2014-07-03

Co.Exist

See What It Takes To Build Solar-Powered Homes From Scratch

This video clip documents the painstaking process of building homes for the DOE's student-centric Solar Decathlon.

Every two years, teams of college students compete to build houses powered only by solar as part of the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon. The students not only have to come up with innovative concepts, they're also forced to actually make their ideas work as part of actual, fully functional homes.

The City of Irvine, California, hosted the Decathlon for the first time last October (and will do so again in 2015). The video clip here is taken from a 55-minute documentary the city released recently. It gives a sense of the toil and trouble involved in erecting 19 original homes from scratch, and really, the sheer extent of the event. You just need to excuse the somewhat syrupy music:

Craig Reem, the city's director of public affairs, says the film was made over 32 days, which covers the time it takes to put up the houses, open them to the public, and take them down again. In all, 800 students were involved in last year's event, and 64,000 visitors turned up to tour the designs.

"Our idea was to capture the rock-star status of the 800 collegiate students and to capture the story of their and the Department of Energy’s overall message of accessible energy-efficiency," he says. The documentary is due to be shown on PBS later this summer.

The 2013 contest was won by this house from Austria. See our coverage of other homes from 2013 here and here.

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2 Comments

  • We attended the college solar construction competition in D.C. several years ago. It was amazing to see the innovative uses of materials and design. Creativity, engineering and art all coming together for a better way to build homes. So exciting!

  • It's a small detail, but I don't think the title of the post is really accurate. The homes are not built "from scratch" as in, baking a cake from scratch, solely from the most base ingredients. The homes are assembled, often from parts and modules that have been constructed offsite previously.