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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2008 / 02 

Virginia Tech to compete in 2009 Solar Decathlon

February 4, 2008

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that Virginia Tech will be one of 20 university teams selected to compete in its fourth Solar Decathlon, which will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2009.

The interdisciplinary Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon team will be lead by faculty and students in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies with participation from the College of Engineering and others.

Virginia Tech will be the only university in the Commonwealth represented in the competition. The teams, which have been selected from universities in the United States, Canada, and Germany, will receive $100,000 each from DOE to uniquely design, build and operate an energy efficient, fully solar-powered home for this unique competition. Each home will utilize energy efficient technology and demonstrate that homes powered entirely by the sun do not have to sacrifice all the modern comforts and aesthetics Americans are accustomed to.

The Solar Decathlon gets its name from the 10 specific areas of competition: architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance, and transportation. In addition to producing enough electricity and hot water to perform all the functions of a home, from powering lights and electronics to cooking, washing clothes and dishes, each home must produce surplus energy sufficient to power an electric car. The team that finishes the week of competition with the most points wins.

In 2005, the Virginia Tech team, led by the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, won first place for best daylighting, electric lighting, architecture, and livability, and fourth overall.

To be accepted to this competition, university teams were evaluated by a panel made up of engineers, scientists and other experts from DOE and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Teams were required to meet specific criteria, demonstrating their ability to design and build an innovative, entirely solar-powered, 800-square-foot home from scratch, including the ability to raise additional funds and assemble a team necessary to carry the project through to completion.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is composed of three schools and the Department of Art and Art History, part of the multi-college School of the Arts. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The Myers-Lawson School of Construction, a joint school of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering, includes programs in building construction and construction management. The college enrolls nearly 2,000 students offering 24 degrees taught by 153 faculty members.