Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon is an international student competition in which university students compete to design, build and operate a solar powered house. The competition requires that each project produce all of the energy required to light, heat, cool, and entertain guests with only the power generated on the building through the use of solar electric (photovoltaic) and solar thermal panels. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of only 20 student teams from an international pool of universities to participate in the 2009 Solar Decathlon. The competition is held every two years.

In October 2009 Meltwater: the UWM Carbon Neutral House Project was completed and exhibited on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., along side houses designed by students from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Germany. It was judged against 19 other teams from around the world, and was viewed by over 150,000 visitors, including officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, members of Congress, and the public.

To design and construct the Solar Decathlon house, UWM brought together a diverse team of faculty, students, and professional collaborators. These participants, from across the campus, city, and state represent architecture, engineering, business, contractors, and manufacturers to name a few. The interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the process required students and faculty contributing to the project to balance the goals of their profession with the goals of the rest of the team. Through their efforts to design, build, and eventually operate the house, team members pioneered new uses for existing technologies and developed new standards for integrated practice, resulting in a design for the UWM Carbon Neutral House that was successful for all team members.

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