ASU chosen to compete in international solar home competition

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ASU chosen to compete in international solar home competition

Posted: January 27, 2012

Arizona State University has been selected to be part of one of 20 teams from universities and colleges throughout the United States and the world to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013.

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Knowledge gained through work to achieve advances in photovoltaic technologies by the ASU-based national research center called QESST – Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies – will be used by an ASU team competing in an international solar home building and design competition.

ASU will team with the University of New Mexico (UNM) for the international competition to build energy-efficient, solar-powered houses “that combine affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence,” according to the DOE’s announcement.

At a Jan. 26 ceremony on the UNM campus to announce selection of the teams, DOE Secretary Steven Chu met with ASU/UNM team members, including ASU’s Katherine Muto, an engineering education doctoral student; James LeBeau, an electrical engineering doctoral student; and Edward Burgess, who is pursuing a master’s degree in the Solar Energy Engineering and Commercialization program.

Teams will begin a nearly two-year process of designing, constructing and testing their structures. They will reassemble the houses next year in Irvine, Calif., for the Solar Decathlon event at the Orange County Great Park.

Houses will be judged on architectural and engineering features, and how energy for heating and cooling is produced, among other things.

The competition provides ASU an opportunity to combine its educational and research resources in engineering, architecture, design and other disciplines “to tackle the pressing problem of energy sustainability,” says Christiana Honsberg, an engineering professor at ASU.

Honsberg is director of the ASU-based Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST) Engineering Research Center (a national center supported by the DOE and the National Science Foundation) in which the University of New Mexico is a key partner.

Knowledge generated from QESST’s efforts to achieve advances in photovoltaic technology to harness solar power in economically viable and sustainable ways will be incorporated into the ASU/UNM team’s Solar Decathlon home design.

The competition “gives the engineers, architects, designers and energy entrepreneurs of the tomorrow a chance to contribute to advances that could enable all members of our community to benefit from the endless supply of energy from the sun,” Honsberg says.

The team will focus on developing building designs and energy systems best suited to the Southwest’s desert climate, says Matthew Fraser, ASU associate professor.

Fraser and Honsberg are senior sustainability scientists with the university’s Global Institute of Sustainability. Honsberg is also on the faculty of the School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering, and Fraser is on the faculty of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. The schools are part of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

More information about Solar Decathlon 2013 and the universities and college teams selected to compete, see the Energy.Gov website.

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