Solar Decathlon team develops pre-fab home technology
Team Clemson's Indigo Pine entry. Robbie Fitzwater / Clemson University
The Solar Decathlon team from Clemson University developed a flat-pack, pre-fab home technology for its entry into the 2015 energy-efficient home contest.
A team of Clemson University students and faculty will unveiled their innovative new solar home on the national stage in Irvine, California as an entrant in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015.
Team Clemson began the journey to Irvine nearly two years ago with 19 other collegiate teams, and became one of 14 teams to enter the finals.
After more than two years of preparation, inspiration and collaboration in Clemson and nine days of assembly on the California competition site, and the team participated in 10 days of contests and public education as they sought national recognition for their groundbreaking design, “Indigo Pine.”
The Clemson Team came in sixth place out of 14 teams, with a score of 851.461. Winning team Stevens Institute of Technology scored 950.685.
“The design and construction of a zero-energy home — especially a livable, affordable, accessible, customizable, market-rate, family home — has more potential than any other project imaginable to make a positive difference in the world and for South Carolina families,” said Kate Schwennsen, director of the School of Architecture.
Clemson’s team has approached the competition in unique ways. While most teams construct their homes in advance and reassemble them in large sections on the competition grounds, Clemson chose to construct their home from scratch in Irvine, using primarily handheld tools.
Team Clemson also took the unusual step of constructing a preliminary house in Clemson as a practice run. Dubbed “Indigo Pine East” and “Indigo Pine West,” the two-house approach is just one of the out-of-the-box ways this group of students tackled the challenge.
Indigo Pine is a customizable home that can be cut from off-the-shelf plywood and assembled by hand, using screws and stainless steel zip ties, but no nails. The resulting house is structurally stronger than a conventionally built home.
“Our team has invented an energy-efficient, strong, simple system called SimPly — the construction of which is faster, safer, easier and more energy-efficient than traditional construction with power tools,” Schwennsen said.
“This house is the beta version of what could be a market-rate, flat-packed house that could be ordered online, custom-cut and then constructed by do-it-yourselfers or home builders over the course of a few days. It’s accessible, affordable, livable, zero-energy.”
More than 100 students from all five of Clemson’s academic colleges created Indigo Pine. Faculty leaders include Vincent Blouin, principal investigator who holds a joint appointment in architecture and engineering; along with architecture faculty Dan Harding, Ulrike Heine, Dustin Albright and David Pastre.
Clemson Architecture is basing a design studio in Irvine this fall to facilitate the construction of Indigo Pine. Twenty-four students are on site for the build, supported by their peers in Clemson and at the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston.
“We encourage our students to think critically, be creative, collaborate and communicate,” said Richard Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. “I can’t point to a better example of that than this team of dedicated, talented young people.”
Read more about pre-fab and systems built homes.
Companies: U.S. Department of Energy