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Wall-raising for Solar Decathlon house


In the media: "Sac State students building a solar house," Fox 40

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Preview story: In February 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) chose Sacramento State as one of 20 universities worldwide to participate in the Solar Decathlon 2015. Since then, four schools have dropped out of the demanding student competition.

Now, after months of planning, designing, fundraising, and meeting the DOE’s stringent planning deadlines, Sac State’s Team Solar NEST (Natural, Elegant, Sustainable, Tranquility) will build its Reflect Home on campus.

Solar DecathlonSteel platforms will serve as the foundation for the Solar Decathalon house on campus. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

The wall-raising ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, May 8, on the former site of El Dorado Hall, which is near State University Drive and just south of Parking Structure II. (To locate:

The Solar Decathlon, held every two years, challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and appealing to first-time homebuyers in their region.

The Sac State students will spend the next few months constructing and testing the efficiency of their 996-square-foot, contemporary-style modular home with inviting living spaces indoors and out. This fall, they will dismantle the house, transport it in pieces on flatbed trucks and reassemble it at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, site of the Solar Decathlon 2015.

During the competition, which runs Oct. 8-18, the 16 teams will lead public tours of their homes to showcase renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products, and appliances. They will compete in 10 difficult challenges and be judged on such aspects as market appeal, engineering skills, affordability of the final constructed project, and house design. Each team must consume less than 175 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy throughout the competition.

The winner will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and outstanding design with excellent energy production and efficiency.

Sac State is a first-timer in the Solar Decathlon. Seven of the original 20 universities had participated previously.

The Solar Decathlon is an intense educational and workforce-development project for Sac State students studying construction management, interior design, mechanical engineering, public relations and business administration. They also have the support of many community partners, including SMUD, Golden State Lumber, Production Framing Inc. and the North State Building Industry Association.

Following the Solar Decathlon, Sac State’s Reflect Home will return to campus and serve as a learning lab.

“Sacramento State’s involvement in this project is particularly timely given the impending regulatory changes to residential building in California,” says Gareth Figgess, primary faculty advisor to Team Solar NEST. “By the year 2020, all new residential construction in California will be required to meet a net-zero energy standard. We have the opportunity to partner with SMUD and local builders and suppliers to help pave the way toward meeting these new energy requirements.” – Dixie Reid