Gaines Group Architects

18. Solar Decathlon #105architecturalinspiration

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams of design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

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This competition that took place for years just a couple of hours away in D.C. recently moved to California. It brings together the best college students from around the country / world to test innovation, push the envelope, and find solutions. The goal is to create healthy, energy-efficient, and durable homes that are also net-zero.

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These homes are out of the box without question. Some are made from materials that are not readily available for anyone outside of academia, some are made from cargo containers.

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I was fortunate to get to know Richard King that manages this program. In fact, I had the honor of designing his home. Net-zero is very possible. It can be done with any aesthetic. The Solar Decathlon has pushed me to see new possibilities, introduced me to new materials, and has illustrated to me how innovation can be a driving force in design.

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#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina

3. Solar Decathlon

4. National Museum of the American Indian

5. Lighthouses

6. Hatch Show Prints

7. The Aqua Tower in Chicago

8. Chicago Theatre Marquee

9. Samuel Mockbee

10. Richard Meier

11. Notre Dame du Haut

12. Philip Merrill Environmental Center

13. Church of the Light

14. Magney House

15. Monticello

16. William McDonough

17. Delta Shelter

3. Solar Decathlon #105architecturalinspiration

The Solar Decathlon started in 2002 and has been held biennially since. Teams from colleges and universities across the United States and now the world compete in 10 contests that test the architectural and engineering design, energy efficiency, energy production, and more. These students are among the best designers in the world at creating super efficient solar homes.

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The styles vary from traditional elements to incredibly modern solutions.

solar decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

high performance home

The design for the 2007 Germany team’s house appears simple, with an exterior of oak and glass, but the low-tech appearance hides many high-tech devices. The shutters are the solar panels tracking and changing as the sun moves. The floor opens up to create a bedroom, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide maximum light, and the high performance insulation package makes it extremely comfortable.

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From vegetative walls, solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, to shipping container homes, there is a lot of inspiration to be found every other year at the Decathlon. These projects will surely inspire your creative juices. I have learned a lot from the projects I have toured and from the director of the program, Richard King.

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#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina