For Immediate Release
September 30, 2011
Contacts: Neil Tickner, 301 405 4622 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UMD's WaterShed Clings to Solar Decathlon Lead
LAST Chance To Cast Vote in the People's Choice Competition
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland's innovative WaterShed House clings to a lead in a close U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, with eight of the ten competitions determined. The last two juries will report on Saturday, Oct. 1, and the the overall winners will be announced.
Voting by the public in the People's Choice Award closes at 7 p.m. this evening. You can cast your vote online.
The Decathlon's Solar Village closes to the public on Sunday, Oct. 2. You can visit the 20 homes in Washington, D.C.'s West Potomac Park on Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
The student and faculty-built home, now on display on the National Mall, blends solar energy efficiency and water conservation.
"The innovation, creativity, skill, vision, cooperation, determination, and, yes, energy displayed by this team is both remarkable and a joy," says University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. "I couldn't be more proud of their work and accomplishment. These students, faculty and mentors have dedicated themselves to addressing critical needs of Maryland, the nation, and other countries. They're the perfect example of what a public research university is all about."
The teams have yet to be judged on "energy balance" - a measure of their energy efficiency - and the houses' "market appeal."
In Friday's Communication Competition, the Terps came in third behind Middlebury and Appalachian State. The jury noted Maryland's "consistent messaging, strong educational exhibit components, and a compelling story."
Earlier in the week, the Terps won the Architecture Competition.
"WaterShed achieves an elegant mix of inspiration, function, and simplicity," reported Architecture Juror Michelle Kaufman. "It takes our current greatest challenges in the built environment - energy and water - and transforms them into opportunities for spatial beauty and poetry while maintaining livability in every square inch."
Panels of experts judge the competing entries on ten dimensions: their architectural qualities, market appeal, engineering, educational/communication effort, affordability, "comfort zone," hot water systems, appliances, home entertainment and energy balance.
The international competition challenges 20 finalist collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The Maryland team - the only finalist from the state and the Washington, D.C. area - is led by the University's students, faculty and professional mentors.
"These students from diverse disciplines effectively formed a cohesive team to imagine, invent, and make real the project we call WaterShed," says the project's principal investigator Amy Gardner, an associate professor of architecture at the University Maryland. "Interdisciplinary problem solving is the way forward towards a more sustainable future."
INSPIRED BY THE BAY
Inspired by the Chesapeake Bay, the power of WaterShed's design comes from its twin focus on efficient, renewable energy and water quality and conservation, Gardner adds. It harvests, recycles and reuses water, while harmonizing modernity, tradition, and simple building strategies. The house balances time-tested best practices and advanced technological solutions to achieve high efficiency performance in an affordable manner.
WaterShed integrates a unique array of sustainable features, including:
"Taken together, these design features make WaterShed less thirsty for fossil fuels than standard homes and less dependent on costly water purifying infrastructure," explain team members Allison Wilson and Leah Davies. "The house acts as a micro-ecosystem that encourages residents to live a more sustainable lifestyle - not only by conserving but also by capturing and reusing natural resources."
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh describes WaterShed as "a model for how to live in harmony with the complex ecosystem of the largest estuary in the United States." The project, he adds, "fulfills the mission of a 21st century Land Grant University by applying intellectual resources to make "a real-life impact" - in this case, "contributing to sustainability."
Maryland Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, both members of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, visited all 20 houses in the Solar Village on the opening day of the competition.
"The entries are more impressive every year in the Solar Decathlon, but with WaterShed the University of Maryland once again sets the bar high for all other competitors," Bartlett said in a statement. "As an alum, that makes me so proud. Inspired by our own Chesapeake Bay, WaterShed is a stunningly beautiful, remarkably comfortable home with ingenious design, technology and engineering details that harness energy from the sun and water from rain in harmony with our environment. I am confident that it will be very difficult for any other house to match the combination of beauty and functionality of WaterShed by the University of Maryland on the ten elements of the Solar Decathlon 2011 competition."
DEHUMIDIFYING INDOOR WATERFALL
Among WaterShed's innovations is the patent-pending indoor waterfall, which first debuted in the team's 2007 entry in the competition, LEAFHouse. "The waterfall provides humidity control in an aesthetically pleasing manner, and quickly brought an explosion of interest," explains Gardner, who served as principal investigator on both LEAFHouse and WaterShed.
Maryland Engineering Professor Reinhard Rademacher proposed that a system like this one could work, and students proceeded to develop it. "Student entrepreneurship and innovation suffuses this whole competition," says University of Maryland Dean of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, David Cronrath.
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
In 2007, the Maryland team placed second overall and first among U.S. participants. WaterShed builds on the success of that entry - LEAFHouse - and carries the design to the next level.
The Maryland Solar Decathlon Team involves students and faculty from the Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, the University Libraries, and the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Maryland businesses and professional groups are providing significant support as well.
Maggie Haslam, Communicator
Neil Tickner, Communicator
Information provided by the Office of University Communications
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