Students will have their
day in the sun
By Jane Ford
sun is at the center of collaboration between U.Va. engineering
and architecture students.
they are redefining what a solar home can be, collaborating on
the design and construction of an 800-square-foot portable house
and demonstrating that solar living is affordable, practical and
prototype will appeal to people and get them on the solar bandwagon,
said fourth-year architecture student Charlotte Barrows. She joined
the solar house team because it offered a chance to put into practice
her commitment to sustainable design, an area she plans to work
in after graduation.
computer-generated model of U.Va.s solar house, being
designed and built by engineering and architecture students,
is situated on the Mall in Washington, D.C., because that
will be the site of the U.S. Department of Energys Solar
house is U.Va.s entry in the U.S. Department of Energys
Solar Decathlon, designed to educate students and the public about
the role of energy consumption in daily life and to demonstrate
green, or sustainable, living.
competition will take place in September in Washington, D.C.,
where U.Va. will be joined by 13 other universities.
entries will have to pass 10 contests or events that consider
a range of architectural and engineering issues. The contestants
are challenged to redefine contemporary notions of home size,
energy consumption, material selection and investigate innovative
technologies to store and use solar energy.
collaborative venture between the School
of Architecture and the School
of Engineering and Applied Science is a natural pairing
both stress environmental concerns as integral to their curricula
than 60 students participated over the past two years through
classes and independent study, and some will continue with the
project after graduation.
student Josh Dannenberg appreciated the way his solar house class
was organized and run like a small professional office. Taking
the studio just before graduation provides a perfect segue to
going into the working world, he said.
students have been responsible for every aspect of the project:
design, management, construction, fund-raising and publicity.
have also created a Web site http://solarhome.lib.virginia.edu
to provide information and to serve as a research tool for professionals
and the public.
innovative feature of the engineering aspect of the project is
an automation system the students are developing themselves. Their
plan goes beyond collecting and storing solar energy and includes
pre-programming energy use, as well as being able to control the
overall energy balance remotely by computer or phone when weather
conditions or personal needs change.
all design projects, its really tough, said Benjamin
Dorrier, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student who will
graduate in December. You have to think about so many different
parts that you need to bring together. Theres no chapter
in a book you can go to.
the competition, the house will be installed permanently on University
Grounds, where it will serve as a guest house for visiting faculty
as well as a laboratory for sustainable design and renewable energy
for future engineering and architecture students.
the solar house prototype carries a hefty price tag more
than $250,000. Students are soliciting donations, both financial
and in-kind, from area professionals, businesses, foundations
and alumni. Construction is under way and will continue through