Santa Clara University

Spring 2013 Community Newlstter

Solar Decathlon 2013 Takes Shape

For the third time, Santa Clara University has been selected to enter the Solar Decathlon competition, which promotes solar energy at the residential level.

“A lot of the work being done in solar energy is focused on industrial applications, not really on making it useful to the homeowners,” said Jay Dubashi, class of 2015.

For the contest, a team of students builds a house that produces more energy than it uses, which is one part of the competition. In addition to energy consumption, the house is scored in categories including communications, engineering, architecture, and market appeal.

Solar Decathlon 2013 Takes Shape

Cost is also one of the judging categories. The 1,000-square-foot house needs to cost less than $250,000 to get full points. To keep the cost down, the team is developing a lot of systems in-house. Prices on some components, such as solar panels, have also dropped since 2009.

The team is also looking at sustainability—making walls out of bamboo, which is a fast-growing grass, instead of out of trees, for example—even though that’s not part of the competition.

“We focused on sustainability because we think it’s the right thing to do,” said Brian Grau, class of 2015.

A core group of 25 students leads the effort, and about 60 are contributing regularly. A few hundred others have helped in some way.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the upcoming house will take place on April 25 from 12 to 2 p.m. For more information go to