June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.1235.1 - 24.1235.18
The Most Affordable Solar Decathlon House. Ever.The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a competition in which collegiate teams design, build,and operate solar-powered houses that are intended to be cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; subsequent competitions took place in 2005, 2007, 2009,2011, and 2013. The 2013 event took place at the Orange County Great Park, in Irvine California. Allprevious events took place in Washington D.C.The Solar Decathlon is intended to educate students and the public about the economic and environmentalbenefits of energy efficient, solar powered homes. In addition, it serves as a venue to demonstrate thecomfort and affordability of homes that combine energy-efficiency with solar energy systems.Unfortunately, due to the scoring rubrics for the competition, the affordability aspect of the competition isoften given only superficial consideration. In the 2011 competition, the most affordable house cost $230per square foot while the 2011 overall winner’s cost exceeded $380 per square foot. In 2009, while theconstruction costs were tabulated for each of the entries, affordability was not a direct component of thecompetition. Prior to 2009, affordability was not officially calculated, and houses such as the 2007 winnerhad self-reported cost-estimates exceeding $400,000 for an 800 square foot house ($500 per square foot).In the 2013 the Norwich University Delta T-90 house officially won first place for the AffordabilityContest of the 2013 Solar Decathlon, with an estimated cost of $168,385 for a 988 square foot house($170 per square foot), while scoring 100% for the energy balance portion of the competition. Thoughtwo other schools were officially listed as tied for first place in affordability, at $234,000, one of thesetwo houses cost 39% more than the Norwich team’s house and at $248,000, the other cost 48% more thanNorwich team’s house. All other houses in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition cost more than$250,000.Since 2009, when cost estimates became an official component of the Solar Decathlon competition, therehas been only one house that had a cost estimate that was less than the 988 square feet 2013 NorwichUniversity Delta T-90 house. However, since that house had an area of only 520 square feet,approximately one-half that of the 2013 Norwich University Delta T-90 house, its $270 cost per squarefoot greatly exceeded the cost per square foot of the Norwich house.The Norwich University team set a goal before design began to accomplish a high performance home thatis affordable to a household earning 20% below median income in Vermont. The Delta T-90 House isattuned not only to the climactic demands of the Northeast but also to the financial demands of thepopulation that lives there. The bio-based building envelope house is a cost-effective alternative tohousing built before 1950, which often had inefficient systems and inadequate insulation. It is designedfor a family of three that makes near or below the median income and is intended to be produced in highquantities. It maximizes comfort, efficiency, and spaciousness through two bedrooms, an office space,and an open living space for lounging, cooking, and gathering—offering a model for affordable andsustainable living.Design and Construction details were critically important in attaining the team’s cost goals for the house.This paper will present design and construction details of Norwich University Delta T-90 house, andcompare them to design and construction details of the other houses at the Solar Decathlon Competition.
Schmeckpeper, E. R., & Puddicombe, M., & Lutz, M. P., & Mountain, J. R., & Patterson, J. E. (2014, June), The Most Affordable Solar Decathlon House. Ever Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23168
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