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Clemson University Solar Decathlon

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Mission


Clemson University's Solar Decathlon

project brings together an active team of students and faculty from

Architecture
Architecture
Engineers
Engineering
Social Sciences
Social Sciences

To collaborate on the design, construction, and promotion of a prototypical, three bedroom, 1000 sqft, low environmental impact, net-zero, solar house that is cost-effective in today’s market and comfortable under South Carolina’s climate.

We are focused on stitching together innovative building methods, southern
personality and local products into a home for a southern family.


The project is funded in part by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-.EE0006559.

Competition


The Solar Decathlon is a competition hosted by the Department of Energy with collaboration of NREL. It challenges colleges and universities to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. As a national competition, it challenges the students of 20 teams biannually with innovation and collaboration, helping prepare them for future work opportunities. The houses will be open for visitation in Irvine, California October 8th-11th and the 15th-18th.

Architecture


Judged by a panel of reviewers, the homes and teams of the Solar Decathlon competition will be ranked according to how well they designed and utilized all the elements of the home to create a holistic design. Specifically, the judges look at three different key areas in each teams project, the Architectural Concept and Design Approach, Architectural Implementation and Innovation and Documentation.

For the Concept and Design Approach, the judges look for how clear the concept of the home is and how it drove the design of an inspirational and delightful home, as well as the cohesiveness between the structure, architectural design, landscape design, and other disciplines needed to create a functional home.

The largest factor in the end Architecture score is on how all of the design innovations function and were implemented into the design. Questions that they ask while visiting the home are, is this home a prime example of holistic and integrated design solutions of the structures, composition of space and their use of scale and proportion, the building envelope, while remaining focused on how the homes occupant comfort and compatibility with the target markets climate. Lighting is another key element in the quality of design within the home.

It can affect the judge’s perspective of the quality of living by providing dispersed and varied levels, utilizing natural and electric light while providing the occupants with adequate task lighting locations and good color renditions throughout the home creating a delightful and enjoyable space. Besides looking at how the team portrays their home and the “ideal” state of the home, the team will be judged on how the home on-site in California portrays the quality of design through details, architectural implementation and material selection. As well as how the prototype demonstrates the team’s innovations in the current approaches of conventional residential architecture.

The final scoring section of the architectural contest is important, if done correctly, the documentation should provide others with the ability to recreate if provided with the drawings, construction specifications. This section looks at how accurately the drawings represented the final product on-site at the competition in California.

Market Appeal


Focused on how well the home satisfies and supports the target client chosen by the team, a jury of professionals from within the homebuilding industry look to how the team faired in terms of livability, marketability and build-ability of the homes design. Overall, the jury questions if the homes design and operations create a safe functioning and enjoyable place for the clients selected by the team to reside. Needing to utilize both the interior and exterior appeal strategies to attract the target client, all elements of materials, equipment are to be detailed choices fitting with the ideals and desires of the occupants while still providing a good value.

As part of a solar energy competition, the Solar Decathlon Market Appeal judges look for the use of effective sustainable features and strategies used throughout the site to and the ability to re-create this prototype within the chosen market thorough the provided documentation and detailed drawings as well as within the estimated cost provided by the team. All to place a value on the teams creation of a livable home that is marketable to the desired demographics and is buildable through the information presented to the jury.

Engineering


As the third juried contest of five, the Engineering portion looks at the Innovation, Functionality, Efficiency, Reliability and the Documentation of the homes systems, structure and energies. Judged through both the provided documentation and on-site visits to the prototype, the jury looks for not only innovative solutions, but the marketability of those solutions and the increase quality of comfort and performance as a product of the innovations. Besides being innovative in the use of technologies, the designed maintenance and ease of owner operation is an integral part in creating a high level functioning house system that improves upon the sustainability and energy usages within the current conventional housing systems. Providing a uniform distribution thermal comfort conditions by use of control of humidity and temperature, air movement in important to creating both occupant comfort and good indoor air quality rating.

