CU-Boulder Students Get Ready To Send Solar Home To Washington, D.C., For Third Solar Decathlon

Published: Sept. 19, 2007

University of Colorado at Boulder students are in the final stages of preparing their solar home to defend their championship in the third international Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.

The one-bedroom competition module, now in the final week of construction, is scheduled to depart from Bradburn Village in Westminster on Sept. 28 and arrive in the nation's capital Oct. 3.

Xcel Energy, primary sponsor of the CU team, has pre-purchased the innovative zero-energy home, along with another 1,400 square feet to be completed after the Solar Decathlon. Xcel Energy is developing plans to use the home as a demonstration facility to educate customers about clean energy and demonstrate new technologies as they apply to highly efficient homes.

CU is the defending champion of the 2002 and 2005 Solar Decathlons and one of 20 universities slated to compete in this year's event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The competition, which is open to the public from Oct. 12 to Oct. 20, will allow visitors to tour an entire "solar village" on the National Mall.

The event challenges students to design and build the most attractive, efficient and comfortable solar home, while educating the public about the use of alternative energy technologies. Points are awarded in 10 contests including architecture, engineering, market viability and communications, with the team winning the most points being declared the overall winner.

A sneak preview of the CU home will be offered to CU alumni on Oct. 11, before the Solar Decathlon opens to the general public. CU alumni who will be in the Washington, D.C., area can get details and RSVP by going to

The CU home has been under construction in Westminster since June and will be transported across the country on four flatbed trucks. The photovoltaic panels will have to be removed and the home partially dismantled for shipment.

Student project manager Chad Corbin said the team is working overtime to complete the final stage of construction and continues to be upbeat about its prospects in this year's competition.

The project is a two-year effort involving about 30 engineering and architecture students. Professor Michael Brandemuehl of civil, environmental and architectural engineering serves as faculty adviser.

Special features of this year's CU home include building-integrated photovoltaic-thermal panels, which will provide a waterproof roofing shell while collecting all of the energy needed to power the home; a ductless heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system with architecturally integrated heat exchangers; and a mechanical spine in which the plumbing and HVAC system are centralized in a completely modular, prefabricated, structural core.

For more information go to and