There is a growing trend amongst new home builders to consider not just street appeal, price, and location when they plan their new home, but also to consider sustainability. Factors such as orientation, the installation of solar panels, use of recycled materials, and energy efficient technologies are now just as prioritized as picking out wall tiles and bathroom fixtures.
To promote energy efficient housing, and encourage further development in the area of sustainable housing design, Schneider Electric™ is a major sponsor of the Solar Decathlon, a unique competition in which teams from 20 universities around the world are asked to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective and energy-efficient.
From its origins in 2002 in the US, the competition has grown with editions in Europe (in Madrid in 2012) and in Asia (in Datong, China in August 2013). The 9th edition took place in California in October 2013 and the 10th took place in Versailles, France, in July 2014. Between 600 and 800 university students take part in each competition, planning and building a real house during the two-year project. The house is then packed up and reassembled at the Solar Village over a 10-day period. Visitors, around 300,000 of whom attend the event, are encouraged to wander through the homes. The competition is judged across ten specific criteria – half of which are quantitative, based on measurements such as energy balance or comfortable temperatures, and half of which are qualitative, based on the jury’s evaluation of aspects like architecture, market appeal, and communication.
Since 2009, Schneider Electric has sponsored individual teams, as well as the events themselves. On the event side of things, one of Schneider Electric major contributions is the electrical distribution equipment required to connect the Solar Village to the utility service for the duration of the event. Adding intelligence to the energy distribution, Schneider Electric products are also used to measure the energy consumption and solar production of the houses, turning the distribution network into a mini smart grid for the Solar Village.
For individual teams, Schneider Electric sustainable solutions such as solar inverters, electric vehicle charging stations, and C-Bus lighting control systems are used by the participants to make their house as energy efficient as possible. Schneider Electric power meters are used to record the levels of energy being used, and constant critical power is ensured through the use of Schneider Electric uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Schneider Electric also provides support to the teams in the form of advice and hands-on expertise. Since the 2011 edition, Schneider Electric has directly sponsored the top winning teams coming from Australia, China, US, France, Italy, Sweden, and Israel.
“Schneider Electric, as an innovator of energy solutions, applauds Solar Decathlon teams, which are inspiring new pathways for sustainable living,” Michel Orlhac, vice president of marketing, Schneider Electric said.
“The competition is a perfect opportunity for university students to gain experience and shape their careers. Globalization of the competition means that more and more people are exposed to the innovations in sustainable technologies. The contest highlights the most important players in the new energy market, and every edition is different and brings new ideas.”
The 11th Solar Decathlon will take place Oct. 8–18, 2015, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The 2015 event will present the sustainable housing achievements of 17 collegiate teams.
This year’s competition incorporates a new sustainable transportation category with the addition of Commuting as one of its 10 contests. Along with the showcase houses, we’ll see the integration of electric vehicles that are charged from the home’s solar electric system and driven for 25 miles or two hours each day.
The Solar Decathlon competition houses will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily on eight days over two weekends:
- Thursday, Oct. 8–Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015
- Thursday, Oct. 15–Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.
The remaining dates, the Solar Decathlon village will be closed for competition activities.
Open to the public free of charge, the Solar Decathlon gives visitors the opportunity to tour solar-powered houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money today.