Carnegie Mellon Press Releases

Back to Press Releases

Carnegie Mellon News Service Home Page

Carnegie Mellon Today

8 1/2 x 11 News

News Clips

News Clips

Web News Stories

Calendar of Events

Press Release

Chriss Swaney or Teresa Thomas
412-268-5776, 412-268-3580

For immediate release:
July 30, 2002

Carnegie Mellon Team Builds Solar-Powered House for National Contest in Washington, D.C.

PITTSBURGH—A team of Carnegie Mellon University students will demonstrate a solar-powered house that they have designed and constructed at the first Solar Decathlon, Sept. 27 - Oct. 4, in Washington, D.C.

The Solar Decathlon is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy to educate consumers about solar energy and energy-efficient products that are or will be available in the future. By involving student teams, the Department of Energy also hopes to "provide stimulus to the next generation of researchers, architects, engineers and builders as they prepare to begin their careers."

Carnegie Mellon's team is one of 14 from universities around the country. While in Washington, D.C., the Solar Decathlon participants will attempt to depend completely on the renewable energy collected from the sun.

The house is being built on the Carnegie Mellon campus this summer. After its trial run in Pittsburgh, the house will be disassembled and on Sept. 18 transported from Pittsburgh to Washington, where it will be rebuilt on the Mall for the Solar Decathlon.

The house will be judged in 10 different categories, including Design and Livability, Design Presentation and Simulation, Graphics and Communication, the Comfort Zone, Refrigeration, Hot Water, Energy Balance, Lighting, Home Business and Getting Around.

The Carnegie Mellon team concept is titled "Resolution," and plays off of the many different meanings of the word. "Resolution refers to problem solving and commitment. As a team of students and advisors, we dedicate our resources with the belief that individuals can make a difference. By exploring new energy technologies and approaches to development and implementation, we hope to provide one possible solution to creating healthier cities and stronger economies," according to the project description.

About 20 students are participating in the actual construction of the project, however, more than 40 students have helped in the preparation. Classes that helped students think and prepare for the Decathlon were going on at Carnegie Mellon as early as the fall of 2001.

Carnegie Mellon's team consists of students from the School of Architecture, the School of Design and the Mechanical Engineering Department. Advisors include School of Architecture professors Thomas Spiegelhalter and Stephen Lee, and School of Design Professor Liza Wellman.

While in Washington, each team will use the new Ford TH!NK, a completely electric car. The Ford TH!NK is expected to arrive at Carnegie Mellon later this summer and after the competition will be used by the university's Housing Services as an environmentally friendly maintenance vehicle.

After the Decathlon the house will be donated to a Pittsburgh neighborhood for sale to a new homebuyer to confirm that solar energy is a viable solution to the energy problem in the United States.

East Liberty and Garfield are Pittsburgh neighborhoods being considered as the permanent site of the solar-powered house.

In addition to the DOE, other national sponsors for the Decathlon include the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), BP Solar, the American Institute of Architects, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Home Depot. The Heinz Endowments, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the AIA Pittsburgh Foundation and many individual architectural and construction firms in the region are sponsoring the Carnegie Mellon team. The team has received material donations from the Viessmann Company, Weathershield, Dietrich Industries and Stirling Technologies.

For more information on this project, visit: For more information on the Solar Decathlon, visit:


Other Carnegie Mellon News || Carnegie Mellon Home