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Solar Decathlon 2015: West Virginia/Rome Team Create STILE

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.

solar decathlon WVU

STILE, the house being designed by the West Virginia/Rome team, blends Italian and West Virginian influences. | Courtesy of the West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata Solar Decathlon 2015 team.

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.

solar decathlon WVA

Sharrafti Kuzmar, (center), shares a light moment with teammates and Solar Decathlon Director Richard King (left) while visiting the West Virginia/Rome team lot at the Orange County Great Park competition site on Friday, January 9. | Credit: Amy Vaughn/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

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.

solar decathlon WVA

Members of the Solar Decathlon 2015 West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata team gathered at the Orange County Great Park on January 9 as part of activities associated with the Design Development Review Workshop. | Credit: Carol Laurie/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

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.
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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,


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