The Solar Decathlon Project at NYIT:
The Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, challenged college students worldwide to design, build and operate the most attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered homes. More than 100 schools applied but only 18 made it to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the two-week competition. Teams were judged on performance in 10 contests, including architecture, dwelling, communication and a variety of energy-efficiency challenges.
NYIT's team earned fifth-place overall, proving it was more than capable of holding its own in a field of outstanding competitors from some of the most celebrated universities. Judges said NYIT's solar house, Green Machine/Blue Space, was "...in a league of its own." The team earned third place in the highly competitive architecture and dwelling contests. Judges embraced NYITâs idea of incorporating recycling into the design. A salvaged shipping container was used to house the mechanical systems. The NYIT team was also the only one to include a loft bedroom with a graceful, open stairway. "There's a totally different aesthetic here, and itâs incredibly charming and clever," judges said. "They had a strong idea and played it out completely."
But the talk of the competition was NYIT's use of a regenerative hydrogen fuel cell energy storage system. Instead of playing it safe by using batteries to store the excess energy collected from the solar panels, as all of the other college teams did, NYIT students pioneered the push toward vital hydrogen research. This, said the judges, was a ãbold stepä that together with other unique features, such as wheat-straw insulation and solar-powered furniture, earned a citation from the Washington Post as the ãmost experimentalä house in the competition.
NYIT team members were pleased to share their message of hydrogen efficiency with the more than 100,000 visitors to the global "solar village."
Educating the public about solar power and energy independence was a critical element of the competition and one that the NYIT team took seriously. So, it was no surprise that during the grand finale reception, the team was lauded for capturing the best media coverage before and during the event. With help from NYIT's Office of Communications and Marketing, the team's message reached an estimated five million people as a result of news coverage in the New York Times, Associated Press, Washington Post, Washington Times, Newsday, and several television and radio news programs. In addition, Green Machine/ Blue Space was selected from among all of the competitor houses to appear in documentaries produced by Discovery Channel Canada, New York Times television and DIY Networks, and is one of three entries selected for an upcoming episode of the television program, "This Old House."
NYIT team members also had the opportunity to discuss the future of solar power at a Nov. 2 hearing sponsored by the Energy Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science in Washington, D.C.
The Solar Decathlon Project at NYIT