Everything’s a competition, and this competition was no different. 20 teams from around the world competed last week for the title of ‘Best Solar-Powered Home’.
The competition was the third Solar Decathlon, hosted by the US Department of Energy. All of the homes had to operate entirely on solar power during the week of judging, and have enough excess juice to power an electric car.
Team Colorado was the odds-on favourite to win, having secured the top spot in 2003 and 2005. However it was not to be as the team from Darmstadt Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany swept the Architecture, Lighting, and Engineering categories of this year’s contest with their sleek oak and solar-panelled building.
The saddest entry of the week came from the MIT team. Having spent many sleepless nights and downing many cups of coffee; their house was one of the coolest on show. It included a “warm light wall” – a large opaque window built of 1-foot-thick plastic cubes insulated with separate layers of krypton, aerogel, and water. The krypton and aerogel insulate, while the water keeps things cool in the daytime and radiates stored heat at night. The wall was well ahead of its time, however, as the team scored last in Market Viability.
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