College of Architecture and Planning

CAP leads team competing in 2013 Solar Decathlon

Ball State University students will work with their peers from the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky to build the nation's best solar-powered house in the 2013 Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. Throughout the two-year process, the teams will design, construct and test their homes before reassembling them at the 2013 competition site, Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif.  The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

The purpose of the Solar Decathlon is to educate student participants and the public about the many cost-saving opportunities presented by clean-energy products.  The projects demonstrate to the public the opportunities presented by cost-effective houses that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems that are available today, while also providing participating students with unique training that prepares them to enter our nation's clean-energy workforce.

Team Kentuckiana is one of 20 international groups selected to showcase solar-powered houses in fall 2013. Ball State's team represents students from the university's Colleges of Architecture and Planning and Applied Sciences and Technology. The team will be mentored by architecture professors Michele Chiuini and Walter Grondzik.

"This competition has a significant impact on society because it shows designers, builders and consumers how to save money and energy with affordable, clean-energy products that are available today," Chiuini said. "The Solar Decathlon also provides participating students with hands-on experience and unique training that prepares them to enter our nation's clean-energy workforce."

The competition also provides students an opportunity to work in multidisciplinary teams for course credit to study the requirements for designing and building solar-powered houses.

This translates into a life-changing immersive learning experience. Faculty are also challenged to create partnerships between different departments, colleges, universities and external sponsors, developing new communication skills and learning opportunities, Chiuini said.

In the fall, Michele Chiuini and Walter Grondzik, Professors of Architecture, and students from the 301 Architectural Design studio, visited the 2011 Solar Decathlon exhibition in Washington, D.C. to learn more about the competition and tour the energy-efficient solar house submissions.

In November, Chiuini and his students worked in conjunction with the School of Engineering at the University of Louisville to submit their application for the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon as part of a team that also includes students from Ball State University’s College of Applied Sciences and Technologies and the University of Kentucky.

On January 26, Team Kentuckiana learned their application was selected to proceed in the completion. The 20 student teams selected to participate include nine returning teams, 11 new teams, and four international teams. The 2013 Solar Decathlon will be held at a new event venue; Orange County Great Park.  This venue was selected for its emphasis on sustainability. Work for the competition continues in the spring ARCH 402 studio.