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Denver, Colorado

Solar Decathlon Blog - Contests

Below you will find Solar Decathlon news from the Contests archive, sorted by date.

Stevens Wins Solar Decathlon 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

By Carol Laurie

Stevens Institute of Technology won top honors overall at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 by designing, building, and operating the most cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar powered house.

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, took second place followed by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in third place.

Stevens’ win comes as no surprise to followers of the competition, as the team took first place in four of five juried contests and maintained the lead position in the competition over the last several days. Stevens Institute of Technology previously competed in Solar Decathlon 2011 and Solar Decathlon 2013.

Stevens Institute of Technology team members celebrate their overall 1st place victory at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, October 17, 2015 at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California  (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Stevens Institute of Technology team members celebrate their overall first-place victory at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

At today’s awards ceremony, Energy Department Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dr. David Danielson congratulated all decathletes on their accomplishments during the 2015 competition.

“On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, thank you to each inspiring student competitor,” said Danielson. “Your hard work makes this unique competition possible. The homes you built demonstrate how affordable, renewable, and energy-saving products available today can cut energy bills, reduce pollution, and protect our climate. You have shown the skills and dedication necessary to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout our economy in the decades to come.”

Announcement of the overall winners followed exciting results of the Engineering Contest, in which Stevens took first place with a score of 93 of 100 possible points. Close behind with 92 points for second place was the hometown favorite Team Orange County (University of California, Irvine; Chapman University; Irvine Valley College; and Saddleback College). Texas/Germany (The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen) took third place with 91 points.

Full details about these results, scores, and standings are available here.

Come check out the winning houses for yourself! Tomorrow is the final day of public exhibit here at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The Solar Decathlon village is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday.

Carol Laurie is the communications manager for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Stevens Leads After Taking First in Three of Four Juried Contests

Friday, October 16, 2015

By Carol Laurie

At the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, Stevens Institute of Technology holds the lead after placing first in Market Appeal, Architecture, and Communications.

Stevens’ SURE HOUSE, a sustainable and resilient house for shore residents vulnerable to extreme weather conditions that could cause flooding and blackouts, earned 96 points to win the Architecture Contest.

“The Stevens design stacks up very favorably against many homes designed by seasoned architectural teams, and in fact outstrips the vast majority of U.S. houses when it comes to energy performance,” said Architecture Contest juror Ann Edminster, a leading international expert on green homes and chair of the Green Building Task Force for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America. “The love of community that drove this design inspired a highly effective collaboration, in turn giving rise to an exceptionally well-integrated final product that will benefit both the occupants and their larger community.”

Photo of a group of people cheering.

Stevens Institute of Technology celebrates after winning the Communications Contest at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

The Solar Decathlon involves 10 contests – each worth 100 points – for a possible competition total of 1,000 points.

Other juried contest results announced over the last two days include:

Affordability – The University of California, Davis, and Mass/Central America (Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana) tied for first place and earned the full 100 points by constructing houses estimated to cost $249,312 and $120,282, respectively. Texas/Germany (The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen) earned second place with 98.16 points for their house estimated to cost $268,399. Third place went to the State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University with 98.14 points for its house estimated to cost $268,637.

Market Appeal – California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, took second place with 93 points for its house designed for coastal California, and Clemson University took third place with 96 points for its Indigo Pine house, which assembles like a jigsaw puzzle without the use of power tools.

Architecture – Clemson University claimed second place with 95 points, and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, took third place with 94 points.

Communications – Clemson University finished second with 90 points, followed by the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, in third place with 89 points.

Full details about these results, scores, and standings are available here.

Tomorrow is the big day! Results from the Engineering Contest and the overall winner of the Solar Decathlon will be announced at 9:45 a.m. PDT by Energy Department Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dr. David Danielson.

Carol Laurie is the communications manager for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

First Points

Friday, October 9, 2015

By Richard King

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 competition started yesterday at 11 a.m., giving teams nine days (until 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16) to prove they have the best house and a winning team.

The 10 Solar Decathlon contests are each worth 100 points for a total of 1,000 points. The first contest in which teams can start winning points is Contest 7: Appliances. Teams must turn on their refrigerator and freezer and keep them running consistently at specified temperatures for the entire nine days. To win the most points in Contest 7, the decathletes need to learn how to use all of their appliances (refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, cooktops, clothes washers and dryers) most efficiently.

Photo of two men weighing towels on a scale.

Decathletes from the University of California, Davis, Solar Decathlon 2015 team weigh towels for the Appliances Contest after they were washed and dried in their competition house on Friday, Oct. 9. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Teams receive 20 points for running their refrigerator and freezer optimally for the nine days. Each hour increment is worth one-half point. It will take a while, but by Oct. 16, the points should add up to 20.

Last night, the University of Buffalo held the lead, based primarily on the use of the team’s refrigerator and freezer.

Check out the scores and standings on our website, which are updated every 15 minutes.

Richard King is the director of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

West Virginia/Rome Team Merges Classical and Southern STILE

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

By Ernie Tucker

The aroma of Italian cooking will waft from STILE, the West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata entry in the U.S. Department of Energy 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.

