January 31, 2008

C.U. to Compete in 2009 Solar Decathlon

Print More

Ask the “normal” Cornell student what his dream house is and you would probably get answers that range from a Manhattan townhouse to a log cabin in the Redwood Forest. Ask the same question of Tim Liddell ’09, David Hoffer ’10, or Chris Werner grad and they would give you an even more specific answer. For these three leaders of the Cornell Decathlon Team, a dream house is one engineered and designed to provide the epitome of modern comfort as well as state-of-the-art green technology.
And it would win them first place in the 2009 Solar Decathlon.
The Cornell Solar Decathlon team has just been granted a spot in the competition that takes place every two years.
The contest’s purpose is to challenge college students to build an eco-friendly house that excels in 10 events, including architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort zone, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance and getting around. The Solar Decathlon is part of the President’s Solar America initiative to make solar power cost-competitive by 2015, according to Liddell.
Houses prepared by different universities will be presented in the National Mall in October, to be viewed by the public and the media and then judged based on each of these events, which are scored numerically.
Cornell’s Solar Decathlon team has competed in the last two competitions. The 2005 team won second place and the 2007 team placed 19th. The remaining team members from 2007 are recruiting new members to contribute to the many facets of the competition.
“It’s really a public forum to discuss energy conservation,” Hoffer said.
“We are always looking for new ideas and innovations,” Werner said. “We really want people with creative ideas who have an aesthetic sense.”
Werner continued to say that the competition demands skill in many disciplines, ranging from landscape architecture to communications to web design.
Of the 40 people who went to an interest meeting yesterday, the vast majority were students in the College of Engineering, with only a few students from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Architecture, Art and Planning and Agriculture and Life Sciences. Meanwhile, the last team they assembled had representation from all seven Cornell colleges.
Unlike their competitors who have faculty advisors and college professors on staff, Cornell’s team is composed only of students.
According to Hoffer, the effort more than pays off in the opportunity for hands on experience.
on experience.
“[There are] a lot of different things happening on the engineering side,” Hoffer said. As a freshman engineering student on the team last year, Hoffer had the opportunity and generous funds to put together an electrical system for the house.
[img_assist|nid=27105|title=Solar power|desc=Members of the Solar Decathlon Team working on their project for the upcoming competition.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]The Solar Decathlon team’s acceptance into the competition means that they will receive $100,000 of funds from the Department of Energy, according to Liddell. The team currently has $150,000 of funding from Cornell, and they are hoping to get about $500,000 more to support the team.
As of now, the team is in its organizational stages.
“There are a lot of different tasks at hand that we need to do as soon as possible,” Liddell said. “Right now we’re building our team.”
Other preliminary work for the competition includes the immediate re-vamping of the team’s web site and the organization of educational outreach about the project to the Ithaca community.
“Education takes a lot of forms during the two-year cycle,” Liddell said. He added that the team is currently looking for students who would be interested in presenting the goals of the decathlon to Ithaca schools and local professionals.
Seeing as the actual competition is still two years away, Liddell said, “Obviously we’re looking for people who are young. We need people who will still be around in 2009.”
Meanwhile, the people who showed up at the meeting were energetic about embarking on such a challenge.
“I’m interested in green construction and sustainable design, and I would like to get some experience [in these fields],” said Dan Grew ’10, who was present at the meeting.
The last interest meeting for those who want to join the team will be this afternoon at 4:45 p.m. in Phillips Hall 101.