Decathlon energy project ready for sustainable living
THE SANTA CLARA
February 13, 2014
The Santa Clara Radiant House is up for sale to the university community until Feb. 20.
The minimum asking price for the 1,050- square-foot home, which received 11th place in the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition, is $250,000. If the house is not purchased by Feb. 20, it will be placed on eBay in order to open up bidding to people outside of the Santa Clara community.
“Anyone who buys it would be really proud to have it,” said Associate Professor Jim Reites, who was a former faculty director of the Solar Decathlon project. “It has that signature Santa Clara mark on it because of the care and the love that went into building the house.”
The Solar Decathlon Competition, which is held every two years and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, challenges teams to build livable solar-powered homes that are affordable, sleek and effective. Santa Clara also participated in the competition in 2007 and 2009. The 2009 Santa Clara entry, called the “Refract House,” earned third place in the competition.
According to Associate Professor Timothy Hight, who was faculty project manager of the Solar Decathlon Team, the house is being sold because the university has no place for it on campus.
“We had thought that we could put it behind the Refract House behind the library, but it does not fit there, and would be a squeeze,” Hight said. “If it had been a little smaller, we might have been able to get away with it.”
The house is a net-zero energy house, which means that it produces its own energy for the house’s consumption.
“It has solar panels and solar thermal collectors, so energy cost should be close to zero,” said Hight. “Several of the walls also have clay on them that act as a cooler. In the summer, you can take a bottle of water and spray the walls with it, and the water will evaporate and help cool the house.”
The 1,050-square-foot house is intended for two people to live in.
“It was built for an empty-nester family who wants to downsize to a smaller home, and it would be great for someone who wants a vacation home,” Hight said. “It is simple to take care of and is not a big burden to clean.”
The net-zero house also has a heating and cooling system, in addition to appliances such as a dryer that uses recycled air.
“It has a solar hot water system that collects water for the domestic hot water, and a separate system that does the heating and cooling of the house,” Hight said. “It has very nice appliances and it is laid out nicely so it has a lot of flexibility, such as how you can flip the living room and dining room areas.”
The house, which features two bamboo decks in both the front and rear of the house, is available fully furnished. Hight believes that the house would work best if it were located in a sunny area.
“It probably would not work well in an area that receives a lot of snowfall like the Sierras because (the house) has a lot of flat roof sections, but anywhere that gets good sun would be great,” Hight said.
According to Hight, the home cost around $1 million dollars to build for the competition, so if the Radiant House is sold, the money earned will go towards funding the deficit incurred by the Santa Clara University School of Engineering when the house was initially funded.
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