Wednesday, July 29, 2009

42 Photo Voltaic Panels took the team 3 days and over 20 hours to install.
Learn more about the Bauhaus movement that inspired the design of LUMENHAUS

Biggest-Ever Bauhaus Exhibition in Berlin

BERLIN — It wasn’t a happy ending. Once celebrated as Europe’s leading art and design school, by early 1933 the Bauhaus was reduced to camping in a hastily converted telephone factory on the outskirts of Berlin and subsisting on handouts from its director, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Denouncing it as “un-German,” the newly elected Nazi government forced the school to close.

The Bauhaus has now returned to Berlin in very different circumstances. Some 1,000 examples of the work of its students and teachers are exhibited in “Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model,” which opened last week in the Martin-Gropius-Bau exhibition hall as the biggest-ever Bauhaus retrospective. The location is doubly significant, not only because its architect (and namesake) was a great-uncle of Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus’s founding director, but because of its geography. The building stands beside what were once the headquarters of the Gestapo, the Nazi’s secret police force, and the Berlin Wall that divided the city — and Germany — for decades.

As the Bauhaus’s history is steeped in German politics, it seems apt that it should be welcomed back to Berlin with such aplomb. The school opened in 1919, the year that the Weimar Republic introduced democracy to Germany, and ended in 1933 when the Nazis seized power. The remnants of the Bauhaus were then divided between three archives: two in its first homes of Weimar and Dessau, on the Communist side of the Iron Curtain, and a third on the other side in West Berlin.

This new retrospective marks both the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Bauhaus’s 90th birthday. But being big doesn’t always augur well for exhibitions, especially when they are burdened by so much political baggage. Nor does it help that there have been so many other shows about the Bauhaus over the years, not to mention essays and books. Does this one say anything new?

Luckily it does. The Berlin exhibition, which was organized collaboratively by the three Bauhaus archives and is to open at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in November, combines famous Bauhaus mementos — from Marcel Breuer’s metal furniture, to Herbert Bayer’s graphics and the record-breaking Marianne Brandt teapot that sold for $361,000 at Sotheby’s — with some inspired surprises.

“Many people have a clear idea of what they think the Bauhaus represented, but that’s only part of the story,” said Annemarie Jaeggi, director of the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin. “We’re trying to show that it adopted different ideas and different approaches at different times.”

The (not so) “clear idea” of the Bauhaus belongs to the period from 1926 to 1928, when it moved into a brand new bespoke building designed by Gropius in Dessau. Among its teachers were some of the greatest artists and designers of the 20th century. Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee taught art there. Bayer was responsible for graphics; Breuer for furniture; Laszlo Moholy-Nagy for product design; Oskar Schlemmer for performance; Gunta Stölzl for textiles; and Gropius lectured on architecture. His glacially elegant building filled with Breuer’s gleaming glass and metal furniture created an indelible impression of the “Bauhaus style” that, for the general public, swiftly became inseparable from the “modern style.”

Seductive though the image of the dazzlingly technocratic Bauhaus-Dessau is, it is only one chapter of the school’s story, as Dr. Jaeggi points out. The Bauhaus’s early years in Weimar were clouded by a power struggle between Gropius and Johannes Itten, a charismatic member of the then-fashionable Mazdaznan sect, which favored an instinctive, spiritual approach to creativity. The school’s first manifesto was illustrated by Lyonel Feininger’s woodcut of an ancient cathedral, and much of the students’ work was primitive in style. A highlight of the Berlin show is the rough-hewn wooden African Chair made by Breuer in 1921 with an artisanal seat woven by Stölzl. Lovers at the time, they were both students at the Bauhaus in Weimar, and teachers in Dessau.

It was only after Itten’s departure and the arrival of his successor, Moholy-Nagy, in 1923 that the school reinvented itself as a modernist hothouse. Fired by Moholy-Nagy’s zest for Constructivism, the staff adopted “Art and Technology: A New Unity” as their new slogan, and planned the move to Dessau. Gropius resigned after two years there, and the Berlin retrospective shows how the next director, the Communist architect Hannes Meyer, encouraged the students to adopt a more utilitarian approach by designing for the masses. Metal and glass was replaced by plywood in the furniture workshops, and the slogan changed to “Popular needs in place of luxury.”

Two years later, Meyer was succeeded by Mies. Despite spending most of his directorship embroiled in political rows with the local Nazis, first in Dessau and then Berlin, he instilled the school with his vision of “model architecture.” The exhibition ends with a 1932 montage by a student, Iwao Yamawaki, showing the Nazis trampling over the upturned Bauhaus building.
After the school closed in 1933, many Bauhäuslers fled from Germany, and the battle to write the history of the Bauhaus began. Gropius had the upper hand. As a Harvard professor, he taught his version of events to several generations of American architects, and disseminated it more widely through the 1938 Bauhaus exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. The colleagues who had followed him to influential teaching jobs in the United States did the same: Breuer at Harvard; Albers at Black Mountain College then Yale; Mies at the Illinois Institute of Technology; and Moholy-Nagy at the New Bauhaus in Chicago.

Those who stayed in Europe fared less well. Many Bauhäuslers died there during World War II, or soon afterward. The ones who, like Brandt and Meyer, ended up in the Soviet bloc suffered years of repression when their Bauhaus ideals were condemned as “decadent.” By the late 1960s, when East Germany and other Communist countries were starting to reassess the Bauhaus, most of them were retired or dead. They did not have the chance to tell their stories, which is why Gropius’s account has proved so enduring, at least until now.
Check us out on YouTube.

