solar decathlon 2015

Team Alfred's OFFICIAL BLOG!

This was a multi-faceted collaboration between Alfred State College and Alfred University for the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy's national competition in Irvine, California. Scroll down to the start of the blog to get a sense of what the event was and is.

I myself was originally commissioned as the teams designer. I later became a decathlete to go compete with the team. Since I was going to California I also convinced the school to let me bring along my work to have a solo art show in the teams solar house. (Blog post from Day 7 highlights my involvement.)

Day 9

Friday, Oct. 16th 2015


Award Ceremony Number Two 

Todays awards at the 10am morning award assembly were for Communications and Architecture. These competitions were based off of judged walkthroughs of our homes over the past few days while we did not have public tours. Yesterday we won the third place award for Affordability, however today we did not place in the top three for either category.


Dr. Hongxi at the second day of ceremonies. 


The start of the award assembly began with a speech by Dr. Hongxi Yin who was in charge of the Solar Decathlon China 2013 (that Avery Sandler attended). He showed a powerful video highlighting that Solar Decathlon and announced formally to us all that they are now making preparations for Solar Decathlon China 2016 — an international competition.

All of this was interesting, but what came next was the most impactful. He boasted how the Chinese have the second largest economy in the world, but they also are the worlds top producer of greenhouse gases. I was astonished to hear him blatantly talk down on his country. To paraphrase him, he then said "The competition helps students in China to become educated to save this earth." It's great to see and hear of so many places and cultures actively investing in the next generation. This was such a great way to start off the day knowing that we all would end up having more waves of students coming through our house that were looking for information, and high fives.


Quick note on our HVAC System

Our air system is an average sized system that is both affordable and convenient. It is located in the attic space that is accessible by the pull-down ladder in the master bedroom. Here in the warm California weather, our 4-5kw HVAC system recycles warm air from the house and cools it back down with the AC. I am no engineer, but this is How I have been described our system. The Energy recovery ventilator (ERV) provides fresh air into the system from outside and the air ventilator takes recycled air from the house. These two air flows are combined and cooled further to generate a cool living space. The same process would go for cold weather if you were seeking to heat the home.


Solar Decathlon 2015  Welcome Tent

Guided Tours

Because this event is so large the decathlon offers special commodities to visitors. The most interesting one being the free guided tours. Volunteers in yellow shirts take small groups of people around from house to house and give them a quick three minute overview on each house. This allows people that are unfamiliar to the event to become oriented to what is available so they can then go back to homes individually that they find the most interesting.


Averaging over 1,000 visitors a day!

Today was nothing but tours. Most of the day today we ended up going to the self-guided tour style and just had visitors ask us questions as they came. Touring for several hours a day just wears us all out quite quickly. This is because touring is usually large groups of people at once that we end up trying to convey information to in a fun, interesting and inspiring manor. Even with these self-guided tours we still needed a minimum of 3 students in the house for questions and delivering general information to.


Several interesting events took place. The first and most simple is I finally sold one of my artworks! Secondly the School of Applied Technology Dean Dr. Craig Clark joined us in public tours and overall support to the team. He brought a school flag with him so we were finally able to put up both of our school flags. Lastly our team decided as a whole to formally protest the Marketability score from yesterday, as well as the Architecture score (in which our school placed 13th out of 14 houses). If we win our argument we will receive a better score. If we loose the challenge we will loose ten points from the possible hundred points of that contest. Well apparently we submitted the Architecture protest too late, but the Marketability did get in on time. Our team lead Avery Sandler had to go speak to the panel while the original judges were present to defend our school from the poor scores that we received. Apparently he made some good points, but e will not find out until tomorrow. 


Day 9 Wrap Up

While awaiting our potentially new scores we have to look at our overall rank of 11th place. It is not last, but it is certantly not what we were all expecting to be sitting in right now, so close to the end of the competition. Tomorrow there is only a few more points avalible from the Engineering awards. After that we will be told the overall U.S. Department of Energy 2015 champion. We will be nowhere near first at this point, but it would be nice to get back down to 8th or so. We all put forth so much work, and are recieving such amazing feedback so we hope to walk away with the recognition that we believe we deserve. 

After tours ended at 7pm we were required to stay until 11pm for Open House! This time is reserved for all teams to go out and look at one another homes, as most of us have not had the time to do so thus far. Everyone hung out and relaxed while I worked on communication updates and this blog. Our two professors brought tons of food for dinner. A great end to yet another long day.