How much would you pay to live in a one-bedroom home totally powered by the sun, built to withstand Hurricane-force winds and has an aesthetic appeal with a touch of a southern accent? Does a price range of $120,000- $150,000 sound fair? This week, you can tour the home and meet the team of student designers in Washington, D.C.
Team BeauSoleil, a group of University of Louisiana, Lafayette graduate students, is one of 19 other university teams from around the world participating in the seventh annual Solar Decathlon. The annual competition, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy turns the National Mall into a village of solar-powered homes, designed exclusively by college students. Students must meet strict guidelines and can only build an 800-square-foot home. “We approached it as an architecture competition,” says Chris Leger, 26, a UL at Lafayette architecture graduate student.
The home can also be elevated and put on piers to protect it from flooding. The front and back doors open like a vault and can become a functional breezeway, eliminating the need for overuse of an air conditioning unit. “It shows that we have really bright students, compassionate about preserving our culture and they’re innovative,” says Christine Payton, a University of Louisiana representative.
The Solar Decathlon ends on Oct. 16, when judges announce the overall 2009 Solar Decathlon winner. In addition to hopefully winning the competition, Team BeauSoleil would like to see the home go into mass production. “Building this home taught me that we can all live just as comfortable off the things nature gives us,” says Greg Jefferson, 28, an architecture graduate student. Team BeauSoleil plans to display their home on campus and later sell the home in the community.
Getting selected as a competitor was an arduous undertaking. Students had to submit their plans and impress a committee of engineers, scientists and DOE experts. Thousands of teams compete for a chance and must prove they are prepared to start and complete the homes, as they abide by strict structural and safety requirements. The DOE provides selected teams with $100,000 in grants to help cover the initial cost of building the home. Teams are responsible for any additional costs they incur.
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