Solar Decathalon Thoughts

It’s Solar Decathalon time!

Here are some quick comments/thoughts after following the MASS team for a little while via their blog and FB page. And perusing the solardecathalon.gov website a bit.

1. Some nice designs!
2. To me the scoring is funny. I guess it’s a decathalon so there has to be 10 categories. But equally weighted? That seems wrong. I am open to being convinced otherwise! OK, reading the descriptions a bit more, it doesn’t seem too bad actually.
3. The houses seem mostly designed for 2 people from what I’ve seen looking at floorplans and walkthrus. Or maybe 3-4 very neat/non-packrat people. Quite small. Designed with no basements (which I understand) but also usually no attic, so then where does the extra stuff go? Maybe in the upper level of a garage? At least in MA, and living with kids, one realistically needs a “mudroom” sort of area with room for winter clothes and such. How do you compare a house designed for MA to a house designed for AZ?
4. I very much like that many of the houses are designed with the Passivhaus PHPP software. The Massachusetts house for instance, qualifies as a Passivhaus in Boston’s climate. That’s great and as it should be! Insulation first THEN solar. The trick is finding the right balance.
5. I don’t know what the prices are, but I bet too high. I will be interested to see if any are truly affordable.
Like a Green Mountain (VT) Habitat for Humanity Passive House LINK2
6. Where are the inexpensive solar air heaters and drainback systems!

Well done teams and organizers!

See also:
I’m beginning to really hate eco-bling

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