Solar Decathlon: U team takes first place in lighting

The University of Minnesota’s sun-powered house did not win the Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., but it did outshine the competition in lighting design.

Team Germany took first place in the overall competition, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday. The team, from Technische Universitӓt Darmstadt, created a house that essentially is a two-story cube with the surface sheathed by solar cells.

The U of M team scored tops in the lighting category with a mixture of natural and artificial light that the jurors said was aesthetically pleasing at the same time it was highly efficient. 

“The array of LED lighting in the home and its control system is intuitive and easy to operate,” lighting juror Ron Kurtz said about the U of M’s home. “The team’s use of adjustable shading panels provides excellent natural day lighting, with no difference in sunlight entry into the home, from summer to winter.”

The Minnesota team placed fifth in the overall competition.

Twenty university-led teams from the United States, Canada, Germany and Spain competed in the fourth DOE Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington. Their challenge was to design, build and operate houses powered by the sun. You can take a virtual tour of the U of M house here.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by dan buechler on 10/16/2009 - 08:52 am.

    How would it work in winter snows? It does look like snow would melt off but it doesn’t look to have a functional overhang. Probably would need tweaking. Congrats young adults!!

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