Texas A&M Solar Decathlon

Unlike most solar decathlon efforts, our work with Texas A&M Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Planning proved to have a degree of relevancy on almost all fronts — from material life cycles to our most recent work using life cycle phases as events that lead the user through everyday rituals of completing resource flows into regenerative environments.  Because A&M is most known for its evidence–based design work within the Health Systems Design program, it was natural to expand this work into what we called evidence–based economic design — meaning that we wanted to respond in the design process to where a families monthly and annual financial assets were spent.

We therefore responded directly to five areas of economic activity. Some financial resources were spent on the home and land but the most was spent on the cost of the money itself (meaning that if the home environment could evolve with needs and was paid off at each increment, the family could save considerably over a thirty year mortgage). The second expenditure was that of transportation. To answer this, we responded by designing a facility that could eventually act as new type of garage equipped with solar PV’s but also set up for a V2G 9 vehicle–to–grid and G2V 9 grid–to–vehicle setup where you could use the new generation of hybrids to power the home or feedback into the grid and obtain payment. The transportation became a financial benefit instead of a drain. We were surprised to find the next highest expenditure was food. A solar heated green house was provided as part of the veranda to lower food bills.  Energy and water were the fourth highest expenses. To satisfy this, we provided a plug–and–play evolving photovoltaic system that could respond to the family income and changing tax credits. The water was set to drain into decorative landscape ponds through an asquia grid of drainage canals designed into the deck. The landscape became the icon for a health due to the fact that the common yard in the United States has become a toxic soup of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Our solution was a living machine using bats for the insects and guano collected for composting use in the garden.

Our economic “model” included a consciousness of how important design and symbols could be when correlated to some astute electronics coupled with remindful icons that represented the sequence that was necessary in our daily lives to connect limited sources to the use of water, food, and electricity so that our habits are connected to the performance boundaries of a sustainable home environment.

For more information, visit the Texas A&M Solar Decathlon website.

Texas A&M University College of Architecture

Texas A&M Foundation; U.S. Department of Energy; National Renewable Laboratory; private foundations; Apricus Solar Thermal, Suntech America, Hunter Douglas, Alpen Windows and other corporate donors

Pliny Fisk III, Jeff Haberl, Leslie Feigenbaum (Texas A&M faculty); Aaron Cloninger; David Dewane; Ariel Fisk-Vittori; Melanie Schopper; John Algood

Thomas Gerhardt, Jason Bond, Josh Canez, Nick Schaider, Mini Malhotra, Eduardo Ramirez, Piljae Im, Soolyeon Cho, Bo Stewart, Mushtaq Ahmad, Juan-Calos Balthazar, Min-ho Jang, Songchan Song, Zi Liu, Nick Wallace, Cameron Muhic, Josh Schroeder, Keaton Tucker, Jake Walther, Ben Langford, Mike Refsland, Dave Morris, Scott Lyday, John Hale, Darkin Dow, Ricardo Solar, Dario Tiburcio, Jacob Spence, Chris Caffey, Jason Demel, Jonathan Johnson, Nichole Koehler, Natalie Lindholm, Carl Schindewolf, Helen Skelton, Paraskevas Tiburcio, Courtney Brinegar, Camp Bradshaw, Emily Colburn, Ryan Collier, Ross Dansby, Michelle Delaney, JoEllen Eggert, Adam Fenner, Chad Garven, Sheldon Henning, Aldo Hernandez, Mark Olsen, Brian Pankratz, Ben Reiners, Adam Rich, Mike Rutledge, Gus Starkey, Laurie Abbott, Tyrone Austin, Shannon Carpenter, Steven Castaneda, Ross Charba, Robert Gardner, Magan Howard, Haley Marek, Richard Mcfarland, Jordan Prieto, Robin Smith, Jesus Zepeda, Patrick Hurst, Kyle Reeder, Jaret Benson, Patrick Koenning, Andrew Thompson, Brandon Henderson, Ricky Anderson, Justin Goodman, Ben Ligget, Mo McLaughlin, Chris Urban, Sam Brisendine, Ernest Box, Mark Navarro, Ashlee Wilson, Laura Crowe, Eva Peterson, Rebecca Peterson, Rebecca Rangel, Chrystal McLemore, Tina Pruett, Amy Enderle, Amanda King, Christina Smith, Kristen Buckalew