UC Davis student team selected for national solar competition

A team of students from UC Davis has been selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. As competitions go, it’s a marathon, not a sprint: the  teams will have until Fall, 2015 to design, build and test their solar-powered homes at the test site at UC Irvine.

“Our team is very excited at the opportunity to compete in the Solar Decathlon in 2015. We plan to build an affordable zero net energy house that will serve as a prototype for commercialization of housing units for transient populations in the U.S.,” said Professor Frank Loge of the UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who is coordinating the project, via e-mail.

“Our project builds upon UC Davis’ agricultural heritage and extensive working experience in zero net energy design and operation. Our project is a direct challenge to the notion that sustainable living is the province and concern of urban elites. To make a difference, ZNE must work for everyone and our project is an effort to make this sentiment a reality,” Loge said.

Loge said that the solar decathlon team will be composed of undergraduate and graduate students, lead by faculty and staff from many units across campus, including the Colleges of Engineering, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Letters and Science, the Graduate School of Management, and the School of Medicine. The core team will be composed of 20 students that will compete in the competition in October 2015, but over the course of the competition the project will touch many more students at the undergraduate and graduate level.

This is the first time UC Davis has taken part in the competition.

Details of the 2015 competition are to be announced today (Feb. 13) at an event at UC Irvine.

“As President Obama made clear in the State of the Union address, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy that creates a safer and more sustainable planet, while ensuring American students and workers have the skills they need for the challenging jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Deputy U.S. Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman in a news release.

“The Solar Decathlon provides the next generation of America’s architects, engineers, and entrepreneurs with the real world experience and training they need to strengthen U.S. innovation and support new, clean sources of energy.”

The program challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

The first five competitions (2002, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011), were held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The 2013 competition was held in Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. and the 2015 competition returns to the same location.

The Solar Decathlon enhances public understanding of how to save money at home with clean energy solutions available today and provides students with training and hands-on experience to prepare them for the clean energy workforce. Since 2002 the Solar Decathlon has involved 132 collegiate teams with nearly 20,000 participants, pursuing a multidisciplinary approach to study the requirements for designing and building energy-efficient, solar-powered houses.

In September 2011, UC Davis officially opened West Village, a 200-acre community designed to house 3,000 UC Davis students and 500 staff and faculty in apartments and single-family homes. Developed by a public-private partnership between UC Davis and West Village Community Partnership, a joint venture of Carmel Partners from San Francisco and Urban Villages from Denver, it is the largest planned zero net energy community in the U.S. It is on track to demonstrate, for the first time, that zero net energy is practical on a large scale.

More: news release from the U.S. Department of Energy

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