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NYIT Solar Decathlon Program; Mathew Mathosian Dan Ripka

August 10, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Members and friends
This morning we had a presentation about building energy efficient dwellings. NY
Institute of Technology’s Dan Rapka told us about The Solar Decathlon This is an
international competition to create the right design and combination of
technologies to create a low energy use house. The competition includes
prestigious engineering schools around the US and Europe. The NYIT entry was
built on the campus of NYIT and will be disassembled and reconstructed on The
Mall in Washington DC. NYIT alumnus and LIMBA Energy expert, John Eff introduced
the speakers.

Over the years we have seen the prospects of new sources of energy and new
ways to use this precious resource. Most of it was encouraging. The photo
voltaic technology has been a factor for about 40 years. Geothermal has been
around in some form or another an equally long time. Structural insulated panels
(SIP), as they are often referred to are also a known and trusted technology. So
if these avenues of energy conservation are so proven, why aren’t we using them
on a large scale? Actually we did not pose that question to our presenters this
morning, at least not directly. However we are now at a juncture that may make
these technologies more commonplace in our structures.

One of the technologies that I thought was very interesting is Geothermal.
Geothermal uses the same basic principles as a refrigerator or an air
conditioner. The system can extract room temperature (72 degrees) from the
ground in even subfreezing weather even though the ground may not be any warmer
than 55 degrees. In the summertime the system can extract room temperature (72
degrees) and the ground temperature is again 55 degrees. The mechanical
components are pumps and compressors. They are far more energy efficient than
traditional furnace and air conditioning technology and there is no on site

Integrating Solar PV and Solar Thermal systems into homes that require
minimal energy by virtue of their designs. The idea that we supplant the energy
use in homes of a design that wastes energy is not the way to go. The Solar
Decathlon project takes advantage of the building "envelope" technology that
reduces the need for energy and then manufactures that energy, or efficiently
uses grid supplied power. By combining various technologies and then applying
highly sophisticated control systems we can deliver an energy efficient home
within reasonable costs. By doing all of these things in concert we can create a
better functioning home.- With all this the house is in a symbiotic relationship
with the utility grid, using grid power when needed.

The emphasis is on comfort, dependability, and cost. The implication is we do
not require a sacrifice in comfort to achieve what is needed for our times. We
can do more with less