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College of Design students take fifth place in 2009 Solar Decathalon

Last update: 9/16/2010

For the last year and a half, students from across the University -- including College of Design students from the Architecture, Graphic Design, and Interior Design disciplines -- have participated in the University's Solar Decathlon effort by designing, planning, and constructing an 800 square foot house powered solely by the sun. Called the ICON House -- because it employs a modified gable roof that maintains the familiar and iconic house form while maximizing exposure to the sun.

On October 16, 2009, the US Department of Energy announced the final results of the competition. The University of Minnesota entry, ICON house, took fifth place overall. The German team took first place, followed by Illinois, California, and the Canadian team. ICON house was judged to be the top entry in the lighting design and engineering categories and third in appliances and home entertainment.

Alumni invited to tour solar house and reception in Washington, DC

University of Minnesota alumni are invited to tour the Solar Decathlon entries on the national mall, Washington, DC, on Saturday, October 17, 2009 and then gather for a special reception at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum to celebrate with members of the University's entry design team. Team leaders will share an insider's view of the design process, contest, and unique features of the ICON Solar House. The Hirshhorn Museum's new director, Richard Koshalek (BA Architecture, 1965; MA Art History, 1968) will talk about his new role with the museum and vision for its future.

Public tours of the ICON Solar House on the Saint Paul campus

Public tours of the ICON Solar House, created by the U of M Solar Decathlon team, including many CDes students and faculty, will be held on the Saint Paul campus September 16, 17, and 18, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The house is located at 1894 Buford Place (one block north of Buford Avenue, the street McNeal Hall faces), off Gortner Avenue. A map to the ICON Solar House location (.pdf; 207Kb) is available.

The house is located in the midst of agricultural buildings. Buford Place becomes a dirt road, so if you visit, wear sturdy shoes.

Solar Decathlon competition

During three weeks in October 2009, the US Department of Energy will host the Solar Decathlon competition between 20 teams of university students, determining the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Each of the 20 entries will be displayed in the Solar Village on the National Mall in Washington DC, October 9-13, 2009 and October 15-18, 2009.

Entrants submitted proposals and plans which were evaluated by the Solar Decathlon Proposal Review Committee, consisting of scientists, engineers, and other experts from the US Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The committee selected 20 competitors.

The Solar Decathlon entries are judged on 10 criteria or "contests:"

  1. Architecture -- 100 points (subjective)
  2. Market viability -- 100 points (subjective)
  3. Engineering -- 100 points (subjective)
  4. Lighting design -- 75 points (subjective)
  5. Communications -- 75 points (subjective)
  6. Comfort zone -- 100 points (objective)
  7. Hot water -- 100 points (objective)
  8. Appliances -- 100 points (objective)
  9. Home entertainment -- 100 points (objective)
  10. Net metering -- 150 points (objective)

This is the University's first entry in the Solar Decathlon competition. The Solar House will be assembled and a mock competition will take place on the Saint Paul campus during the Minnesota State Fair.

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