Oct. 11-24, 2002
Back Issues
Solar team shines on the Mall

‘Genius Grant’ winner to speak at Convocation
Family Weekend packed with activities
If you “cannot live without books”
U.Va. changes banks
Town-gown solutions forum
Faculty invited to minority career day talk
Board establishes professorships
Board names buildings
G’day, art lovers
Virginia gets ‘B’ in nat’l report
See with a writer’s eye
For he’s a jolly good fellow
Benefits open enrollment
Another bridge over technology divide
Back to his roots
‘Brain Food:’ Students serve up a most excellent lunch
Who’s minding grandma?
Your right to safety
Hot Link: Faculty experts guide
Exhibits highlight Chinese, European art
College goes to ‘Net for advising, registration processes
New INS rules snare international students
‘The Secret Museum’ to explore pornography
Non-profit fair set for Nov. 13
Student-faculty dinners begin Oct. 17
Michelango‘s art explored on Oct. 24
In Memoriam

Budget cuts implemented
Biggest gift ever
Digest/Daily news about U.Va.
Headlines @ U.Va.

Making every drop count

LBT group offers compromise
15th annual Virginia Festival of Film
A voice for Africa
To our readers -- redesign of IUVA print version
Wylie’s ‘Stillwater’ runs through Oct. 27
Basketball ticket lottery
‘Waltzing the Reaper’
Infrastructure not glamorous but a vital part of bond package
Students make final adjustments to U.Va.’s solar house.
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Students make final adjustments to U.Va.’s solar house.

Solar team shines on the Mall

By Jane Ford

Towels were hung out to dry in the sun at many of the houses at the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The teams took advantage of the direct application of solar energy – aka sunlight – to save the power in their batteries, collected with photovoltaic cells. They had to return the dried towels to the judges to be weighed. Each team would receive the total number of points allotted only if their towels weighed to-the-ounce what they did before they were washed.

The practical and technical parts of the competition were under way. Decathletes were busy cooking meals, running the dishwasher and washing machine, producing a newsletter in their home offices, watching six hours of TV or video, driving an electric vehicle and taking showers with 110 water. The 14 teams, from colleges and universities across the nation, were busy completing their assigned tasks for the day.

In addition to day-to-day living chores, they were required to maintain room and water temperatures and monitor other systems on a regular schedule to earn points in the complicated rating scheme.

On Saturday, results of the event – which covered 10 contests over 11 days – were announced. The U.Va. team placed second overall and won the design and livability contest, the most heavily weighted category in the competition. That first place also earned a special citation from the American Institute of Architects. In addition, the team won the BP Solar Progressive Award for the most forward-thinking team.

U.Va.’s solar house
Photo by John Quale
U.Va.’s Solar House won the design and livability competition and took second place overall in the first-ever national Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the Department of Energy, and held on the Mall in Washington. Below are some of the members of U.Va.’s solar house team.

“I could not be more pleased with the result of the solar decathlon,” said Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture.

“Through their cooperation, their technological innovation and their imagination, this team has demonstrated the real excellence of these schools at U.Va.”

Stephanie Vierra, chair of the design jury, said the six jury members looked for ideas that represented the future, were extremely innovative and were comprehensive in solutions to design problems. “The U.Va. team attempted to integrate more solar strategies and did it more successfully than any other team,” she said.

The jury was impressed with the way the U.Va. decathletes communicated their design both verbally and in the execution. “The work of the architecture and sengineering students complemented each other in a way that set them apart from the other teams,” she said.

Josh Dannenberg, a May graduate of the Architecture School’s graduate design program, said, “As a student, it was great not only to see our design built but to be recognized for our efforts. As a team, we feel the linking of ethics and aesthetics was a very important part of the project.”

U.Va’s entry in the competition is a two-year interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Architecture and School of Engineering and Applied Science. More than 100 students worked on the project. Passive solar design, sustainable and reclaimed materials and highly efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were implemented.

In addition, students devised an integrated energy storage system that supplies power when the sun is not shining and a computer-controlled system that optimizes the distribution of power.

Richard Miksad, dean of the School of Engineering, praised the collaborative effort. “This was a great example of students breaking free of discipline constraints. By working together, new ideas were explored, and creative and innovative solutions to everyday problems were developed and implemented.”

The students designed and built the furniture and cabinetry using sustainably forested lumber. In the garden, a gray water collection-and-filtration system waters the vegetables and flowers that grow in planters made from automobile tires salvaged from the landfill.

Architecture and engineering students collaborated not only with one another but also with scientists, advisers and Charlottesville-area businesses. “Literally hundreds of professionals helped us resolve unprecedented design challenges,” said Dave Click, a student project manager from the School of Engineering.

The design includes a complex heating and cooling system that uses radiant heating in the floor and a valance cooling system designed to also supplement the heating system in the winter and control the moisture in the air.

“The team pushed the envelope as far as they could,” said Paxton Marshall, the School of Engineering faculty adviser. “They came up with the best house they could possibly produce.”

D.C. architect and U.Va. alumnus Doug Gehley stopped by to look at the house. A champion for sustainable design in his office, he was impressed with the whole idea of the competition. “More and more clients are demanding sustainable design and smart design,” he said.

The house will continue to bask in the sun now that the competition is over. It will be installed on University Grounds, where it will serve as a guesthouse.

“The house will be a continuing reminder to the community of the potential of sustainable design,” said John Quale, School of Architecture faculty team adviser.


© Copyright 2002 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

UVa Home Page UVa Events Calendar Top News UVa Home Page