The Solar Decathlon evolved this year with the advent of the Affordability Contest. It replaced the Lighting Design Contest, which was subsumed within other contests in the competition. Pursuant to the rules, teams receive up to 100 points by achieving an estimated construction cost of $250,000 or less. Above that, there’s a sliding scale with no points awarded for homes with a construction cost above $600,000.
KB Home, a publicly-traded home builder with its headquarters in Los Angeles, this month announced the nationwide roll out of net-zero energy home designs called ZeroHouse 2.0. The standard KB Home with Energy Star certification is built to save homeowners about $1,000 in average annual energy costs, while a ZeroHouse 2.0 design is expected to eliminate monthly electricity charges.
Today, the Solar Decathlon officially opens to the public and the games begin. The competition is organized by the Department of Energy, and 19 teams have invested more than two years of effort to design, build, and operate solar-powered homes that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner will be the one with the highest score after the following ten contests:
The value proposition of solar energy is driving great opportunities for homeowners looking to invest in sustainable power production. In fact, the average installed cost of a solar PV system completed in 2010 fell by 17% from the prior year, and the cost has also dropped an additional 11% so far in 2011, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Photovoltaic panels and solar hot water panels both provide useful benefits for the buildings they are attached to, but sometimes there is limited space on the roof, and usually only one or the other is installed. Solimpeks, a solar panel manufacturer based in Turkey, has been producing solar panels for a long time, and has an elegant solution to the problem: a panel that produces both electricity and hot water. It turns out that the Solimpeks Volther dual-use panels increase efficiency more than you might expect.
New Jersey-based Englert, a company that specializes in metal roofing and gutter systems, recently earned a citation from Architect Magazine for their incredible Solar Sandwich roof system. On the surface, it looks like any other standing-seam metal roof with columns of thin-film photovoltaic solar. Yet below that, to capture the warmth generated from hot metal roofing, there’s a grid of pex-filled purlins with a water and glycol solution for a solar thermal system.