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ASHRAE Celebrates Future of Engineering Innovation as Solar Decathlon Sponsor

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ASHRAE Solar Decathalon

ASHRAE Celebrates Future of Engineering Innovation as Solar Decathlon Sponsor

Innovative systems and interaction with future leaders of the built environment industry were among the highlights for ASHRAE members who took part in the recent U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

As a sponsor, ASHRAE helped fund events at the Decathlon, which took place Oct. 8-18, 2015, at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. ASHRAE has been involved in the event for some 10 years.

The Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. Stevens Institute of Technology won top honors overall, sweeping all four juried categories, by designing, building, and operating the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar powered house.

ASHRAE provided a judge on the engineering jury, with other juries focused on architecture, market appeal and communications. Ginger Scoggins, P.E., is ASHRAE Region IV director and regional chair on the Board of Directors. Michael J. Brandemuehl, Ph.D., P.E., a former director-at-large on the ASHRAE Board of Directors also served as a judge.

“It was extremely enjoyable,” Scoggins said. “The enthusiasm of the students and the systems that they included in their houses were very innovative! These kids worked on these houses for two years and raised money to cover the costs of construction and shipment, which ran in the $300,000 range for most of the homes.”

Scoggins said some of the innovative systems she saw included:

  • Houses designed to withstand natural disasters (100 percent waterproof up to 4’ above grade)
  • Windows with the same thermal resistance as typical building walls
  • Grey water and rainwater collection and treatment systems, some with heat recovery
  • Radiant heating and cooling systems – both floors and ceilings
  • Evaporative cooling systems that displace and enhance conventional air conditioners
  • Lots of heat pump technologies for both water heating and space conditioning
  • Phase change material for energy storage
  • Thermal energy storage using water tanks, including one integrated with rainwater collection
  • A freeze tolerant solar water heating system
  • Integrated solar PV and water heating equipment
  • PV cells integrated into awnings and building glass
  • A forward looking electrical system with both AC and DC distribution
  • A variety of smart home energy monitoring, control, and dashboard systems
  • ASHRAE also sponsored a lunch for teams based in its Region X, which included the University of California, Irvine; Chapman University; Irvine Valley College; and Saddleback College.

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its more than 54,000 members worldwide focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability. Through research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today. More information can be found at

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