends:
- Thursday, October 8–Sunday, October 11, 2015.
- Thursday, October 15–Sunday, October 18, 2015.