Xcel Energy to Feature House at its new facility
Members of CU’s Solar Decathlon team are working closely with several large-scale investors to erect a permanent site for their award-winning environmentally friendly home.
The Solar Decathlon is a competition held every two years in Washington D.C. where contestants from a range of countries submit ecological and self-reliant houses to be judged in ten categories. The CU house, a product of years of research and planning by a constantly changing body of volunteers stands on display outside at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts this week during the Democratic National Convention. Find out here if you’re wondering about the durability of your solar panels.
Following a 7th place finish in last year’s competition, the team’s sponsors are proud of what CU students have created.
“Xcel approached us before we even started building for the Decathlon,” said Dr. Michael Brandemuehl, the program’s lead faculty advisor and twenty-year Professor of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at CU. “They want to prove that they support new energy technologies, and the students researching them.”
Brandemuehl said the Governor’s Energy Office was also a large source of support, both in terms of sponsorship income as well as placement at the DNC.
“Our Governor has taken a very strong stance on making Colorado a part of the new energy economy by bringing jobs to Colorado in the field,” Brandemuehl said.
Unfortunately for students eager to participate in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, this will be the last team that the University of Colorado will submit in the near future.
“The simple answer that I am retired for now,” Brandemuehl said when asked why the program was being shutdown. He took over the 2007 project when the College of Architecture and Planning closed classes students could take to work on the project and withdrew support on designing the house. Afterwards, the number of architects involved in the project dropped. “The reality is that we really cannot do this without strong institutional support,” he said.
“The burden on the civil engineers was too much of a headache,” said Chad Corbin, Project Manager and CU Master’s candidate in Civil Engineering, when referring to the absence of larger teams of architects present in previous years. Corbin, who himself was influenced to continue onto graduate school in part because of his experiences previous Decathlon experiences, remains in good spirits about what could be the team’s final effort for several years.
“The beauty of the project is that you get to learn from your mistakes, which are not things you can make very many of in a professional setting,” said Corbin. “The practice that comes from designing and constructing something like this is invaluable.”
After the DNC, Xcel is providing funding for the student-built house to be deconstructed and shipped to the Solar Technology Acceleration Center located east of Denver, where the house will be expanded from 800 sq. ft. to 2,100 sq. ft. and used as a display for energy-saving possibilities to the public. According to Brandemuehl, the new house, which will be credited to the CU students and faculty, should be completed in the fall.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Conor Doyle at email@example.com