UI team finishes 7th of 19 in solar-powered construction contest

The University Solar Decathlon 2011 team’s project ranked seventh out of 19 highly energy efficient solar-powered houses in a competition held on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C.

The University of Maryland finished first overall, and Appalachian State received the People’s Choice Award for the most votes.

About 4,000 collegiate students from five countries on four continents participated in the clean energy competition.

These solar-powered homes were built to be affordable, highly energy efficient, comfortable to live in and attractive.

Each represents an array of design solutions for various business climates and geographical locations.

The homes were targeted for urban, suburban and rural settings and were intended to serve four different housing markets, including lower-income, disaster relief, retirement and single family.

Richard King, director of the Solar Decathlon for the U.S. Department of Energy, said in a press release that student competitors receive unique training that prepare them to enter the nation’s clean energy workforce.

He added that these solar-powered homes will become “teaching tools for industry professionals and students around the world.”

The next step after disassembling these solar-powered homes is to travel across the country and around the world on educational tours.

Some houses will be sold to raise funds for future Solar Decathlon teams to compete. Meanwhile, other houses will be used to conduct research and display for public tours at their respective universities.