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The Ohio State University Readies for its Encore at the Solar Decathlon

April 15, 2011 - 5:03pm

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The Ohio State University displayed their design model at the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Florida from January 12-15, 2011. | Credit: All Commercial Photography/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

The Ohio State University displayed their design model at the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Florida from January 12-15, 2011. | Credit: All Commercial Photography/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

In honor of the U.S  Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon -- which challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive -- we are profiling each of the 20 teams participating in the competition.

The Ohio State University Team enCore is getting ramped up for its second run at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon this fall. After placing 10th during the 2009 competition, the team is looking to bring a bigger, tougher and more efficient house to this year’s event.

Mark Walter, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, provided an insider’s perspective. “Our goals are not too different [compared to 2009],” said Walter, who is also a faculty advisor to the team. “With the additional experience we’re looking to reach out to the community and really bringing the best possible product to the Mall.”

In addition, Walter said enCore is looking to solve sustainable design problems with its original home through better efficiency, tighter construction and smarter engineering.

The enCore house is based on a concept that promotes putting all of the mechanical systems in the center of the home and using exterior components such as walls, shades, windows and the roof to help control the temperature and produce energy -- all while leaving ample living space for residents. The home has two bedrooms, one bath, a den, living room and kitchen space, as well as a patio and gardening area.

We really see this as a fully functional home for a family of three. If you think about a New York City apartment having 800 square feet, there’s really no reason this can’t have the same feel,” said Walter. “With added space we can do a lot more. Last year we had a lot of reconfigured space with smaller rooms. This time we have separate spaces and more room.

EnCore’s home is also unique in that it will likely be the first home in the entire history of Solar Decathlon to have a roof covered entirely in thin film solar cells. Walter explained that since the competition’s limits on roof size were increased, the same efficiency can be achieved using thin film solar technology, cutting costs tremendously.

This second OSU home also incorporates passive design strategies with super-insulated walls, roofs and windows. EnCore also has more students on construction and engineering this year, many of which have learned from their previous experience during Solar Decathlon 2009. Sixty-five students are currently on OSU’s roster with 15 core students on the team, three more than last year.

Team enCore is looking to improve in all categories this year. After the competition, Walter says the team is looking to exhibit enCore’s house for a year on campus or even to be used as housing for visiting scholars. 

For more information about the OSU’s enCore Team, visit their website or official Facebook page. Visit SolarDecathlon.gov to learn more about the competition and the other teams involved.

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