Ever wonder if your house is outdated? Believe me it is. Even if you just built it. Why am I so certain? We know the energy dilemma in front of us will slap us right in the face if we don’t prepare for it. By 2050 if we don’t change the road we’re currently on, our energy consumption will double. Over that same period of time we will have to also divide our CO2 emissions by a factor of 2 if we want to avoid a worldwide 2°C temperature rise. Housing accounts for 40% of our worldwide energy consumption, and we know the industry can bring competitive solutions that save 30 to 40% of energy consumption.
So who is doing anything about this onrushing freight train? As usual, the sins we commit will be what our children inherit. Fortunately, the “kids” are wise to the situation and have taken up arms in the fight to stave off the howling locomotive.
By kids, I mean 20,000 collegiate students from around the world who are pushing the envelope on new high efficiency housing designs via a vehicle called the Solar Decathlon.
Created in 2002 by the U.S Department of Energy (DoE), the Solar Decathlon takes students from worldwide universities on a 2 year odyssey where they design, build and operate energy-efficient solar-powered houses.
Like a World’s Fair, the Solar Decathlon presents the output of its projects (high efficiency houses) to the public. In 2011 in Washington DC (USA), the Solar Decathlon provided more than 350,000 house visits to the public over a 10 day period. In 2012, 200 000 people visited the solar village in Madrid.
Showing the public what homes of the future will be like
The projects reflect the students’ ideas on models of homes that meet the challenges of the future. The students’ design parameters account for issues such as urban density, geographic constraints (desert, mountains, water, wind), the integration of renewable energies, and the creation of social bonds.
All of the teams are composed of people with multiple skills. For example, they are architecture, town planning, business and engineering students – supervised by professors or researchers – with the support of private enterprises and government agencies (who help fund the projects).
The Solar Decathlon projects foster research, establish bridges between universities and industry, and motivate students to work in teams for the betterment of the planet (which means they challenge conventional rules and building codes).
So now you can learn more about the benefits, affordability, and availability of clean energy solutions. See what you can learn from a kid and help to shape the foundation for a new energy efficient world.
The 2013 Solar Decathlon will be held October 3 – 13, 2013 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California – if you’re around the area, I highly recommend you stop by to check out the most energy efficient homes on the planet!