University of Maryland grabs gold in Solar Decathlon (photos)
The team from the University of Maryland wins the 2011 Solar Decathlon with a building that focuses on both energy and water efficiency.
The student team from the University of Maryland drew inspiration from the Chesapeake Bay by building a home that focuses on energy and water conservation. It tries to re-create the bay's ecosystem with the building itself by capturing storm water and filtering it with native vegetation on site. During a week in Washington, D.C., the house was able to produce more energy than it consumed with its solar photovoltaic and solar hot-water panels.
The Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Decathlon is held every two years in Washington as a competition among 20 university student teams to build the most compelling solar-powered house. This year, there was an increased focus on affordability by limiting teams to $250,000 in construction costs.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu takes a look at the solar hot-water collectors at the University of Maryland's WaterShed house during the final stages of the Solar Decathlon competition. During a speech on Saturday, Chu said that the students in the competition were leaders in a global competition around clean-energy technologies. "It's not enough for our country to invent clean-energy technologies--we have to make them and use them too," Chu said during his speech.
Here is a close-up shot of a clever feature in the WaterShed house to reduce the cooling needs. The house features an indoor waterfall using a high-saline solution which absorbs water from the air. By lowering the humidity, the house's air conditioning units don't need to work as hard, saving energy.
A shot from inside the University of Maryland house shows how student teams integrated planting with the interior space. The bathroom in Team Maryland's house served as a junction between two halves which have slanted roofs and direct water to water filtering and storage system. Rainwater as well as gray water from sinks and a shower are filtered and then used to irrigate the native plants.