Tag: "unc charlotte"


  07:42:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 657 words  
Categories: Solar Decathlon - 2013

It's Official: Austria Wins Solar Decathlon Gold

The competitions are over and the results are in - Team Austria has won this year’s Solar Decathlon.  Here is our recap and review…

The competition was really close - check out the final standings (click on image for larger):

2013 Solar Decathlon final standingsOut of a possible 1,000 points, the top 10 teams all earned over 90% - high marks indeed for such a rigorous competition.  Poor Team West Virginia, they were plagued with problems throughout the competition and, along with Team Texas finished way off the mark.

The California teams had a mixed showing with best overall finish going to Team Stanford, followed by Team USC (Fight On!), right behind them was Team Santa Clara, and bringing up the rear was the combined team from Caltech and SCI-Arc with their ambitious, but unorthodox split-house design.

We toured the houses twice - the first time on the eve of the official opening and then again last Thursday - an official day for the event and the crowds were decent despite being in the middle of the work week.

crowds at 2013 solar decathlon

Ok, first and foremost, we have to give props to Team Austria for being the overall winner this year - here is a picture of their entry:

Team Austria's winning entry 2013 Solar DecathlonWe will admit that it looks pretty cool - but we really couldn’t get behind those outdoor drapes - really?  Nice concept and all, but how long would those last in the real world?  The judges, however, were not concerned.

Eames elephant roams fluxHome hallsRun on Sun favorite, Team USC, was not without their bragging rights, earning a perfect score for energy balance, placing first in Appliance efficiency and third in Architecture.  But then when you have an Eames Elephant roaming your halls, you know that your architectural chops are well established.

The Appliance competition was as tight as a tick with the top five teams separated by less than one point!  I’m sure the folks at Bosch - who supplied the appliances (and solar modules) to USC’s fluxHome entry - will be happy to point out the team’s success in this very competitive field.

Finally, winner of the “People’s Choice” Award was the Team from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for their entry, Urban-Eden.  We have to admit, this was our second fave of all the houses (never fear, fluxHome, nothing could displace you from your Number 1 ranking in our heart!).  This was a really clever concept:

UNC Charlotte's 2013 solar decathlon entry: urban-edenOn the street-side of the house is a wall 16″ thick made from four inches of concrete (made sustainable by substituting fly ash for cement), six inches of insulation and then six more inches of concrete.  That thick barrier was designed to insulate the house’s occupants from the noise of the city and allow them to turn their gaze to the south - the Eden side of their home.

Eden side of urban-edenThe living wall is filled with plants and a drip irrigation system which also incorporated a reflecting pond - part of the rainwater capture system - which was actually put to the test when  an unseasonable deluge moved through the village the day before.  For us, this was one of the better thought-out concepts and the execution was really impressive.

Movable solar array on UNC's urban-eden entry in 2013 Solar Decathlon

Oh, and another clever feature of the house was the movable solar array.  While not a tracking device, the solar system was mounted on rails that allowed it to be extended over the patio/deck area to provide shade in the summer (as it was during the competition) or retracted back over the house to allow more sunlight into the house during the winter.

Throughout the village, the creative students from all across the country and all over the world, demonstrated again and again that sustainable living need not imply some terrible hit to one’s standard of living.  Clever designs, competent craftsmanship, and attention to detail was everywhere on display.  This was a great event both for the public who toured these houses and for the students who designed, built, and all but lived in them.  They are all winners - congrats to them all!

And now, bring on 2015!



Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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