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Midstate team’s ‘Harmony House’ scores spot in international Solar Decathlon

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A design of a solar-powered and energy-efficient house by a group from Vanderbilt University, MTSU and Habitat for Humanity has been accepted in the Solar Decathlon 2015. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Media Relations)


NASHVILLE — Team Music City, an interdisciplinary group from Vanderbilt University, MTSU and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, has been selected to compete in the Solar Decathlon 2015, a U.S. Department of Energy event that challenges students to design and build a functioning, energy-efficient, solar-powered house.

This is the first time a Vanderbilt-MTSU-Habitat-Nashville team will compete in the Solar Decathlon. The team’s conceptual design — Harmony House — forges a connection between Southern living and modern green technologies.

Twenty teams from colleges and universities across the country and around the world will now begin the nearly two-year process of building their solar-powered houses. The venue for Solar Decathlon 2015 is the Orange County Great Park, located between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Team Music City is composed of undergraduate and graduate students and faculty in the School of Engineering at Vanderbilt, in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences at MTSU, and partners from Habitat-Nashville.

“The college is thrilled to be a partner in the building of Harmony House,” said Bud Fischer, dean of the MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences. “This opportunity allows students from two outstanding universities the chance to get practical 'hands-on' experience in solving real world issues while also allowing them the ability to participate in a project that can have an impact on developing sustainable affordable housing in the future.”

Drawing from a variety of classes, students in construction management, interior design, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering will be involved in the planning, designing and building processes, which will lead to constructing a home that is greater than 600 square feet but less than 1,000 square feet in size. The home will be built on the Vanderbilt campus.

“I congratulate the students who have worked so hard on their submission. We are all so proud of them. This effort by Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, and Habitat-Nashville shines yet another national, and even international, spotlight on Nashville, a community clearly on the move,” said Philippe Fauchet, dean of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering.

Team Music City is led by faculty members Ralph Bruce, professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt; Sanjiv Gokhale, professor of civil engineering at Vanderbilt; Thomas Gormley, professor of engineering technology at MTSU; and by Chip Wilson, construction director at Habitat-Nashville.

Like the Olympic decathlon, the Solar Decathlon consists of 10 contests designed to gauge how well the houses perform and how livable and affordable they are. For example, in the appliances contest, teams earn points for refrigerating and freezing food, washing and drying laundry, and running the dishwasher. Teams are scored on how well they balance production and energy consumption.

The team hopes to complete the home early enough to conduct practice runs of the 10 Solar Decathlon contests, but the team has a long way to go. Construction details are preliminary, and the team will begin now to seek sponsorships, contributions and donations to fund the project.

Tagged under  energy, Habitat for humanity, harmony house, MTSU, solar, Vanderbilt

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