Brown University School of Engineering

Brown/RISD/Erfurt Team Selected to Compete in 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe

January 25, 2013

Team Inside Out, composed of students from Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design and University of Applied Sciences of Erfurt (Germany), has been selected to compete in the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 competition. The Brown/RISD/Erfurt team is one of only 20 teams from 16 countries selected to participate in the international competition which will be held in Versailles, France, in June-July 2014.

These 20 teams now have 18 months to work on the design, production and implementation of their respective projects, to be assembled and presented in Versailles. The teams will have to meet the challenge of fully designing and constructing an energy independent solar house.

The Solar Decathlon team brings together a diverse group of participants from Brown, RISD and Erfurt. Its evolution goes can be traced to Jonathan Knowles, professor of architecture at RISD, who led the RISD Solar Decathlon team in the 2005 edition of the competition. His positive experience in 2005 inspired him to start building the current team. The University of Applied Sciences of Erfurt was a natural partner for several reasons, including Prof. Knowles’ longstanding collaboration with Prof. Rolf Gruber, Erfurt’s expertise in passive architecture, and Erfurt’s proximity to the 2014 Solar Decathlon competition site in Versailles.

“Brown University offers talented students and strength in science and engineering that will help develop the project’s technical innovations that are an important component of the competition,” said Derek Stein, assistant professor of physics and the faculty liaison for the team.

The Solar Decathlon core team members from Brown include engineering students Matt Breuer ’14, Montana Feiger ’14, Isby Lubin ’16, Beverly Xu ’14, and Gareth Rose ’16 in addition to Howard Carter ’16, Jonah Fay ’12.5, Sage Green ’14, and Haily Tran ’16.

The students have already developed the project’s concept of a “woven” house, whose reconfigurable walls will be made of textiles, and whose various uses will be intertwined with the needs of the community. The team is rethinking what materials can go into energy and cost-efficient housing, as well as what designs will promote efficient interactions between people and their environment.

“We are designing the house to have impacts beyond its walls; users will interact with elements of the house playfully, and we will design positive feedbacks to teach users about sustainability best practices,” said Breuer. “As part of this, we are weaving the systems that are traditionally kept in the background into the foreground - users will be aware of the presence of electrical, heating, and water systems and how their behavior impacts their resource consumption. We hope this will strengthen the relationship that users have with their living space and will promote a responsible and environmentally friendly lifestyle.”

About Solar Decathlon
The Solar Decathlon is an international competition organized every other year by the Department of Energy (DOE) in the United States. Since 2010, a Solar Decathlon has been organized in Europe in the alternating years between the American competitions. The first two European competitions were held in Madrid. The next competition, to be held in June/July 2014, is being organized by France and will take place in Versailles. A competition will also be held in 2013 in the United States and China.