Solar homes US contest draws Swiss competitors

An engineering student in the US helping build an energy efficient home for an earlier Solar Decathlon contest

(Keystone)

Students from three Swiss universities have teamed up for a US-sponsored international competition on building futuristic solar-powered modular houses.

The Swiss team – made up of participants from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFLexternal link), the University of Geneva and the University of Fribourg – call their project the Swiss Living Challengeexternal link.

It is a solar prototype meant to compete in the United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017external link.

The Swiss house uses laminated veneer lumber for flexibility and a productive envelope surface – including the walls and the roof – to produce solar electricity and help grow food.

Seeking real-world impact

The collegiate competition, which began 15 years ago, includes a series of ten contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses.

Each year between ten and 20 teams compete. The winner is judged on a blend of “design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency”.

The competition draws teams of students from universities around the world. The Swiss team and its competitors will exhibit their projects at Denver, Colorado, in autumn 2017. Juries will examine the projects starting in late September, and the public can have a look starting in early October.

Once the competition ends, the Swiss team will bring its solar prototype to Fribourg.

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