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 Tuesday, August 9, 2005 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


CU Solar Decathlon Team Reaches for the Sun with Alternative Energy Home
By Carol Rowe, College of Engineering and Applied Science

First, design and build an 800-square-foot solar home that can function completely "off the grid." Then, move it across the country, operate it for 10 days and move it back again. In the process, educate the public about the accessibility of alternative energy technologies in home design and construction today.

The University of Colorado again has stepped up to meet the U.S. Department of Energy's challenge in the 2005 Solar Decathlon, a competition among 18 universities to design and build the most attractive, efficient and comfortable solar home.

CU holds the first-place trophy for the inaugural 2002 Solar Decathlon, now a triennial event comprising 10 contests ranging from the home's overall design, livability and aesthetic appeal to the quality of its lighting, hot water, refrigeration and its ability to power an electric car. The second international competition will be held Oct. 7-16 on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

CU's home is a two-year effort involving students from the School of Architecture and Planning and the College of Engineering and Applied Science, with Professors Julee Herdt of architecture and Michael Brandemuehl of engineering serving as faculty advisors.

Some special features of the CU home include use of natural "low to no petroleum" building materials, structurally insulated wall panels containing bio-based foam and a retractable roof, which will allow for a lower traveling height as the home is driven across the country to the nation's capital. The entire home is built on a steel chassis that meets highway requirements.

"When the CU home arrives on the National Mall, the roof will be raised 2 feet to create a cathedral ceiling and also provide for an optimum solar angle for the roof-mounted photovoltaic and solar thermal systems," said project manager Jeff Lyng, a graduate student in civil engineering.

If time permits, the team hopes to bring the completed house to the Boulder campus in early September before leaving for Washington. For more information, visit University of Colorado at Boulder 2005 Solar Decathlon.

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