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Teams from 20 universities will take part in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, all of them vying to be crowned the winner for building the most attractive, energy-efficient solar house. Each team will be judged on 10 contests that strive to test the prototype homes against real-world standards:

1. Architecture (100 points): Homes should integrate solar and energy-efficiency technologies seamlessly into their home design. There should be ease of entry and circulation throughout the house. Points are awarded for unusual use of ordinary materials or use of extraordinary materials.

2. Market Viability (100 points): Homes should be built to a specific target market, with livability (is it safe and well-suited for everyday living?), buildability, and marketability—including curb and interior appeal—all judged.

3. Engineering (100 points): Professional engineers evaluate the systems in each home on the basis of functionality, efficiency, innovation, and reliability.

4. Lighting Design (75 points): Functional, energy-efficient, and aesthetically pleasing lighting systems are the goal. Ease of operation, light output, and flexibility for daytime/nighttime and seasonal use are judged.

5. Communications (75 points): Teams are judged on their ability to communicate the merits and technical innovations of their homes through Web sites and via their open houses.

6. Comfort Zone (100 points): Teams receive full points in this contest for maintaining a temperature between 72°F and 76°F and relative humidity (40% to 55%) inside the house.

7. Hot Water (100 points): Teams score points for successfully completing “shower tests,” in which the goal is to deliver 15 gallons of hot water (110°F) in 10 minutes or less.

8. Appliances (100 points): To earn points, teams must maintain refrigerator temperature ranges between 34°F and 40°F; maintain freezer temperature ranges within -20°F to 5°F; wash and dry 10 loads of laundry; and run the dishwasher five times.

9. Home Entertainment (100 points): Teams must hold two dinner parties for team neighbors and a home movie night for neighbors, and points are awarded for overall experience. Points are also awarded on the operation of a TV, computer, and other electronic devices at specified times. The goal is to show that solar-powered homes can deliver more than just basic functionality—they can also support modern conveniences.

10. Net Metering (150 points): Teams receive 100 points for producing at least as much energy as the house needs and can receive up to 50 additional points for producing surplus energy over and above what they use during the contest week.


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  • University of Kentucky
  • Cornell University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Iowa State University
  • The University of Arizona
  • Penn State University
  • Universidad de Puerto Rico
  • Rice University
  • Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
  • Team Alberta (University of Calgary / SAIT Polytechnic / Alberta College of Art + Design / Mount Royal College)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Team Boston (Boston Architectural College / Tufts University)
  • Team California (Santa Clara University/California College of the Arts)
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • Team Missouri (Missouri University of Science and Technology/University of Missouri)
  • University of Minnesota
  • Team Ontario/BC (University of Waterloo/Ryerson University/Simon Fraser University)
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt
  • Virginia Tech


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To read the Kentucky Living May 2009 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Sun Power.

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