Students to submit solar-powered house to national competition


Lauren Duquette/Daily Senior Staffer

Members of the House by Northwestern team meet in University Library on Thursday night. The team plans to enter the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 Solar Decathlon.

Kelli Nguyen, Assistant Campus Editor

A team of Northwestern students is building a solar-powered house to submit as the University’s first-ever entry to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 Solar Decathlon.

House by Northwestern will be one of 16 selected entries in the competition, which challenges collegiate teams worldwide to design, build and operate solar-powered houses. Houses will be judged on affordability, consumer appeal and design in terms of energy production and maximum efficiency. The 2017 Solar Decathlon will be held in Denver and will award up to $2 million in prizes to winning teams.

“It’s an opportunity for students here to apply all of their interests in sustainability and renewable energies to real world problems,” said Maggie Waldron, HBN director of program operations, partnerships and communications.

The HBN team, comprising about 25 students, is wrapping up its preliminary research for its house, Waldron said. She said the group is looking to create a sustainable house for a baby boomer couple living in Chicago’s North Shore area. Waldron said the team wants to use their house to show that people don’t have to make sacrifices to live sustainably.

To achieve this goal, the HBN team divided into nine smaller teams that each focus on a specific aspect of the house. McCormick junior Jimmy Ding is on the logistics team and said communication is crucial in a project of this caliber.

“(We have to) make sure the communication between different teams is cohesive because a lot of teams depend on what other teams are doing,” Ding said.

To complement the project, the University introduced a course related to the HBN project this quarter. The class will continue to be offered during the 2016-2017 academic year. Waldron said the HBN project has attracted students from across NU’s campus, from engineers to artists.

“It’s really an opportunity for students from all different parts, all different schools within the University, to work together on this one project that really encapsulates a lot of different disciplines,” Waldron said.

The HBN team is working to raise money for the house through Catalyzer, the University’s crowdfunding platform. In 10 days, the group has raised more than 50 percent of its $15,000 goal.

HBN will be constructed on the Evanston campus. As part of the project, the team must figure out how to transport the house to and from Denver. Waldron said every aspect of the project will challenge students to use their skills to solve real-world problems.

McCormick sophomore Juveria Masood is on the energy management team. Masood is pursuing an ISEN Certificate and said she was drawn to the idea of creating a sustainable product through the HBN project.

“It’s cool that we get to work on an actual house, like actually see what we’re doing culminate into something tangible,” Masood said.

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