We are building a house . An 800 sq. ft. zero-energy house that is completely powered by the sun. A house that wakes you up, tells you how its doing and dresses for the weather. We think it is the future. Someone once said, innovation starts with a dream. Dreams can be in the form of solar-powered houses named after the BauHaus movement, and innovation, in the form of LUMENHAUS, right?Step up: (link to the YouTube video) and be a part of this solar movement. Go ahead, tell others. We want you to march with us towards a brighter way to live.
The Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon Team

July 2009 Construction:

-Glass door installation

It takes 5+ people to lift one door. They weigh 500 lbs each!

Summer Solstice Fest

The student team showcased a model of the home and a sample of the Eclipsis Screen at the 2009 summer solstice festival in downtown Blacksburg.
Gadgets Show How Much Power Your House Eats

Curtailing your home electricity use is a bit like losing weight: You already understand the basics of how to do it, but it’s hard to accomplish without help and motivation. An array of gadgets are vying to serve as electricity personal trainers, monitoring home power use minute by minute, and making you feel guilty about indulgences like blasting the air conditioner.

I have been testing three of these devices, the Power Monitor from Black & Decker Corp., the very similar PowerCost Monitor from Blue Line Innovations Inc., and the more-sophisticated The Energy Detective 5000 from Energy Inc. In my tests, the Black & Decker model provided the most effortless electricity-tracking service. At $99.99, it is also the least expensive.
The devices provide real-time data about how much power you’re using across the house in terms that are easy to comprehend: cost per hour and cost per month. Turn on the microwave and watch the cost jump from 10 cents to 25 cents an hour. Turn off some lights and see the cost drop a few cents.

The firms say their customers have, over time, seen drops of as much as 20% in power bills by being more mindful of electricity use and making informed purchases, such as installing efficient light bulbs. The largest drops are often recorded in households that have (power-hogging) electric water heaters, and where the whole family gets involved in monitoring use. An independent Oxford University study in 2006 found that people getting direct feedback on their power consumption reduced use 5% to 15%.

After I began monitoring, my most-recent electricity bill dropped $10 from the month before—but that could also be due to my living in a city where air conditioning isn’t a summer necessity. I find myself thinking more about electricity, and even running back into the house to make sure the lights are out.

The monitors sold by Blue Line and Black & Decker are almost identical, because they’re both manufactured by Canada-based Blue Line. The Blue Line model costs $109, is a bit larger, and features a slightly longer range for the wireless signal that transmits power use from your electric meter.

Connecting these two devices to my electric meter was simple. First, loop a metal belt around the glass dome covering the meter. Then align a sensor attached to the belt on top of the glass to read the data collected by your meter. On my old-style meter, the Power Monitor’s sensor keeps track of how fast a dial rotates. The companies say their products work with about 90% of meters in North America. On a newer meter, the sensor would read a digital port on the front
The sensor you attach to the electric meter wirelessly sends raw data to a digital monitor that is kept inside the house. Before using the monitor, you have to enter data from your electric bill, but finding the right data can be tricky. Black & Decker’s instructions on this are relatively clear, and entering the data into the digital monitor involves a process similar to setting an alarm clock.

The digital monitors, about the size of a large remote control, can sit in one room or travel about the house. A button labeled “tare” on the Black & Decker model helps you calculate how much electricity is being used by any single appliance that you can turn off and on. Press the button and it zeros out the reading.Turn on an appliance and the device calculates its usage alone. I found surprises: My LCD TV uses just $0.02 an hour, while an electric water kettle uses more than $0.20 an hour.

The Black & Decker model features a rudimentary display that only reports the aggregate power use for your house at any given time. It can’t go back and show you changes over time.
But the latest model from The Energy Detective, known as TED, connects directly to a house’s power supply for a more-precise read than the Black & Decker. It comes with software that graphs how use patterns change over time. The TED 5000 costs $199.

But installing TED requires turning off your home’s main power line and inserting a sensor into your circuit breaker—a process that the company says should be done “by qualified personnel only.” I sought help from a friend who has a lot of wiring experience, but after several hours, we were unable to make TED work. My issue was likely a decades-old circuit breaker. The company said my configuration is atypical and that problems like this are rare. A colleague has been using TED for several weeks after hiring an electrician to install it.

While TED 5000 offers many more advanced tools for sleuthing your home’s electricity waste than the other models, all of its sophistication won’t necessarily help the average user do much of a better job remembering to turn off the lights. For most of us, the large cost-an-hour sign on the Black & Decker Power Monitor offers the only feedback we really need.

If you’re just looking to target power-hogging appliances in your house, there are even less expensive solutions. For example, the $24.99 Kill-a-Watt, which I haven’t tested, sits between one appliance and the outlet, and tells you exactly how much power that appliance is using.
And before buying any of these devices, keep in mind that many utility companies are installing a new generation of so-called “smart” meters, which not only measure real-time power use, but also offer two-way communication with the power company to help cut costs. Some will also offer software to help you monitor your power use, and Google Inc.’s nonprofit foundation is already working with power companies on a free service that connects data about your power use into an online widget. Appliance makers are also working on products that can communicate with a central controller to turn themselves up or down, on or off, according to changing prices or conditions.

All three of the monitors I tested should continue to work with most new power meters. While these devices seem downright rudimentary compared to what’s on the horizon, they certainly suffice in the meanwhile to make electricity use more visible.
The Telsa Electric Car

The LUMENHAUS team checks out a fully electric powered car at the construction site.

