Following a week of tumultuous sleepless nights and round-the-clock construction, Team NJ’s entry in the prestigious bi-annual U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon 2011 has opened on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, DC. (To view the finished house please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ePzzQ-bubk&feature=player_embedded .)
ENJoy: A Generation House, has been more than a two-year collaborative effort to design, build, and operate solar-powered homes that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. More than a dozen-plus graduate and undergraduate students from NJIT's College of Architecture and Design (COAD) and Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey have labored on the project.
The house is now in a neck-and-neck competition since Sept. 22, 2011 for best in show. The grand prize winner will be announced Oct. 1, 2011. Eighteen other built entries, hailing from as far away as New Zealand and China, are competing in this remarkable futuristic display of what are arguably the best in the world. The winner will be the one with the highest score after the following ten contests in architecture (juried); market appeal (juried); engineering (juried); communications (juried); affordability (juried); comfort zone (measured); hot water (measured); appliances (measured); home entertainment (measured and juried); and energy balance contest (measured).
The competition is open to the public free of charge through Oct. 2, 2011. Visitors are invited to tour the houses in person or in cyberspace to gather ideas to use in their own homes. Public viewing hours are weekdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Learn more at: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/faqs.html#designs.
Team NJ's entry is designed around a central core structure designed to contain integrated heating, cooling and electrical systems. It is the first house in the competition's history to use precast concrete panels as the primary construction material. Why concrete?
Well, there are several reasons, said COAD Dean Urs Gauchat. Thomas Edison invented the first concrete house and it is certainly appropriate that New Jersey capitalize on the concept. The competition is also focused on energy-efficiency. For that reason, concrete is the best and most natural choice for a building material. To learn more from Dean Gauchat, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSJH6l82LXA. Also hear the views of NJIT Senior Vice President for Research and Development Donald H. Sebastian at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCG9VyqcbTs
"Concrete is cool in summer and can be heated efficiently and affordably in winter," said Richard Garber, NJIT lead faculty advisor, associate professor and architect.
The beach-inspired eNJoy house features an inverted-hip roof design for rainwater collection to support irrigation and grey water systems, an 8.2kW photovoltaic system that allows the house to be completely powered by the sun, and the application of universal design principles, which will allow the house to be accessible to people of all ages and levels of mobility.
Following Labor Day, the house was deconstructed, loaded onto trucks, and shipped to the competition site from its original building site this past summer on the NJIT campus in Newark. Upon arrival, cranes returned to rebuild the structure with the help of COAD graduate and undergraduate students--and even some recent alums.When the competition closes Oct. 2, the house will again be deconstructed and loaded on cranes to return to New Jersey. Future plans involve reassembling the house for public viewing at the Liberty Science Center, said Gauchat.
Industry partners have been an integral part of Team NJ, donating significant resources ranging from in-kind materials, construction labor and more to cover significant design and shipping costs while simultaneously providing priceless on-the-job experience and training to students. Sponsors, without whom the effort never could have been achieved, include PSE&G, Northeast Precast (the concrete panel supplier), SKANSKA (construction management), Petra Solar (solar panels), J. Supor & Son Trucking & Rigging Co., Inc. (responsible for the transportation of the house to D.C.), and Edison HVAC (equipment).
Planning to visit the competition? Folks in DC advise that it's best to arrive by public transportation, on foot, or by bike. A free public shuttle will circulate between the Smithsonian Metro Station and the solar village every 15 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends.