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Moving Into the Construction Phase

2/10/2011 11:02:11 AM

Tags: solar homestead, ibs, appalachian state, solar decathlon, The Solar Homestead Team

We want to welcome you back to the Solar Homestead Blog. It’s been over a month since our last post and after taking a much needed winter break our Appalachian student team as returned to the Solar Homestead headquarters where we will be transitioning into the next phase of our project, construction.   

In the middle of January, all 20 teams were required to attend the International Builder’s Show in Orlando, Florida. The IBS is one of the world’s largest builder’s shows each year and it was a great venue to showcase all of the team’s ½” models to the public. At the show each team meet with the Department of Energy to summarize their current standings on architecture, design, communications, and construction associated with their homes. Each team received a professional analysis by the DOE and its partners ranging from construction recommendations, cost evaluation, and media outreach. This event also allowed the 20 student teams to meet and interact with each other and get the inside scoop on each other’s designs. 

Some shocking news we learned while attending the IBS is that the National Mall in D.C. will no longer be the site for the 2011 competition. There has been some great debate on the condition of the Mall and the wear and tear certain events can cause on it. The DOE had already received a permit to use the mall but that permit was revoked and they are searching for a new site in the D.C. area. We are greatly disappointed by this outcome. The National Mall is one of the most powerful venues to showcase America’s and the World’s push for affordable sustainable energy technologies. Each team, along with their schools and politicians, has been petitioning the government to return the competition back the national mall. You can find a link to help us through our Facebook page at the Solar Homestead. 

Ok, back to some fun stuff. Construction and Technologies. We are very excited to be one of the few teams that are able to start construction early this year. We have great support from our Chancellor Peacock and our University and have been given use of an old car dealership facility in Boone, NC. This location has become the Solar Homestead headquarters where we have our offices for all of our departments and a large indoor construction facility. This greatly benefits us due to the fact that Boone is located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and currently there is snow on the ground with an average temperature in the 20’s through most of the winter. We are currently working on a webcam that should be up in the next weeks broadcasting live coverage of our construction bay. That cam will be accessible through our website at

As we move into our construction phase our architecture, design, and engineering departments have begun to integrate their concepts and trouble shoot any unforeseen events. The basic design concept of our Homestead is modular. We have our central core of our house that breaks into three large transportable units. Our Grand Porch is composed of seven OM’s (Outbuilding Modules), each of which are capable of being towed behind a ½ ton pickup truck. Each of the departments has to take in mind what the effect of transporting this house over 400 miles will do to the structure. We went with a flat roof design allowing for easier transport and less construction at the competition when erecting the home. The home falls just under 1000 sqft, with three full bedrooms and one full bath. To touch on some technologies, we are using the concept of a solar thermal sky light in our central core to provide our home with all the hot domestic water it needs along with natural day lighting to reduce energy use. Our engineering team has been hard at work combining different existing technologies along with new and innovative concepts to create affordable ways to bring clean and cheap energy into the home. We will talk another time about our Trombe wall and new phase change materials we hope to incorporate into this design. 

There are so many things to talk about so we intend to update you the reader more frequently and have interviews with some of our “experts” in each department to get a little more detail about each system for those out there who are searching for some depth. Please feel free to comment on any questions or statements you have, we will do our best to address you and your comment personally and supply you with the most information we can provide.  Thanks again for tuning in this week and we’ll be talking to you soon. 


"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." - Ralph Waldo Emerson  




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