With both the improvement and innovation on the conventional systems and a functional balanced system as key elements in a successful engineering contest design, the team is judged on their ability to produce drawings, construction specifications, energy analysis and audiovisual presentation that previews the jury to the prototype prior to the on-site visit.

Communications


With the content of the teams pages focused on the intent to educate the visitors about the home and teams, a team of communication professionals will judge the projects communication strategies presented in electronic communications such as WebPages and social media sites, public exhibit display, public exhibit materials and handouts, as well at an audiovisual presentation and a narrative explaining the concepts. The projects will be judged based on elements that support and convey the projects intent through comprehensive, consistent and integrated materials as well the success of the teams outreach methods. Through the deployment of a variety of electronic communication platforms, such as websites and social media, teams are to successfully reach a broad spectrum of users through graphic and typed elements that contribute to the user’s digital experience with the project. All forms of communication including design tours are scored based on their originality and the ability to be informative, interesting, engaging, and audience appropriate for all levels of visitors as well as accommodating for long lines.

In addition to the requirements of all communications, the audiovisual presentation should showcase the prototype home displayed on-site at the competition as well as informing the viewers about the back-story of the design and the philosophy that went into its development.

Affordability


As the final juried contest, the affordability contest is judged by a professional cost estimator that assigns points based on the final estimated construction cost of the team’s project. Prior to the judge completing the estimate, the teams submit a target construction cost which shall be ±20% of the final estimated cost. To receive full points in the competition, the cost estimation is to be under $250,000 us dollars. Between $250,000 and $350,000 teams will receive a shallow point’s deduction scaled linearly above 90, however, the points awarded drops off steeply after $350,000 earning 90 points down to none once surpassing $600,000.

Comfort Zone


With the goal of the competition to not only create a sustainable environment, but one that is comfortable and enjoyable as well as environmentally friendly. For the comfort zone contest, teams are judged on two sub-contest, temperature and humidity.

Earning full points for temperature requires the homes sensors to read and average between 71°F and 76°F during the scored periods. Partial points are earn and scaled linearly between 67°F and 71°F as well as 76°F and 80°F. Though there are two sensors placed in the homes, the one that deviates furthest from the target temperature is the zone temperature that is recorded and used to award points to the teams. Humidity scored by the time-averaged interior relative humidity percentage, awards teams with full points in any given scored period for keeping the humidity below 60% and reduced points between 60 and 70%.

Appliances


Broke into five sub-contests, the appliances that are tested through various tasks are the refrigerator, freezer, clothes washer and means of drying, dishwasher and a cooking appliance seen fit to complete the task.

Refrigerator & Freezer – Each scored period looks at the time-averaged temperature and awards full points for if the average lands between 34°F and 40°F with the points decreasing linearly towards the extremes. If teams average temperatures land outside of 32°F and 42°F, zero points are awarded for that scored period. Scored much in the same way as the refrigerator, the freezer scorings only change that the full amount of points are awarded by holding a time average between -20°F and 5°F and if the temperature is outside of that zone yet still between -30°F and 15°F partial points are awarded.

Clothes Washer & Dryer must work in tandem with each other to earn all the available points for both sub-contests. Each team will be presented with a set of six towels that has been weighed prior to team distribution that must be run through at least one uninterrupted “normal” wash cycle within a automatic clothes washer. Upon completion of washing, teams must return the load of laundry back to its original weight prior to washing or less. Only if the team successfully washes the towels may they move on to the drying contest. Reduced points are earned by the team if the end towel weight is between 100% and 110% of the original weight. Methods of drying are allowed to be active, passive or any combination thereof.

Dishwasher that fits eight place settings and operates automatically is required in the set up of the homes appliances for competition purposes. In this sub-contest, all available points are received if the temperature sensor, placed by the Solar Decathlon, reaches 120°F and half if the temperature gets over 115°F but not quite to 120°F. The cycle must be completed uninterrupted to receive credit for the task.

