Denver Pop-up event challenges teams to create solar-efficient homes

Global Business

Denver Pop-up event challenges teams to create solar-efficient homes

A report from the International Energy Agency indicates solar energy was the fastest-growing source of power in the world last year.

More and more homes are now solar-powered and they’re becoming more sophisticated. That was quite evident at the Solar Decathlon in Denver, Colorado earlier this month.

CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

“Today’s a lot of testing for the water system, electrical systems and furnishing,” Sjors Peetersweem, a member of a team from the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in the Netherlands which was one of 11 decathlon competitors said.

The pop-up event challenged teams from international universities to create full-sized, innovative, energy-efficient homes. Like the Olympic decathlon, entrants were graded in 10 categories like architecture and energy as well as health and comfort and marketability.

“All the teams have the same 60 pages of rules and yet they’re all coming up with really different houses, really different concepts,” Linda Silverman, the decathlon director said.

It took Switzerland’s team two years to develop a home they called NeighborHub, a flexible shared space, complete with zero-water dry toilet and hydroponic garden.

“It’s not only a single-family house,” Margaux Peltier, a member of the Swiss team said. “It’s more meant to be for the community.”

Meanwhile, the home designed by Chicago’s Northwestern University was geared towards Baby Boomers who want a place where they can live for the rest of their lives.

“Obviously when you’re a 65-year-old, your needs are going to be a lot different than when you’re 85, so we wanted a house that was going to adapt to where someone was in their life,” Lila Reynolds, a Northwestern team member said.

The U.S. Energy Department sponsored the decathlon, which first began in 2002. The competition aims to educate the public and help train the next generation of energy professionals.

“It’s tough to get here,” said Silverman. “This is a big, difficult, very difficult, intensive project that really takes a lot of dedication and commitment.” As part of the event, students had to maintain steady temperatures and air quality inside their homes and even host two dinner parties. When it was all over, the Dutch team ended up 7th.

The Swiss took top prize of $300,000. Peltier said sustainable living can be a winning formula. “Houses and buildings is something we all have,” she said. “If anybody just do a little thing, it can have a huge impact.” The homes have since been disassembled and hauled back to their respective universities. More competition is in the works for next year. China will be among the host nations.