It doesn't use oil and only has around 12 moving parts involved in propelling the car forward (opposed to over a thousand in a typical car). The body is made of carbon fiber and will not dent, scratch or break unless extreme forced is used. As a result, there isn't much maintenance involved with this car. It's about the same size as any other little two-seat sports car.
Solar house to go on display in Roanoke

Elements of the work-in-progress Virginia Tech solar house entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon will be on display in the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke from June 12 to Aug. 23. Students will showcase their house's louvering system, Eclipsis, as part of the museum's "Eclipsis/LumenHaus" exhibition.

The competition, in which universities design and build self-sufficient houses that use only solar power, will be held in October.
Taubman Museum of Art--New Exhibit Eclipsis/LumenHaus - Through Aug. 17

The museum’s MediaLab will showcase Virginia Tech’s Solar Decathlon Team’s prototype wall system for the team’s entry in the premiere showcase for solar powered home technology. As a Solar Decathlon competitor for the third time since 2002, the team, which consists of forty faculty and students from Virginia Tech’s Department of Architecture and Design, has created LumenHaus, which features computer controlled systems that use an iPhone as the interface. The team will showcase their unique louvering system Eclipsis, designed to react to nuances of the changing light, making the house more responsive to the environment and the individual.

The exhibition also will include a video on the unique aspects of LumenHaus. For three weeks in October of 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy will host the Solar Decathlon, an international biennial competition on the mall in Washington, D.C. in which twenty teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon also provides the opportunity for the public to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design. The 2009 Solar Decathlon is the fourth competition since 2002. During each of the past Solar Decathlons, more than 100,000 visitors flocked to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to visit the “solar village.” Through the exhibition, the Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon Team will further its mission to inform and educate the public about issues of energy (particularly solar) while enhancing student education through a design-build process of innovative research and testing through application.
Virginia Tech competes in solar decathlon competition

You can thank the sun for drying your jeans, but mind you, they won't hang from a clothesline.
Solar-powered laundry is just one of many requirements Virginia Tech's Solar Decathlon Team must meet this fall.

Started in 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring its fourth Solar Decathlon competition in October. Teams from 20 different universities and colleges reaching as far as Madrid, Spain, must design and build homes that function entirely on the sun's graces.

The teams convene on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to form a solar village clearly devoid of a single idiot. Numerous judging panels award honors in 10 comprehensive areas including architecture, appliance performance, lighting design and market viability.

To succeed in such a vast cross-section of categories, the Solar Decathlon Team is composed of students and faculty from many disciplines: architecture, industrial design, building construction, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science and business.

After successful entries in the first two decathlons, Virginia Tech opted out of the 2007 event to concentrate on 2009. Currently under construction, its house has already been invited to Spain next summer to compete in the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe.

"It's going to do well," said project coordinator and assistant professor in architecture, Joe Wheeler.

In a fundraising effort this past fall, the team conducted a raffle for an electric car previously donated by General Electric Motorcars. "We thought that this was a good way to activate the students and get them engaged with the community," said Wheeler. The car, a GEM e2, is the ideal transport for those with modest daily commutes. The street legal, two-passenger vehicle tops out at 25 miles per hour and 12 horsepower. With just a two-hour charge on a standard outlet, its six 12-volt batteries produce enough juice for 35 inexpensive miles. It costs less than $100 per year to operate.

Wandering the third floor offices of Pamplin Hall, two Solar Decathlon Team students knocked on Frederick Hood's door. Hood, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of finance, bought one $10 raffle ticket.

Months later while cleaning out his desk, Hood discovered the forgotten stub. Somewhere on the paper he misread "January" and, assuming the drawing had passed, tossed it in the trash.
During a March 20 visit to Tech, Preston Bryant, Virginia secretary of natural resources, pulled Hood's winning ticket.

Kevin Schafer, a fourth-year architecture student on the Solar Decathlon Team, washed the car before Hood picked up the keys. Cleaning the small vehicle for his arrival was apparently quite laborious. "I spent a solid four hours detailing that car," Schafer said. "Joe (Wheeler) wanted it like brand new, so I was in there with a toothbrush like scrubbing that thing, literally."
Hood quickly became comfortable with the sparkling car before cruising home. "I just did a little spin in the lot where the (solar) house is," Hood said. The GEM e2 currently rests in Hood's garage while he searches for time to have it registered. "I've tooled around a little bit in the neighborhood," he said, "but I try not to drive it on the street. That would be illegal."
With warm weather on our heels, though, Hood says he'll utilize his electric ride soon. I think he'll garner a reputation around campus, but Hood casually shrugged off such a consequence.
"I don't know if it's cool or not to have one of those," he said. Hood's ticket was one of more than 900 sold, yielding nearly $10,000 for the Solar Decathlon Team. While impressive, the sum hardly places a dent in the nearly half a million dollars needed to realize such a unique project.

The concept of the team's 2009 entry, LumenHaus, is "responsive architecture."
At its core, the 700 square foot LumenHaus is a transparent pavilion with an entirely photovoltaic roof. Large mobile windows on the north and south facades don't have to be barriers. Once the user slides the glass aside, the two deck terraces essentially triple the floor plan's square footage. Parallel with the windows, though, are two motor-controlled wall systems that introduce energy efficiency. Aerogel-infused polycarbonate panels can close to ensure an insulated interior. These panels are 2.5 inches thick and perform better than your apartment walls. A final shading layer controls the degree of light entry. The motors operate via sensors that communicate with computer monitors and controls. Interior and exterior conditions are simultaneously measured, and appropriate adjustments are made according to the user's pre-set comfort levels.

