Germans build best solar home


A team of students from Germany's Technische Universitat Darmstadt won a weeklong competition Friday on the National Mall for the best, most efficient and well designed and engineered solar home.

The competition attracted 20 universities, most from the United States. Other foreign competitors came from Canada and Spain.

The Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the Energy Department, required construction of an exclusively solar-powered home that uses no more electricity than is generated by its solar panels over a five-day period. The contest also required that power be available to drive a plug-in electric car.

The German team was cited for it use of passive heating and cooling, photovoltaics and its smooth integration of technology into the overall design of the one-bedroom home. A highlight of the house was a system of oak louvers on three sides that had solar cells imbedded into them, so they not only provided shade, but also power.

A team from the University of Maryland finished second and a team from Santa Clara University in California was third.

It was the third solar decathlon sponsored by the department. The homes were the product of two years of work. They were brought to Washington and assembled on the National Mall where thousands of visitors toured through them during the week. The competitors were judged in ten categories from engineering and market viability to efficient use of appliances and livability.

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