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Maryland's "LEAFHouse" is top U.S. team after leading all week; won high marks for architecture, lighting, communications, and marketability
WASHINGTON, D.C., Friday, Oct. 19--The University of Maryland’s LEAFHouse placed second among 20 solar houses on the National Mall this week in the U.S. Department of Energy's third Solar Decathlon—and first among the 17 U.S. teams competing, after the German team from the Technical University of Darmstadt (Technische Universität Darmstadt) edged them on the final day with a first-place finish in engineering.
The Maryland team will greet the media at a reception today in its house in the solar village on the Mall, from 4 to 6 p.m. The University of Maryland LEAFHouse is between 11th St. and 12th St. off of Constitution Ave., steps from Smithsonian Metro stop.
LEAFHouse (for “Leading Everyone to an Abundant Future”) was designed and built by students at the College Park campus to offer a homegrown alternative to our nation's reliance on foreign oil through solar innovation. Like all the houses on the mall, it powered itself for the past 8 days through a combination of heat, light, and photovoltaic electricity from the sun.
The Maryland house had led the contest all week after taking second place in the architecture contest (which Darmstadt won), and winning in the lighting and communications contests. It made a great deal of solar energy, helping it gain points.
However, the German team entered the final cloudy day with more power in its batteries. It didn’t have Maryland's advantage of a unique indoor waterfall, which Maryland students and their professor invented to save help air-condition the house. But it took first in the critical engineering contest, decided this afternoon, with a system of automatically adjusting window louvers, each with its own solar cells, and phase-shifting finishes that retain more or less heat depending on the weather. Maryland finished 6th in engineering, just before the final standings were announced and trophies were awarded to a cheering crowd as teams gathered on-stage under a large white tent near the Washington Monument.
For detailed standings and contest results, see www.solardecathlon.com. More on the the Maryland LEAFHouse can be found on the team site at 2007.solarteam.org.
Earlier today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, in whose congressional district University of Maryland is located, visited the house to cheer on the hometown team. He was joined on the visit by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.
Alli Oroski, UM architecture graduate student and team member, summed up what many members of the team were experiencing: "This has been a truly incredible experience. I'm so happy that this week has gone so well at the house. This has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me!"
Nick Venezia, a Johns Hopkins student who commuted to College Park to join the University of Maryland team and stood with them on stage, said: "The core LEAFHouse team members really did dedicate their lives to this house over the last couple years. All the success the team has seen is certainly a product of that commitment. They lived and breathed LEAFHouse, especially over the past 9 months. They should be very proud of themselves."
Amy Gardner, UM architecture professor and lead faculty member on the project, praised the contest for the opportunity it offered UM students and faculty alike: "The Solar Decathlon is an unparalleled opportunity to educate future and current leaders in the process of integrated design; to inform the public about environmentally sound, sustainable construction; and to promote the role of efficiency and solar technologies in achieving energy independence. We are changing the rules by which buildings are designed and built, and showcasing the tools available to do so NOW."
Julie Gabrielli, UM architecture faculty member and team member, added: "This team has tremendous depth and focus. The attention to detail and tenacity has carried us through many challenges along the way. Now that the students have worked together on a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team, they understand the great value of including a wide diversity of viewpoints and approaches in solving problems."
"The Solar Decathlon is an effective vehicle to help advance the adoption of renewable energy technology,” Gabrielli said. “More than that, these houses demonstrate the many simple and effective ways that people can increase their energy efficiency today. This can mean sealing windows, replacing light bulbs or even tackling lifestyle choices such as where they buy food or how much they drive."
"More than anything, it’s clear that LEAFHouse team members have been completely united by their concept of bio-inspired design,” said Robert Zerner, Solar Market Development Specialist for SANYO Energy (USA) Corporation, which supplied the photovoltaic solar panels for LEAFHouse. “SANYO is very proud to support LEAFHouse at the University of Maryland with our high efficiency HIT solar panels, and to be a part of their success. Congratulations for truly leading the way to an abundant future!"