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Area Universities Locked in Solar Home Design Competition

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For those not in the know, it's Solar Decathlon time in our nation's capital, pitting universities against each other in a race toward the most comprehensive and realistic solar home designs. School teams are judged on ten categories ranging from affordability to energy balance, which measures energy produced and consumed by each house over the course of the competition. Unfortunately, no Chicago schools are participating, but nearby U of I at Champaign-Urbana and Purdue are contendors, so we checked in on their progress.

1. Purdue
The INhome model (short for Indiana home) now nearing completing is a rather plain looking ranch but is attempting net-zero energy through features like an indoor "biowall" of plants that filters the air, structurally-insulated panel construction, and a 9kW solar system. It will provide 990 sq. ft. of living space and has a price point around $250,000.

2. U of I
The Re_Home model underway on the National Mall is a re-conceiving of disaster relief housing. Its modular, simplistic and low-cost design makes it easy to transport to affected areas and quick to assemble. The interior layout is highly efficient and jammed with compact electronic appliances.
· Solar Decathlon [U.S. Dept. of Energy]
· Sneak peek at the Solar Decathlon [Mother Nature Network]