The user will also have the ultimate remote control: the iPhone. Tech's computer science department is crafting an application that will place your home's fate in the palm of your hand.
Among other things, you will be able to move the wall systems, monitor energy consumptions levels, and even control your front door's lock.

At the Research and Demonstration Facility on Plantation Road, students are tirelessly piecing together the house. It's an intensive process, but they seem particularly mindful of the experience's rarity. "It's a built project that I have before I graduate," said fourth year architecture student, Corey McCalla. "When I graduate I don't know what the heck is going to happen. I may not have anything built that's my own for decades."

Website Launch! We worked with local company Modea to create-
Experience what it would be like to live in LUMENHAUS for a year through an interactive video. Learn about the technologies and systems that will help you live a brighter way, everyday.

LUMENHAUS at Summer Solstice Fest
June 20th in Downtown Blacksburg
Come out, meet the team, and learn about LUMENHAUS.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eclipsis Screen System on Display at Taubman Museum of Art

A display of LUMENHAUS' Eclipsis Screen System at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke. Open from June 12 to August 23, 2009.

June 2009 Construction:

-LUMENHAUS exhibit opens at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA
-Rough in of electrical and plumbing started
-Students travel to Boston to fill transluscent insulation panels with nanogel at Cabot Corporation
-Bathroom core frame built and set
-HVAC completed
-Roof membrane completed
LUMENHAUS is on Twitter.

Follow us at @lumenhaus to get information about the house, construction, and information about green technology and advancement.

LUMENHAUS is Virginia Tech's entry into the 2009 Solar Decathlon. LUMENHAUS is a collaborative student research project. Updates by @christinesburke & @amhaley.
More & less: A greener future at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved energy efficiency, reduction of waste, alternative fuels, innovation and education.

BLACKSBURG -- Virginia Tech senior Angie De Soto smiled as she recalled her first Environmental Coalition meeting. In spring 2006, she walked into a room in Tech's Holden Hall to find about 12 students sitting in a circle and talking about the environment. They spoke about plans to build a wind turbine and the importance of starting a paper recycling program at Tech. Subsequent meetings that spring followed the same pattern: few students, few resources, plenty of enthusiasm.

"We discussed a lot of things, but the rubber never hit the road," De Soto said. "We were doing good things, but they were very small, not reaching out to the student body. Nobody knew what the EC was."

With those early experiences in mind, De Soto said she gets excited when she walks around campus now and overhears students talking about improving energy efficiency or expanding recycling at Tech. The coalition's listserv now includes more than 1,200 students. Meetings for the student group typically attract more than 60.

A student leader on several green initiatives, De Soto's e-mail gets clogged with questions from students about recycling or with comments such as, "I'm walking around Squires and I'm seeing incandescent bulbs. Why?"

That growing student awareness and interest in the university's effects on the environment has translated into several campus efforts the past three years, such as energy efficient lighting, the rebirth of a recycling program and trayless dining halls.

Larry Bechtel, the university's recycling coordinator, credits students with calling attention to sustainability issues and the administration with hearing them.

The push for expanding recycling on campus reversed a trend that saw it plummet earlier this decade because of budget reductions. It's up so much this year that Bechtel established an on-campus collection site to decrease trips to the county recycling facility.
Rick Johnson, Tech's director of housing and dining services, credits students with initiatives such as food composting and eliminating trays in the dining halls.

"We made a major commitment to sustainability really two years ago," Johnson said. "And it's not that we were unfamiliar with sustainability, but it wasn't in a priority list. It wasn't our top priority. ... It's become one of their [the students'] top priorities, and because it has it became our top priority."

A document committing the university to make sustainability a top priority for years to come will likely be voted on by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors when it meets June 1. A climate action commitment resolution and campus sustainability plan passed through the university council last month. Both need only the board's approval before becoming official.

"The commitment statement, that's really where the action is," said John Randolph, a professor who chaired the committee that created both documents. "Once the board accepts it, it will be university policy. But the plan itself goes beyond that, and the attempt was to identify what I call prescriptive measures, that is, actions that can be taken to achieve the goals of the commitment. They're kind of ideas, not policies. We see this plan as a living document."

If approved, the commitment outlined in the plan will be the university's biggest accomplishment so far, said De Soto, who served on the committee that drafted both documents.
"Yeah, we can say we're doing all these things, but if we aren't physically on paper and in part committed to becoming a sustainable campus, it's all going to be this disjointed. ... The commitment took us over the line. It took us from small, uncoordinated action to institutional commitment and accountability."

While the plan and commitment are separate, they complement one another and share goals of decreasing the university's greenhouse gas emissions through improved energy efficiency, reduction of waste, alternative fuels, innovation and education. Scientists have connected greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, produced by the burning of fossil fuels, with global warming.

De Soto said there was initial disappointment that Tech President Charles Steger didn't sign the American Colleges & Universities Presidents Climate Commitment when students approached him about it in December 2007. The document has been signed by more than 600 university presidents, including 15 in Virginia. But when Steger explained that he would rather the university make its own plan, with input from students, rather than sign a commitment that he didn't know it could fulfill, they saw it as an opportunity.

The committee to draft the commitment and plan began its work in April 2008. The members' efforts produced a 104-page plan to accompany a commitment that lists 14 goals, including an annual report card and the establishment of a school of sustainability. The group spent much of the spring semester presenting the plans to different university groups and moving it through the governance system.

