Solar Decathlon Houses Feature PV, BIPV and Energy-Efficient
Among the 19 houses built as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s
Fifth Solar Decathlon, held in September in Washington, D.C., were several
that made innovative use of energy-efficient glass. The annual event challenges
collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that
are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.
The University of Tennessee’s 740-square-foot Living Light zero-energy
house featured 40 feet of glass along the north and south faces, with
85 percent of its exterior envelope being glass, said Amy Howard, project
manager. “The north and south walls are double-glass façades with
the outer pane being single pane, R1 with a low-E coating, and the inner
wall is two layers of glass, two layers of Mylar with argon fill,” she
said. “That’s where we have the insulating value.” The suspended film
allows the entire wall system to be R10, she said.
AGC Flat Glass North America of Alpharetta, Ga., supplied all the glass
in the house. Kawneer Co. of Norcross, Ga., supplied the aluminum framing
The solar panels on the house came from Solyndra of Fremont, Calif. “The
flat orientation allows us to extend the array as a shading device,” Howard
said. Each solar panel produces 182 watts per hours.
University of Calgary’s Technological Residence, Traditional Living (TRTL)
zero-energy house featured a photovoltaic (PV) system that operates 93
percent of its optimal efficiency, said Mikhael Horvath, mechanical lead.
The total array of 32 solar panels, from Conergy of Germany, produce 8.7
kW. The house, called “Turtle,” also featured triple-glazed windows from
Innotech Windows and Doors of Abbotsford, B.C. The windows have an R5-plus
rating, two low-E coatings, warm-edge spacers, argon fill and hybrid steel
framing, said Al Jaugelis, technical director of Innotech.
The Appalachian State University’s zero-energy Solar Homestead featured
a solar canopy that created an outdoor living space, said Chelsea Royall,
a team member. “The bifacial solar panels from Sanyo are integrated in
the architecture, and produce 8.2 kW and 195 watts per panel,” she said.
The concentrating solar skylight supplies all the hot water used in the
home. All the windows in the house were triple-glazed, R5, supplied by
Kolbe & Kolbe of Wausau, Wis., except for the Trombe wall window.
The Trombe window stores heat during the day and releases during the night,
according to Royall.
Florida International University’s perFORM[D]ance house used floor-to-ceiling
glass for exterior walls and foldable doors from NanaWall of Mill Valley,
Calif., on three sides, said Deana Sritalapat, a team member. “The south
walls are relatively solid because we didn’t want it overheated,” she
said. “The glass is impact-resistant and provides the maximum amount of
natural lighting while oriented north to provide a minimum level of heat
gain. The interior of the glass is protected by operable shades and the
exterior of the glass is protected by an operable louver system.” SunPower
in San Jose, Calif., supplied the solar panels on the house.
New Zealand-based Victoria University of Wellington’s First Light house
was 20 percent glass. “All the glass is triple-glazed, argon-filled and
tempered,” said team member Sophie Prebble. Metro GlassTech of New Zealand
supplied the glass.
The Tidewater Virginia team, comprising Old Dominion University and Hampton
University, built the Unit 6 Unplugged modular house that featured an
outdoor porch with sliding glass walls. The porch could be enclosed by
closing the glass walls and worked as a thermal collector. The double-glazed
windows in the south face and the triple-glazed windows in the north face
were supplied by Gayko of Germany, and the solar panels were from Sanyo
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