College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Researchers tracking performance of ISU Solar Decathlon House

When Iowa State University participated in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon competition, the plan was to eventually monitor the long-term performance of the solar-powered Interlock House, which was designed and constructed by students.

The Interlock House has been reassembled at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Honey Creek Resort State Park for use as the nature interpretive center and staff offices. Iowa DNR owns the house and led the reassembly.

Researchers from Iowa State’s Center for Building Energy Research (CBER) are gearing up to track the building’s performance in Iowa’s climate, says Architecture Assistant Professor Ulrike Passe, who directs the center. CBER is a member of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology, a network of scientific research centers at the university.

“This is a unique opportunity for real-time, long-term building performance evaluation of a net-zero energy building in Iowa,” Passe said.

The Interlock House successfully produced more energy than it used during the week of the competition in Washington, D.C. Although the house was designed for the extremes of the Iowa climate, it has yet to operate through the full range of a hot and humid Iowa summer and a bitter, cold winter.

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