Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2014 - (Page 18)

DESERT OFF ThE GrID. SUSTaInaBLE. EFFICIEnT. GrEEn. LEED CErTIFIED. These terms have become familiar buzzwords in a world facing a growing need to conserve energy and resources. They also describe an emerging movement in architecture as designers and builders seek to create comfortable, livable spaces that benefit both homeowners and the planet. Through the Solar Decathlon, teams of college students take part in this movement by constructing solar-powered houses that are energy-efficient, cost-effective, and beautiful. Assembled side by side in a temporary neighborhood where they are toured by the public and judged by experts, these houses represent two years' worth of work by students majoring in everything from landscape architecture to mechanical engineering. They show us what homes might look like in a sustainable future, as well as what we can do now to move in that direction. by Heather Holmstrom Every two years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosts the Solar Decathlon, an international competition that challenges college students to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses. Teams of students design and build a house at their school, disassemble it, transport it across the country and sometimes oceans to the competition site, reassemble the house, and ready it for competition. The competition comprises 10 different contests, in which the houses and the teams that built them are scored on criteria ranging from architecture and engineering to market appeal and communications. As an architecture student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), I saw the Solar Decathlon as an opportunity to actually build a project, to see it go from drawings on a page to a house with a front door I could walk through. I got involved in the fall of my senior year, two years before the competition took place and even before UNLV's proposal to join the competition had been submitted. I enrolled in the architecture studio class that researched the competition and previous winning projects as we thought about what a house designed and built by UNLV would look like. While my classmates and I worked on design concepts, another group of students, faculty, and university administrators assembled our proposal, which included UNLV's technical and design innovations, team and fundraising structure, project planning, initial design concepts, and letters of support from the university administration and community partners. The proposal was submitted to the DOE in November 2011. In January 2012, the DOE announced the 20 schools selected to compete in the 2013 Solar Decathlon in Irvine, California. We were ecstatic to be selected, but we didn't have much time to celebrate. Even though 18 imagine we had been working hard before the announcement, the real work now lay ahead. With the formal acceptance, we had to develop partnerships within the university and community to ensure our success. Not only did we need help from professionals in a variety of fields, but we also needed to raise funds to construct the house, transport it to Irvine, and house up to 30 students during the competition. designing the soul of the desert The remainder of 2012 was spent designing the house and working on public relations, and I remained on the team as I enrolled in UNLV's Master of Architecture program that fall. As a team, we voted to name our home DesertSol, which refers to our climate's most abundant resource, the sun (sol in Spanish), and also sounds like "desert soul," reflecting our hope that it would embody the spirit of the Mojave Desert. We spent months of late nights and weekends discussing what we wanted DesertSol to be, designing spaces and landscapes, drawing construction documents, and calculating efficient mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems. Over 60 students majoring in disciplines including architecture, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, construction management, and journalism worked together to design DesertSol. This team of dedicated students was divided into three main groups: architecture, engineering, and communications. Each group worked on their assigned tasks, with the group leads meeting with the student project managers and faculty to discuss critical decisions. In my role as team lead for logistics and regulations, I worked with all the groups to make sure we met the Solar Decathlon requirements, helped manage the complex schedule of deadlines set by the may/Jun 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2014

Big Picture
In My Own Words
Imagine, Design, Build
A Schematic of the Possible
My Life as an Architect
Blueprint for the Future
DesertSol: A Model of Sustainability
Across Space and Time
The Art of Summer
Selected Opportunities & Resources
A Digital Canvas
Rising to the Technovation Challenge
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Creative Minds Imagine
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2014