Students at the University of Maryland won the 2011 showcase for innovative and affordable solar powered homes known as the US Energy Department Solar Decathlon. A total of nineteen collegiate teams from as far away as China and New Zealand traveled to Washington to compete in this year’s event, the fifth Solar Decathlon since 2002.
Maryland came in second in the decathlon event in the 2007 and they did not participate in the 2009 competition which gave students and faculty a chance to develop the winning entry this year.
The U-Md. design incorporated everything it had to have to be sustainable. Their winning home, is called “WaterShed,” and was inspired by the ecosystem in Chesapeake Bay. It features a green roof that provides insulation and a system that filters sink and shower water, recyling it for use in wetland gardens that run the length of the house.
Judges rated the teams’ entries in 10 categories, including energy efficency, cost effectiveness and aesthetic appeal.
Purdue University took second place overall with a design firmly rooted in the modest homes of Midwest suburbia. A team from New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington took third.
The next Solar Decathlon is scheduled for fall 2013.