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20 Beautiful Solar Decathlon Homes

Virginia-tech-solar-decathlon-2009

In a few hours, the U.S. Department of Energy will announce final results of the Solar Decathlon at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  The Solar Decathlon is a competition of 20 teams of college and university students to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house.  There are 10 subjective and objective contests in these categories: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment, and net metering.  At this time, the engineering and net metering contests are the only scores that have not been released.  Is the suspense getting to you yet?

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Solar Gable Home by Illinois Team

Illinois-gable-home

With only the engineering and net metering contests remaining, the Solar Decathlon entry for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is now slightly ahead of other contenders, including Team California and Team Germany.  It’s a tight competition, though.  Solar Decathlon director Richard King yesterday said Team Germany may just receive approximately 25 more points that the next closest team in the net metering contest.  Such a point spread could propel the same to its second straight victory.  Nevertheless, Illinois has this beautiful home built with reclaimed materials that can produce up to four times its energy needs at times.

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Solar Refract House by Team California

Refract-house-skyview

Right now 20 solar-powered homes are competing for bragging rights at the Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.  With a few more contests left and the final results this Friday, Team California is edging ahead of the pack.  They’ve won both the architectural and communications contests and scored third in the market viability contest.  That said, both Team Germany and Cornell are doing some incredible things, and anything can happen.  We’ll have to wait and see whether the Refract House can hold on to first.

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Modern Green Fischer Chalet in Colorado

Blu-chalet-exterior

Hot on the heels of acquiring Michelle Kaufmann Designs, Blu Homes has now announced the completion of their first home in Colorado.  Homeowners Michael and Nikki Fischer have moved into their custom Blu | Chalet, and they seem to love it (watch video below).  With a blend of smart design and energy efficient products, energy costs for the Fischer Chalet are expected to be about 30-50% less than a similar, traditionally constructed home.

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Mesmerizing House with a Solar Skin

Thomas-ott-o2t

Team Germany took first prize at Solar Decathlon 2007, and they’re moving up in the rankings this year.  After the architectural competition, the team is now solidly in second place with a few more days to go.  Could the cube with a solar facade bring last year’s victor its second consecutive win?  In 2007, Team Germany had a beautiful home covered in oak louvered frames with integrated photovoltaics.  This year, the team of 24 architects and students has furthered the same theme with 40 single-crystal silicon panels on the roof and roughly 250 thin-film CIGS panels on the sides.

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Platinum Net Zero Energy Yannell House

Yannell-house-skyview

This is the Yannell Residence in Chicago, Illinois, a home that was designed and built as an exercise in net zero energy living — it produces at least as much energy as it uses over the course of a year.  It received LEED Platinum certification in July 2009, and has been on a roll getting media attention all over the place.  Some say it’s one of the greenest houses ever built, but one thing is for sure: it has a ton of interesting green elements.

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