The University of Maryland team has come second in the US Energy Department’s “Solar Decathalon,” which looks for future-looking designs of energy efficient homes. First place went to a swiss team, and third place went to a student team from the University of California- Berkeley, and the University of Denver.

The Second Place House

In Denver, over a period of nine days, almost twelve homes were being evaluated in terms of energy performance, market potential and livability. This Maryland house reportedly stood out because of its home gardening and water-recycling system.

According to the Solar Decathalon director, Linda Silverman: “this prestigious competition engages students from across the country and internationally to develop the skills and knowledge to become the next generation of energy experts.”

The house also incorporated Maryland and Nanticoke tribal traditions. Other than being solar powered, it also featured hydroponic gardening, awater recycling system, a compost toilet as well as a courtyard and greenhouse that harvests thermal energy.

It also had a solar-powered food dehydrator and clothes dryer. It also had rooms with modular “kit of parts” that could be assembled and disassembled so the house’s blueprint could be changed depending on one’s needs.

The house was also designed to produce energy while the owner cooks, does laundry or washes dishes. As an overall, the house generates more energy than it loses.

Other Winners

The house that won the competition was created by a Swiss team. Third place was awarded to a team from the University of Denver and the University of California Berkeley.

The first place team had around 24 members from various fields, including architecture, interior design, engineering and marketing. They started their work over 18 months prior to the competition.

“We watched it develop from a line on a piece of paper to a real thing,” said 26-year-old Alla Elmahadi, the manager of the project and an architecture graduate student from U-Md.

According to Elmahadi, “the team built the house in modules, which were loaded onto trucks and shipped to Denver. The house was completed during an eight-day assembly period before the contest began.”

Since the end of the competition, the house is set to be shipped to Maryland and will be placed in a “sustainability park” to be used for education and research. It will be placed next to the 2007 second-place winner of the Decathlon.

“This is a great start to where I want to go in life.” Elmahadi said.


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