Solar Decathlon Case Study Analysis
Solar Decathlon 2007 Case Study Analysis
The Solar Decathlon is an international competition in which 20 universities from around the world design and construct an 800sf self-sustaining house that is built off-site and then transported to the National Mall in Washington DC. The 20 houses are judged in ten different competitions over the period of one week in early October. 2007 was the third time the competition was held. Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours went into the design and construction of these 20 houses and each team developed a unique response.
This seminar will be a research and design exploration of the 20 houses of the 2007 Solar Decathlon houses. Students will diagram and assess how variants on a specific program and site can lead to such diverse solutions. The focus will be an intensive investigation of spatial design and building performance characteristics. The intent is to assess and compare the twenty different solutions to the same design problem – an 800 square foot portable house that develops all its own power and water storage.
In an attempt to understand how these buildings performed, each student will focus primarily on one house and investigate its performance in all 10 categories. This will be an intensive study that will include design analysis and energy analysis. Energy modeling will be a component of the energy performance analysis.
- Choose a set of criteria by which to compare the Solar Decathlon 2007 house designs
- Developed a common graphic vocabulary for describing the analyses
- Create a document that compares the 2007 Solar Decathlon entries
The objective of the comparisons will be for the following:
- Understand what affects architectural experience
- Understand what affects architectural performance
- Understand what has fared well in the competition
- Provide a document that allows a designer to readily understand the similarities and differences between the 20 houses
Some of the areas for comparison will include:
- solar sections
- plan organization
- climate at origin
- passive heating strategies
- passive cooling strategies
- active mechanical systems
- electric lighting
The Decathlon is based on ten competitions. We will assess the houses in all 10 categories, though we will focus more on some than others.
Below are the ten 2007 Solar Decathlon Contests:
- Architecture — 200 points
- Engineering — 150 points
- Market Viability — 150 points
- Communications — 100 points
- Comfort Zone — 100 points
- Appliances — 100 points
- Hot Water — 100 points
- Lighting — 100 points
- Energy Balance — 100 points
- Getting Around — 100 points
This is a seminar course in which the students will be leading the research and working collaboratively towards the completion of one document that a designer could refer to when designing for future Solar Decathlon competitions.