While it was a lot of work, Randolph thought it was worth it and a more effective way of supporting sustainability than simply getting Steger to sign a national commitment.
"We're in a better position to really do something because we've gone through this process of kind of engaging the university in it," he said.

Goals for expanded recycling and reliance on alternative transportation as well as a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions are laid out in phases so progress can be measured and the university can stay on target. The ultimate goal is for Tech to cut its carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The plan also takes into account the potential benefit energy savings could have on the university's bottom line. Electricity costs at Tech increased from $8.2 million in fiscal year 2004 to $12.6 million in 2008. Addressing that problem will take a combination of innovative ideas, small sacrifices and simple education.

While the plan puts a lot of faith in innovation for long-term results, the university is already seeing savings from seemingly simple measures. By setting a thermostat to 68 degrees this winter the university saved nearly $200,000 over a period of less than two months. Steam output from Tech's boilers was reduced 15 percent. A similar measure to keep buildings at 74 degrees during warm months is expected to produce more savings.

Other moves won't come so easily. While the university has built more efficient steam tunnels and installed equipment to decrease the toxins emitted by the boilers at its steam plant, the burning coal still emits tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. For Tech to reach its long-term greenhouse gas emission goals, the university will have to change its heating system, not something that's financially feasible in the short term.

"For the coal boilers, we anticipate they will have served their life by 2025 and we'll begin phasing them out after that," Randolph said. "So, you know, again, that's an example of prospective action, things we could do but we haven't necessarily committed to taking that action."

Randolph, who has taught at Tech for 30 years, said he's seen spates of environmentalism -- brought on by an energy crisis or short-lived political popularity -- come and go among students over the years. But he thinks the current movement will continue to grow and allow Tech to stay focused on sustainability well into the future.

"I think the stars have aligned a little bit," he said. "We've seen energy prices up, we seem to have a high level of agreement that climate change is happening and we need to do something about it. ... Things are moving in a way like never before. And we're seeing also that despite the fact that our economy is in the tank, the investment the government is making through the stimulus or whatever is targeted at this area of sustainable development."

Randolph described Tech's plan for reaching sustainability goals as three pronged: operations and infrastructure changes, academic programs and education and university culture.
De Soto is satisfied that the third prong has developed enough to move Tech forward as a national leader in the movement.

"Tech is not any kind of leader right now," she said. "We have a lot to do. But, at the same time, we really have a lot of people moving in a lot of different directions. ... I think that we're ahead of a lot of campuses in terms of internal support because we took a lot of time to build that kind of support."
Climate action commitment and sustainability plan receive full support from board of visitors

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 1, 2009 -- At today's meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, the board adopted a resolution to fully support the university's climate action commitment — an important step for the university to take in order to become a national leader in campus sustainability.

After a year of community input and review, Virginia Tech has now adopted a 14 point Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan which calls for, among other things, to pursue LEED Silver certification or better for all new buildings and renovations, a 35 percent recycle rate by 2012, specific targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, reductions in electric usage, improvements in transportation efficiency, and many other measurable sustainability goals.
To ensure progress towards goals are met, the university will conduct annual assessments to measure actual progress each year and release these reports publicly.

One year ago, Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger established and charged the Committee on Energy and Sustainability to develop a campus sustainability plan aimed at reducing global warming emissions in everyday campus operations.

“President Steger’s charge to the committee resulted in a lengthy and complicated governance process to develop the commitment and plan, but it was far more effective than if he had simply signed the generic national president’s climate commitment,” said John Randolph, professor of urban affairs and planning and chair of the subcommittee that prepared the plan. “Many universities which have signed the commitment, have little to show for it, but we have our own commitment and a comprehensive plan reviewed and endorsed by the entire university. As a result we are immediately on track toward implementation in three areas: greening our facilities and saving energy, emissions, and money; greening campus culture through student programs, residences, and dining halls; and better coordinating and making more visible our academic programs related to sustainability.”

“It is critical that everyone understand why we made this commitment to environmental sustainability, said Angie De Soto, a senior majoring in environmental policy and planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the university’s first sustainability planning intern. “When we first met with President Steger, we explained that climate change is the defining challenge of our generation and that environmental sustainability is the future that Virginia Tech should be striving to invent. Solving these global challenges will ultimately require the participation of every person on this planet. I hope that seeing Hokies take steps to do their part will inspire individuals across the nation to do their part”

