Solar Decathalon Showcases the Houses of the Future

by Mark Wellborn

North House from Team Ontario/BC

If you happened to make your way down to the National Mall this past weekend, then chances are you caught a glimpse of the innovative homes in this year’s Solar Decathalon.

The Decathalon is an opportunity for college and university students to “design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house,” according to the Decathalon’s website.The 20 groups were chosen from a pool of 40 entrants to compete, and were given $100,000 from the Department of Energy to build what they deemed to be the most energy-efficient house possible. The groups are rated in ten categories including architecture, lighting design, engineering and even home entertainment.

University of Lousiana at Lafayette Home Courtesy of Dept. of Energy

The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Razzi toured the final products in this year’s competition and her article in this past weekend’s Post provides a very comprehensive look at the event. Our favorite home that she described was the prototype built by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette:

“[The home] reflects traditional Cajun housing style by way of a “dogtrot” that cuts through the heart of the house. A dogtrot is a covered breezeway, long used in Southern architecture, that keeps the hot kitchen separate from the cooler living and sleeping areas. This dogtrot is updated with transparent sliding doors that can enclose the area when residents want it for an indoor space or open it up to the breeze when they want to use it as a porch. The home is also designed to withstand sustained winds of 140 mph. Extruding parts, such as rooftop solar panels, can be tied down or stored if a major storm approaches and residents need to evacuate.”

If you have not had the chance to check these homes of the future out yet, don’t worry — they are on display through October 18th. In addition to the Louisiana house, we liked the prototypes created by Team Ontario/BC and Team Boston.

See other articles related to: green real estate dc

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/solar_decathalon_showcases_the_houses_of_the_future/1401


  1. dc said at 3:11 pm on Monday October 12, 2009:

    i an a huge fan of the solar decathlon, though i wish they would also respect land as a resource and build for an urban environment. suburban style living is not sustainable, nor in jive with “urbanturf”.

  1. Catherine Guidry said at 8:25 pm on Wednesday October 21, 2009:

    The U.S. Dept of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathon was such an incredible experience for us. As a graduate student in architecture, I realize the invaluable knowledge we have gained by participating. We are so proud to have gone to this outstanding and prestigious international competition to proudly represent the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Southern Culture, and the State of Louisiana. Bringing home the market viability and people’s choice award really shows that we did our best to meet the needs and desires of the people by designing a home that’s hurricane resistant and culturally-relevant.

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