Can a liberal education prepare you to compete in the Solar Decathlon? In the spirit of Emerson, "Self Reliance," from Middlebury, will be the only submission from a liberal arts school to the Department of Energy's architectural competition on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23-Oct. 2, 2011 (Follow on Twitter with the hashtag #SD2011).
Chosen as one of twenty finalists from around the world, Middlebury's house uses the power of the sun in the form of a traditional New England farmhouse. The Middlebury team has been chronicling their progress on Planet Forward as they construct their home and bring it to DC to compete. We recently featured their project and a another competitor -- University of Maryland -- in our segment on Nightly Business Report.
The hope is that a green energy breakthrough could come from one of these houses. University of Maryland might already be close, with their Liquid Desiccant Waterfall. This is a waterfall in the house that actually draws humidity out of the air (it's pretty cool).
Will Middlebury's liberal education be able to out-compete some of the tech schools in the world? Will Maryland's unique "water wall" win? They face steep competition, but I think they have a good shot. Watch our piece from Nightly Business report and then see my picks for the most innovative solar home solutions I've seen so far. Vote and let us know who YOU think will win!
Drawing inspiration from the Chesapeake Bay, the University of Maryland's Watershed house is constructed to be an ecosystem. Natural landscapes flow through the house, along with a water feature through the middle. Waste is recycled into reusable nutrients and no runoff is produced.
Straight from the future, SCI-Arc/CalTech's "CHIP" house incorporates exterior insulation to reduce the amount of heat flow in the home. Spaceman never looked so great in white.
Made from recycled shipping containers, this is the coolest example of recycled building materials in the competition. Plus, the deck lets you walk on water (it filters water for domestic uses).
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enters the competition acknowledging the recent tragedies in the Midwest: with a disaster relief home that can be rapidly deployed when a natural disaster strikes.
It might be easier to build a home in a warmer climate, but Team Canada's entry might be more inviting. It's solar roof and interesting shape are very appealing, even if I don't see why it "fosters a positive spiritual energy." I also like its resistance to fire and mold (never good house guests).
Middlebury's house captures the power of the sun in the form of a traditional New England farmhouse. One of the coolest features is the greenhouse incorporated into the southern wall that can provide food year round.
Watch the segment from Nightly Business Report!
All of the entrants must be solar powered and completely energy self-sufficient. Teams compete in 10 areas (that's why it's called a decathlon): Architecture, Market Appeal, Engineering, Communications, Affordability, Comfort Zone, Hot Water, Appliances, Home Entertainment, Energy Balance (Go to DOE's awesome competition page to learn more).Stay tuned on Planet Forward to follow Middlebury as they compete for this prestigious prize.
Follow Susanna Murley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/susannamurley