A radiant send-off

A radiant send-off

As October’s Solar Decathlon competition draws closer, SCU’s Radiant House is nearly ready for its day in the sun.

The sounds of hammers and saws have been ringing across the Mission campus all summer and now Radiant House, Santa Clara’s 2013 entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, is almost ready for its day in the sun. The occasion will be marked with a send-off ceremony on Monday, Aug. 19—details here.

Radiant House represents the third time Santa Clara has competed in the Solar Decathlon—teams captured third place wins in both 2007 and 2009—and this year’s team has learned from previous experiences. “In 2007, the team focus was on engineering. In 2009, it was on design. This year, we’re shooting for the best of both worlds,” explains Jake Gallau ’13, the student project manager for Radiant House. “Our solar house will be about 20 percent bigger than the last one and will be built for about two-thirds of the cost.” The construction budget, a frugal $300,000, should help the competitors earn high marks in one of 10 judged categories.

From its base to the roof, the house includes a number of advances that sets it apart from its predecessors. It even has a smartphone app that can remotely shut off lights or close windows. “In designing this year’s house, we made a conscious decision to innovate,” says Gallau. “We looked at technology that we liked and tried to find ways to improve it to meet our needs.” Innovations range from the types of solar panels used to the way the house’s inside temperature, light levels, and air flow are controlled. The house also includes a much more extensive use of bamboo as a construction material. Bamboo is strong, lightweight, and highly sustainable.

Radiant House is due to be transported on Sept. 17 to the competition site at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif.—a change from Washington D.C.’s National Mall, where previous competitions were held. The Decathlon will run from Oct. 3–13. As those dates draw closer, the excitement has become palpable. Notes Gallau, “Everyone is in love with this project.”

The Aug. 19 send-off celebration will be held from 11 am to 1 pm at the Radiant House construction site. In addition to house tours and a reception, Congressman Mike Honda will make remarks and the house will be blessed by SCU Chancellor Fr. William Rewak. Details, directions, and parking information can be found on the Radiant House website.

Md 1308 Solarteam
SCU's 2013 Solar Decathlon team. Photo by Adam Hays
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