Courtesy of the NWMLS
Washington State University is among 16 teams from colleges and universities across the United States and around the world that will participate in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017. Teams will compete in 10 categories and, for the first time, will vie for $2 million in prize money.
The competition aims to increase public awareness of solar energy and inspire innovative solutions in ecological design. Over the course of nearly two years, students will plan and build a 600- to 1,000-square foot solar-powered home that represent a diverse range of design approaches, building technologies, target markets, geographic locations, climates and regions, including urban, suburban and rural settings.
Initial construction of WSU’s entry is expected to be on its Pullman campus near its new PACCAR Clean Technology Building. After teams design, construct and test their houses, they’ll reassemble them at the yet-to-be announced competition site for Solar Decathlon 2017.
Contest officials said the winner will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. Teams must commute with an electric vehicle using energy from their solar-powered home.
“Our students will be working on our most critical challenges in smart and sustainable living while also gaining tremendous hands-on experience at designing and building for the future,” said Phil Gruen, director of WSU’s School of Design and Construction. “WSU remains focused on our land-grant mission of training our students to solve these most important and real problems for the world.”
Darrin Griechen, a faculty member in the design school with a background in architecture and urban design, is leading the effort for WSU. “We are perfectly positioned to design, engineer and build a home within this smart paradigm,” he said. Professor Griechen said a wide variety of disciplines will likely comprise the WSU team, mentioning architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, construction management, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, communications, business and English as possibilities.
WSU has a long history and expertise in electric power, advanced materials, and smart systems. This is the second time WSU has participated in the event, which dates to 2002. In 2005, a group of students traveled to Washington, D.C., where their home was displayed on the National Mall.