Solar Chandelier

Virtue of Blue is a chandelier by Jeroen Verhoeven. It is made with a hand-blown glass bulb surrounded by 502 butterflies cut from solar panels. The wings of the butterflies collect energy from the sun during the day to power the light they adorn.

Isn’t it gorgeous!!!!!!!   Currently on exhibit at the London, Uk gallery Blain/Southern. 

via:  mocoloco

More Photos from the Solar Decathlon….

Virginia Tech's Lumenhaus

Sliding metal shades

Light was the central theme of the Lumenhaus designed by the team from Virginia Tech.  It uses a pavilion design featuring sliding glass walls on the north and south. The PV system includes “double hit” PV panels which generate 30% more electricity than the standard approach.

University of Wisconsin Home

This solar home used what they called a Butterfly Roof to channel water to a reflecting pool which irrigated plants on the deck.

University of Illinois Gable Home

The Gable Home uses 90% less energy than typical construction, and produces up to four times its energy needs.  The team “set out to prove that there was no schism between new technologies and traditional ways of building houses”

University of Minnesota Home

The team from University of Minnesota also wanted to appeal to consumers who might want a more “traditional home” They used a combination of traditional and translucent bifacial solar panels on an offset gable roof and south walls.

Team California Refract House

The Refract house was designed to take full advantage of California’s great weather. The large doors leading out to a patio area encourage outdoor living. A greywater pond nourishes the landscape.

Team Boston Curio House

The aptly named Curio House was designed to trigger curiosity about energy use in the home. It features a monitoring system that tracks energy use in real-time so that occupants can understand their energy use and make appropriate adjustments to reduce their energy bills and lower their environmental impact.

sky blue house

Great Design for a small space. Chairs hang flat when not in use.

This house from University of Kentucky features a computer monitoring system which uses weather forecasts to make decisions about  the building system’s operations.  The design “embodies Kentucky’s historic indigenous breezeway house design”    

University of Louisianna

The BeauSoleil house incorporates hurricane protection via sliding louvered shutters and structural insulated panels in the building envelope

Team Spain Home

Art meets technology…gotta love Team Spain!   Possibly the most innovative solar system, the home uses a squat glass pyramid inverted and set on a  ball and socket mechanism pivoted by a solar tracking system.         www.solardecathlon.up

There were twenty projects presented at the Decathlon so this is just a sampling of them,  but as you can see there were a variety of  architectural styles.  It is so great  for people to see and understand that really smart design can actually make a house function better, be healthier for its inhabitants and the planet,  and appeal to many different aesthetics. This was a really fantastic event and a great resource for information and inspiration!

Would That It Could Be

Well,  it can be, and here it is.

Innovation and Inspiration on the National Mall

I arrived at Dulles,  boarded a sleek modern mass transit system, and  arrived at the Smithsonian on a really cold  (for this California boy) winter’s day. It seemed ironic that the chance for real change was exhibited here in the capitol of the status quo. Positioned between the Washington Monument  and the Capitol building were prototypes of what could and should be the future housing of America and the world.  The forecast of a freezing rain hadn’t dampened the spirits of the people presenting their projects or the curious attendees. I came here to experience and see first hand the array of innovative design and technologies and I was not disappointed.  As stimulating as all this incredible design work and compilation of exciting green technologies was, what had the most powerful impact on me,  and what gives me the greatest hope,  was the exuberant enthusiasm of all the young people participating in this endeavor. That excitement comes out of knowing that they are on the forefront of creating the solutions to one of the greatest dilemmas that plague modern man.  The solar decathalon website. offers an in-depth look at the projects and is well worth a view. I could probably write a book about everything presented, but for now here are a few highlights.

Team Cornell

"Silo House"

Me in the Silo House

Team Cornell’s use of corrugated metal silos as their design focus was a brilliant use of the agrarian vernacular.   The silos are pleasing to the eye and have great inherent  structural integrity, while utilizing  minimal  materials.  There is something about living in a curvilinear environment lacking in right angles which is reminiscent of life in a beautiful sailboat where everything has its place and form follows function.

Team Germany's Winning Home

Taking the idea of form following function to the extreme, Team Germany’s house won the competition by being the largest net energy producer. The most obvious feature is their extensive PV panel deployment on the outside of the house, but the really interesting stuff is inside. The interior finish is a drywall material made of phase changing  eutectic salts that stored thermal solar energy.  This material changes phases when heated and stores energy, then as it cools it once again goes through a phase change and releases that stored energy.  Having  done prototyping work with phase changing materials in the 70’s, it was exciting to see this technology being used.

Team Arizona's water wall

Heat-activated bimetal shade

I felt like I was stepping into the future as I entered the Arizona Team’s house;  the first thing you see is the long undulating southern facing water wall.  Engineered and prototyped by one of the team members, it served as a “heat sink” , deterring heat during the day and releasing it slowly at night.  It was designed with vacuüm formed panels that solved the problem of excessive weight of water and could be evacuated to create an insulating barrier. They also had a unique window curtain  of heat activated bimetal which automatically closed with a rise in temperature.  A greenhouse served as a biosphere, filtering greywater, improving air quality and encouraging food production.   The unique challenge of designing for a desert environment where  you can get “too much of a good thing”  pushed water conservation and cooling strategies to the limit in this house.   My mother lives in Lake Havasu where it can regularly reach  120 degrees. The energy demand in these environments is enormous  and growing, making these type of innovative solutions  all the more critical.

Posted by    Harold Powell
To Be Continued……