UIW’s Solar House Makes Debut

The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) held a press conference today to celebrate the grand opening of UIW’s Solar House. Built over a five-year period under the direction of Dr. Alison Whittemore, chair, UIW Department of Engineering and Physics with the help of Project Manager Daniel Potter ’01 BS., the structure is built with no poured concrete, has zero daily energy consumption, a Butterfly Roof to allow for maximum capture for rain water and has a Helical Pier Foundation System to minimize the disturbance of native soils.

From 2008 through the completion of the Solar House, thirty UIW Engineering Management students worked on the project with each succeeding class of seniors researching and developing a specific part of the house and its components. The students then passed on their information to the next group of seniors slated to work on the project.

Funded by a federal grant, the Solar House was created to be a fully functioning residence as well as a visitor’s center and a learning laboratory on the UIW campus. The structure is positioned facing due south to have maximum solar exposure and was designed to provide electricity for the house year-round during peak daytime demand. Features in the home were built using recycled materials including kitchen and bathroom sinks made of recycled content including ECO recycled glass countertops, Trex decking- made from recycled milk bottles and recycled tire mulch used in the landscaping.

“The Solar House has been a five-year project for our students. Those who designed the Solar House were not the students who ultimately built it, but they all worked as a single team, spread out over all those years. I am very proud and impressed by the accomplishments of our Engineering Management students,” said Dr. Whittemore.

Project achievements include: ADA compliance, Platinum LEED certification *- Pending, net zero daily energy consumption, minimum impact on site and natural drainage patterns, no obstruction of utility easement.

For more information, contact Margaret Garcia, UIW associate director of public relations, at (210) 422-4052 or mlgarci2@uiwtx.edu.

*LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED rating systems, created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), are internationally accepted benchmarks for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.

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