Student-built green home on way to competition in Washington


by Joe Flanagan

Posted on September 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 8 at 6:00 PM

NORFOLK --  Thursday was the day they moved the house that students built.

Specifically, it was engineering and architect students from Old Dominion University and Hampton University who build the high-tech home.

It's entered into the Department of Energy's 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C. 

Some 20 universities compete to see who can come up with the most liveable zero net energy, solar powered home.  Four flatbeds from Lucia Trucking will carry four big modules that make up the house all the way to the mall in Washington.

"It's a part of a multi-family, urban setting house so that's the most  important component of this house - sustainable living," said associate professor Mujde Unal of Old Dominion University.

The interior utilizes windows and sunlight and state of the art insulation called phase change that actually melts and freezes at 73 degrees.

"And a solar thermal collector for hot water that in Norfolk based on our energy model, we'll have a net zero house.  So over the year in Norfolk, the house should produce as much energy as it consumes," said project supervisor John Whitelaw.

The students are confident after showing a model of the house at a conference in Orlando.

"And it was a national homebuilders conference and we got an overwhelming sense of the crowd favorite amongst all the rest of the teams," said Noel Harrison, a Hampton University student.  

The Solar Decathlon begins on September 23rd on the mall in Washington.  After that, the house comes back to the ODU campus where it will be used by ODU and Hampton University students as a student design center.