At the recent Ecobuild Expo and Conference in London, England there was an element that I thought merited mention: The University of Nottingham entry to the Solar Decathlon Europe.
In June 2010, Madrid, Spain will host the International Solar Decathlon Europe. This event alternates years with the U.S. Solar Decathlon held in Washington, D.C. University-based teams will travel to Madrid and reconstruct their solar designed houses. The entries are judged on 10 separate environmental areas, including solar systems and sustainability, market viability, and architectural merit. The University of Nottingham team dismantled and reassembled their solar house on the show floor at Ecobuild. It was exciting to see what they accomplished.
The Solar Decathlons – International competitions for colleges and universities to design and build the most effective and energy efficient house – are making great strides to prepare future architects to find the best solutions for creating sustainable homes, focused on solar power.
A key objective for the students was to ensure that the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E. would comply with the U.K.’s code for sustainable homes. The Code covers nine sustainability issues such as responsible sourcing of materials, limiting consumption of drinking water, health & wellbeing and of course Energy & CO2 emissions, the latter being the most important and the one that will be progressively converted into Building Regulations towards zero carbon. The students also have to live in the house to demonstrate its effectiveness and energy efficiency.
Saint-Gobain U.K. has partnered with The University of Nottingham, not only with many of the products but also with technical expertise. This home meets both Code Level 6 of the code for sustainable homes and Passive House standards which, I am told, is an industry first for the U.K.
This type of partnering is a wonderful way to provide the designers and innovators of tomorrow with real world experience working with professionals who are currently designing and perfecting products for the marketplace.
We should all take a closer look at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon when it comes around again in October 2011. From what I saw of the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E., it is well worth the time.
Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation.