USC was selected as one of 20 universities in the world to build an energy-efficient home for the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon.
Two architecture professors will lead a multidisciplinary team of USC students over the next two years to design and build an innovative and energy-efficient solar home for a single-family dwelling.
Alice Kimm, chair of undergraduate studies in the School of Architecture, applied for the start-up grant of $100,000 last fall, which qualified USC to participate. Kimm, in collaboration with Gary Paige, a visiting critic at the USC School of Architecture, will guide the students working on the project.
“Our overall goal is to bring an energy-efficient house to the world,” Kimm said.
The professors said they would like the house to built on or near campus, ideally Exposition Park, but have not determined where. Final projects are judged on a range of 10 separate performance categories including design, energy efficiency, livability and affordability.
The project already is getting its feet on the ground at USC. Solar Decathlon is a topic studio class in the architecture school this semester. Nine undergraduate and four graduate students signed up for the course, which broke up the students into teams to develop six unique design ideas for the competition. At the end of the semester, the students will select the best design and that will serve as the design schematic for the actual competition prototype.
Christine Tanguay, a senior majoring in architecture, is one of the students enrolled in the design studio. Tanguay said the class comes with its own unique set of challenges.
“We have a set of rules, a budget and many other constraints that are required by the competition beyond the regular California building code,” Tanguay said.
The Solar Decathlon competition isn’t limited to architecture students; students from interdisciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to join the team to work on the project. Tanguay said the interdisciplinary element was also a draw.
“I was inspired by the fact that the competition will incorporate many schools at USC and we will be required to collaborate on a holistic, sustainable design,” Tanguay said.
Kimm envisions Viterbi students working on solar technology, Marshall students establishing a marketing strategy for selling the house, Annenberg students creating a public relations campaign, School of Cinematic Arts students documenting the progress and students at Rossier School of Education bringing students from Los Angeles Unified School District to visit the house to learn about environmentally sustainable living.
“USC has the opportunity to do incredible collaborations,” Kimm said. “It’s all here on campus.”
When the competition is over, Kimm said, the school plans to dismantle the house and to give it to a family.
“The School of Architecture is very community-based,” Kimm said. “This is the opportunity to give back to the community: to build an energy-efficient house that can set an example in the neighborhood and the city of Los Angeles.”
Students looking to get involved in the competition will be able to find more information on USC’s Solar Decathlon team website, which Kimm said should be online in two weeks.