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 Phillip Rollfing  

Solar Decathlon '07

Texas A&M team readies for U.S. Dept.
of Energy's biannual competition



A team is forming and plans are well under way for the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s participation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2007 Solar Decathlon.

The decathlon is a biannual competition in which teams of college students from across the country compete to design, build and operate the most attractive and energy efficient solar powered house. A major objective of the decathlon is to educate students, faculty, and the public on the benefits of incorporating photovoltaic energy production into homes. The project homes are evaluated on their ability to generate electricity, charge an electric car, maintain thermal comfort, address a well-defined market, and other criteria, such as “curb appeal.”

The event culminates with each of 20 teams erecting a house on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The houses form a solar village, which will open to the public, Sept. 21-30, 2007. The last Solar Decathlon, in 2005, attracted more than 125,000 visitors.

For the entire week, the nation will have an opportunity to admire Aggie ingenuity as demonstrated in the team's reconception of the home-building industry through an affordable, sustainable, energy efficient “Home for Life,” which is conducive to personal and social well-being. In sight of the Capitol, the Texas A&M team will erect and occupy the home showcasing their expertise, commitment, integrity and pride.

You too can be a part of the 2007 Aggie Solar Decathlon Team.

The Plan

Housing, energy, community, ecology: 21st century man faces numerous challenges with respect to the built and natural environments. Challenges which the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s Solar Decathlon team will address by reconceiving the “house” as a lifelong home — energy efficient, affordable, expandable, and in harmony with the environment — a “Home for Life.”

To achieve this vision, the Solar Decathlon team will be divided into four expert units:

The Shelter Group will devise a modular, transportable home that can easily grow and adapt to the changing needs of its residents;

The Energy Group will utilize cutting-edge technology to produce a high efficiency home that provides, as well as consumes, energy;

The Logistics Group will examine issues related to supply-chain management, economically viable communities, and production efficiency to assure that the Home for Life satisfies market needs; and

The Biophilia Group will add delight, joy and serenity to the Home for Life, incorporating color, sound, scent, and touch from nature and growing things.

Our goal is not to design one building.
Our goal is to design a way of making buildings.
Our goal is to design the future.
Our Solar Decathlon “Home for Life” house will be the first step in achieving this vision.

The Team

An extraordinary faculty stands ready to guide the 2007 Texas A&M Solar Decathlon Team’s success. Among them are internationally recognized authorities in sustainable design and development, energy simulation and design, visualization and modeling, healthy communities, disaster recovery, and environmental psychology.

The participating students, like most Aggies, are leaders of character with the education, experience and desire to serve the greater good.

The broader Aggie community is no stranger to empowering positive change in the community and world at large. Loyal, helpful and friendly, Aggies aim high and get results. With their help, anything is possible.

Texas A&M units collaborating on the 2007 Solar Decathlon include:

• College of Architecture
• Department of Architecture
• Department of Construction Sciences
• Department of Landscape Architecture
• Department of Electrical Engineering
• Department of Mechanical Engineering
• Department of Civil Engineering
• Center for Health Systems and Design
• Center for Housing and Urban Development
• Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center
• Energy Systems Laboratory
• Environmental Psychophysiology Laboratory
• Daylighting Laboratory
• Visualization Laboratory
• Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems

Faculty advisors for the 2006 Solar Decathon are:

• Pliny Fisk, III, associate professor
• Jeff S. Haberl, Ph.D., professor
• Charles Culp, Ph.D., associate professor
• Jorge Vanegas, Ph.D., professor
• Mark J. Clayton, Ph.D., associate professor

How you can help

The Aggie Network — current and former students, as well as friends of Texas A&M University — will contribute expertise, materials and funds to build the 2007 Aggie Solar Decathlon house — the “Home for Life.”

Materials are needed to build prototypes and the final competition home in Washington D.C. The team needs high-quality, low-cost, lightweight, environmentally green columns, beams, panels, finishes and fittings.

Computers, related peripherals and wiring are needed to provide for the home’s technologically sophisticated, media-rich, computer-mediated environment.

Achieving high energy efficiency will require unusual technology and rare expertise — sensor networks, photovoltaic systems, efficient appliances, energy storage systems, dehumidification devices and other tools and equipment.

The team’s vision is to devise a method for building many homes to satisfy society’s unmet, increasing acute needs for shelter. Quality homes that can be produced quickly and affordably will benefit the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast, low-income neighborhoods, the colonias near the Texas-Mexico border, and housing initiatives from the inner city to the Third World. To help them make a difference, the A&M team needs the know-how and resources of home building experts and the materials and funds to realize their vision.

Health — physical, mental, economical and societal — is imperative to success in the 21st century. Using evidence-based design methodology, the team will carefully incorporate color, finishes, sound, scent and nature to create a nurturing home. Again, it will take the donation of expertise, materials and money to realize the Home for Life vision.

And, because Texas is a long way from Washington. The team will need transportation resources to move the Home for Life to Washington and return it to College Station after the event. Transportation, accommodation for the team, materials, expertise and money, in large ways and small ways, Aggies and friends of A&M can serve the greater good while contributing to the success of this national competition.

Your contribution

Become a Decathlete! Invest in the Texas A&M’s entry in the 2007 Solar Decathlon and be a part of one of the most exciting projects on campus. The Aggie team is seeking cash donations, in kind materials and expertise.

To make a donation, please contact:

Larry Zuber
Senior Director of Development
Langford A 202A
College of Architecture, TAMU 3137
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77845-3137 USA
011 1 (979) 845-0939 (check international dialing numbers.)

Visit the Solar Decathlon Web site at:



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