Student-built solar home returns to U of I

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 7:23 p.m.CDT

URBANA – A solar-powered, energy-efficient home constructed six years ago by University of Illinois students is returning to campus.

The building has been a community education center in Chicago for the past five years after it was built by students as part of a 2007 Solar Decathlon competition, according to The (Champaign) News-Gazette.

The building is being installed by the school's Energy Biosciences Institute Research Farm in what could ultimately become a small neighborhood of environmentally friendly homes. Two other solar homes were built by students in 2009 and 2011 for the biennial competition that's sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Winning homes are selected based on a structure's cost, energy efficiency, design and consumer appeal. A fourth home has been constructed by architecture, engineering and industrial design students for this year's competition.

The 2011 home is already on display in the area, while a 2009 farmhouse is in Champaign near the I Hotel and Conference Center.

The so-called Element House will need some work, but officials hope to have a "grand reopening" next spring. Moving and remodeling the home will cost about $60,000.

Mark Taylor, an assistant professor of architecture, said he hopes the super-insulated property could become a temporary home to visiting researchers or graduate students who are working on the farm.

"These houses are paving the way and showing that it is possible," he said. "We hope that some of the things that we are investigating make an impact on the people who build houses every day."

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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