Effective immediately, the university will adopt the following 14 goals and action items:
1. Virginia Tech will be a leader in campus sustainability.
2. The Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan will become a part of the university’s broader strategic plan.
3. Virginia Tech will establish a target for reduction of campus greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80 percent below 1990 emission level by 2050, and interim targets from 2006 emissions of 316,000 tons consistent with the Virginia Energy Plan, the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change, the Town of Blacksburg, and the federal administration: for 2012, 295,000 tons; for 2025, 255,000 tons; and for 2050, 38,000 tons (or 80 percent below 1990 emission level).
4. Virginia Tech will work toward these emission reduction targets though improved energy efficiency, reduction of energy waste, replacement of high-carbon fuels, and other measures identified in the climate action commitment and sustainability plan.
5. Virginia Tech will establish an Office of Sustainability to coordinate programs, oversee the implements on the plan, monitor annual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and work with faculty with faculty and departments manage a campus-wide student internship and undergraduate research program using the campus as a sustainability laboratory.
6. Virginia Tech will pursue LEED Silver certification or better for all new buildings and major renovations.
7. Virginia Tech will improve electricity and heating efficiency of campus facilities and their operations, including the heating and cooling infrastructure and operation, lighting efficiency, controls and operation, and equipment efficiency and controls.
8. The university will adopt at least four reduction measures in the waste minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition. Virginia Tech Recycling will adopt a goal of 35 percent recycle rate by 2012 and 50 percent by 2025.
9. Virginia Tech will require purchase of Energy Star related equipment, maximum practicable recycled-content paper, and other low life cycle cost products, with exceptions for special uses.
10. Virginia Tech will engage students, faculty, and staff through education and involvement to reduce consumption of energy, water, and materials in academic and research buildings, dining and residence halls, and other facilities.
11.Virginia Tech will improve transportation energy efficiency on campus through parking, fleet, and alternative transpiration policies. Alternative transportation use will increase from the current level of 45 percent to a goal of 52 percent in 2015 and 60 percent in 2020.
12. The university will create and support a virtual Virginia Tech School of Sustainability or similar mechanism to coordinate, develop, and communicate related instructional, research, and outreach academic programs.
13. The university will monitor energy use of greenhouse gas emissions as well as changing internal and external conditions, prepare an annual report card sharing progress toward targets, and periodically re-evaluate targets, making adjustments to targets as appropriate based on changing internal and external conditions and evolving technologies.
14. With regard to all the items in this resolution, major personnel, and investment decisions, including capital projects associated with implementing the climate action commitment and sustainability plan, will be based on a joint review of costs and benefits by university financial and facilities staff and be subject to the availability of funds. Virginia Tech will provide funding to support sustainability programs through a variety of sources, which might include saving from reduced electricity and energy fuels, E&G funds, loans, a Green Development Fund from private sources, and a student Green Fee.

“President Steger’s intent was to develop a climate action commitment that is unique to Virginia Tech and achievable,” said Denny Cochrane, sustainability program manager for the Office of Associate Vice President for Facilities Services. “The 14-point plan pushes the envelope with realistic and achievable goals, and we are already on our way in meeting some of them. For example, the Office of Sustainability was recently established in the facilities services department and includes the sustainability program manager, and energy manager, and a graduate assistant. The successful implementation of the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan should position the university to be a leader in campus sustainability.”

At the board meeting, Steger praised the many students, faculty, and staff that served on that committee as well as the many student organizations that offered input and support to the planning process.

May 2009 Construction:

Installation of roof parapet Structural Insulated Panels

Fully accessible LUMENHAUS website built and tested

Students set up a booth at the New River Valley Green Building Tour and Expo to promote LUMENHAUS.

Here architecture students, Alden Haley and Corey McCalla stand with the LUMENHAUS model.

April 2009 Construction Photo

-Slab ground to a polished finish
-Mechanical closet wall finishes installed
-Mechanical team finished the HVAC layout
-Steel water pump rack fabricated and installed
-Steel beams for Eclipsis System welded to frame -LUMENHAUS website schematic designs and site architecture created with MODEA

Frederick Hood was selected as the winner of the two-seat GEM e2 electric car produced by Global Electric Motorcars, a Chrysler company.

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Preston Bryant, visits LUMENHAUS and draws a winner for the electric car raffle.

March 2009 Construction:

-Pouring of the slab. The following day’s temperature in the teens, structural insulated panels used as thermal blankets
-Installation of wall Structural Insulated Panels
-Installation of roof Structural Insulated Panels
-LUMENHAUS website conceptualization with MODEA
Virginia Tech is one of 20 schools competing in a solar house competition

Published: March 20, 2009
Virginia Tech is the only school in Virginia competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon being held in Washington D.C.

A model is complete of the solar house entry for the competition. Virginia Tech is one of 20 schools competing. In October, the house will be judged on 10 different elements.

Cory McCalla, a 4th year architecture student working on the project says there are features that set this entry apart from others, “There are several aspects of our house that have never been done before, such as the concrete floor and the large screens and the computer automation.
About ten thousand dollars was raised for the project, selling raffle tickets for an electric car. A business professor won it in the drawing Friday.

Also, the project gets about one hundred thousand dollars from The Department of Energy and companies also make donations.
Virginia Tech students compete in energy decathlon

It may not look like much right now, but a three-year project by Virginia Tech students could be the future of energy efficiency.

The students are working on a house that's completely run by solar energy.

It's Tech's entry in the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon.

"All these houses are taken to the mall in Washington, D.C. and for a week they compete in 10 competitions including architecture, engineering, lighting, home entertainment, and energy consumption," say Virginia Tech Student Corey McCalla.

Virginia's Secretary of Natural Resources got a look at the work on Friday.

The house competition in Washington takes place in October.

20 schools from around the world are participating.

Secretary of Natural Resources Preston Bryant to tour Virginia Tech solar house, select winning raffle ticket

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 19, 2009 -- On Friday, March 20, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant Jr. will visit Virginia Tech to tour a solar house being built by students for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Bryant, who also heads Gov. Tim Kaine’s Commission on Climate Change, will
Tour the Virginia Tech solar house under construction at the Research and Demonstration Facility on Plantation Road at 10:30 a.m.; Attend a lecture at the Ferrari Symposium about the solar house project at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center at 11:30 a.m.; and
Pull the winning ticket from among the roughly 1,000 tickets sold in the students’ electric car raffle, a fund raiser conducted to help fund the solar house project.

