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.
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.
Earlier this month, we previewed each of 20 solar-powered homes competing in the Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. Over the next few weeks, we’ll try to delve into more detail to uncover innovation at its best. This house, the Silo House, was designed and built by over 150 students and faculty at Cornell University. It features three, 16-foot diameter silos that hold the kitchen, bedroom, and living room. The Silo House is grid-tied and powered by 40, 200-watt photovoltaic panels, a solar thermal system, and a building integrated solar thermal system. The Silo House currently leads the competition … will they be the team to take first place?
Yesterday, Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) unveiled its new line of DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle. The Solar Shingle was designed to be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. Dow expects the shingle systems to be available in limited quantities by mid-2010 and more widely available in 2011. And although the company says the system will provide a low-cost solar option for homeowners, we have not received any specific pricing details at this time (see below).
Green building certification is an interesting phenomenon. It’s meant to convey a message about the building’s level of “green” or “sustainability,” but the message is only as strong as the system that creates it. If you push beyond that message, you might ask: how many of these certified buildings are, say, positive energy? That’s the goal of Elithis Tower recently opened in Dijon, France. It has 1,600 sensors that examine energy and emissions. This information is then displayed on a special public sign in full transparency for everyone to see. The sign is both dynamic and clear.
This year's Innovation Pipeline at West Coast Green was relatively small. In part this may reflect the state of the economy, which has lead to decreased investments in new building technologies. Despite that, there are a few interesting technologies that have been brought to market recently or will hopefully be available soon. Here's a look at several products that may just change the future of this industry.