“I feel bad for whoever has to pick which dish to serve,” laughs Sharrafti Kuzmar, a junior studying electrical engineering who was also on West Virginia University’s Solar Decathlon 2013 team. “When we went to Rome last summer, the food was so amazing.”

Photo of a group of people talking.

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, Jan. 9. (Credit: Amy Vaughn/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

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. That, Kuzmar believes, makes the house unique.

The Solar Decathlon 2015 team has designed a compact house that will bring Roman culture to West Virginia. The house is covered by an elegant, classically inspired arch that runs north to south to support solar panels and create a natural patio that will provide passive cooling.

Computer-generated image of a modern-looking house.

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)

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.

“We worked it out so that our meetings aren’t too late there or too early here,” says Kuzmar, a Morgantown, West Virginia, native.

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.

“That was a new experience for all of us,” Kuzmar says.

Photo of a group of young people.

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

In addition, two Roman decathletes are currently studying at West Virginia University. Stefania Rossi is one of them.

“It is a very interesting experience working with both universities,” Rossi says.

The double-engineering major says that forging the two visions into one unified project “has been a good challenge.” As a result, she believes the house is the best of both worlds—a hybrid of old and new.

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,” Kuzmar says. “Now, we have a better understanding of the competition, thanks to things that came up unexpectedly in 2013.”

In addition to house design, the two universities are collaborating closely on the logistics of transporting STILE. “We’re figuring out how to break the house down at the same time we’re putting it up,” Kuzmar says.

The team credits its mentors, including principal investigator Dimitris Korakakis and experts in Rome, with helping the students gain practical experience and problem-solving skills—skills that Kuzmar, Rossi, and others hope to use in future careers in green building and clean tech.

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.

Kuzmar, who has already declared her awe of Italian cuisine, says simply, “I love the Italians.” Those mutual bonds are what give this project its zesty international flavor.

Ernie Tucker is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon communications team.

 

 

Blaise Stoltenberg: A Shining Light for the Solar Decathlon

Monday, December 22, 2014

By Ernie Tucker

Blaise Stoltenberg, a U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon organizer, developed his vision for a clean energy future as a Solar Decathlon 2002 decathlete. He was a leader of the University of Colorado’s winning 2002 team and, in recent years, served as a coordinator for Solar Decathlon engineering juries. He did it all with a kind and giving spirit that inspired colleagues and friends.

That same spirit was tested for many months as Blaise battled myelodysplasia, or MDS, a bone marrow disease. On Dec. 16, he passed away at his Golden, Colorado, residence.

A Native of Sunny California Embraces Solar Research

A native of California, Blaise graduated in 1985 from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in a combined program with Claremont McKenna College. After gaining some professional experience, Blaise enrolled in a master’s degree program at the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder, where he was drawn to the fledgling Solar Decathlon concept.

Photo of a group of men standing around a woman who is holding a large trophy.

Blaise Stoltenberg participated on the University of Colorado Solar Decathlon 2002 team, which took first place in the competition. In this photo, Blaise (second from left) celebrates with teammates. (Credit: Warren Gretz /NREL)

“Blaise was there at the start,” said CU professor Michael Brandemuehl, who recognized Blaise’s unique talents as they collaborated on the inaugural Solar Decathlon. Blaise was a leader of the original seven students on CU’s solar house project and headed up the mechanical systems team that earned first place in the Comfort Zone Contest.

Mike Wassmer, a 2002 teammate and former Solar Decathlon competition manager, recalled that the group referred to him as “Papa Blaise” because he was a mentor and “more mature than most of us.” Added Wassmer, “Whenever I got frustrated with the energy modeling (my main responsibility), he always spent time with me to help me get back on track.”

A Solar Decathlon Pioneer

Blaise’s Solar Decathlon pioneering efforts paved the way for other CU students to become decathletes, Brandemuehl said.

Following some years of engineering work in the private sector, Blaise joined the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2009 and became a key member of the Solar Decathlon organizer team.

Photo of four men standing in a row and smiling at the camera.

Blaise Stoltenberg (right) coordinated the Engineering Contest Jury for several Solar Decathlons. He is shown here with the 2011 Engineering Contest jurors. (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

“Blaise helped in many ways. He was our engineering jury coordinator for several events—helping to select, guide, and support our juries both in advance of and on site at the Solar Decathlon to ensure that the teams were judged fairly and effectively,” said Solar Decathlon Competition Manager Joe Simon. “He also served as our go-to person for analysis whenever abnormal scoring or data-collection situations arose during the real-time competition.”

If, for example, a sensor didn’t collect information or a utility-grid power spike caused a dehumidifier to turn off overnight, Blaise used his acute analytical skills to determine a fair and equitable adjustment to scores and measurement data.

“He was always eager to lend a helping hand to our on-site observer or perform rules inspections. No matter the task, Blaise was happy to help,” Simon noted.

A devoted husband and father of two, Blaise cited his newborn son in the dedication to his 2003 master’s thesis, writing, “I hope that, in some way, this work will help make his future brighter.”

Even as he battled the disease, Blaise remained upbeat about his job and the future of solar energy. Through his work with Solar Decathlons and his efforts in the renewable energy field, Blaise Stoltenberg has indeed helped make the future brighter for generations to come.

Ernie Tucker is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon communications team.

 

 

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