The 850-square-foot, solar-powered home built by students at UNC Charlotte won a People’s Choice Award and tied for third place for engineering recently.
Designing and building a house for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon over the past two years could have even greater importance for the architecture and engineering students in the years to come, said Meg Whalen, a university spokesperson.
“For many of the students, they really had not thought about solar-powered homes” before the project, she said. “They learned to value that. It will become something that they certainly see as viable and something to continue to strive for.”
Students wanted a project to inspire future builders and home buyers. They studied Charlotte’s Center City 2020 Vision Plan for insights. Their design, Urban Eden, has 30 solar panels over the roof that are intended to produce all of the energy residents would need.
The solar panels are retractable. They slide out over the deck to shade it in summer. In winter, they move back to allow the sun’s heat to warm the deck and interior. Students added vertical gardens to preserve a link to nature.
The gardens and the moveable solar panels were favorites among the 10,000 people who toured during the competition and expo for 20 college teams.
UNC Charlotte had problems with appliances and placed 13th overall, but the team’s concept was more solid, Whalen said.
“What we kept hearing was such positive feedback about the design,” Whalen said. “They thought it was pretty and liveable.”
Sullivan: http://homelifeclt.blogspot.com/ and @sullivan_obs on Twitter