18:00 PM

Solar Decathlon Buckeyes finish in fifth place

Ohio State’s Solar Decathlon team today finished fifth in the U.S. Department of Energy’s competition that challenges college teams to design, build and operate the best solar-powered house.

More than 70 students from 13 different majors worked for nearly two years to design and construct “enCORE,” Ohio State’s entry in the 2011 Solar Decathlon. The house was transported from Ohio State to Washington D.C., where the contest began Sept. 23, in the National Mall’s West Potomac Park.

Ohio State is one of only 19 teams competing in this international, biennial competition; those teams were invited by the U.S. Department of Energy to participate. In addition to teams from American universities, houses also came from China, New Zealand, Belgium and Canada. During the decathlon, thousands of visitors toured the homes to learn about the opportunities presented by cost-effective houses that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems that are available today.

“Ohio State’s enCORE house has truly been a two-year, interdisciplinary team effort,” said Matt O’Kelly, enCORE House project engineer. “Our students are among the best and brightest on our campus and the hard work each team member has displayed has been inspiring. We’re proud to attend a university where a commitment to sustainability is demonstrated every day.”

The University of Maryland won the overall decathlon, followed by Purdue.

The decathlon teams competed in ten contests that assessed the performance, livability and affordability of each home. Teams earned competition points through efficient performance of typical household tasks such as cooking, washing dishes, and doing laundry. The house’s energy output was monitored as mechanical systems maintained a comfortable indoor temperature range. In addition, the house was judged on subjective features such as aesthetics and design inspiration.

Ohio State’s house earned top scores in two contests: efficiently maintaining a comfortable temperature and efficiently producing hot water. Despite cloudy conditions throughout the decathlon, which made it difficult to produce power from the sun, Ohio State was in the top three through most of the contest.

The enCORE team considers its entry to be a family-friendly solution reducing residential energy needs. The three-person family home efficiently uses its slightly more than 800 square feet of space with two bedrooms and a den along with a kitchen and eating area, a workspace and a covered deck. Some of enCORE’s unique energy features include:

*High-efficiency, triple-pane, gas-filled windows;
*Super-insulated walls;
*A sloped roof to collect rainwater and a bioremediation system to filter and recycle
*A solar hot air system that uses phase-change technology to reduce heating and cooling loads by up to 20 percent; and
*Photovoltaic solar panels that can be effective even under overcast skies.

Ohio State finished in the top 10 in the 2009 contest, which was the first time the university had a team competing.

For more information, including scoring and additional details about each team’s house, visit the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon website. The Ohio State enCORE team website is solardecathlon.osu.edu/