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Solar Decathlon: Team Germany whups CA and IL

Team Germany’s high-tech building covered on all sides with solar cells won an international contest for the best home powered only by the sun, beating teams from California and Illinois. For Team Germany, the win was a repeat of their win in 2007.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the winners today. The competition pitted student teams against each other to design and build solar homes on Washington D.C.‘s National Mall. The homes were graded on architecture, market viability, and objective measures such as how much hot water can be generated by the house.

On the final day of the competition, Germany beat its opposition by getting the highest score in the contest that measured the amount of excess electricity pruduced by the home.

The house designed by the German team from Technische Universitat in Darmstadt was capable of generating about twice as much electricity as it needed. The house had solar panels on the roof and all walls, which made the potential power generation as high as 11,000 watts. The price tag of the two-story German house was estimated at $650,000 to $850,000. The price of the house built by the second-place team, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was estimated at about $250,000.

Team California, a collaboration between Santa Clara University and the California College of the Arts, won third place and placed at the top in the communications and architecture categories. The California house felt bigger than the 800-square-foot limit by using different zones and incorporating a large deck that was integrated with the main living space.

Of course you can control it with your iPhone! :-)

The scorecard for the Decathlon and more photos of the homes are at the Solar Decathlon site.

(Note added October 31, 2009: I would probably prefer to LIVE in the California house. IMHO, engineering needs to be “tempered” with design […and cost-effectiveness; the German house is too expensive]. The very-well-engineered motorcycles built by BMW serve as an example. The 180-degree-opposed twin cylinders of some of the machines and the high center of gravity are not aesthetically pleasing to me. YMMV [“Your Mileage May Vary!”])

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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