The final sub-contest in the appliances contest is that of cooking. Teams shall vaporize 5lbs. of water within a designated time. Any of the appliances within the kitchen may be used if operating in their normal configuration. The vaporization process must be contained to a single container. Linearly reduced points are awarded for vaporization of 1-5lbs of water.

Home Life


Broke into five sub-contests, the appliances that are tested through various tasks are the refrigerator, freezer, clothes washer and means of drying, dishwasher and a cooking appliance seen fit to complete the task.

Refrigerator & Freezer – Each scored period looks at the time-averaged temperature and awards full points for if the average lands between 34°F and 40°F with the points decreasing linearly towards the extremes. If teams average temperatures land outside of 32°F and 42°F, zero points are awarded for that scored period. Scored much in the same way as the refrigerator, the freezer scorings only change that the full amount of points are awarded by holding a time average between -20°F and 5°F and if the temperature is outside of that zone yet still between -30°F and 15°F partial points are awarded.

Clothes Washer & Dryer must work in tandem with each other to earn all the available points for both sub-contests. Each team will be presented with a set of six towels that has been weighed prior to team distribution that must be run through at least one uninterrupted “normal” wash cycle within a automatic clothes washer. Upon completion of washing, teams must return the load of laundry back to its original weight prior to washing or less. Only if the team successfully washes the towels may they move on to the drying contest. Reduced points are earned by the team if the end towel weight is between 100% and 110% of the original weight. Methods of drying are allowed to be active, passive or any combination thereof.

Dishwasher that fits eight place settings and operates automatically is required in the set up of the homes appliances for competition purposes. In this sub-contest, all available points are received if the temperature sensor, placed by the Solar Decathlon, reaches 120°F and half if the temperature gets over 115°F but not quite to 120°F. The cycle must be completed uninterrupted to receive credit for the task.

The final sub-contest in the appliances contest is that of cooking. Teams shall vaporize 5lbs. of water within a designated time. Any of the appliances within the kitchen may be used if operating in their normal configuration. The vaporization process must be contained to a single container. Linearly reduced points are awarded for vaporization of 1-5lbs of water.

Commuting


Back this year to the competition is the Commuting task. With this task being completed primarily in the morning hours, teams are required to drive at least 25 miles with a fully electric car that has been charged using their projects electrical system to represent the demand that household transportation would place on the houses systems. Completing the task within 120 minutes and traveling the full distance with two individuals in the car awards the team with the full number of points for the daily task. If 120 minutes is up, the total miles completed are scored, under 25 miles are scored linearly down to zero.

Energy Balance


As the 10th and final contest in the Solar Decathlon, the Energy Balance looks at both the energy produced by the home and that which it consumes. The scoring for this contest starts on day 11 of the completion and is completed at the beginning of day 19 on-site. To earn points in the subcategory of energy production teams must end the competition period, day 19, with a positive net electrical energy and if this is not met, teams earn linearly reduced points up to a net electrical energy balance falling between -50 and 0.

The energy consumption sub contest looks only at the amount of energy consumed throughout the contest period; full points for a consumption of less than 175kWh and reduced points between 175kWh and 300 kWh at which point no points are awarded.

Family Tree


The people who helped make this possible.

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Clemson University

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Solution


The Family:
We have focused our design on a Southern family of four with a global focus. The home revolves around the family with the focus on livability as well as the sustainability.

Structure:
SimPly–The structural framing system, cut from a 4’x8’ plywood sheet, the CNC cut pieces interlock in lieu of traditional dimensional lumber construction. The repetition and adjustment of building units within the system create an expandable and customizable structure. All information is embedded within the pieces, eliminating the need for onsite measuring and cutting, which allows for fast and efficient construction.

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Indigo Pine West Location: Orange County Great Park, Irvine CA
Current Temp: 95.94F
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Indigo Pine East Location: SC Botanical Gardens, Clemson SC
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