After the Solar Decathlon

Nov. 3, 2011 | by Farah Ahmad

Architecture and engineering students from the City College of New York participated in the Solar Decathlon 2011, a competition which challenges 20 collegiate teams from around the world, to design an energy-efficient home. Between September 13 and October 5, a large group of architecture students went to Washington D.C. to operate their home and compete with the Solar Roofpod, the house that, as students, we built over the summer.

The Solar Decathlon for the members of Team New York was certainly an exciting and educational experience! We began our journey two years ago, when we first visited the Solar Decathlon in 2009. Two years later, we have a solar home, a set of 200-olus construction documents, and a public outreach trail with our name featured in both national and local media outlets. However, these were just a few products of our hard work! The project challenged us to design an unprecedented rooftop application, to research and implement solar innovations, to put on our hardhats and, as the youngest team, physically construct a fully functioning home. The last phase of these efforts culminated in the competition, an extraordinary showcase of homes from all around the world, in which energy efficiency, marketability, architecture, and engineering were a few of the ten contests our home was judged on.

We ranked  No. 4 in Communications, won a Buildipedia internet poll, and became the runner-up in the People's Choice Award. While these were great accomplishments, the greatest reward was being the youngest team with the only urban entry in the history of the competition and gaining professional skills that will help us transition more readily into our future careers.

As Team New York Public Relations manager, my best moment was finding out that our team ranked No. 4 in Communications. This was the highest ranking we had received in any contest of the Solar Decathlon. The contest, for me, contained many victories. It marked our recent win of the Buildipedia poll, our runner-up position in the People's Choice Award, and highlighted the true achievements of our public outreach trail for the past 1.5 years.

The website, public exhibit signage, and house tour were our attempts to communicate to the public about the urban concept. We voiced this unique rooftop application in many ways: through presentations, at public forums, and in our communications deliverables. Team New York achieved true success for its Communications outreach through these ways because we changed the history of the competition and showcased an efficient form of architecture and design.

Topics: Photovoltaic / Solar Panels , Solar Power

Farah Ahmad / Farah Naz Ahmad was born in New York City and holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from The City College of New York. She is a LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design + Construction. Her career goal is to make an impact on the field of sustainability in design and construction. Her past roles as President of CCNY's American Institute of Architecture Students and as a team leader for the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon have increased her passion for eco-friendly design.
View Farah Ahmad's profile on LinkedIn

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