Solar Decathlon Team Finishes Fifth in International Energy Contest

Ohio State’s Solar Decathlon team today finished fifth in the U.S. Department of Energy’s competition that challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

More than 70 students from 13 different majors have been involved in designing and constructing Ohio State’s entry in the 2011 Solar Decathlon, which began Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., in the National Mall’s West Potomac Park. Ohio State is one of only 19 teams competing in this international, biennial competition; those teams were invited by the U.S. Department of Energy to participate. Thousands of visitors toured the homes during the event and learned about the opportunities presented by cost-effective houses that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems that are available today.

“Ohio State’s enCORE house has truly been a two-year, interdisciplinary team effort,” said Matt O’Kelly, enCORE House project engineer. “Our students are among the best and brightest on our campus and the hard work each team member has displayed has been inspiring. We’re proud to attend a university where a commitment to sustainability is demonstrated every day.”

The decathlon teams competed in a series of 10 contests that assessed the performance, livability and affordability of each home. The 15 domestic and four international collegiate decathlon teams earned competition points through successful completion of efficient performance of typical household tasks such as cooking, washing dishes, and doing laundry; through monitored performance of the house’s mechanical systems such as maintaining a comfortable (71°–76°F) indoor temperature range; and for more subjective features of the home such as aesthetics and design inspiration.

The enCORE team considers its entry to be a family-friendly solution reducing residential energy needs. The three-person family home efficiently uses its slightly more than 800 square feet of space with two bedrooms and a den along with a kitchen and eating area, a workspace and a covered deck. Some of enCORE’s unique energy features include:

  • High-efficiency, triple-pane, gas-filled windows;
  • Super-insulated walls;
  • A sloped roof to collect rainwater and a bioremediation system to filter and recycle greywater;
  • A solar hot air system that uses phase-change technology to reduce heating and cooling loads by up to 20 percent; and
  • Photovoltaic solar panels that can be effective even under overcast skies.


Ohio State finished in the top 10 in the 2009 contest, which was the first time the university had a team competing.

Send congratulations to the team on Facebook. For more information, including scoring and additional details about each team’s house, visit the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon website. Read more about enCORE house and the Ohio State students’ experience on the team’s website.