College to compete in Solar Decathlon

Steve Chapman
Copy Editor

Crowder College and Drury University have partnered up to become one of 20 teams that will compete in the 2015 Solar Decathlon. According to the Solar Decathlon website, the decathlon is a contest sponsored by the Department of Energy that “challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.”

The decathlon will consist of ten events which, according to the website, are “designed to gauge how well the houses perform and how livable and affordable they are.” Some of the contests, such as architecture, marketing and engineering are juried, meaning that a panel, called a jury will evaluate the houses and award them a certain number of points based on their evaluations. The panels are made up of experts in the fields respective to the contests; for example, the jurors in the architecture contest will all be experts in architecture.

Other contests, such as the comfort zone and hot water contests will be measured. In these contests, the house will either be monitored for how it performs and how well its team can use it to complete certain everyday household functions.

Each contest is worth 100 points; the maximum number of points that a house can be awarded is 1,000.

According to Joel Lamson, solar energy instructor at Crowder, the contest will officially begin when the Department of Energy releases the rules and regulations for the 2015 decathlon on Mar. 5. Lamson said that Crowder and Drury plan to “hit the ground running.”

“The tenuous…plan of action is we’re going to be designing until May and then begin construction; hopefully end the construction in May of next year. Hopefully test over the summer, and then go the contest out in Irvine California (in Fall of 2015).”

Lamson, who began his college career as a student at Crowder, was part of Crowder’s team that competed in the original solar decathlon in 2002. He stated the contest is an invaluable learning experience for students who wish to gain somehands-on experience in fields such as construction, architecture, or solar energy. “I wouldn’t have the solar expertise I have now without the competition,” he said.

Drury will work with Crowder in the contest. According to Lamson, the partnership with Drury was necessary for Crowder’s participation in the decathlon because the Department of Energy only chooses four-year universities to compete in the decathlon. “In order for us to be viable to be selected…we needed to team up with a four-year university that had an engineering and architecture program.”

Lamson stated the two schools will work together to build the house at Crowder. Once construction is completed, the house will be tested, then dismantled and transported to the contest site in Irvine, California. Over a period of three weeks, the houses will be assembled, judged based on the contests’ criteria, and then the teams will disassemble them for transport back to their respective schools.

Crowder student Jarren Welch is looking forward to the contest, and plans to lead the team installing solar panels on the house. He agrees with Lamson that the project will be a great learning experience for Crowder Students.

“Building a home brings in so many aspects: construction, engineering, interior/exterior design, electrical, plumbing, home entertainment, CAD, Solar thermal and PV,” Welch said. “Any students taking these types of classes will learn many things if they help with the Solar House.”