Purdue University Represents Indiana at 2011 Solar Decathlon

While it’s true that we’re in the middle of Football season, Purdue University is currently in the middle of a competition that has nothing to do with sports. A team from Purdue is participating in the 2011 Solar Decathlon, taking place at the National Mall’s West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., through Oct. 2, 2011.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the 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 is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

Purdue is one of just 20 teams participating in the Solar Decathlon, which include teams from Belgium, Canada, China and New Zealand. Entries are judged in 10 categories (thus the “decathlon”):

  • Architecture
  • Market Appeal
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Affordability
  • Comfort Zone
  • Hot Water
  • Appliances
  • Home Entertainment
  • Energy Balance

With just one category yet to be judged, Team Purdue is currently in 2nd place, trailing the University of Maryland by just 1 point. The team with the highest overall score will be given the title of US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 winner.

Purdue’s entry, The INhome (short for Indiana home) offers a realistic and balanced vision for ultra-efficient housing. The INhome is an innovative, yet practical, house that meets the needs of a typical Midwestern consumer in today’s cost-competitive residential market.

Designed with young, childless professional couples in mind, the INhome is sustainable and highly efficient, while still remaining practical and comfortable, meeting all the criteria that make it a viable contender in the Midwestern real estate market.

The INhome relies heavily on passive methods, where natural processes are used for heating, cooling and lighting and thereby reduces the need for artificial, energy-using technology without sacrificing modern comforts and amenities. The heating and cooling systems are all highly efficient and perfect for residential settings.

  • An air-to-air heat pump is the primary temperature management system
  • The hot water heater uses ambient air inside the house to heat water.
  • All of the ducts are placed specifically to maximize conservation of cool and warm air.

Take a Video Walkthrough of Team Purdue’s INhome

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ4RnVJSqx4]

After the competition, INhome will be installed in a Lafayette neighborhood to provide education for local residents about net-zero energy homes. Though a family will live permanently in it, the house will continue to be monitored to measure its long-term performance and be a part of community education programs.

The Solar Decathlon houses and surrounding solar village are open this week from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., and from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If you happen to be in DC this week, show your Hoosier pride and stop by to support Team Purdue.

Visit the Thiele Heating & Air Conditioning website for information about how to make your home more energy efficient with Energy Star® rated heating and air conditioning products, or call (317) 639-1111 to schedule a free in-home inspection and evaluation of your existing equipment.