For three weeks in October 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy will host the Solar Decathlon. Virginia Tech is one of 20 international university teams — and the only one in Virginia this year — selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The houses will be assembled and displayed for the competition on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and will be open to the public for touring Oct. 9 through Oct.18, 2009.
The Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon student team and lead faculty — Robert Schubert, associate dean of research; Robert Dunay, the T. A. Carter Professor of Architecture; and Joseph Wheeler, associate professor of architecture — will present the house in its current stage of construction. The structural form, assembled in New Jersey, was brought to Blacksburg using a transport system developed for the 2005 solar house. Recently, the concrete floor was poured comprising a radiant heating system. Other components, such as sliding insulation panels and shutter screens, will advance the theme “Responsive Architecture” in a house that quickly adapts to user requirements and changing environmental conditions. Many items for the house, such as the photovoltaic panels and heat pumps, are in hand and awaiting installation.

Virginia Tech last participated in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2005, when the team won first place the categories of Best Livability, Best Architecture, Best Daylighting, Best Electric Lighting, and fourth overall. In addition, the house was the American Institute of Architects (AIA) award for Best House and an award for Excellence in Architecture from the Virginia Society, AIA.

The car being raffled is a two-seat GEM e2 produced by Daimler-Chrysler. It is street legal and, because it uses no gas, costs about $60 per year to operate. The GEM e2 produces no emissions and can be charged on any regular household outlet. Tickets were sold for $10 each; the team raised nearly $10,000 for their project. The raffle winner will be notified by phone and e-mail. The winner will also be announced on the Virginia Tech News website and on the Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon team’s website. The raffle was conducted through the American Institute of Architecture Students.

The Solar Decathlon is an educational project of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and is supported by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and event and team sponsors from the private sector. Sponsors of the Virginia Tech solar house include Solar Platinum Benefactor ConocoPhilips and in-kind contributors Häfele and A. Zahner Company. To make a donation to the team, visit the team’s website.

Read about the Virginia Tech Solar House 2005 in the Virginia Tech Research magazine.

Become a fan of the Virginia Tech Solar Team Facebook page.

Virginia Tech's architecture program, in the School of Architecture + Design, has been recognized as one of America's World-Class Schools of Architecture with highest distinction, tied with Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities. The multidimensional ranking by Design Intelligence, the only national college ranking survey focused exclusively on design, is based on five criteria: current rankings by professional practices; historic 10-year rankings by professional practices; rankings by academic department deans and chairs; overall campus environment and student evaluations; and program accreditation.

February 2009 Construction:
-Plumbing and wiring chases placed
-Floor heat sensors installed
-Radiant floor system installed
-Agreement with National Building Museum, Virginia Tech Solar House to be part of a sustainability exhibition, to be located on the lawn in front of the institution during the month of September
Grasshopper workshop with Virginia Tech’s solar decathlon team

Hello this is Jennifer Downey from Marble Fairbanks Architects. I did a workshop conducted Tuesday February 10 through Friday February 13 with the Virginia Tech 2009 Solar Decathlon Team in Blacksburg, Virginia. The workshop was structured around designing the solar screen for this year’s entry, with a specific focus on Rhino’s grasshopper. The starting point for the workshop was Zach’s tutorial- Creating Surface Patterns Using Bump Maps Created in Photoshop as an input parameter in Rhino’s Grasshopper. The team also used photographs manipulated in Photoshop, as well as structural input data to create a variety of data-based patterning.

Further within the week, the students also began investigating other uses for Rhino’s grasshopper with panelization and continuing to develop the parameters for patterning- including a pattern alphabet. As their study continues, they will be posting questions, images, and definitions on the forum. Below are screen shots from a definition to create fabrication tabs on irregularly defined triangular surfaces.

Special thanks to all who participated, and to faculty advisers Joe Wheeler and Bob Dunay. Students included Mike Gultneh, Osama Osawa, Lindsey Jones, Alden Haley, Corey McCalla, Christian Truitt, Kevin Schafer, Erin Casey and Sam Boysen.

Professors Jack Davis and Robert Dunay named Most Admired Educators of 2009

BLACKSBURG, Va., January 15, 2009 -- Jack Davis, College of Architecture and Urban Studies Dean and Reynolds Metals Endowed Professor of Architecture, and Robert Dunay, the T. A. Carter Professor of Architecture and Center for Design Research Director, have been named two of 26 nationally Most Admired Educators of 2009 by Design Intelligence.

Design Intelligence, the only national college ranking survey focused exclusively on design, annually selects educators and education administrators who exemplify excellence in design education leadership for this distinction. The disciplines of architecture, interior design, industrial design, and landscape architecture are included.

Davis became a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) in August 2007 and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) in 1999. He has received design excellence awards from the Blue Ridge Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), as well as from the Virginia Society AIA and the Virginia Masonry Council.
Since 1984, when he began teaching at Virginia Tech, Davis has been principal and co-principal investigator on more than $2.5 million in research grants. He continues to teach in the professional program in architecture. Davis had previously taught at the University of Florida and the Boston Architectural Center. In his professional career, he has worked in Cambridge, Mass., for the architectural firm of Cambridge Seven and Associates. He was the architect for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Research and Demonstration Facility, a laboratory research center. Davis received a master’s and a bachelor’s in architecture from Virginia Tech.

Dunay is a member of the AIA and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). He has previously served the college as an associate dean and director of industrial design. He is a primary faculty advisor for the 2002, 2005, and 2009 Virginia Tech entries in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition. Dunay’s most recent research centers on innovative fabrication techniques and processes. Exhibitions of industrialized furniture and material presence have been presented at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, and the Cologne Furniture Fair.
His recent awards include the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Prize for creative collaboration between the academy and the profession; an International Design (ID) magazine award for innovative concepts; and the Virginia Tech Xcaliber Award for innovative technology. Dunay’s professional work has been published in national and international journals and has received five awards for Excellence in Architecture from the Virginia Society AIA. Recent contributions include testimony before the U.S. Congress regarding national energy issues and a unique challenge involving the design of a house for ABC TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The project was designed in one week, built in five days and includes design research integrating innovative building assemblies and architectural space.

