Students from around the world are getting after it to complete construction on their solar-powered, sustainable, prefab homes for the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition in Irvine, CA. We profiled all the teams' concepts throughout the summer and waited with high hopes to see them live and in person. The competition will officially begin on October 3rd and homes will be on view through the 13th. We're not placing any bets, because really anyone could win, but we certainly have our eye on a few teams. Here are Inhabitat's picks (in no particular order) for the top 6 teams to watch at this year's Solar Decathlon.
Sci-Arc/Caltech not only have home court advantage for this year’s competition being the closest to Irvine, but they also have a experience in previous competitions. Their home, DALE, which stands for Dynamic Augmented Living Environment, features all the elements you would expect of a solar, net-zero home. The micro home is also incredibly flexible with two modules that can be moved on rails to expand living space and adapt to different weather. We are intrigued with their out-of-the-box concept and can’t wait to see it perform during the competition.
Stanford University is a newcomer to the competition, but they come with the full force of the Silicon Valley and the university’s technical, engineering, business, design and entrepreneurial know how. The Start.Home is no one-off prefab home, it’s actually a prototype for a larger home construction system based around a central utility core. The team’s goal is to create a paradigm shift in how homes are built in the future, so the focus isn’t so much about the architecture, but on modularity, prefab systems and technology. Start.Home will also be controlled by a custom-designed home management app.
Teams from around DC joined forces to design and build the Harvest House, which works to harvest all available resources including the sun, wind, water and its own food. We liked the Harvest House a great deal because of its design and features, but also because the team thought about the home’s life after the competition. After October 13th, Harvest House will be donated to donated to Wounded Warrior Homes, a California-based nonprofit organization that helps military veterans returning from combat to recuperate.
Traveling from nearby Nevada, Team Las Vegas created a home that could withstand the harsh conditions of the desert environment. Sun is pretty plentiful in the southwest, so creating enough energy in their typical climate is easy, but Team Las Vegas had to ensure their DesertSol home could also be resilient, stay cool, source its own water and be ultra energy efficient. This newcomer boasts an intriguing design that could definitely top the charts for both the energy and architecture competitions.
Vermont’s Team Middlebury has come up with a thoughtful and sustainable design for this year’s competition. Besides seeking a high level of energy efficiency, the team made use of local, sustainable and recycled materials in the construction of their InSite Home. Super insulated walls are complemented by a sloping green roof and a solar panel covered walkway on the south side will generate power for the home. Expect this home to be a contender in a number of categories, like Architecture, Comfort and Market Appeal.
Almost completely opposite of the DesertSol, Team Ontario‘s home is designed to deal with the harsh and much colder climate of Canada. With less sun in the upper latitudes this Canadian team had to ensure their ECHO home minimized energy use in order to maximize their solar resources. A tight and energy efficient envelope reduces losses and retains more heat for this compact starter home.
Inhabitat is on site throughout the week to bring you updates about the homes, the competition and the winners, so stay tuned!
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat