Experts provide advice to several students in Illinois Solar Decathlon

Illinois Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition with 10 varying contests that challenge student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy.  At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Solar Decathlon is an interdisciplinary registered student organization with over 100 undergraduate and graduate students that participate in this competition. Specifically, ISD competes in the international, Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Decathlon Build and Solar Decathlon Design competitions. Illinois Solar Decathlon is comprised of an executive board, a build competition team, a design competition team, and a concept team, which fosters skills and knowledge development for younger organization members. 

Solar Decathlon provides unique, hands-on experience and training that prepares competing students to enter the clean energy workforce. To support these students, F&S has partnered with Illinois Solar Decathlon (ISD) to create building-level energy and water report cards.  The ISD Concept Team has now compiled building-level report cards for all facilities that won the Energy Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP). Meanwhile, F&S is working with those involved with individual buildings to strategize energy efficiency solutions. F&S will also connect with the Facility Manager, a building-level communications contact, and a related student organization to develop strategies for reducing individual buildings' total energy consumption. This task for the SD concept team, which consist mostly from freshman, was a huge learning opportunity and a chance for the team members to get real-life experience on sustainability aspects in building. "Most of these last year concept team members are now working with the build team in ISD, they acquired experience and knowledge to join the team," said Shashikiran Duraisamy, current president of ISD.

F&S is also collaborating and supporting Illinois Solar Decathlon to lead innovation in design and technology to advance towards an environmentally sustainable future.  In supporting ISD, F&S lets the teams use the university facilities to apply their innovative ideas in sustainability. “On campus, we engage in projects and foster relationships to educate and develop our organization”. Through integrated approaches, ISD aims to elevate the standard of Solar Decathlon and ensure a true contribution to green building. For example, F&S collaborated with ISD to reimagine a complete University Laboratory High School (UNI). UNI, with origins as early as 1876, remains a unique element on the U of I campus. However, in its current form, it is not meeting the potential proposed by the original architect. This combined with extremely subpar sustainability metrics, inspired Illinois Retrofit team. The new envisioned UNI will help to educate and excite the next generation on the topics of sustainability and building science while furthering the University’s commitment to the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP).

The Illinois New Construction team, under the guidance of University Housing, is proposing a complete rebuild located just North-West of the current location. With a focus on local materials and labor, this solution aims to take advantage of state and federal subsidies for green building programs, while reducing embodied CO2 and energy. With architecture inspired by local fauna as well as integrated systems developed by University alumni, the G&G Replacement aims to reflect Illini Pride. The F&S also decided to provide a new permanent location for the 2009 Solar Decathlon House, which will be located from its prior temporary location near the I Hotel to a new permanent site adjacent to the EGBI Farm Shed complex on South Race Street in Urbana.