SolarWorld solar blog

Team Florida Part 1: More than a year in the planning, FLeX House approaches construction phase

Posted 27 April 2011 12:00 AM by Rebecca Hagen, Communications Faculty Advisor to Team Florida

Solar Decathlon model house using SolarWorld solar panelsJust like residents of many cities around the U.S., people in Florida believe in working toward a greener, more sustainable way of life. To this end, four major Florida research universities have joined together to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. This biennial competition challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

We’re thrilled that SolarWorld has come on board as a major sponsor of Team Florida’s Solar Decathlon bid. Our home will be powered by 22 SolarWorld Sunmodule® solar panels and 11 Enphase microinverters, all donated by SolarWorld.

About Team Florida & FLeX House

FLeX House is Team Florida’s entry in the competition. The design utilizes both passive and active techniques to achieve net-zero energy. The house uses solar, solar-thermal, zoned HVAC and even a liquid desiccant waterfall to control humidity, which, of course, is a huge issue in Florida. The unusual louvered exterior of FLeX House draws inspiration from the Florida architecture of Paul Rudolph, who built energy-efficient, contemporary designs in the 1940s and 1950s.

Team Florida’s FLeX House will be powered by 22 Sunmodule® solar panels donated by SolarWorldTeam Florida has been working on FLeX House since late 2009 when we submitted preliminary concepts. We’ve been refining the design ever since to meet budget constraints and competition requirements and to solve problems like how to get an entire house to Washington, D.C., on the back of a truck. But with top-notch expertise from the University of South Florida (architecture), the University of Florida (interior design and building construction), Florida State University (engineering) and the University of Central Florida (measurement and instrumentation), we’re confident that we have a solid design that will score well in all contests.

What’s Next

Final designs were due in March. With plans in hand and contracts in place, we’re set to begin construction this month. We’ll build the house in Tampa this summer, then test the systems and monitor efficiency. Then we’ll disassemble the house and transport it to Washington, D.C., for the competition that will take place Sept. 18 to Oct. 22.

Stay tuned to this SolarWorld blog for updates on our adventures over the next several months. 

Read the press release.