Some InSite into the Solar Decathlon Competition

Published on: 
14 Aug 2013
Patrick Li

Team Middlebury is on a solar mission. This fall, the student team will travel from Vermont to California to participate in the Solar Decathlon competition, where the team will unveil the results of its two year blood, sweat and tears--a 956 square-foot home, dubbed InSite. The home, which is designed to promote the community and local living, boasts an array of energy conservation measures, such as passive heating and cooling systems, energy-efficient appliances, a “solar path,” a green roof, and locally sourced materials. Borrowing from Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Modern Architecture, Team Middlebury College designed its home to their Five Points of Insightful Design, which include living in a walkable community, prioritizing social space, centralizing energy systems, engaging the street, and using local materials. 

The home uses densely packed cellulose insulation sourced 100% from Vermont newspapers, while design features such as the sugar maple floors and reclaimed barn wood siding also reflect Vermont’s vernacular architecture. The innovative “solar path” was designed to not only provide power for the home, but also to connect the college campus with the town of Middlebury and encourage walkability. The home features a mechanical chimney, which is designed with automated dampers to release unwanted hot air and to let in cool air. For the cold winter days, InSite ensures a warm and comfortable indoor environment through its tight and well-insulated thermal enclosure. The house is pursuing Platinum as a LEED for Homes project, and the provider is Steven Winter Associates. Team Middlebury College will soon be preparing its home to be shipped in modules and panels by train to California for the competition.

InSite reflects Middlebury College’s dedication to environmental awareness and sustainability. Middlebury College will achieve its audacious goal of carbon neutrality by 2016 through green initiatives such as energy efficiency and conservation, renewable fuel sources, and technology innovation. The college also adopts sustainable design guidelines that are based off LEED Silver for the college’s master plan.

The U.S. Department of Energy will hold this year’s Solar Decathlon in the Orange Country Great Park in Irvine, California, from October 3–13. The Solar Decathlon is a biennial international competition that challenges twenty collegiate and university student-led teams to design and build solar-powered net-zero homes that are affordable, energy-efficient, and aesthetically appealing. Each team’s project will be judged in ten categories: Architecture, Market Appeal, Engineering, Communications, Affordability, Comfort Zone, Hot Water, Appliances, Home Entertainment, and Energy Balance.

Read more about Middlebury College’s 2013 Solar Decathlon team »