University of Colorado Wins 2005 Solar Decathlon

The University of Colorado, Denver and Boulder, successfully defended their championship and took first place in Solar Decathlon 2005, which drew to a close this past weekend. Cornell University was the second place team, and California Polytechnic State University finished third.

The University of Colorado ended up with 853 points of a possible 1,100. Cornell University earned 826 points, and California Polytechnic State University finished with 809 points. The 2005 Solar Decathlon pitted 18 collegiate teams from the U.S. including Puerto Rico, Canada and Spain, in a competition to design, build and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered home. Students competed in 10 areas, ranging from architecture, livability and comfort to how well the homes provide energy for space heating and cooling, hot water, lighting, and appliances. Each house also had to produce enough “extra” power for an electric car. Colorado’s winning strategy was to score extra points by getting the most possible miles out of their electric car. They drove 318 miles during the competition, using a steady foot on the accelerator and going easy on the brakes. The previous rainy week, though, posed a clear challenge to the teams that were set to the task of creating and storing electricity with their own battery-backup solar photovoltaic systems. In this category, three teams tied for first place. They all ended the competition with as much or more energy stored in their battery systems than when they began the competition. The teams were Crowder College, Florida International University, and The University of Missouri-Rolla and Rolla Technical Institute. “To power a house day after day on sunlight is a technological accomplishment that many find hard to believe — especially in cloudy weather,” said Richard King, Department of Energy, and Director of the Solar Decathlon. “What these teams are proving out here is that solar energy really works and energy efficiency pays off. Considering the consequences of billions of people around the world burning finite fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate, demonstrating technologies that can make a difference is significant. The primary sponsor of the Solar Decathlon is DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Private-sector sponsors include the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Home Builders, BP Solar, the DIY (Do It Yourself) Network and Sprint Nextel. The DOE hopes the competition will help accelerate new approaches to energy efficiency that could become mainstream in the US housing industry. “We should all be proud of what these students have accomplished,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. “Through their ingenuity, their knowledge of design and engineering, and an incredible amount of determination and hard work, they have demonstrated that we can have it all — beautiful homes, comfortable homes, and homes that produce all the power they need.”
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