The steel frame arrives at the Research and Demo Facility in Blacksburg, VA (Home of the Virginia Tech Hokies) in December 2008.

Fall 2008: The team visits Kullman Buildings Corporation to view construction of the structural steel frame and presents the project to several firms in NYC for critique. Summer Productions, a sub-contractor for the Discovery Channel follows along to firm for the solar house documentary.

Solar Decathlon project to hold electric car raffle

BLACKSBURG, Va., November 17, 2008 -- Students designing and constructing a solar house for the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition are raising funds for their project by raffling an electric car.

The car is a two-seat GEM e2 produced by Dailmer-Chrysler. It is street legal and, because it uses no gas, costs about $60 per year to operate. The GEM e2 produces no emissions and can be charged on any regular household outlet. Tickets cost $10 each; only 2,000 will be sold.
The raffle tickets may be purchased with cash or checks, and are available in 202 Cowgill Hall during business hours; by contacting Allison Ransom, Solar Decathlon team member; and at the following locations and times:
Nov. 21, 7-10 p.m., at Big Al’s in downtown Blacksburg;
Nov. 22, 3-8 p.m., at Big Al’s in downtown Blacksburg;
Nov. 28, 7-10 p.m., at Big Al’s in downtown Blacksburg; and
Nov. 29, 3-8 p.m., at Big Al’s in downtown Blacksburg.

All proceeds will support the team’s Solar Decathlon project. The Solar Decathlon involves 20 international colleges and universities from around the world competing to design, build, and operate a solar-powered house. In October 2009, the houses will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and will be toured by the public. Thousands come to event to view the creative and innovative solar homes designed by tomorrow’s architecture professionals.
This Solar Decathlon entry will be Virginia Tech’s third. In 2005, the Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon team won first place in Best Architecture, Best Dwelling, Best Daylight, and tied for first place in Best Electric Light; the team placed fourth in the overall competition. The 2005 solar house is currently on exhibition at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, Va.

The raffle winner will be notified by phone and e-mail. The winner will be announced on the Virginia Tech News website and on the Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon team’s website. If an electric car is not your speed, but you’d like to make a donation to the team’s project, visit the team’s website. The raffle is being conducted through the American Institute of Architecture Students.

10 Students were awarded academic fellowships and invited to work on the development of the solar house over the summer 2008.

Over the summer they worked on completing the design of the solar house and produced a visual model.

Virginia Tech to compete in 2009 solar decathalon
WSLS News StaffPublished: February 4, 2008
Virginia Tech hopes to once again show off their prowess to harness the power of the sun. The U.S. Department of Energy selected the Hokies to compete in the 2009 solar decathalon. The event will be held in the Fall, at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The competition involves 20 total universities. Each school’s team will receive $100,000 to design, build, and operate an energy efficient, fully solar-powered home, according to a news release. In 2005, the Virginia Tech team took first place in several categories, and fourth place overall.

Virginia Tech to compete in 2009 Solar Decathlon

BLACKSBURG, Va., February 4, 2008 -- The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that Virginia Tech will be one of 20 university teams selected to compete in its fourth Solar Decathlon, which will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2009.
The interdisciplinary Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon team will be lead by faculty and students in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies with participation from the College of Engineering and others.

Virginia Tech will be the only university in the Commonwealth represented in the competition. The teams, which have been selected from universities in the United States, Canada, and Germany, will receive $100,000 each from DOE to uniquely design, build and operate an energy efficient, fully solar-powered home for this unique competition. Each home will utilize energy efficient technology and demonstrate that homes powered entirely by the sun do not have to sacrifice all the modern comforts and aesthetics Americans are accustomed to.

The Solar Decathlon gets its name from the 10 specific areas of competition: architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance, and transportation. In addition to producing enough electricity and hot water to perform all the functions of a home, from powering lights and electronics to cooking, washing clothes and dishes, each home must produce surplus energy sufficient to power an electric car. The team that finishes the week of competition with the most points wins.

In 2005, the Virginia Tech team, led by the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, won first place for best daylighting, electric lighting, architecture, and livability, and fourth overall.
To be accepted to this competition, university teams were evaluated by a panel made up of engineers, scientists and other experts from DOE and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Teams were required to meet specific criteria, demonstrating their ability to design and build an innovative, entirely solar-powered, 800-square-foot home from scratch, including the ability to raise additional funds and assemble a team necessary to carry the project through to completion.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is composed of three schools and the Department of Art and Art History, part of the multi-college School of the Arts. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The Myers-Lawson School of Construction, a joint school of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering, includes programs in building construction and construction management. The college enrolls nearly 2,000 students offering 24 degrees taught by 153 faculty members.

Following the U.S. Department of Energy 2007 Solar Decathlon, an internal design competition was held within the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Students from varying backgrounds and majors were encouraged to enter in the competition to build upon the lessons of the 2005 Virginia Tech Solar House.

Here is the lead project coordinator, Joseph Wheeler, speaking about sustainable architecture.

2007 Solar Decathlon Competition Visit

The 2009 Virginia Tech Solar Team visited the 2007 competition to assist with construction on the Georgia Tech house and get hands on experience in the competition atmosphere.

Here's a picture of their house on the National Mall in Washington, DC.